Seigneur Raoul (Ralph) "the Staller" DE GA╦L, Earl of Norfolk
(Bef 1011-1069)
Seigneur Raoul (Ralph) DE MONTFORT-GA╦L, Earl of Norfolk
(Bef 1040-Aft 1096)


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Emma DE HEREFORD, Countess of Norfolk

Seigneur Raoul (Ralph) DE MONTFORT-GA╦L, Earl of Norfolk

  • Born: Before 1040, Gaël, Ille-et-Vilaine, Bretagne, France
  • Married: 1075, Exning, Cambridgeshire, England
  • Died: After 1096, on the way to Palestine

  General Notes:

Compiler's 27/28 x great-grandfather

  Research Notes:

The Chronicon Centulense records a charter under which King William I confirmed donations to Saint-Riquier made by "le comte Raoul et Raoul son fils".

Earl of Norfolk: Orderic Vitalis records that King William I granted "comitatum Northwici" to "Radulfo de Guader genero Guillelmi filii Osberni". Florence of Worcester records that "Herefordensis comes Rogerus filius Willelmi…East-Anglorum comiti Radulfo" conspired against King William in [1074]. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that he escaped to Denmark in search of help, returning with 200 ships under Knud, son of King Svend, and Jarl Hakon but that they left for Flanders before joining battle. Orderic Vitalis records that he was deprived of all his lands and his earldom in England and eventually retired to Brittany, where he was Seigneur de Gaël.

Florence of Worcester records that he and his wife accompanied Robert Duke of Normandy on the First Crusade, in the course of which they both died. 1


He inherited the great Breton barony of Gael, which comprised more than forty parishes. In England, whether by inheritance or by grant from the Crown, he held large estates in Norfolk, as well as property in Suffolk, Essex, Hertford, and possibly other counties. In some of these estates he certainly succeeded his father, but it is doubtful whether he obtained the Earldom immediately on his fatherĺs death.

Up to 1074:

* In 1065 he was with Conan II, Duke of Brittany when he besieged Thiwallon, Lord of Dol, in the castle of Combour.
* In 1066 he fought on the Norman side at the Battle of Hastings.
* In February or March 1068 he was present at William the Conquerorĺs court with his father.
* In 1069 he routed a force of Norsemen which had invaded Norfolk and occupied Norwich. It may been in recognition of this exploit (or of services rendered at Hastings) that the Conqueror created him Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk, or the East Angles, the Earldom being also styled, from its capital, of Norwich.
* It is presumably this Ralph who, on 13 April 1069 was with the King at Winchester and witnessed, as Earl Ralph, a diploma in favour of St.Denis of Paris and in the same year witnessed, as Earl Ralph, a grant in favour of the Bishop of Essex.
* 1074- It is possible that Ralph defended Dol when the Conqueror besieged it unsuccessfully in 1074.

Ralph built a church in Norwich, in the new town, and give it to his chaplains; but there is not record of religious benefactions by him in Brittany.

He married, before 1080, Emma, daughter of William Fitzosbern, 1st Earl of Hereford and Adelissa de Tosny.

In 1075 the king's refusal to sanction this marriage caused a revolt in his absence by Ralph, his new brother-in-law Roger de Breteuil, 2nd Earl of Hereford and Waltheof, 1st Earl of Northumberland. The revolt was plagued by disaster. Waltheof lost heart and confessed the conspiracy to Lanfranc, who urged Earl Roger to return to his allegiance, and finally excommunicated him and his adherents - Waltheof was later executed by William. Ralph encountered a much superior force under the warrior bishops Odo of Bayeux and Geoffrey de Montbray (the latter ordered that all rebels should have their right foot cut off!) near Cambridge and retreated hurriedly to Norwich, hotly pursued by the royal army. Leaving his wife to defend Norwich Castle, he sailed for Denmark in search of help, and eventually returned to England with a fleet of 200 ships under Cnut and Hakon, which failed to do anything effective.

Meanwhile the Countess held out in Norwich until she obtained terms for herself and her followers, who were deprived of their lands, but were allowed forty days to leave the realm. Thereupon the Countess retired to her estate in Brittany, where she was rejoined by her husband. Ralph was deprived of all his lands and of his Earldom.

For the rest of his life he remained a great baron of Brittany, with no interests in England. In 1076, having plotted against Duke Hoel of Brittany, he was besieged at Dol, and the Conqueror came to Hoel's aid; but Ralph finally made his peace.

In 1089 he attested the judgment in a dispute between the monks of Redon, Ille-et-Vilaine and the chaplains of the Duke of Brittany. He also attested a charter of Alan IV, Duke of Brittany, in favour of St.Georges at Rennes (1084-1096). The Conqueror being dead, Ralph appears in Normandy c.1093 as a witness in the record of a suit between the abbots of Lonlay and St.Florent. There is, however, no record of religious benefactions by him in Brittany.

In 1096, accompanied by his wife and under Robert Curthose, he went on Crusade. He was one of the Breton leaders who took part in the siege of Nicaea, after which he joined Bohemund I of Antiochĺs division of the army.

Both Ralph and his wife Emma died on the road to Palestine in the course of the Crusade. 2

  Marriage Information:

Raoul married Emma DE HEREFORD, Countess of Norfolk, daughter of Guillaume (William) FITZ OSBERN, 1st Earl of Hereford, and Adelise DE TOSNY, in 1075 in Exning, Cambridgeshire, England. (Emma DE HEREFORD was born in Herefordshire, England and died after 1096 on the way to Palestine.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands, Ralph.

2 This synopsis is shown in a number of secondary sources, presumably all derived from the Wikipedia article Ralph de Gael, which cites Medlands (above) and Keats-Rohan.

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