The Heirs to the Conquest

The enemy brothers, Robert, William and Henry

The death of William was followed by serious events in England and Normandy alike.

The great Norman barons tried to extract themselves from the authority of William Rufus under the pretext of supporting the birthright of Robert Curthose. In fact they hoped for greater autonomy from a more distant and more dilute authority, but William Rufus firmly established his government of England and drove out the insurgents. His reign was characterised by the Norman expansion at the Scottish and Welsh borders, but also by troubled relations with the Church, especially with Anselm of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1092 to 1098.

Keep of Domfront, the first square keep built in Normandy by Henri Beauclerc (1092).Robert, for his part was unable to keep control over his Duchy which was subject to revolts by the powerful and by numerous private wars. In 1090 the capital of Normandy, Rouen itself, rose up against the Duke. The third son of William, Henry took advantage of these circumstances to first establish himself in Cotentin and subsequently in the Domfront region where he built the first square keep (1092).

The disorders in Normandy were such that William Rufus was called upon to intervene on two occasions. The first time was in 1091, when he allied himself with Robert against their brother Henry. The second time, in 1094, he reversed this alliance and provided Henry with the resources with which to attack Robert.

In the meantime Robert and William, provisionally reconciled, held court in Caen in 1091 and decided to make an inventory of the former rights and powers held by their father, William. The texts of this enquiry, the "Consuetudines et Justitie", were in fact a statement of all that the Duke of Normandy had lost since his father's time.

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