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Robert of Bellême, earl of Shrewsbury

Robert of Bellême, earl of Shrewsbury (b. c.1054). Soldier. The eldest son of one of William the Conqueror's closest aides, Roger of Montgomery, he inherited his father's French estates, including Bellême, in 1094. He was notable for his consistent loyalty to Robert Curthose, supporting him in 1077 against his father, in 1087–8 against Rufus, and in 1101–6 against Henry I. When Curthose granted Normandy to Rufus for the duration of his crusade, Robert served as one of Rufus' principal commanders, winning a great reputation for his military skill—and possession of the earldom of Shrewsbury, when his own younger brother Hugh died in 1098. But he also became notorious for cruelty and some—though not all—contemporaries seem to have thought that this justified Henry I arresting him in 1112 while under safe conduct and keeping him in prison until he died at an unknown date.

John Gillingham

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