Ranulph DE GERNON 2nd Earl of Chester
- Born: 1099, Guernon Castle, Normandy, France
- Married: Abt 1141, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England
- Died: 16 Dec 1153, Chester, Cheshire, England
- Buried: St Werburgh, Chester, Cheshire, England
EARLDOM OF CHESTER (V, 2)
RANULPH, styled "DE GERNON," EARL OF CHESTER, also VICOMTE D'AVRANCHES, &C., in Normandy, son and heir. He was born before 1100, in the Castle of Gernon in Normandy. To the detriment of his elder brother of the half blood, William (de Roumare), Earl of Lincoln, he appears to have Iong held a large portion of the profits of the EARLDOM OF LINCOLN. He distinguished himself as a soldier both on the side of the Empress Maud and of that of King Stephen, with the greatest impartiality. He was one of the 5 Earls (h) who witnessed the Charter to Salisbury granted at the Northampton Council of Henry I, 8 September 1131. To Stephen's second "Charter of Liberties" he was, in 1136, a witness, and by him he was made Constable of Lincoln. Against that King, however, he took part at the battle of Lincoln, 2 February 1141, in which Stephen was made prisoner, who retaliated on the Earl 29 August 1146, by seizing him at Court, at Northampton. The King granted him the Castle and city of Lincoln, probably after the pacification of 1151.
He married, about 1141, Maud, daughter of Robert, EARL OF GLOUCESTER, by Mabel, daughter and heir of Robert FITZ-HAMOND, lord of Tewkesbury. Having again taken part with King Stephen, and being consequently distrusted by both sides, he died 16 [?17] December 1153, being supposed to have been poisoned by his wife and William Peverell, of Nottingham. He was buried at St. Werburg's, Chester. His widow, who in 1172 founded Repton Priory, co. Derby, died 29 July 1189. [Complete Peerage III:166-7, XIV:170, (transcribed by Dave Utzinger)]
(h) The four others were, Robert of Gloucester, William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, Robert of Leicester and Roger of Warwick.
Ranulph de Meschines (surnamed de Gernons, from being born in Gernon Castle, in Normandy), Earl of Chester. This nobleman, who was a leading military character, took an active part with the Empress Maud, and the young Prince Henry, against King Stephen, in the early part of the contest, and having defeated the king and made him prisoner at the battle of Lincoln, committed him to the castle of Bristol. He subsequently, however, sided with the king, and finally, distrusted by all, died under excommunication in 1155, supposed to have been poisoned by William Peverell, Lord of Nottingham, who being suspected of the crime, is said to have turned monk to avoid its punishment. The earl m. Maud, dau. of Robert, surnamed the Consul, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of King Henry I, and had issue, Hugh, his successor, named Keveliok, from the place of his birth, in Merionethshire; Richard; Beatrix, m. to Ralph de Malpas. His lordship was s. by his elder son, Hugh (Keveliok), 3rd Earl of Chester. [Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 365, Meschines, Earls of Chester]
Ranulf II de Gernons, 4th Earl of Chester, VICOMTE (Viscount) DE BAYEUX, VICOMTE D'AVRANCHES, Ranulf also spelled RANDULF, or RALPH (b. c. 1100--d. Dec. 16, 1153), a key participant in the English civil war (from 1139) between King Stephen and the Holy Roman empress Matilda (also a claimant to the throne of England). Ranulf, nicknamed 'aux Gernons' (i.e. moustaches), played a prominent and vacillating part in the civil war of Stephen's reign, his actions, in common with most of his peers, springing from personal grievances rather than dynastic loyalty or principle. Ranulf's father, Ranulf I, had been granted the earldom of Chester in 1121 after his maternal uncle had drowned in the White Ship disaster (1120) but, in return, had been compelled to surrender Cumberland and his patrimony of Carlisle. The restoration of these lost estates was the mainspring of much of Ranulf II's political life. Inheriting the Chester earldom in 1129, he initially supported Stephen as king after 1135. However, successive treaties between Stephen and King David of Scotland in 1136 and 1139 gave the Scots large tracts of land in Cumberland coveted by Ranulf who reacted by seizing the town and besieging the castle. Ranulf now allied with the Empress Matilda in defeating the king at Lincoln in February 1141, capturing and briefly imprisoning Stephen. Ranulf's association with the Angevin party was cemented by his marriage in 1141 to the daughter of Robert of Gloucester. Later (1149) he transferred his allegiance to the king in return for a grant of the city and castle of Lincoln. Coventry received its original charter from him. However, his territorial ambitions were no closer realisation as the king of Scots was also a close ally of Matilda. In 1145, Ranulf was reconciled to Stephen. However, there was no love lost between Ranulf and the king's entourage, many of whom had suffered at his hands. In August, 1146, at Northampton, Ranulf was suddenly arrested and put in chains when he refused the king's demand to restore all lands he had taken. He was only released when he surrendered all former royal property, including Lincoln. Stephen's arrest of Ranulf was a public relations disaster. He had broken his oath of reconciliation of 1145 and his own promise of protection, thus deterring any more defections from the Angevin faction. Stephen had breached a central tenet of effective medieval rule, that of being a good -- i.e. fair -- lord. Ranulf joined Henry FitzEmpress and was reconciled with David of Scotland who, in return for the lavish grant to Ranulf of most of Lancashire, retained Carlisle. But Ranulf was never a party man. His priorities remained centred on his own territorial and dynastic advantage, as shown by his 'conventio' with a leading royalist baron Robert of Leicester (1149/53). Under this treaty, the two magnates, independently of their rival liege-lords Stephen and Henry FitzEmpress, agreed to limit any hostilities forced between them by their masters and to protect their respective tenurial positions. Ranulf's career, notorious for his arrest in 1146, is more significant as evidence that the drama of high politics was played against a dense background of baronial competition for rights, lands, and inheritances which took precedence over any claims of royalty. [Encyclopædia Britannica CD '97, RANULF DE GERNONS, 4TH EARL OF CHESTER]
Ranulph married Matilda DE GLOUCESTER Countess of Chester, daughter of Robert DE CAEN Earl of Gloucester and Maud (Mabel, Sibyl) FITZ HAMON, about 1141 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. (Matilda DE GLOUCESTER Countess of Chester was born about 1117 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England and died on 29 Jul 1189 in Chester, Cheshire, England.)