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William FitzRalph

William FitzRalph
Continental domains of the Angevins, the most northern being the Duchy of Normandy, governed by William FitzRalph.
Tenure1178 - 1200
PredecessorRichard of Ilchester
SuccessorGuérin de Glapion
Other namesGuillaume fils Raoul
Years active1169 - 1200
OfficesSeneschal of Normandy, High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests
Robert FitzRalph, Matilda de Salicosa Mara, Avice
ParentsRalph FitzGeremund and Hawise

William FitzRalph was the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests from 1169 to 1177.[2] After, he was the seneschal of Normandy for 22 years under two dukes of Normandy, Henry II and Richard I, from 1178 to 1200.[3]


William FitzRalph owned land in Derbyshire and was the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests from 1169 until 1177.[2] FitzRalph was appointed the seneschal of Normandy in 1177 and was in office from 1178.[4][5] He took over the position permanently from Richard of Ilchester, who stepped down acting seneschal to return to the English exchequer.[5]

FitzRalph resided in and owned Caen, where in January 1183 he presided over Henry II of England's court there,[6][7] Caen also being the home of the Exchequer of Normandy.[7] He held court in Argentan, Bernai, Longueville, Neufchâtel, Saint-Wandrille, and Rouen.[8]

When Richard I of England became duke in 1189, FitzRalph's position was reconfirmed, making him the only seneschal of Richard's French possessions to keep his office; Stephen of Tours was replaced in Anjou by Payn de Rochefort, Peter Bertin was made seneschal of Poitou, and Helie de la Celle was made seneschal of Gascony.

The prestige of the office of seneschal of Normandy increased during FitzRalph's tenure, and began to fulfill the same functions as the Justiciar of England.[1] Charles Haskins believed that the seneschal had enhanced importance partly due to FitzRalph's personality, as he became second only to the sovereign in all administrative matters,[9] however, Jacques Boussard's viewed the power and eminence of the position as resulting from Richard of Ilchester's work in reorganising the exchequer.[10]

FitzRalph continued as seneschal until his death in 1200.[11] William Marshal stated that FitzRalph was "brave and wise but too old to fight" after a French courtier jokingly suggested that he should be one of King Henry's champions.[12]

At an unknown date, William FitzRalph had a son, Robert FitzRalph, who became Archdeacon of Nottingham around 1185 and later became Bishop of Worcester on 1 July 1190.[2][13] William seems to have a considerable interest in pious works. Through Robert he granted to Darley Abbey st Michael's Church, Derby, and the chapel of Alvaston.[14] However, in the case of Dale (Stanley Park) Abbey in Derbyshire, a Premonstratensian house where he was celebrated as founder,[15] he left a large part of the actual work to his daughter Matilda and her husband, Geoffrey de Salicosa Mara, and also charged them £100 for the "gift" of Stanley, which he had purchased for them and they transferred to the new abbey.[16]

In 1938, the leaden seal-die of William FitzRalph was found at Exton, Rutland.[17]


  1. ^ a b Harper-Bill, Christopher; Van Houts, Elizabeth (2002). A Companion to the Anglo-Norman World. p. 72. ISBN 978-1843833413.
  2. ^ a b c "British History Online Archdeacons of Nottingham " accessed 2 January 2015.
  3. ^ Haskins, Charles (1918). Norman Institutions. USA: Harvard University Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780674336902.
  4. ^ Strayer, Joseph R. (1959). A Forged Charter of Henry II for Bival. Medieval Academy of America. p. 1.
  5. ^ a b Warren, W.L. (2000). "The King's Government". Henry II. Great Britain: Yale University Press. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-300-08474-0.
  6. ^ Warren, W.L. (2000). "The King's Government". Henry II. Great Britain: Yale University Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-300-08474-0.
  7. ^ a b "Exchequer of Normandy: Pipe Rolls" . 1180. In the period for which the rolls survive it is clear that the Exchequer of Normandy was settled in the castle at Caen, which by then was in the custody of the seneschal of Normandy.
  8. ^ Haskins, Charles (1918). Norman Institutions. USA: Harvard University Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780674336902.
  9. ^ Haskins, Charles (1918). Norman Institutions. USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 183 & 184. ISBN 9780674336902.
  10. ^ Duggan, Charles (1966). "Secular Administration". Richard of Ilchester, Royal Servant and Bishop. Cambridge University Press. p. 9.
  11. ^ Powicke, F. M. (1907). "The Angevin Administration of Normandy". The English Historical Review. Oxford University Press. 22: 29.
  12. ^ "L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal", ed. P. Meyer, 3 vols, Pris 1891-94, i, lines 7517-28, 7596-604 (iii, 88-90)
  13. ^ "British History Online Bishops of Worcester " accessed 2 January 2015.
  14. ^ Statham, S. P. H. (1926). "Later descendants of Domesday holders of land in Derbyshire" (PDF). Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. 48: 60. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  15. ^ Colvin, H. M. (1940). Williamson, Frederick (ed.). "Dale Abbey: Its Foundation" (PDF). Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. 61: 6. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  16. ^ Colvin, H. M. Dale Abbey: Its Foundation, pp. 3—4.
  17. ^ "Other Acquisitions". The British Museum Quarterly: 66. April 1938. JSTOR 4422063 .

Categories: Duchy of Normandy | 1200 deaths | Henry II of England | Richard I of England | People from Derbyshire | 1140 births

Information as of: 23.06.2020 11:07:28 CEST

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