Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/189

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Bellême
Bellême
185

kingdom in safety (Will. Malm. ii. 896). The fall of Arundel cut Robert off from his possessions and allies on the continent. Henry next sent Bloet, bishop of Lincoln, against Tickhill, which was also surrendered, and lastly, in the autumn, led his army against the earl's strong places in Shropshire. Robert took up his quarters in Shrewsbury, and the king laid siege to Bridgenorth which he had entrusted to three of his captains. During the siege the nobles in the royal host held a set meeting with the king, and pressed him to make peace with the earl. This meeting took place in the open field. Three thousand troops posted on a hill hard by guessed the subject of the debate, and shouted to the king not to spare the traitor, for they would stand by him. Henry knew that the men of Robert's own order were not to be trusted. He continued the siege and succeeded in drawing away the earl's Welsh allies from him. Robert sent his brother Arnulf to hasten the coming of succour from Ireland, and lastly appealed for help to Magnus of Norway, who was now for the second time in Man (Brut y Tyuysogion, p. 73, 1100; Laing, Sturleson's Heimskringla iii. 143; W. Rufus, ii. 618). No help came to him, and his captains in Bridgenorth and the people of the town, much to the anger of his mercenaries, insisted on the surrender of the place. Henry then advanced on Shrewsbury at the head of an overwhelming force, the armed host of England which came at the king's bidding to help him against the worst of the Norman oppressors. Robert was forced to Burrender ; he and his brothers left England with their arms and horses, and he swore that he would return no more. The gladness of the people was loudly expressed. 'Rejoice, King Henry,' we are told they said, and the words doubtless preserved a fragment of some popular song, 'and give thanks to the Lord God ; for thou wast first a free king on the day that thou overcamest Robert of Bellême, and dravest him from the borders of thy kingdom' (Orderic, 808 B).

When Robert returned to Normandy after the loss of his English earldom and estates, all his enemies banded together against him. Indignant, as it seems, at Robert's refusal to give nim any share of his estates, his brother Amidf surrendered one of his towns to the duke, and other towns revolted from him. After some savage warfare he showed that he was still more than a match for the inactive duke, who gave him back all his possessions. Among these was the advowson of the bishopric of Séez. This led to a quarrel between nim and Bishop Serlo, who excommunicated him and his adherents, and laid his lands under an interdict. Robert revenged himself on the monks and clergy of the diocese, and the bishop was forced to flee (Orderic,678 A, 707 D, tells this under 1089 and 1094. Freeman refers to the circumstance, W. Rufus, i. 184, 242, apparently accepting 1094. Unless there were two excommunications, the date must be about 1103). Robert laid his case before Ivo, bishop of Chartres, in 1103, who wrote to him saying that even if his brother bishop had done him wrong he could do nothing to help him (Epp. Ivonis Carnot, 75; Recueil, xii. 122). Ralph, the abbot of Séez, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, was also forced to flee to England to escape his tyranny (Will. Malm. Gesta Pontif, i. 127). The restoration of Robert's lands threw the duchy into disorder, and when Henry made his expedition into Normandy in 1105 he charged the duke with breach of faith in the matter. At Christmas in that year Robert of Bellême visited England, probably as the ambassador of the duke, and in the hope of making his own peace, but he was sent away without any reconciliation with the king (A.-S. Chron. 1105). The peace between the king and the duke was grievous to him. lie joined William of Mortain in attacking the king's party in the duchy, and persuaded the duke to act with them. He led a division of the duke s army at Tinchebrai, 28 Sept. 1106, and saved himself by flight. After striving in vain to persuade Helias to join him in an attempt to gain the duke's freedom, he prevailed on him to make his peace with the king. Henry allowed him to keep Argentan and the lands of his capital demesne in Normandy, but this partial reconciliation did not extend to England. As far as his kingdom was concerned, Henry, after he had once rid England of his presence, never gave him a chance of disturbing its peace again. The character of the new reign in Normandy was declared by the destruction of all the castles Robert had raised without license. Robert joined Helias of St. Saen in upholding the cause of William Clito, and when Fulk of Anjou went to war with Henry, he openly declared against the king. He appears to have gone to the court of Lewis of France and to have been sent by him as his ambassador to Henry in November 1112. In spite of his privileged character Henry seized him and had him tried before his court. He imprisoned him for a little while at Cherbourg, and the next year sent him to Wareham. There he kept him so close a prisoner that the day of his death was not known (Orderic, 841 A, 8581) ; Will. Malm. v. 626; De Mundi Contemptu, ii.)