Robert Curthose (Robert II), Duke of Normandy

Robert Curthose (Robert II), Duke of Normandy (b. 1054 – d. 1134)

The eldest son of William the Conqueror and Maltida of Flanders, Robert Curthose was the likely successor to his father’s estates in Normandy. His unstable temperament and rebellious nature, however, led to his expulsion and exile to Italy, after two unsuccessful attempts at overthrowing William (1077-178 and 1082-1083). Upon his father’s death (1087), Robert returned to Normandy to stake his claim, though he was never able to fully establish his authority over his province and vassals. His men showed little loyalty to him, and his brothers showed him even less loyalty than his men.

In 1091, King William II of England (called Rufus, younger brother to Robert), invaded Normandy and siezed two counties from Robert, and then he invaded again in 1094, resulting in a treaty that gave William full control of Normandy. Robert received a sum of money from the treaty, and he went off to join the First Crusade.

While he had had little success during his reign in Normandy, Robert proved himself a competent and courageous leader at the victory of Ascalon (1099). He was also present at the capture of Jerusalem in 1099.

Upon hearing about William Rufus’ death and his youngest brother Henry’s succession to the throne of England, Robert hurried back from Italy to invade England. With his arrogance likely high from his successes in the Middle East, Robert crossed the channel, but Henry’s armies drove him back into France, and in turn, Henry invaded Normandy in 1105. On September 28, 1106, Robert was captured at the Battle of Tinchebrai and lived out the rest of his existence as a prisoner in Cardiff Castle, Wales. He died on February 10, 1134.

Sources:

O’Brien, Patrick K., gen. ed. “Robert II Curthose.” Encyclopedia of World History. Copyright George Philip Limited. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE49&iPin=ewh04968&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 20, 2009).

“Robert II.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 20 Apr. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/505415/Robert-II>.

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