Roger the Poitevin

Roger the Poitevin (Roger de Poitou) was born in Normandy, around the year 1058, and died between 1122 and 1140. He was an Anglo-Norman aristocrat, who possessed large holdings in both England and (in right of his wife) in France.

He was the third son of Roger of Montgomery, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury and Mabel of Bellême. The appellation "the Poitevin" was for his marriage to an heiress from Poitou (see below).

Around 1074 Roger acquired, probably through the influence of his father, a great lordship in England, with lands in Lancashire (which however had not yet been established as a county), parts of Manchester, Essex, Suffolk, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Hampshire. The principal part of the Lordship was in was then called "inter Mersam et Ripam", that is, "between the Mersey and the Ribble", and is now part of Lancashire.

Also before 1086 he married Almodis, daughter of count Aldebert II of La Marche in Poitou, and sister and presumptive heiress of the childless and unmarried count Boso III.

Around 1091 Roger's brother-in-law Boso died, but Roger was apparently preoccupied with Norman and English affairs, and his wife's uncle Odo became count of La Marche.

In 1092 Roger acquired a large part of what is now north Lancashire. These grants gave Roger effective control of all the lands north of the River Ribble to the River Lune, which formed a natural border between the secure Norman lands in England and the strongly contested Scottish frontier lands in Cumberland. Due to long established lines of communication across Morecambe Bay, Roger also assumed authority over the regions of Furness and Cartmel; these remained a part of Lancashire until as recently as 1974. The expansion of Roger's lands followed his support of King William II Rufus's invasion of Cumbria in AD1092, where Dolfin of Dunbar probably ruled as a vassal of Scottish King Malcolm Canmore(Alternatively, after c.AD1070 Dolfin may have seized and ruled Cumbria as an independent Lord with an ancestry that traced back to another Dolfin, son of Thorfinn, and the ancient Lords of Cumbria). Dolfin was driven out and the Anglo-Scottish border was established north of Carlisle. Roger also acquired the great honour of Eye centered in Suffolk.

Roger's father died in 1094, leaving his estates to Roger's elder brothers. Roger now had to pick his own course in the complicated politics of late 11th century England and France. His first big choice came later in 1094, during the conflicts between William Rufus and Robert Curthose. Rufus had been generous to Roger and was his overlord in England, while Roger's elder brother Robert was loyal to Curthose.

Rufus sent Roger to hold the castle at Argentan in Normandy, but Roger quickly and without a fight surrendered it to Philip I of France, who was an ally of Curthose. Naturally he lost Rufus's trust and had little influence on the remaining four years of the reign.

Roger, along with his brothers, was a supporter of Curthose in his conflicts with Henry I of England during the early years of Henry's reign. After their failed rebellion of 1102, they lost their English holdings and were exiled.

Roger then went to his wife's holdings in Poitou. Almodis's uncle Odo was ousted as count of La Marche in 1104, and subsequently the sons of Roger and Almodis are styled as count. Roger himself appears not have had much influence in affairs there, and in 1109 he was permitted to return to England (Robert Curthose having in the interim been defeated and imprisoned), where he stayed for a while but did not recover his earlier holdings.

The children of Roger and Almodis include:
* Aldebert IV of La Marche
* Boso IV of La Marche
* Odo II of La Marche
* Pontia of La Marche, who married Wulgrin II of Angoulême
* Avice de Lancaster

References

*Victoria Chandler, "The Last of the Montgomerys: Roger the Poitevin and Arnulf", "Historical Research", 62 (1989) 1-14
* C. P. Lewis, "The King and Eye: A Study in Anglo-Norman Politics", "English Historical Review", 104 (1989) 569-87
* Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom by G. E. Cokayne, Page: IV: Appendix I, 762-5


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