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Odo of Bayeux

Odo of Bayeux (c.1036–97) was half-brother to Duke William II of Normandy (later William I of England). He was destined for an ecclesiastical career, receiving the bishopric of Bayeux from William in about 1049, when he was perhaps 13 years old, the first of many acts of patronage that were as much political as fraternal, since William intended Odo to strengthen ducal authority in Lower Normandy. He participated in the invasion of England in 1066, the Bayeux Tapestry, almost certainly produced for Odo, exaggerating his role. In 1067, he received Dover castle and the earldom of Kent, his particular remit being defence of the coast and ports in this vital strategic area. Thereafter, he acted occasionally as the Conqueror's viceregent and accumulated enormous wealth in England, second only to the king. In 1082, William stripped him of his English lands and incarcerated him for reasons that remain obscure. Released in 1087, he joined the rebellion against William II ‘Rufus’ in 1088. This time he was exiled from England for ever and returned to Normandy.

S. D. Lloyd

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