The most difficult problem associated with Renaud de Courtenay, shown below, is deciding whether Renaud Seigneur de Courtenay, son of Milon Seigneur de Courtenay, who is recorded in French sources until 1149 (“French Renaud”) was the same person as Renaud de Courtenay who is recorded in England between [1160/61] and 1194 (“English Renaud”). Several factors favour this co-identity:
· Similar ages. The birth of French Renaud’s mother can be dated to a few years before 1085, when her own mother is named with her presumed second husband or, if that second marriage is incorrect ..., when she must have been deceased. French Renaud was her third known son, therefore probably born in [1105/20]. The birth of French Renaud’s daughter Elisabeth, dated to [1140/45], suggests that he was probably born in the later part of that range. The birth of Guillaume, first son of English Renaud, can also be dated to [1140/45] which suggests that his father was probably born around the same time as French Renaud. English Renaud’s death is dated to 1194 which, if the suggested birth date ranges are correct, would not be inconsistent with the birth of French Renaud in, say, [1112/20].
· No overlap. French Renaud is last recorded in France in 1149. English Renaud is first recorded in England in [1160/61]. The chronology of the births of the children of French Renaud and English Renaud also appears to match, especially considering that one source states that English Renaud’s first son Guillaume was born to his father’s first wife who, from a chronological point of view, could have been the same person as French Renaud’s known wife. A potential difficulty with this argument is an apparent reference to French Renaud’s wife in 1155, but this mention has not been verified as correct.
· No other obvious parentage for English Renaud. No reference to the Courtenay family in England has been found before [1160/61], for example in the 1129 Pipe Roll and or in the charters of Kings Henry I and Stephen which are reproduced in the Regesta Regum Anglorum series. It is a safe assumption that English Renaud arrived in England from France shortly before [1160/61] and that he was related to the French Courtenay family. From a chronological point of view, English Renaud could have been the son of one of Milon de Courtenay’s younger brothers. The eldest known brother Joscelin can probably be dismissed, as his known descendants are described fully in crusader sources. Of the other two known brothers, no record has been found of their having married and having had children.
· English Renaud’s daughter. She is named “filie Regin de Crtinni” in London/Middlesex in the [1166/67] Pipe Roll, when she must have been of age. No reference has been found to her marriage or descendants, or indeed to any other daughter of English Renaud. It is possible that she was the same person as Elisabeth, daughter of French Renaud and married to Pierre de France, who held some interest in England at that time through her father.
· “Guillaume de Courtenay” in France in 1160. “Willelmus de Cortiniaco...”, signing first in the subscription list, witnessed the charter dated 24 Nov 1160 under which “Petrus dominus Curtiniaci et uxor mea Elisabeth” confirmed donations made by “antecessorum nostrorum...dominus Milo et filii eius” to Fontaine-Jean abbey. It is unlikely that the witness was Guillaume de Courtenay, older brother of Milon de Courtenay, who most likely died during the 1147 Second Crusade. In addition, the body of the document refers to “dominus Milo et filii eius”: if the witness had been one of Milon’s sons, the fact would probably have been mentioned. The only other known Guillaume de Courtenay at the time was the oldest son of English Renaud, whose existence is confirmed (as well as his death before that date) by the 1194 Pipe Roll entry which is quoted below. If Guillaume, son of English Renaud, was born during the early part of the date range [1140/45] (see above), he would recently have come of age in 1160. If his father was French Renaud, he would have been the senior male representative of the previous Courtenay dynasty apart from French Renaud himself (assuming, for this part of the discussion, that he was still alive). In that case, the donors may have considered it prudent to involve him in the confirmation to avoid future challenges. Guillaume de Courtenay is named in a second charter: “Petrus de Curtiniaco frater regis” confirmed donations made to Fontaine-Jean abbey by “Guillelmus de Curtiniaco” on leaving for Jerusalem, with the consent of “uxoris mei Elisabeth”, by undated charter. Again, it is unlikely that this document refers to Milon’s son Guillaume, who is known to have left for Jerusalem on the Second Crusade, as ex post facto confirmation of his donations at that time would have been unnecessary especially as the 1160 document confirmed all donations which he would have made (“dominus Milo et filii eius”). If that is correct, it is likely that the donor Guillaume was the same person who witnessed the 1160 charter and therefore also possibly the son of English Renaud.
· English Renaud’s status in England. English Renaud and his family are recorded with landholdings in Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire, Kent, Devon, Dorset/Somerset, and Northamptonshire, as well as Sutton in Berkshire, in Pipe Rolls during the reign of King Henry II. English Renaud is also recorded as the guardian of the minor Walter de Bolebec in the 1160s. The wives of his sons Guillaume and Robert belonged to prominent families. All these factors indicate that English Renaud held a certain amount of status in the land-holding class in England, consistent with a prominent family origin.
· The alleged confiscation of French Renaud’s assets in France. Modern secondary sources state that French Renaud quarrelled with the French king who confiscated his assets and awarded them to his brother Pierre de France on marrying French Renaud’s daughter Elisabeth. They also state that French Renaud left for England where he was granted Sutton in Berkshire by King Henry II. No primary sources have been identified which confirm all these statements. Documents dated to 1149 confirm a dispute between French Renaud and the French king. The delay before English Renaud’s first appearance in [1160/61] suggests that this may not have been the dispute which triggered the supposed confiscation, if the story is true. Taken with all the other indications, a serious dispute followed by confiscation provides the best explanation for the changes in fortune of the Courtenay family in the mid-12th century, even though there is no proof.
Some factors which do not support the supposed co-identity are:
· The Continuator of Aimon of Fleury. This source records that Pierre de France received the lands of [French] Renaud on marrying his daughter, adding that “quia non erat alius hæres superstes” (“as there was no other surviving heir”). The Continuator does not state explicitly that French Renaud had died, although this seems to be implied by the wording of the relevant paragraph. The story told by the Continuator appears straightforward, with no hint of a dispute or of confiscation of property, until the other factors listed above are considered. If the Continuator can be dated to , it is possible that the existence of French Renaud’s disinherited sons may have been long forgotten by then, especially if they had settled in England and cut ties with France.
· Onomastics. The names Milon and Joscelin, typical of the French Courtenay family, are not found among English Renaud’s known descendants, although the existence of only a limited number of his descendants can be confirmed by primary source material.
· The Fundationis et Fundatorum Historia of Ford Abbey. This source names “domini Flori filii regis Franciæ Lodovici cognomento Grossi” as the father of English Renaud. There is no record of the existence of such a person and, assuming that “filii” was an error for “fratris”, no other evidence that Fleuri, son of Philippe I King of France ... had any connection with the Courtenay family. The Historia includes many pieces of information which are disproved by other primary sources or are otherwise unreliable.
On balance, taking all these factors into consideration, the existence of a single Renaud de Courtenay, to whom all the sources quoted below refer, seems likely. It also results in a reconstruction of his family which is consistent with all sources so far identified and appears to be credible as shown below....
The Continuator of Aimon of Fleury names “Willermum, Ioscelinum et Rainaldum” as the children of “Milonem de Cortinaco” and his wife “sorore comitis Nivernensis”. A charter dated to [1120/39] records donations for the foundation of the abbey of Notre-Dame des Echarlis, including a donation in the presence of "Milo de Curtiniaco et uxor eius Elisabeth et filii eorum Willelmus, Joscelinus, Rainaldus". Seigneur de Montargis: the History of Louis VII King of France names "…Willermus de Cortiniaco, Reinaldus de Monteargiso…" among those who accompanied King Louis VII on crusade in 1147. Renaud is recorded in France in 1149..., so presumably he returned from the crusade before the king, maybe to claim his family’s lands if his older brother Guillaume died overseas as suggested above.
Seigneur de Courtenay, de Montargis, de Châteaurenard, de Champignelles, de Tanlay, de Charny, et de Chante-cocq. Thibaut Comte de Blois wrote two letters to Suger informing him that “Raginaldus de Cortiniaco” had taken money from the king’s merchants, requested his support in avenging the outrage, and offered his help in case an army was sent against Renaud. The letters are undated, but Lecoy de la Marche dates them to 1149, presumably because of the king’s continuing absence on crusade during which time Suger exercised the government of the realm. Burke’s Peerage states that Louis VII King of France quarrelled with Renaud while on the Second Crusade, confiscated his French possessions, and bestowed them on his younger brother Pierre whom he married to Renaud’s daughter Elisabeth. It has not been possible to trace primary sources which justify all these statements. As discussed [above], the story of a quarrel and confiscation does provide the best explanation for the changes which occurred in the Courtenay family. No further primary source has been identified which names Renaud in France after 1149.
Burkes’s Peerage records that Henry II King of England granted the lordship of Sutton, Berkshire to “Renaud de Courtenay” in 1161. This statement is confirmed by the 1160/61 Pipe Roll which names "Regin de Curtenai…in Sutton" in Berkshire. (Renaud is not named in Sutton in the Pipe Roll for 1159/60 and by a later document in the Testa de Nevill: a writ of King John dated 1212 records that "Robertus de Curtenay" held "terre in Sutton" in Berkshire which King Henry II had granted to "Reginaldo de Curtenay avo suo". The question of the probable co-identity of “French Renaud” and “English Renaud” is discussed [above]. Renaud is listed in Sutton, Berkshire in each of the later Pipe Rolls between [1161/62] and [1189/90]. The 1167/68 Pipe Roll records Renaud de Courtenay in Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire (“Hildestona...Wottesdona”), in the same counties owing for “mil. Walti de Bolebec qui est in custodia eius”, in Essex/Hertfordshire, in Kent “de feod Walti de Bolebek”, and in Sutton in Berkshire. Renaud is listed in Pipe Rolls in 1168/69, 1169/70, 1170/71, 1175/76 in Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire, in 1168/69 in Cambridgeshire/Huntingdonshire, and from 1175/76 in Devon and Dorset/Somerset. In addition, Renaud’s son Robert is named from 1174/75 in Pipe Rolls in Northamptonshire. "…Raginaldo de Cortenaio" subscribed the charter dated to  under which Henry II King of England confirmed the donation of revenue from "manerio de Contona" [Compton, Devon] to Fontevraud by "Willelmus de Sancto Johanne et Robertus frater suus".
The Fundationis et Fundatorum Historia of Ford Abbey records the death “V Kal Oct 1194” of “Reginaldus de Courtenay”. Although this is not always a reliable source, corroboration for the date is provided by the 1194 Pipe Roll which records the fine made by Renaud’s presumed son "Robertus de Curtenay" to hold Sutton in Berkshire "pro habendo manerio suo in pace quod dominus R pater dedit patri suo salvo iure heredum Willelmi primogeniti fratris sui". 2