Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Guader, Ralph

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GUADER or WADER, RALPH, Earl of Norfolk (fl. 1070), was son of Ralph the Staller (d. 1066). This Ralph is frequently referred to in Domesday Book as having held various estates, and is twice mentioned as 'Radulfus comes vetus' (ii. 128b, 129), and on one other occasion as 'Radulfus Stalra' and father of Ralph Guader (ib. 409b). It is evident, therefore, that Ralph the Staller was himself an earl, probably in East Anglia, perhaps as a subordinate of Gyrth [q. v.] He signs a number of charters, which are printed in the 'Codex Diplomaticus,' as 'minister' (Codex Dipl. iv. 121, 151), as 'regis dapifer' (ib. iv. 143), as 'regis aulicus' (ib. iv. 159), and as 'steallere' (ib. ii. 347); these charters are dated between 1055 and 1062. He was alive at the time of King Edward's death (Domesday, ii. 409b) but apparently died soon after, during the reign of Harold. The name of Ralph is rather strange for an Englishman; perhaps, as Mr. Freeman suggests, he was a son of some French follower of Queen Emma, but he was almost undoubtedly of English birth, for his brother was called Godwine (ib. 131), a name which would hardly belong to any but an Englishman. William of Malmesbury, however, says that he was a Breton; but this is due probably to the fact that his wife was a native of Brittany, and heiress of the castles of Wader and Montfort in that country.

After his father's death Guader seems to have been outlawed by Harold, perhaps for some act of treason, and to have retired to his mother's estate in Brittany. At any rate he appears at the battle of Hastings in the train of Count Alan, and at the head of a band of Bretons (Roman de Rou, 13625), being the only English traitor in William's host. Guader was made Earl of Norfolk, or East Anglia, by the Conqueror, probably previous to 1069, in which year he defeated, with great loss, a band of Danes who were threatening Norwich (Ord. Vit. 513 C). In 1075 he married, against the king's wish, Emma, daughter of William Fitzosbern [q. v.], and sister of Roger, earl of Hereford [see Fitzwilliam, Roger]. The wedding feast was held at Exning in Cambridgeshire:

There was that bride-ale
To many men's bale.— (Engl. Chron.)

A great number of bishops, abbots, and others were assembled, and among them Waltheof, earl of Huntingdon. 'They took rede how they might drive their lord the king out of his kingdom' (Engl. Chron. Worc.), and Earls Ralph and Roger proposed to Waltheof that they should divide England between them, one of them to be king and the other two earls (Ord. Vit. 534 C). Waltheof, however, at once gave information to Lanfranc and William. The other two earls went to their own lands, and Ralph gathered his Bretons and 'sent eke to Denmark for ships' (Engl. Chron.) But Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, prevented Roger from crossing the Severn, while Odo of Bayeux and Geoffrey of Coutances marched against Ralph with a combined force of English and Normans. Ralph fled in alarm to Norwich, and, after leaving his wife and a garrison in the castle there, went over sea to Denmark (Ord. Vit.), perhaps to hasten the coming of the fleet ; Henry of Huntingdon (p. 206) expressly says that he returned soon after with Cnut, the son of King Swegen, and Earl Hakon in a fleet of two hundred ships; the 'English Chronicle' does not, however, mention Ralph in connection with this fleet, nor say whither he fled after leaving Norwich; Florence of Worcester says that he went to Brittany; Ordericus that he went to Brittany after the failure of the Danish attempt; the latter account is probably correct. Guader was shortly joined by his wife, who, after holding Norwich Castle for three months, had been compelled to come to terms, and to leave the country. At the midwinter gemot held at Westminster in 1075-6 Guader was banished, and all his wide estates in East Anglia forfeited. The 'Gesta Herewardi' (ap. Gaimer, Lestorie des Engles, i. 390) confuse Guader's rising with the defence of Ely, and say that he plundered all the country from Norwich to Sudbury.

Ralph subsequently lived at his castles of Wader and Montfort in Brittany. Many years later he took the cross, and together with his wife went on the crusade in the company of Robert of Normandy (Ord. Vit. 724 C). They started in September 1096, and, after wintering in Italy, crossed over to Epirus, where they joined Bohemond, and reached Nicæa early in June 1097, in time to take part in the siege (ib. 727 B, 728 D). Guader is again mentioned as fighting at Dorylæum with his son Alan on 1 July 1097 (ib. 729 D). He must have died some time before July 1098, the date of the capture of Jerusalem, for Ordericus says that he died 'in via Dei.' He is sometimes spoken of as Ralph Gaël, and also as Waer or Waher.

By his wife he had two sons: Ralph, whom William of Breteuil, his uncle, wished to make his heir (William of Jumièges, viii. 15), and Alan, who went on the crusade; and one daughter, Amicia (Ord. Vit. 875 D), or Itta as she is called by William of Jumièges (viii. 15); she married Robert de Beaumont, earl of Leicester (1104-1168) [q. v.] Mr. Planché (The Conqueror and his Companions, ii. 15) makes her the granddaughter of Guader.

[Domesday Book; Ordericus Vitalis's Hist. Eccl. in Duchesne's Hist. Norm. Script. Ant.; William of Jumièges, vii. 25, viii. 15, in Duchesne's Hist. Norm.; Anglo-Saxon Chron., Chron. Pet. 1075, Chron. Worc. 1076, Thorpe's edition in Rolls Series, i. 348-9; William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum, iii. § 255; Florence of Worcester, ii. 10, 11 (English Hist. Soc.); Kemble's Codex Diplomaticus; Henry of Huntingdon; Gaimar's Lestorie des Engles, 5722, in Rolls Series; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 68; Freeman's Norman Conquest, iii. 459, 751 (giving a full discussion), iv. 253, 574, 589, 591, v. 771, 795, 800; Planchés The Conqueror and his Companions, ii. 1-15, where it is argued that Guader was not the son of Ralph the Staller, but of Earl Ralph of Hereford.]

C. L. K.