Robert Curthose

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Robert Curthose (c.1050-1134) was the eldest son of William, duke of Normandy – later William I, “the Conqueror” - and chosen as his successor in Normandy before the 1066 invasion of England. Despite quarrels with his father incurring at least two periods of exile, he succeeded to the duchy on William’s death.

Any hopes for succession in England were dashed by William’s deathbed bequest in 1087 in favour of Robert’s younger brother William Rufus; then again in 1100 when he was away on crusade when the third brother Henry I snatched the throne after William was killed. His attempts in 1088 and 1101 to take the throne by force were unsuccessful. After the later attempt, Henry decided to settle things once for all and in 1105 and 1106 he invaded Normandy. Robert was defeated and captured at the Battle of Tinchebrai and taken to England. He was imprisoned in castles at Wareham, Devizes, Bristol and, in Wales, Cardiff, where he died. He was buried at Gloucester Abbey.

His nickname, literally “little boots”, was probably given to him as a child by his father. He seems to have been plagued by certain bad decisions. His quarrels with his father probably cost him the crown of England in 1087. He refused the crown of Jerusalem when offered it during the Third Crusade, instead, returning home to challenge Henry. He risked battle at Tinchebrai when he was greatly outnumbered. He was however a brave man and a noted warrior, helping to defeat the Saracens at the battle of Antioch in 1098.

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