Robert earl of Gloucester

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Robert Gloucester, earl of, d. 1147, English nobleman; illegitimate son of Henry I. Henry created (c.1121) the earldom of Gloucester for him. After his father's death (1135), Robert appeared to accept the seizure of the throne by Henry's nephew, Stephen, to whom he did conditional homage in 1136. They soon quarreled, however, and after Stephen had seized (1138) Robert's lands, Robert led a baronial rebellion in favor of his half-sister, Matilda. The earl captured Stephen at Lincoln in 1141, but later in the year he himself was captured, while covering Matilda's retreat from Winchester, and exchanged for the king. Robert then went to France to get aid from Matilda's husband, Geoffrey IV of Anjou, and returned to England with her son Henry (later Henry II). Robert held the Angevin party in England together and consistently labored for Matilda's cause.

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Robert, earl of Gloucester (c.1090–1147), was Henry I's favourite from among his many illegitimate sons and was advanced by him to be one of the leading magnates of the Anglo-Norman realm. In 1135 Robert apparently accepted King Stephen's succession, but in 1138 he declared his support for his half-sister Matilda, and was thereafter the empress's most powerful supporter. His large estates in the west of England and Normandy provided a base for her campaigns. His importance to her cause is illustrated by the way in which he was exchanged in 1142 after his capture at Stockbridge for the captive King Stephen, himself taken at the battle of Lincoln in 1141, and by the fact that Matilda left England very soon after his death. In 1142 he brought the future Henry II to England for the first time.

David Richard Bates