Shropshire History

Roger de Montgomery

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Roger de Montgomerie was born around 1030 at Saint-Germain-de-Montgommery, near Calvados in Normandy. He owned a large amount of land in central Normandy, as well as being one of William the Conqueror's principal counsellors. It is not clear whether he fought at the Battle of Hastings as one source claims that he stayed behind in Normandy to look after William’s affairs while another claims that he commanded the right flank of William’s army. Whichever account is true, he was back in Normandy in 1067 with William, who rewarded him with a large area of land at Arundel and most of Shropshire with a bit of Montgomeryshire (named after him). He became a Marcher Lord (responsible for keeping out the Welsh) and in November 1071 he was created Earl of Shrewsbury. Roger parcelled out his land to his military retainers to rule. Picot de Say took over Clun, the Tournai family were at Kinnersley, Reginald de Bailleul at Maesbury and the Corbet family were at Caus. At the town of Montgomery, Roger built a motte and bailey castle whose earthworks still survive.

 

The income from Roger’s English estates would amount to about £2000 per year. In 1086, the landed wealth for England was around £72,000, so Roger’s portion would have represented almost 3% of the nation’s GDP. After King William's death in 1087, Roger joined with other rebels to overthrow the newly crowned King William II in the Rebellion of 1088. However, William was able to convince Roger to abandon the rebellion and side with him. This worked out favourably for Roger, as the rebels were beaten and lost their land holdings in England. Roger first married Mabel de Bellême, who was heiress to a large territory straddling the border between Normandy and Maine. She was reputed to be a scheming and cruel woman and she was murdered by Hugh Bunel and his brothers.  In December 1077, they rode into her castle at Bures-sur-Dive and cut off her head as she lay in bed. Their motive for the murder was that Mabel had deprived them of their paternal inheritance. Roger and Mabel had 10 children:

 

Roger then married Adelaide du Puiset and they had one son, Everard, who entered the Church. Roger was a patron of monasticism and he became a monk in his newly founded Abbey of Shrewsbury just before he died in 1094. After his death, Roger's estates were divided. The eldest surviving son, Robert de Bellême, received the bulk of the Norman estates (as well as his mother's estates); the next son, Hugh, received the bulk of the English estates and the Earldom of Shrewsbury. After Hugh's death the elder son Robert inherited the earldom.