Robby's Family Tree

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  • ID: I00091
  • Name: *Herleva of Falaise
  • Sex: F
  • Name: *Harlette De Falaise
  • Birth: ABT 1003 in Falaise, Calvados, Normandy, France 1
  • Death: ABT 1050 1
  • Burial: Abbey of Grestain 1
  • Note:
    Herleva (c. 1003 ? c. 1050) also known as Herleve, Arlette, Arletta and Ar lotte, was the mother of William I of England. She had two further sons, O do of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain, who became prominent in William 's realm.

    The background of Herleva and the circumstances of William's birth are shr ouded in mystery. The written evidence dates from a generation or two late r, and is not entirely consistent. The most commonly accepted version sa ys that she was the daughter of a tanner named Fulbert from the town of Fa laise, in Normandy. Translation being somewhat uncertain, Fulbert may inst ead have been a furrier, embalmer, apothecary, or a person who laid out co rpses for burial.

    It is argued by some that Herleva's father was not a tanner but rather a m ember of burgher class. The idea is supported by the fact that her brothe rs appear in a later document as attestors for an under-age William. Als o, the Count of Flanders later accepted Herleva as a proper guardian for h is own daughter. Both facts would be nearly impossible if the father (a nd therefore her brothers) of Herleva was a tanner, little more than a pea sant.

    Orderic Vitalis described Herleva's father Fulbert as being the Duke's Cha mberlain (cubicularii ducis).

    According to one legend, still recounted by tour guides at Falaise, it a ll started when Robert, the young Duke of Normandy saw Herleva from the ro of of his castle tower. The walkway on the roof still looks down on the dy eing trenches cut into stone in the courtyard below, which can be se en to this day from the tower ramparts above. The traditional way of dyei ng leather or garments was for individuals to trample barefoot on the garm ents which were awash in the dyeing liquid in these trenches. Herleva, leg end goes, seeing the Duke on his ramparts above, raised her skirts perha ps a bit more than necessary in order to attract the Duke's eye. The latt er was immediately smitten and ordered her brought in (as was customary f or any woman that caught the Duke's eye) through the back door. Herleva re fused, saying she would only enter the Duke's castle on horseback throu gh the front gate, and not as an ordinary commoner. The Duke, filled wi th lust, could only agree. In a few days, Herleva, dressed in the finest h er father could provide, and sitting on a white horse, rode proudly throu gh the front gate, her head held high. This gave Herleva a semi-official s tatus as the Duke's mistress.

    She later gave birth to his son, William, in 1027 or 1028, and probab ly a daughter, Adelaide, in 1030.

    Herleva later married Herluin de Conteville in 1031. Some accounts howeve r, maintain that Robert always loved her, but the gap in their social stat us made marriage impossible, so, to give her a good life, he married her o ff to one of his favourite noblemen.

    Another source suggests that Herleva did not marry Herluin until after Rob ert died because there is no record of Robert ensuing another relationshi p, whereas Herluin married another woman, Fredesendis, by the time he foun ded the abbey of Grestain.

    From her marriage to Herluin she had two sons: Odo, who later became Bish op of Bayeux, and Robert, who became Count of Mortain. Both became promine nt during William's reign. They also had at least two daughters, Emma, w ho married Richard LeGoz (de Averanches), and a daughter of unknown name w ho married William, lord of la FertÚ-MacÚ.

    According to Robert of Torigni, Herleva was buried at the abbey of Grestai n, which was founded by Herluin and their son Robert around 1050. This wou ld put Herleva in her forties around the time of her death. However, Dav id C. Douglas suggests that Herleva probably died before Herluin founded t he abbey because her name does not appear on the list of benefactors, wher eas the name of Herluin's second wife, Fredesendis, does.

    Father: Fulbert of Falaise b: ABT 978 in Falaise, Calvados, Normandy, France
    Mother: Doda of Falaise b: ABT 980 in Falaise, Calvados, Normandy, France

    Marriage 1 *Robert II "The Magnificent" of Normandy b: 22 JUN 1000 in Normandy, France
      1. Has Children *William "the Conqueror" of Normandy b: 14 OCT 1024 in Falaise, Normandie, France c: 1066 in Norman Conquest, As An Adult
      2. Has Children *Adelaide of Normandy b: ABT 1026 in Falaise, Calvados, Normandy
      3. Has Children *Godiva of Normandy b: ABT 1076 in Normandie, France

      Marriage 2 *Herlouin de Conteville b: ABT 1001 in Conteville, France
      • Married: BET 1031 AND 1035 1
      1. Has Children *Mathilde De Mortaigne
      2. Has Children *Emma de Conteville b: ABT 1029 in Conteville, France
      3. Has No Children Odo De Conteville b: ABT 1036
      4. Has Children *Robert De Mortaigne b: ABT 1037 in Mortaigne, Normandy, France
      5. Has No Children Muriel De Mortaigne b: ABT 1041

      1. Title: Wikipedia
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