Norman Conquest Encyclopedia
Duke Robert the Magnificent
Robert I, Duke of Normandy, succeeded to the duchy on the providential death of his brother, Duke Richard II in August 1027. Richard's son, Nicholas, wisely retired to the safety of a monastery. Robert was probably about nineteen or twenty years old at the time. He had established himself at Falaise a year earlier and the story is told that he saw a girl who took his fancy there. Some say she was dancing, others that she was washing clothes with her skirts hitched high to keep them dry. Herleve (or Arlette) bore Robert a son, William the Bastard, in 1027 or 1028. The boy's existence was anything but secure as his father struggled to retain power. Robert's uncle, the Archbishop of Rouen as well as the husband of another Herleve and father to three sons, assisted by bringing about the end of the war with Brittany at a meeting held at Mont-St-Michel and by 1034 the Duchy of Normandy was relatively stable, enjoying good relations with many of the surrounding powers. At this point Robert chose to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, an act of penitence not rare at that time. He extracted an undertaking from his magnates to recognise William as his heir. On the journey home, in early July 1035, the Duke died leaving a seven-year-old boy to succeed him.
- Hastings 1066 (Revised Edition)- The Fall of Saxon England
(Campaign 13 )