Robert Fitzhamon

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Robert Fitzhamon (died March 1107) was Lord of Gloucester and the conqueror of Glamorgan.

He was a cousin of William the Conqueror, although the details of his descent from the Norman dukes is uncertain. His family held the lordships of Torigny, Creully, Mézy, and Evrecy in Normandy.

Robert probably did not fight at Hastings, and does not appear in the Domesday Book, although some relatives may. He first comes to prominence as a supporter of William Rufus during the Rebellion of 1088. After the revolt failed he was rewarded with great estates in Gloucestershire and elsewhere. Some of these had belonged to the late Queen Matilda, and were supposed to be inherited by Rufus's younger brother Henry (the future Henry I); nevertheless Fitzhamon remained on good terms with Henry.

The chronology of Fitzhamon's conquest of Glamorgan is uncertain, but it probably took place in the decades after he received Gloucester.

Legend has it that Robert had ominous dreams in the days before Rufus' fatal hunting expedition, which postponed but did not prevent the outing. He was one of the first to gather in tears around Rufus' corpse, and he used his cloak to cover the late king's body on its journey to be buried in Winchester. How much of these stories are the invention of later days is unknown.

In any case Fitzhamon proved as loyal to Henry I as he had been to his predecessor, remaining on Henry's side in the several open conflicts with Henry's brother Robert Curthose. He was one of the three barons who negotiated the 1101 truce between Henry I and Robert Curthose.

In 1105 he went to Normandy and was captured while fighting near his ancestral estates near Bayeux. This was one of the reasons Henry crossed the channel with a substantial force later that year. Fitzhamon was freed, and joined Henry's campaign, which proceeded to besiege Falaise. There Fitzhamon was severely injured in the head; although he lived two more years he was never the same mentally.

Fitzhamon married Sibyl, daughter of Roger of Montgomery, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, and Mabel of Bêlleme, by whom he probably only had one child, Mabel, who inherited his great estates and married Robert of Gloucester. Fitzhamon's Gloucestershire property became the nucleus of the Earldom of Gloucester later given to his son-in-law.

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