Roger D' AUBIGNY, Earl of Sussex
(-Aft 1081)
Adelise DE TOSNY
(-Aft 1136)
William "Pincerna" D' AUBIGNY, Lord of Old Buckenham
Matilda BIGOD
(-By 1133)
William "Strong Hand" D' AUBIGNY, 1st Earl of Arundel
(Abt 1103-1176)


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William "Strong Hand" D' AUBIGNY, 1st Earl of Arundel

  • Born: Abt 1103, St Sauveur, Manche, Normandie, France
  • Married: 1138, London, Middlesex, England
  • Died: 12 Oct 1176, Waverly Abbey, Surrey, England
  • Buried: 19 Oct 1176, Wymondham Priory, Norfolk, England

   Orthographic variations: DE ALBINI, DE ALBINIACO...

  Research Notes:

A memorandum of the foundation of Wymondham Priory records that “Willielmus de Albaneio, pincerna regis Henrici” had “unum filium Willielmum comitem Arundeliæ”. “Willielmus de Albeneyo, pincerna Henrici regis Anglorum” donated property to Wymondham priory, assisted by “uxoris suæ Matilidis filiæ…Rogeri Bigot” by undated charter, witnessed by “filii…eiusdem Willielmi, Nigellus et Oliverus”. "Willelmus de Albiniaco" donated “ecclesias de villa...Ham” to Chartres Saint-Père by charter dated to [1132/51], witnessed by “...Olivarius frater Willelmi de Albiniaco et Radulfus de Haia et Engerannus de Sai...”.

He acquired the castle and honour of Arundel through his marriage. He was created Earl of Lincoln in [1139], but lost this earldom to William de Roumare, and was created Earl of Arundel or Sussex in [1141]. "W comes Cicestrie…et regina Adelide" granted land at Wymondham, Norfolk to the church of St Lazarus of Jerusalem by charter dated to [1150], witnessed by "Rogero de Albineio…".

Robert of Torigny records the death in 1177 of "Willermus de Albineio…comitem d'Arundel". Ralph de Diceto records the death "IV Id Oct…apud Waverleie", in 1176 from the context, of "Willelmus de Aubini comes de Arundel" and his burial "apud Wimundeham XIV Kal Nov". 1


WILLIAM D'AUBIGNY or de Albiniaco or in the Anglo-Latin of Dugdale and other writers, DE ALBINI, surnamed "the strong hand," Lord of the manor of Buckenham, Norfolk, son and heir of William D'Aubigny (died 1139) Pincerna Regis, by Maud, daughter of Roger LE BIGOD, probably by his 2nd wife, Alice, sister and coheir of William de Tosny, Lord of Belvoir, daughter of Robert de Tosny of the same, was born early in the reign of Henry I. On his marriage with the Queen Dowager, he acquired with her , in 1138 or 1139, the Castle and Honour of Arundel, which had been settled on her in dower, whereby it may be considered that, according to the admission of 1433, he became EARL OF ARUNDEL. There is conclusive evidence from various charters, that at, or about the time of, and probably soon after, his said marriage, he was recognised as EARL OF LINCOLN, and he may be assumed to have been so created in the summer of 1139. In this year he gave shelter to the Empress Maud, at Arundel Castle, but ever after adhered to Stephen. He can be shown to have very soon lost the Earldom of Lincoln, and in 1141 he attested a charter of Stephen as EARL OF SUSSEX, (being from time to time thereafter so described, as, e.g. where he witnesses a charter to the Abbey of Barking under that name) and may be assumed to have been so created by Stephen in 1141, after that King had regained his freedom. Early in 114,2, the Earldom of Lincoln had already passed to another, viz. William de Roumare. In his own later charters he is styled, and in a charter, before 1150, of the Queen Dowager to the Abbey of Reading, she styles him EARL OF CHICHESTER. He was influential in arranging the treaty of 1153, whereby the Crown continued with King Stephen for life, though the inheritance thereof was secured to Henry II. To this instrument he subscribed as "Comes Cicestrie." Henry II, by a grant undated, but supposed to have been in 1155 (the year after his accession), confirms to him as "William, EARL OF ARUNDEL, the Castle of Arundel, with the whole honour of Arundel and all its appurtenances," and, by the same instrument, bestows on him the third penny of the pleas of the county of SUSSEX unde Comes est. No doubt, however, he was more generally known as "EARL OF ARUNDEL," and as such (only) he is spoken of by his son and heir (who styles himself Earl of Sussex) in a charter to the Priory of Wymondham; and as Earl of Arundel (only) he is described in the record of his death in the Annals of Waverley. He was justly held in great esteem by Henry II, and was one of the embassy to Rome in 1163/4, and to Saxony (on the espousal of the Princess to the Duke of Saxony) in 1168. He was also in command of the Royal army in August 1173, in Normandy, against the King's rebellious sons, where he distinguished himself for his "swiftness and velocity," and, on 29 September following he assisted at the defeat, near Bury St. Edmunds, of the Earl of Leicester, who, with his Flemings, had invaded Suffolk.

He married, in 1138 (the 3rd year of her widowhood) Adeliz, QUEEN DOWAGER OF ENGLAND (widow of Henry I), 1st daughter of Godefroy à la Barbe, DUKE OF LOTHIER (i.e. Lorraine Inférieure), COUNT OF BRABANT AND LOUVAIN, by his 1st wife, Ide, daughter of Albert III, COUNT OF NAMUR. His wife, the Queen Dowager, retired in 1150 to a nunnery at Afflighem, in South Brabant, where she died, and was buried 23 April 1151, aged about 48. He survived her 25 years, and died 12 October 1176, at Waverley Abbey, Surrey, and was buried, with his father, at Wymondham Priory, Norfolk. 2


William de Albini, surnamed "William with the strong hand," from the following circumstance, as related by Dugdale:---

"It happened that the Queen of France, being then a widow, and a very beautify woman, became much in love with a knight of that country, who was a comely person, and in the flower of his youth: and because she thought that no man excelled him in valour, she caused a tournament to be proclaimed throughout her dominions, promising to reward those who should exercise themselves therein, according to their respective demerits; and concluding that if the person whom she so well affected could act his part better than the others in those military exercises, she might marry him without any dishonour to herself. Hereupon divers gallant men, from forrain parts hastening to Paris, amongst others came this our William de Albini, bravely accoutered, and in the tournament excelled all others, overcoming many, and wounding one mortally with his lance, which being observed by the queen, she became exceedingly enamoured of him, and forthwith invited him to a costly banquet, and afterwards bestowing certain jewels upon him, offered him marriage; but, having plighted his troth to the Queen of England, then a widow, he refused her, whereat she grew so much discontented that she consulted with her maids how she might take away his life; and in pursuance of that design, inticed him into a garden, where there was a secret cave, and in it a fierce lion, unto which she descended by divers steps, under colour of shewing him the beast; and when she told him of its fierceness, he answered, that it was a womanish and not a manly quality to be afraid thereof. But having him there, by the advantage of a folding door, thrust him in to the lion; being therefore in this danger, he rolled his mantle about his arm and, putting his hand into the mouth of the beast, pulled out his tongue by the root; which done, he followed the queen to her palace and gave it to one of her maids to present her. Returning thereupon to England, with the fame of this glorious exploit, he was forthwith advanced to the Earldom of Arundel, and for his arms the lion given him."

He subsequently obtained the hand of the Queen Adeliza, relict of King Henry I, and daughter of Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine, which Adeliza had the castle of Arundel in dowry from the deceased monarch, and thus her new lord became its feudal earl. The earl was one of those who solicited the Empress Maud to come to England, and received her and her brother, Robert, Earl of Gloucester, at the port of Arundel, in August, 1139, and in three years afterwards (1142), in the report made of King Stephen's taking William de Mandevil at St. Albans, it is stated -- "that before he could be laid hold on, he underwent a sharp skirmish with the king's party, wherein the Earl of Arundel, though a stout and expert soldier, was unhorsed in the midst of the water by Walkeline de Oxeai, and almost drowned." In 1150, his lordship wrote himself Earl of Chichester, but we find him styled again Earl of Arundel, upon a very memorable occasion -- namely, the reconciliation of Henry Duke of Normandy (afterwards Henry II) and King Stephen at the siege of Wallingford Castle in 1152. "It was scarce possible," says Rapin, "for the armies to part without fighting. Accordingly the two leaders were preparing for battle with equal ardour, when, by the prudent advice of the Earl of Arundel, who was on the king's side, they were prevented from coming to blows." A truce and peace followed this interference of the earl's, which led to the subsequent accession of Henry after Stephen's decease, in whose favour the Earl stood so high that he not only obtained for himself and his heirs the castle and honour of Arundel, but a confirmation of the Earldom of Sussex, of which county he was really earl, by a grant of the Tertium Denarium of the pleas of that shire. In 1164, we find the Earl of Arundel deputed with Gilbert Foliot, bishop of London, to remonstrate with Lewis, King of France, upon affording an asylum to Thomas à Becket within his dominion, and on the failure of that mission, despatched with the archbishop of York, the bishops of Winchester, London, Chichester, and Exeter, -- Wido Rufus, Richard de Invecestre, John de Oxford (priests) -- Hugh de Gundevile, Bernard de St. Valery, and Henry Fitzgerald, to lay the whole affair of Becket at the foot of the pontifical throne. Upon levying the aid for the marriage of the king's daughter, 12th of Henry II [1165-66], the knights' fees of the honour of Arundel were certified to be ninety-seven, and those in Norfolk belonging to the earl, forty-two. In 1173, we find the Earl of Arundel commanding, in conjunction with William, Earl of Essex, the king's army in Normandy, and compelling the French monarch to abandon Verneuil after a long siege, and in the next year, with Richard de Lucy, justice of England, defeating Robert Earl of Leicester, then in rebellion at St. Edmundsbury. This potent nobleman, after founding and endowing several religious houses, departed this life at Waverley, in Surrey, on the 3 October, 1176, and was buried in the abbey of Wymondham. His lordship left by Adeliza, his wife, widow of King Henry I, four sons and three daughters, the eldest of whom, Alice, m. John, Earl of Ewe. The eldest son, William de Albini, 2nd earl, had a grant from the crow, 23rd Henry II [1177-8] of the Earldom of Sussex, and in the 1st of Richard I [1189-90], had a confirmation from that prince of the castle and honour of Arundel, as also of the Tertium Denarium of the county of Sussex. 3

  Marriage Information:

William married Adelisa DE LOUVAIN, daughter of Cte Godefroi V "le Barbu" DE LOUVAIN, Duc de Brabant, and Clemence DE BOURGOGNE, in 1138 in London, Middlesex, England. (Adelisa DE LOUVAIN was born between 1103 and 1106 in Brabant, Netherlands and died on 27 Sep 1141 in Afflighem Abbey.)


1 Foundations for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands, William d'Aubigny.

2 Complete Peerage Complete Peerage I:233-35, XIV:37.

3 Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, pp. 2-3, Albini, Earls of Arundel.

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