Saturday, 3 April 2010

My ancestors - beyond the Warenne line

To recap from previous posts, I have recently discovered that I have an ancestor named Margaret Puleston, wife of the Baron Lewis Owen of Dolgellau. She was a grandmother of Catrin, wife of my direct ancestor, Evan Morgan, supposed son of Bishop William Morgan, the Welsh translater of the bible.

In my first post on my ancestors I outlined my connection, through Margaret's Puleston ancestry, to the Warenne family, Earls of Surrey, a family originally from a place by the river Varenne in Upper Normandy. The first Earl had familial links with William the Conqueror, through his mother Emma. William fought with the Conqueror at Hastings and thus became amply rewarded by being given many lands in the shires of England. Indeed earlier, in 1054, Warenne had aided the Conqueror, then Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Mortemer. The then King of France sent his brother Odo and Count Rainald to lead an army against the barons of various provinces in Normandy, led by Robert Count of Eu. Their defeat resulted in William de Warenne being given Roger de Mortemer's lands.

It appears that this William de Warenne married Gundrada, claimed by many to be a daughter of William the Conqueror. Others claim that she was a step-daughter of William's, a child of his wife's Matilda's first marriage. Others say that she was no relation, but what is certain is that both William and Gundrada founded the Priory at Lewes where they were interred. Their coffins were re-discovered in October 1845 through work on a railway line and created great interest in local papers. The archaeologist Mark Antony Lower appears to believe she was a daughter of the Conqueror. He was one of the archaeologists consulted at the time. He certainly was a favourite of William the Conqueror, or he wouldn't have been so richly rewarded, so it's not so strange that he would not be allowed to marry a member of the Conqueror's family. David Charles Douglas, a critic of this theory, suggests that Gundreda couldn't be the daughter of Matilda because she would have been too young. He cites that Baldwin V and his bride Adela, Matilda's parents, did not comsummate their marriage until 1031, and 1049 was the year that William the Conqueror declared his intent to marry Matilda. It was quite normal in thise times to have marriages between minors. As an extreme example Elizabeth de Vermandois, who I will write about later, married her first husband, Robert de Meulan, at the age of 9. With Robert being 35 years her senior, this was unusual to have such an age difference, but it wasn't unusual to start having children at 14. There was apparantly a dispute with Rome over the legality of the proposed marriage. Edward Freeman, notable writer of the history of the Normans, argued that this 'complication' with the marriage was due to the fact that Matilda was already married. In fact she also had at least 2 children, namely Gerbod, his father's namesake and an Earl of Chester, and Gundrada. Why did William pursue Matilda when it would surely be easier to marry another equally worthy princess? The main reason seems to be in Matilda's lineage. Through her father Baldwin V she was a descendant of Alfred the Great, and William wanted to strengthen his claims to his intention of being King of England. On the surface this seems quite calculating by William, but by all accounts he loved Matilda and apparantly remained faithful to her during their marriage, a rare occurance especially within royal marriages. So, he appears to be one of the lucky ones, to have love AND wealth AND success!

Returning to Gundrada, the reason why some believe that she was related to the Conqueror in some way is because of a reference on a deed to the foundation of the priory of Lewes in Sussex. There is also a charter, the Cottonian manuscript, which is in the British Museum, where he refers her as his daughter. There is also the issue of Gundreda not being mentioned by the well known historians of the time. It is a pattern excercised by early genealogists of failing, or not bothering to record daughters even with the highest families in the land. In support of this, another of the Conqueror's daughters, Agatha, who married Alphonso, King of Galicia, was also omitted from accounts of Norman historians.

If the evidence does indicate that Gundrada was Matilda's daughter, if not William the Conqueror's, then it opens up a line towards Alfred the Great, through Matilda's father Baldwin V (see below).

Baldwin V - Baldwin IV - Arnulf II - Baldwin III - Arnulf I - Baldwin II m. Aelfthryth, daughter of Alfred the Great

Baldwin V married Adele of Flanders, a grandaughter of Hugh Capet, a great great great great great grandson of Charlemagne. It's really take your pick from the rulers of Medieval France from here, and there are too many individuals to mention here.

We are in the same ball park when we look at Elizabeth de Vermandois's lineage. She was the wife of the second Earl of Surrey and another ancestor, William de Warenne, who died in 1138. Her father was Hugh Magnus, of Vermandois, a crusader, who died from wounds sustained in a battle against the Turks at Tarsus. His parents were Henri I (1008-1060) and Anne of Kiev (died 1075) a Russian princess whose mother was Princess Ingegerd of Sweden. Again the possible connections to ancestors is numerous. A lot of them lead back to Charlemagne.

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