Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gundrada de Warenne

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GUNDRADA de Warenne (d. 1085), wife of William de Warenne, first earl of Surrey, was long supposed to have been a daughter either of William the Conqueror and his queen Matilda of Flanders, or of Matilda by an earlier marriage with Gerbod, advocate of St. Bertin. There is, however, no contemporary evidence for either of these hypotheses, while there is a good deal that tells strongly though indirectly, against both (Engl. Hist. Rev. No. xii. 680-701). All that is really known about Gundrada's parentage is that she was sister to Gerbod the Fleming, earl of Chester 1070-71 (Ord. Vit. ed. Duchesne, 522 A, C; Liber de Hyda, p. 296), and therefore probably daughter of another Gerbod who was advocate of St. Bertin, 1026-67 (Archæological Journal, iii. 16, 17). The date of her marriage with William de Warenne is not ascertained, but their second son-was old enough to command troops in 1090 (Ord. Vit. 690 A); and that they were married before 1077 is also shown by the appointment in that year of the first prior of St. Pancras at Lewes (Ann. Bermondsey, s.a. 1077),the earliest Cluniac house in England,of which they were joint founders. It is said that they had started on a pilgrimage to Rome, but owing to the war between the pope and the emperor they were obliged to content themselves with visiting divers monasteries in France and Burgundy; they made a long stay at Cluny, and the outcome of their gratitude for the hospitality which they experienced there was the foundation of Lewes priory (Monast. Angl. v. 12; Duckett, Charters of Cluni,i. 47, 48). The story comes from a fifteenth-century copy of a charter which purports to have been granted by William de Warenne himself, but which in its present form has almost certainly received interpolations; there seems, however, no reason to doubt the genuineness of this part of it. Gundrada had two sons, William, afterwards second earl of Warenne and Surrey (Ord. Vit. 680 D), and Rainald (ib. 690 A and 815 A), and a daughter, Edith, wife, first of Gerald de Gournay, and secondly of Drogo of Moncey (Cont. Will. of Jumièges, l. viii. c. 8). Dugdale (Baronage,i.74) gives her another daughter, married to Erneis's de Colungis or Coluncis, but the Roger, Erneis's son, who was 'nepos Guillelmi de Garenna,' was clearly something more than a boy when he entered the monastery of St. Evroul before 1089 (Ord. Vit. 574 C, 600 B), and must therefore have been not Gundrada's grandson, but her husband's nephew. She died in child-birth, 27 May 1085, at Castle Acre, and was buried in the chapter-house at Lewes (Dugdale Baronage, i. 74, from register of Lewes). Her tombstone was found in Ifield Church (whither it had apparently been removed at the dissolution) at the end of the last century, and placed in St. John's Church Southover (Lewes),where it now is; it is of black marble and bears an inscription in Latin verse, beginning 'Stirps Gundrada ducum' (Watson, Mem. of Earls of Warren and Surrey, i. 59-60). Her remains, enclosed in a chest with her name on the lid, were discovered side by side with those of her husband on the site of Lewes priory in October 1845. The inscriptions on the lid and the tombstone seem to date from the early thirteenth century; the remains were probably removed from their original place and re-interred at that time, perhaps when the church was rebuilt, 1243-68 (Journ. Archæol. Assoc. i. 347-350).

[To the references given above it need only be added that Mr. Freeman has enumerated all the materials for the Gundrada controversy, examined all that has been written about it, and summed up its results in the English Historical Review, No. xii. pp. 680-701, October 1888.]

K. N.