Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Beaumont, Robert de (d.1190)

BEAUMONT, ROBERT de, Earl of Leicester (d. 1190), baronial leader, was son of Robert de Beaumont, earl of Leicester [q. v.], who died in 1168. He joined the rebellion against Henry II in favour of Prince Henry, which broke out in April 1173 (Ben. Abb. i. 45), and having obtained permission to visit Normandy, shut himself up in his castle of Bréteuil (R. Dic.) His English fiefs were confiscated in consequence, and an army sent against his town of Leicester, which was taken and burnt (28 July), with the exception of the castle, after a siege of three weeks (ib.) Henry II himself marched on Bréteuil, 8 Aug., and (the earl having fled before him) captured and burnt the place on 25-6 Sept. 1173. The earl is said to have been present at Gisors during the fruitless negotiations between the two kings, and to have upbraided Henry with his grievous losses. But this seems incompatible with the fact that he landed from Flanders, at Walton, Suffolk, 29 Sept. 1173, at the head of a force of Flemings (R. Dic.), and having been joined by Hugh (Bigod), earl of Norfolk, plundered Norwich, and besieged and took the castle of Hagenet on 13 Oct. Setting out for Leicester, he was intercepted at Fornham, near Bury St. Edmunds, by Richard de Luci and other supporters of the king (17 Oct.), and taken prisoner, with his wife (Rog. Hov. ii. 54-5). They were sent over to Henry (Rot. Pip.) and imprisoned by him at Falaise, till his return to England, 8 July 1174, when he brought them with him (Rog. Hov. ii. 54-5). Meanwhile the earl's castellan had broken forth from Leichester, and ravaged the country round, and Henry now (31 July 1174) extorted the surrender of his castles, Leicester, Mountsorrel, and Groby (ib. ii. 65). The king took his prisoners back with him to Normandy on 8 August, but by the treaty with Louis on 30 Sept. 1174 the earl's liberation was provided for (ib.) His castle of Leicester was, however, demolished (R. Dic. i. 404), and it was not till January 1177 that in the council of Northampton he was restored in blood and honours (ib. ii. 118), and his castles (except Mountsorrel) returned to him. He accompanied the king to Normandy in the summer, but is not again heard of till the spring of 1183, when, with the earl of Gloucester, he was arrested and imprisoned. He was, however, in attendance on the king at Christmas 1186, when he kept his court at Guildford, and on the accession of Richard (July 1189) he was completely reinstated (ib. iii. 5) and appointed at the coronation, 3 Sept. 1189, to carry one of the swords of state (ib. iii. 9). He appears as attesting a charter to the monks of Canterbury, 1 Dec. 1189 (Gervase, i. 503), but then went on pilgrimage to Palestine, and died in Greece, on his way back, 1190 (ib. iii. 88). This earl was known as Robert (ès) Blanchesmains. Copies of his charters to his burgesses of Leicester will be found on pp. 36 and 44 of Mr. Thompson's 'Essay on Municipal History.' He married Petronilla ('Parnel'), heiress of the house of Grantmesnil, who is said to have brought him the honour of Hinckley (Leicester), but it is possible that he may have inherited it from his grandfather. His son and heir Robert (Fitz-Parnel) was invested with the earldom of Leicester by Richard at Messina, early in 1191 (Rog. Hov.), and having distinguished himself in the crusade and been subsequently captured by the king of France in 1193, while defending Rouen for Richard, and liberated in 1196, died childless in 1204. Of this Robert's two younger brothers, Roger was made bishop of St. Andrew's in Scotland, 1189, and William (founder of St. Leonard's at Leicester) was a leper. The great inheritance of the earls of Leicester consequently passed, through his two sisters, to the houses of de Montfort and de Quenci.

[Roger Hoveden (Rolls series); R. Diceto (ib.); Dugdale's Baronage, i. 87; Nichols's History of Leicester, pp. 69-90; Thompson's History of Leicester (chap, vii.) and Essay on Municipal History; Eyton's Court and Itinerary of Henry II.]

J. H. R.