Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Roger de Montgomery

ROGER de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury and Arundel (d. 1093?), was of the Norman family of Montgomery. In the foundation charter for the abbey of Troarn he describes himself as ‘ego Rogerius ex Normanno Normannus, magni autem Rogerii filius’ (Stapleton, Rot. Normanniæ, i. lxiii, ii. xciii). He was son of Roger the Great, who in 1035 was an exile at Paris for treachery, and was a cousin not only of the Conqueror, but also of Ralph de Mortimer (d. 1104?) [q. v.] and of William FitzOsbern [q. v.] His brothers, Hugh, Robert, William, and Gilbert, took a prominent part in the disorders of Normandy under the young Duke William; it was William de Montgomery who murdered Osbern, the duke's steward, and father of William FitzOsbern (William of Jumièges, 268 B, 313 A). The young Roger, however, soon became one of William's most attached and trusted supporters. In 1048 he was with the duke before Domfront, and was one of the spies who discovered the hasty flight of Geoffrey Martel (Will. Poitiers, pp. 182–3; Will. Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, ii. 288). Roger added to his paternal estate as lord of Montgomery and viscount of L'Hiemois by marrying Mabel, daughter of William Talvas of Bellême, Alençon, and Séez, and thus became the greatest of the Norman lords. His influence with William was great. By inducing the duke to give the castle of Neufmarché-en-Lions to Hugh de Grantmesnil he rid himself of a dangerous neighbour, while by his advice Ralph of Toesny, Hugh de Grantmesnil, and Arnold d'Echaufour were for a time banished from Normandy (Ord. Vit. ii. 81, 113). Roger was present at the council of Lillebonne in 1066, and agreed to contribute sixty ships for the invasion of England. At Hastings he was in command of the French on the right, and distinguished himself by his valour in killing an English giant (Wace, 7668–9, 13400). He returned with William to Normandy in 1067, and when the king went over to England was left as guardian of the duchy jointly with Matilda (Ord. Vit. ii. 178). But William soon summoned Roger to rejoin him, and made him Earl of Chichester and Arundel.

About 1071 Roger obtained also the more important earldom of Shrewsbury, which, if it was not a true palatinate, possessed under Roger and his sons all the characteristics of such a dignity. In Shropshire there were no crown lands and no king's thegns; and in ‘Domesday’ there is mention of only five lay tenants in chief, besides the earl (Domesday, p. 253; Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 294–5; Freeman, Norman Conquest, iv. 493). The importance of this earldom and the need for its exceptional strength lay in its position on the Welsh border. Roger's special share in the conquest was achieved at the expense of the Welsh. This work was accomplished by politic government, and by a well-devised scheme of castle-building. Chief of his castles was that of Montgomery, to which he gave the name of his Norman lordship (Eyton, iv. 52, xi. 118). The chief of Roger's advisers were Warin, the sheriff, who married his niece, Amieria; William Pantulf or Pantolium [q. v.]; and Odelerius, his chaplain, the father of Ordericus Vitalis (Ord. Vit. ii. 220). But though Roger is praised by Ordericus, he does not seem to have been so popular with his English subjects, for the English burgesses of Shrewsbury complained that they had to pay the same geld as before the earl held the castle (Domesday, p. 252). Roger exerted himself to bring about the peace of Blanchelande between William and Fulk Rechin of Anjou in 1078, and to effect a reconciliation between the king and his son Robert in the following year (Ord. Vit. ii. 257, 388). In December 1082 his Countess Mabel was killed by Hugh de la Roche d'Igé at Bures-sur-Dives. Mabel was a little woman, sagacious and eloquent, but bold and cruel (Will. Jumièges, p. 275). Among other ill deeds, she had deprived Pantulf of Perai. Pantulf, who was a friend of Hugh d'Igé, was suspected of complicity in the murder, and in consequence suffered much at the hands of Roger and his sons (Ord. Vit. ii. 410–11, 432). After Mabel's death Roger married Adeliza, daughter of Ebrard de Puiset, a woman of very different character, who supported her husband in his beneficence to monks. In 1083 Roger commenced to found Shrewsbury Abbey by the advice of Odelerius; the work was still in progress at the time of the Domesday survey (ib. ii. 421; Will. Malmesbury, Gesta Pont. p. 306; Domesday, p. 252 b).

Roger secretly supported the cause of Robert of Normandy against William Rufus in 1088, but apparently he took no active part in the rebellion (English Chron.; Flor. wig. ii. 21; but cf. Will. Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, pp. 360–1). While Rufus was engaged in Sussex, he found an opportunity to meet Roger, and by conciliatory arguments won him over to his side (Will. Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, p. 361). Roger was actually present at the siege of Rochester in the king's host, while his three sons were fighting on the other side within the castle. Robert of Bellême [q. v.], the eldest son, soon made his peace with William, and presently crossed over to Normandy, where Duke Robert threw him into prison. Roger of Shrewsbury then also went to Normandy, and garrisoned his castles against Duke Robert. The duke was urged by his uncle, Odo of Bayeux [q. v.], to expel the whole brood of Talvas; for a time he followed Odo's counsel, but after a little disbanded his army. Roger then, by making false promises, obtained all he wished for, including his son's release (Ord. Vit. ii. 292–294, 299). Soon afterwards Roger went back to England. A little before his death he took the habit of a monk at Shrewsbury, and, after spending three days in pious conversation and prayer, died on 27 July (Ord. Vit. iii. 425). The year was probably 1093, as given by Florence of Worcester (ii. 31), for Ordericus (ii. 421) says distinctly that Roger survived the Conqueror for six years; the date is, however, often given as 1094, and M. Le Prevost even favours 1095 (see Eyton, ix. 29, xi. 119). According to a late tradition, Roger died at his house at Quatford (ib. ix. 317), but this is against the plain statement of Ordericus. He was buried in the abbey at Shrewsbury, between two altars.

Roger of Montgomery was ‘literally foremost among the conquerors of England’ (Freeman, Norman Conquest, ii. 194). To Ordericus he is the ancient hero, the lover of justice, and of the company of the wise and moderate (ii. 220, 422). Even in Mabel's lifetime he was a munificent friend of monks. In 1050 he established monks at Troarn in place of the canons provided for by Roger I in 1022. By the advice of Mabel's uncle William, bishop of Séez, Roger restored St. Martin Séez as a cell of St. Evroul (Ord. Vit. ii. 22, 46–7, iii. 305). Roger's second wife, Adeliza de Puiset, joined with him in the foundation of Shrewsbury Abbey, bringing monks from Séez; the benefactions commenced in 1083 seem to have been completed in 1087 (ib. ii. 416, 421–2; Dugdale, Monast. Angl. iii. 518–20). Roger also restored the abbey of St. Milburga at Wenlock for Cluniac monks, and established the priory of St. Nicholas, Arundel (ib. vi. 1377). The collegiate church at Quatford, Shropshire, is said to have been founded by Earl Roger to commemorate the escape of Adeliza from shipwreck (Brompton, ap. Scriptores Decem, col. 988). Roger was also a benefactor of the abbey of Cluny, and of Almenesches and Caen in Normandy, and of St. Evroul, to which he gave lands at Melbourne in Cambridgeshire (Ord. Vit. ii. 415, iii. 20). Besides the castles at Shrewsbury and Montgomery, he built another at Quatford.

By Mabel, Roger was father of five sons: Robert of Bellême [see Bellême], Hugh de Montgomery [see Hugh], Roger, Philip, and Arnulf; the last three are noticed below. He had also four daughters: Emma, who was abbess of Almenesches from 1074 to 4 March 1113; Matilda, who married Robert of Mortain; Mabel, wife of Hugh de Chateauneuf en Thimerais; and Sybil, who was, by Robert FitzHamo, mother of Matilda, the wife of Earl Robert of Gloucester [q. v.] By Adeliza he had one son, Ebrard, a learned clerk, who was in Orderic's time one of the royal chaplains in the court of Henry I (Ord. Vit. ii. 412, iii. 318, 426).

Roger the Poitevin (fl. 1110), the third son, owed his surname to his marriage with Almodis, daughter of the Count of Marche in Poitou, in whose right he succeeded to her brother, Count Boso, in 1091 (Recueil des Historiens de France, xii. 402). His father obtained for him the earldom of Lancaster in England (Ord. Vit. ii. 423, iii. 425–6). In 1088 he fought on the rebel side at Rochester, but was taken into favour soon after, and in September was acting on behalf of Rufus in the negotiations with William of St. Calais [see William], bishop of Durham, in whose behalf he afterwards appealed without success (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. i. 246–8; Freeman, William Rufus, ii. 93, 109, 117). In 1090 he was fighting on behalf of his brother Robert of Bellême against Hugh of Grantmesnil (Ord. Vit. iii. 361). Afterwards he held Argentan in Normandy for William against Duke Robert, but was forced to surrender in 1094 (English Chronicle; Hen. Hunt. p. 217). Roger sided with his brother Robert of Bellême in his rebellion against Henry I in 1102, and for his treason was deprived of his earldom and expelled from England. He retired to his wife's castle of Charroux, near Civrai, where he waged a long war with Hugh VI of Lusignan as to the county of La Marche. He was succeeded as count of La Marche by his son, Audebert III; his daughter Pontia married Vulgrin, count of Angoulême (Ord. Vit. iv. 178–9; Recueil, xii. 402). Roger gave lands in Lancashire to his father's foundation at Shrewsbury, and was himself the founder of a priory at Lancaster as a cell of St. Martin Séez (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. iii. 519, 521, vi. 997–9).

Philip of Montgomery (d. 1099), called Grammaticus or the Clerk, fourth son of Roger de Montgomery, witnessed the foundation charter of Shrewsbury Abbey (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. iii. 520). He took part in the rebellion of Robert de Mowbray [q. v.] in 1094. Early in 1096 he was imprisoned by William II (Flor. Wig. i. 39), but was soon released, and in the same year went on the crusade with Robert of Normandy, and, after fighting valiantly against Corbogha at Antioch, died at Jerusalem. William of Malmesbury describes him as renowned beyond all knights in letters. His daughter Matilda succeeded her aunt Emma as abbess of Almenesches (Ord. Vit. iii. 483, iv. 183; Will. Malm. Gesta Regum, p. 461). The Scottish family of Montgomerie, now represented by the Earl of Eglinton, claims to be descended from Philip de Montgomery [see under Montgomerie, Sir John]. Philip had issue, who remained in Normandy and bore the name of Montgomery (Stapleton, Rot. Norm. II. xciv).

Arnulf, Earl of Pembroke (fl. 1110), fifth son of Roger de Montgomery, obtained Dyved or Pembroke as his share by lot (Ord. Vit. ii. 423, iii. 425–6; Brut y Tywysogion, p. 67). He built the castle of Pembroke ‘ex virgis et cespite’ about 1090 (ib.; Gir. Cambr. vi. 89). The same year he was fighting for Robert of Bellême, and twelve years later he took a chief part in the rebellion against Henry I. Arnulf sent for help to Ireland, and asked for the daughter of Murchadh [q. v.], king of Leinster, in marriage, which was easily obtained. He crossed over to Ireland to receive his wife, and is said to have supported the Irish against Magnus of Norway, and aspired to obtain the kingdom of Ireland. Murchadh, however, took away his daughter Lafacroth, and schemed to kill Arnulf. Subsequently Arnulf was reconciled to Murchadh and married to Lafacroth, but he died the day after the wedding (Ord. Vit. iv. 177–8, 193–4; Brut, pp. 69, 73). He founded the priory of St. Nicholas in the castle at Pembroke as a cell of St. Martin Séez, 27 Aug. 1098 (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. iv. 320, vi. 999). The Welsh family of Carew claims descent from Arnulf.

[Ordericus Vitalis (Soc. de l'Hist. de France); William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum and Gesta Pontificum; Brut y Tywysogion (Rolls Ser.); William of Jumièges, and William of Poitiers, ap. Duchesne's Hist. Norm. Scriptores; Wace's Roman de Rou; Stapleton's Rot. Scacc. Normanniæ; Battle Abbey Roll, ed. Duchess of Cleveland; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 26–32, and Monasticon Anglicanum; Freeman's Norman Conquest and William Rufus; Eyton's Antiquities of Shropshire, passim; Owen and Blakeway's History of Shrewsbury; Planché's Conqueror and his Companions; other authorities quoted.]

C. L. K.