World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Alan Rufus

Article Id: WHEBN0008450154
Reproduction Date:

Title: Alan Rufus  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1093, 1070, Battle of Hastings, Boston, Lincolnshire, Richmond, North Yorkshire, Duchy of Brittany, Roger the Poitevin, Odo, Count of Penthièvre, Alan IV, Duke of Brittany, Earl of Richmond
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Alan Rufus

Alan Rufus (Latin) (alternatively Alan ar Rouz (Breton), Alain le Roux (French) or Alan the Red (English); literal translation "Red Deer" or "Hart") (c. 1040 – 1093) was a companion of William the Conqueror (Duke William II of Normandy) during the Norman Conquest. He was the second son of Eozen Penteur (also known as Odo, Count of Penthièvre) by Orguen Kernev (also known as Agnes of Cornouaille).[1]


Alan Rufus is first mentioned as a witness (along with his mother Orguen and brothers Gausfridus, Willelmus, Rotbertus, Ricardus) to a charter dated to 1056/1060 in which his father Eozen ("Eudo") granted land "in pago Belvacensi" (Beauvais, Picardy) to the Abbey of Angers Saint-Aubin (q.v. Albinus of Angers).

Eozen's elder brother Alan III, Duke of Brittany was one of the three guardians of the young Duke William and was killed while besieging a castle of a Norman lord who was rebelling against William. In 1035 Alan III granted Eozen the title Count of Penthièvre (Penteur), a territory covering the north-east of Brittany, with its capital at Lamballe. After Alan III's death, Eozen became regent of Brittany, and held his nephew Conan II, Duke of Brittany in custody to prevent him from ruling. Conan was freed by his supporters in 1047. In February 1054 February, Eozen fought on the side of King Henry I of France at the Battle of Mortemer against William, but William won. Eozen then allied with Count Geoffrey III of Anjou against William. Conan was a legitimate contender for the title of Duke of Normandy and thus a persistent rival of Duke William's. By 1056 Conan gained the upper hand in Brittany, and in 1057 he captured his uncle Eozen and chained him in a prison cell. Eozen's eldest son Geoffrey Boterel continued to fight.

In 1062, peace was concluded between Conan and Geoffrey. Eozen, who was now free, continued the fight alone.

Three early panels of the Bayeux Tapestry depict aspects of the Breton-Norman War, William's invasion of Brittany in 1064 at the behest of Eozen's subordinate, Rivallon I of Dol on the urging of Rivallon's sister Imogen. (Although the Bayeux Tapestry and Norman historians depicted this war, which lasted into 1065, as a victory for William, some modern historians view it as a victory for Conan. In any case, Conan remained defiant, and in 1066 issued a public statement declaring that while William was fighting in England, Conan would be conquering Normandy.)

In accord with this personal alliance, historian Katherine Keats-Rohan speculates that Alan joined William's household before 1066 and was probably present at the Battle of Hastings.[2] Indeed, Alan already held some property in Rouen, the capital of Normandy, and was lord of Richemont in Upper Normandy, close to Aumale where William's (half?-)sister Adelaide was Countess. (Adelaide would later hold property close to Alan's in England.)

The Breton fleet would have sailed from Brittany in 1066 (perhaps from or via Dol-de-Bretagne where the Archbishop of Dol could have blessed the ships) and proceeded to Barfleur where the Normans were gathering and thence to the rallying point at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme to meet up with the Flemish in readiness for the crossing of the English Channel. The people of Upper Brittany, Lower Normandy, Maine and Anjou shared the Gallo language, so this was likely the common spoken language during the Invasion and among the aristocrats in subsequent centuries. (The names of towns in eastern England such as Firby (Old English: Fredebi) in Richmondshire were progressively gallicized, i.e. transformed under the influence of Gallo. "Gallo" itself is an abbreviation of "Gallo-Roman", the ancestor of all French dialects: see Gallo-Roman culture.)

On the journey to the battle site, the Breton forces formed the vanguard, arriving at the battle site a good half-hour before the rest of William's army. In the battle formation, Bretons are mentioned variously as in the left-wing or in the rear-guard of the army.

Geoffrey Gaimar's "L'Estoire des Engles"[3][4] and Wace's Roman de Rou both assert Alan Rufus's presence as Breton commander in the battle, and praise his contribution: Gaimar says "Alan and his men struck well" and Wace states that they did the English "great damage".

Harold's hand-fast wife Edith the Fair, who had been captured prior to the battle, was called upon to identify Harold's mutilated body. (Alan's early acquisitions in England included many land titles that had been Edith's.)

After burying the dead and taking time to recuperate, William approached London directly, but, finding the city bridge strongly defended, headed upstream to ford the Thames at Wallingford where William received the submission of Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury. The army then travelled north-east along the Chilterns, before advancing towards London from the north-west, fighting further engagements against forces from the city. In early December 1066, at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, William accepted the surrender of the English offered by Edgar the Ætheling, Ealdred (archbishop of York), Edwin, Earl of Mercia, Morcar, Earl of Northumbria, and the chief men of London, who swore loyalty to William in return for good government. William was offered the crown there, to which he responded that he would accept the keys to London in Berkhamsted but the crown of England in London, which he did at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day.

"A column of Norman cavalry swept into the Cambridge area in late 1066 and built a castle on the hill just north of the river crossing".[5] According to Katherine Keats-Rohan, it's likely that Alan's first possessions in England were in Cambridgeshire, so this may be when he obtained them. The Cambridgeshire town of Bourn,[6] west of Cambridge and due north of London, along with several other towns in the area were according the Domesday Book held in 1066 by Almer of Bourn as a tenant of Edith the Fair's. Alan, as tenant-in-chief in 1086, favoured Almer by giving him two additional manors.

Brittany was an early medieval centre of scientific learning: the oldest surviving medieval manuscript in Breton, a botanical treatise, dates from 590 (see History of Brittany). Alan was one of the tenants-in-chief in Cambridge, and the coat of arms of the University of Cambridge[7] prominently incorporates a Cross Ermine, ermine being a symbol of Brittany.

The historian Richard Sharpe has theorised[8] that Matilda d'Aincourt, wife of Walter d'Aincourt (who was, incidentally, a landholder under Edward the Confessor in Derby[9]), was the natural daughter of Alan Rufus and Gunnhild, based on Matilda's donations on Alan's behalf and the description of Matilda's son William in a lead inscription found in his grave and dated to the time of William II in whose court he was raised, as being "of royal race". Richard Sharpe considered this a reference to William's possible descent from Harold Godwinson. Two objections may be made to that proposal: (1) the Normans of course did not recognise Harold as King; (2) descent from the Ducal House of Brittany, which had multiple descents from Charlemagne and from kings of Brittany, and had intermarried with the Norman Dukes, would suffice to explain the reference.

In 1067, Alan witnessed a charter of King William in England.

In 1067–1068, a succession of rebellions in the north of England slew King William's representatives and posed a serious threat to his rule.

In January 1069, Earl Edwin in Yorkshire and his brother Earl Morcar in Northumberland rebelled, and were supported by a large force of Danes. In late 1069, the King brought an army north to combat the rebels and recover York, which had been occupied by a Danish garrison.

In 1069, around the time of the Siege of York, according to the Register of Richmond[10], King William conceded to Alan the Honour of Richmond ("Land of Count Alan"[11]) in North Yorkshire.[12] [13] Unusually, within the Land of Count Alan, King William himself and his half-brother Robert the Count of Mortain received only one manor each: William's at Ainderby Steeple, on the eastern fringe of the Land, and Robert's on its southern edge. The wording of the proclamation is:

"Ego Wil(el)mus cognomine Bastardus Rex Anglie do et concedo tibi Nepoti meo Alano Britannie Comiti et heredibus tuis imperpetuum omnes uillas et terras que nuper fuerunt Comitis Edwyni in Eboraschira cum feodis Militum et ecclesiis et aliis libertat(ibus) et consuetudinibus ita libere et honorifice sicut idem Edwinus ea tenuit. Dat(um) in obsidione coram Ciuitate Ebor(aci)."[14]

The beginning of this may readily be translated into English as:

"I, William, called 'the Bastard', King of England, do hereby grant and concede to my nephew Alan, Count in Brittany, and his heirs in perpetuity ...".

King William spent Christmas 1069 in York. From December 1069 to January 1070, he ordered the Harrying of the North, which was said by Orderic Vitalis to have caused the deaths of over 100,000 English men, women and children, an act which Orderic declared unconscionable.

To serve as the Caput (principal manor) of his new lands, Alan Rufus commenced the construction of Richmond Castle in 1071.[15] As the first constable of his new castle, Alan chose Enisant Musard[16] who was (according to a note added to the foundation charter of Saint-Martin de Lamballe which was given by Alan's brother Geoffrey Boterel I, in which Enisant is named as "Enisandus Musardus de Pleveno") the husband of one of Alan's half-sisters. Enisant was a tenant of Alan's at Cheveley in Cambridgeshire[17] and at Tochestorp in Norfolk[18] and subsequently in the Hundred of the Land of Count Alan.

Richmond Castle overlooks the old Roman fort at Catterick, North Yorkshire (now England's largest army base), which had been the site of a major British defeat by the Anglo-Saxons (c. 598). Alan's properties extended over the entire length of Earningas Street, the old Roman road from London to the North, heading to Edinburgh; this road was renamed Ermine Street.

As leaders of England's Bretons, Alan and his relatives were particularly interested in the history and legends of sub-Roman Britain. The Norman- and Angevin-era authors of stories of King Arthur were all acquaintances of Alan's family, and many of the reputed sites of Camelot are associated with Alan and his brothers. In one story, Arthur and his knights are said to lie at rest under Richmond Castle.

In Richmondshire, the Domesday Book's "Land of Count Alan", many of the Anglo-Dane lords, or their heirs, were retained in their pre-1066 positions of authority. The locations where this was done were complementary to those owned by the deceased Edwin, Earl of Mercia, whereas many of those where Edwin had been Overlord were given to Alan's Breton relatives (his half-brothers Ribald the Lord of Middleham, Bodin the Lord of Bedale, and Bardolf the Lord of Ravensworth, and their wet-nurse, Orwen). Other tenants of Alan's in Yorkshire were English lords from East Anglia.

In 1080, King William nominated William de St-Calais as Bishop of Durham. St-Calais had been a canon at Bayeux, together with Thomas of Bayeux (who was now Archbishop of York, and thus St-Calais's immediate superior), Thomas's brother Samson, and Alan Rufus's brother Richard.

In 1081, Alan witnessed several charters of King William in England.

In the year 1082 Bishop Odo was deposed from his position as Earl of Kent, spending the next five years in prison. This removed a major rival to Alan for influence on King William I during the significant events towards the end of the Conqueror's reign.

For the 1083-1086 (the dates are uncertain) siege of the very formidable Sainte-Suzanne Castle, defended by Viscount Hubert de Beaumont-au-Maine, King William I established a fortified camp at Beugy, about 800 metres north of the castle, manned by William's best household knights under the command of Alan Rufus. This, however, proved to be a magnet for valiant men-at-arms seeking personal glory. In the words of Orderic Vitalis, "experienced knights had flocked to Hubert from Aquitaine and Burgundy and other French provinces and were striving with all their might to help him and show their worth. As a result the castle of Sainte-Suzanne was stocked with booty taken from the defenders of Beugy and each day became better equipped for defence. Wealthy Norman and English lords were frequently captured [during forays and foraging expeditions]." After one year, Alan handed command to another Breton, named Anvrai (Hervey?). Over the next two years, Anvrai and many other leading knights were slain, aggrieving William sufficiently to come to terms with Hubert.

According to David Roffe,[19] one motivation for the Domesday Inquest of 1086 was King William's "pressing need" for cash after hiring the exceptionally large army he had brought from France and Brittany in 1085 to fend off a threatened attack by the Danes and Flemish.

It is likely that Alan was with King William I and the other members of the King's Council at Gloucester in Christmas 1085 when they discussed preparations for the Domesday Survey.

The Survey revealed not only vast quantities of information about who owned what in the reign of King Edward and subsequently, but also recorded current property disputes, for example between Count Alan and Aubrey de Vere I and between Alan and King William.

Research by David Roffe[20] suggests that the Survey may have been conducted in this order: Cambridgeshire (the Inquisitio Comitatus Cantabrigiensis),[21] the counties of Little Domesday - Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk - and finally the counties of Great Domesday, beginning with Yorkshire. This follows the order of Alan Rufus's major acquisitions by county, suggesting that he was involved in the survey: further evidence for this is Alan's presence with the King in Exeter during the survey, and Alan's longstanding connection, through his brother Richard, a Canon at Bayeux, and Thomas of Bayeux the Archbishop of York, with William de St-Calais the Bishop of Durham. St Calais was a Domesday Commissioner on two circuits of the survey, including at Exeter, and the entirety of the Great Domesday book is written in the hand of one of his scribes.

Through 1086, Alan and Robert of Mortain attended on King William, e.g. at Fécamp in Normandy and in Wiltshire in south-west England.

Alan is mentioned as a Lord or Tenant-in-Chief in 1017 entries of the Domesday Book, behind only King William I and Robert, Count of Mortain; aside from being the most powerful magnate in East Anglia and Yorkshire, he also possessed property in London, in Normandy (e.g. in Rouen and Richemont) and in Brittany. Keats-Rohan states that by 1086 Alan had become one of the richest and most powerful men of England.

The Domesday survey placed Alan Rufus third among the baronial class in terms of annual income.

Alan was among the first four magnates to support William II of England against the Rebellion of 1088 in favour of the Duke of Normandy, Robert Curthose. The others included William de Warenne and Hugh of Avranches; two other important loyalists were Robert Fitzhamon and Thomas of Bayeux. The uprising was led by the recently freed Odo, Earl of Kent, Bishop of Bayeux, who was joined by five other major magnates: Robert the Count of Mortain, Robert de Mowbray the Earl of Northumbria and his uncle Geoffrey de Montbray the Bishop of Coutances, Roger Bigod the Earl of Norfolk, and Roger de Montgomery the Earl of Shrewsbury; also supporting the uprising was Eustace III, Count of Boulogne.

Beginning in March 1088, Alan was granted additional territory by the King from among the confiscated lands of his neighbours who had rebelled.[22]

William de St-Calais had been in the army led by the King against Bishop Odo, but suddenly fled north to his castle at Durham. After the rebellion was defeated, Roger of Poitou, Alan Rufus, Odo of Champagne[23] and Walter d'Aincourt[24] were sent to persuade St-Calais to surrender. After a lengthy parley during which they waited outside the castle, St Calais agreed to surrender his person and stand trial, but only once they signed a complex document promising safe conduct before, during and after the trial; however, the Bishop left a garrison to hold the castle[23].

Alan Rufus and Thomas of Bayeux played significant roles in the subsequent trial of St-Calais, which commenced on 2 November 1088 at Salisbury in Wiltshire, details of which are described in the Libellus section of De Iniusta Vexacione Willelmi Episcopi Primi.

Wilmart's interpretation of the preceding events and the court record[25] is that in exchange for St-Calais agreeing to submit to the King's judgement, Alan and the other royal officers signed a document guaranteeing St-Calais's safety before and after the trial; when St-Calais cited this in court, there was uproar, but Alan calmly confirmed St-Calais's statement saying that if there were any fault here, it was his; Alan added his advice that the King should not coerce people into committing perjury, but respect their freedom of conscience; otherwise, he would believe himself obliged to refuse to serve the king.

St-Calais was held in custody at Wilton Abbey until 14 November when his castle was released to the King's emissaries[26]. Alan escorted St-Calais to Southampton[26] to await passage to Normandy and exile.

Alan donated large sums of cash to a number of religious houses, but most famously founded the Benedictine St Mary's Abbey in York in 1088.[27] (There are connections with the Robin Hood legend in that the 12th century Earl of Huntingdon was a relative of Alan's by marriage, St Mary's Abbey is a scene of a number of Robin Hood stories, and Friar Tuck was depicted as formerly of Fountains Abbey which was founded by monks expelled from St Mary's.)

During or before 1089, Alan Rufus issued a charter at Rochester, Kent, Bishop Odo's former caput; it was witnessed by Hars[culf] de Sancto Jacobo.

On 8 December 1090, Robert the Count of Mortain died, thus leaving Alan as the last and most powerful of the senior commanders at the Battle of Hastings still holding a position of authority in England.

Saint Anselm (nominated archbishop of Canterbury on 6 March 1093, accepted 24 August, consecrated 25 September 1093), in two letters addressed (perhaps in 1093-1094) to Gunnhild the youngest daughter of King Harold II and Edith the Fair, reprimanded her for abandoning her vocation as a nun at Wilton Abbey (though she had not taken solemn vows before a bishop) to live with Alan Rufus, intending to marry him, and after his death living with his brother Alan Niger. Sharpe observed that these letters were apparently not retained in the archive that held Anselm's other papers, from which he surmised that Anselm may later have discovered that his admonitions were in error, and therefore removed the originals.

Wilmart wrote that "Alain le Roux est décédé; il semble môme que sa mort soit arrivée inopinément et dans des circonstances remarquables."[28] (Loosely translated: "Alan died, it seems, unexpectedly and in remarkable circumstances.") His body was transported to the abbey at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk where he was buried in the cemetery outside the south door. Subsequently, his family and the monks of the Abbey of St Mary's in York succeeded in their petition to have him reburied inside Bury Abbey.

There are conflicting sources for the year of Alan Rufus' death. The Margam Annals and a 13th-century chronicle assert he died in 1089, however Keats-Rohan concludes that these are unreliable and that 1093 is more likely based on the Memorials of St Edmund's Abbey and letters written between 1093 and 1095.[29] Wilmart[30] cites additional medieval sources that variously imply either 1089 or 1093 as Alan's death year.

Wilmart[31] and James[32] quote MSS. Bodl. 297, a manuscript copy of Marianus Scotus's Chronicon on which a Bury monk has written a great many marginal notes, one of which concerns the year AD 1093, commemorates the death of Count Alan, then gives his epitaph, a seven line Latin poem in rhyming couplets:

Circa istum annum dominicae incarnationis obiit Alanus comes Brittanniae et constructor nobilis coenobii S. Mariae extra urbem Eboracam: sed apud S. Aedmundum, cuius ecclesiae multorum bonorum impensor extiterat, ab abbate Baldewino iuxta australe ostium ecclesiae prime sepultus est: sed succedente tempore infra ecclesiam supplicatione monachorum Eboracensium et parentum suorum in opposite loco prioris tumulationis conditus est. Cuius nobilitatem exomat epy tafium quod super eum sic scriptum monstratur :

Stella nuit regni : comitis caro marcet Alani :
Anglia turbatur : satraparum flos cineratur :
Iam Brito, flos regum, modo marcor in ordine rerum
Praecepto legum, nitet ortus sanguine regum.
Dux uiguit summus, rutilans a rege secundus.
Hunc cernens plora : 'requies sibi sit, Deus' ora.
Vixit nobilium : praefulgens stirpe Brittonum.

As de facto Earl of Richmond, Alan Rufus was followed by his brothers Alan Niger I and Stephen, Count of Tréguier. (Another brother, Brian, was granted lands in Cornwall as a reward for defeating an incursion in the south-west of England by the Irish and two sons of King Harold's, but relinquished these estates for a Breton wife and her dowry).[2]

Works by Count Alan Rufus

Alan had a significant impact on British demographics by leading so many Breton immigrants into England. In the early 12th century, many Bretons would settle in Ayrshire in Scotland, for example the Stewarts who descended from Alan the Dapifer of Dol in Brittany. Evidently, Bretons also gained a significant presence in the City and Port of London, as many of the 12th and 13th century Mayors of London bore Breton names.

Alan Rufus developed commerce, most notably the wool, salt and lead trade through Skirbeck and other towns in the borough of Boston, Lincolnshire, where he established a trade fair on his own land. Lead was brought down the River Trent from Derby (where Walter D'Aincourt had held property in 1065/1066). By 1204, Boston had became the second port of England, providing quinzieme (1/15) customs duty revenues of £780, only slightly behind London's £836[33]. Boston was among the English east coast ports in which the Hanseatic League (then known as the "merchants of the Steelyard") had a house (representative merchant and warehouse) soon after Henry II's grant of privileges to the Hanseatic merchants in 1259[34].

Alan was a major employer of skilled labour to build abbeys, castles and manor-houses across Norman England, some of which remain in evidence today. Beneath Richmond Castle, Alan founded the town of Richmond, North Yorkshire. Another example is the original manor house of Costessey Hall, Alan's caput at Costessey in Norfolk, on the north side of the River Tud in Costessey Park.

Middleham Castle,[35] a gift from Alan to his brother Ribald, was inherited by Warwick the Kingmaker, a descendant of both Ribald and Matilda D'Aincourt. King Richard III of England was raised in Middleham Castle.

The rise of the name Alan in Britain

In the 12th century, the name Alan occurs among several prominent families of England and Scotland. In addition to its continued popularity in Alan Rufus's family and other branches of the sovereign house of Brittany such as the House of Rohan and that of the Baron Zouche (among whom was a Mayor of London, Alan la Zouche (1205–1270)), another factor was its frequent use by the descendants of Alan the Dapifer of the Bishop of Dol and his descendants who include the Stewarts and the FitzAlan family who became the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel.

A curiosity, yet to be explained, is that Waltheof of Allerdale (son of the Cumbrian Gospatric of Bernicia) named his heir Alan and one of his daughters Gunnilda (also known as Gunhilda of Dunbar). This Gunnilda married Uhtred of Galloway; their son and heir was Roland, also known as Lochlann of Galloway, whose heir was Alan of Galloway.

Financial Legacy

At Alan's death, most of his property in England, Brittany and Normandy passed first to his brother Alan Niger (died 1098), and then to their youngest brother Stephen, Count of Tréguier (who also inherited the County of Penthièvre in Brittany). The English estates were later divided among numerous heirs or else confiscated by impecunious kings. However, the monetary assets remained largely intact, passing by inheritance to Count Stephen's descendants, the Dukes of Brittany, and thence, through dowries and grants, they contributed to the enrichment of many leading families of Europe, including the Houses of Rohan, de Brosse, Châtillon, Luxembourg, Lorraine, Savoy, Valois, Sforza, Medici, Borgia, Guise, Bourbon and Habsburg. Works benefiting by this influx of cash, and by the migration of skilled workers whose training was subsidised by it, include palaces such as Fontainebleau, William Caxton's publishing business in England, and some of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings such as the Lady with an Ermine.


See also




External links

Peerage of England
Preceded by
new creation
Earl of Richmond
Succeeded by
Alan Niger
Succeeded by
Stephen, Count of Tréguier
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.