Gilbert de Brionne, 2nd Count of Eu

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Gilbert de Brionne
2nd Count of Eu
2nd Count of Brionne
(Cognomen: Gilbert Crispin)
Arms of Nassau.svg
Arms of the Counts of Eu from the House of Normandy: D'azur, au lion d'or,l'écu semé de billettes d'or
Count of Eu1015-1040
PredecessorGeoffrey de Brionne, 1st Count of Eu
SuccessorWilliam II
FamilyHouse de Clare
FatherGeoffrey de Brionne, 1st Count of Eu
MotherLasceline De Turqueville
Born1000 C.E.
Duchy of Normandy
Died1040 C.E.
Duchy of Normandy
BuriedDuchy of Normandy
OccupationNorman Peerage

Gilbert (or Giselbert) de Brionne, 2nd Count of Eu, 2nd Count of Brionne (1000-1040), was an influential Norman Nobleman in the Duchy of Normandy in Northern France.[1][2] He was one of the early guardians of Duke William II in his minority.[1][3] If Lord Brionne would have survived his murder the senior house of de Clare would have probably been known as de Brionne.[1][3] Lord Brionne was the first to be known by the cognomen Crispin because of his hair style which stood up like the branches of a pine tree.[1][3]He married one of the daughters of the Count of Flanders, but which one is lost to history, and had two children by that marriage.


Gilbert de Brionne was son of Geoffrey de Brionne, 1st Count of Eu (born 962) who was an illegitimate child of Richard I of Normandy.[4] He inherited Brionne, becoming one of the most powerful landowners in Normandy. Gilbert was a generous benefactor to Bec Abbey founded by his former knight Herluin in 1031. When Robert I died in 1035, his illegitimate son William inherited his father's title and several powerful nobles, including Gilbert of Brionne, Osbern the Seneschal and Alan of Brittany, became William's guardians.[1][3]

He succeeded his father upon his death in 1015 at both Eu and Brionne, but was soon causing trouble with his cousin, Richard II and was deprived of his patrimony. He later regained the County of Brionne along with Brionne Castle, but Duke Richard II gave the County of Eu to another member of the family and Lord Brionne and his descendants never regained Eu. In 1035 Lord Brionne was selected as one of the Guardians of the young William II and for the last 5 years of his life he was one of the most powerful Nobles in the Duchy of Normandy.His duty to his ward was not unfaithfully discharged, but he abused his position to plunder the orphan heirs to his neighbor, the Sieur de Montreuil, and in revenge the cruelly murdered Lord Brionne in 1040 for his actions. The utter cruelty and savagery of his death caused Duke William II to forget his faults. He held Lord Brionne in high esteem even to his death where, whilst laying on his death bed, he said that Lord Brionne was, "the father of his country" amongst the pillars of the State who were perfidiously murder by his enemies.

His decedents would later go on to found one of the most powerful Noble Houses in England, Wales and Ireland, House de Clare. Had he not been murder House de Clare would most likely be known to history as the House de Brionne.


Map of the Duchy of Normandy

A number of Norman barons, including Ralph de Gacé, refused to accept William as their leader. In 1040 an attempt was made to kill William but the plot failed. Gilbert however was murdered while he was peaceably riding near Eschafour.[5] It is believed two of his killers were Ralph of Wacy and Robert de Vitot. This appears to have been an act of vengeance for the wrongs inflicted upon the orphan children of Giroie by Gilbert,[6] and it is not clear what Ralph de Gacé had to do in the business.[lower-alpha 1] Fearing they might meet their father's fate, Gilbert's sons Richard and Baldwin were conveyed by their friends to the court of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders. His children would accompany Duke William on his conquest of England and his descendants would become one of the most powerful noble families in the British isles. They would rule over vast lands in modern day Ireland, Scotland, and England and become powerful Marcher Lords who acted independently of the crown.


Gilbert de Brionne, 2nd Count of Eu married one of the daughters of the Baldwin V of Lille, 7th Count of Flanders (1012–1067), but which one is lost to history as there is virtually no records on his daughters and very little on his sons. He had four children by that marriage:


  1. Although, Ralph de Gacé was the brother-in-law of Hawisa d'Échauffour, daughter of Giroie. See: Schwennicke, ES II, 79; ES III/4, 697.

External links

Further information on the life of Gilbert of Brionne and his place in the heart of Normandy's history - link to history blog


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Robinson, J. A. (1911). Gilbert Crispin, abbot of Westminster: a study of the abbey under Norman rule (No. 3). University Press.
  2. Deck, S. (1954). Le comté d'Eu sous les ducs. In Annales de Normandie (Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 99-116). Université de Caen.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Holt, J. C. (1997). Colonial England, 1066-1215. A&C Black.
  4. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant Extinct or Dormant, ed. Vicary Gibbs, Vol. IV (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1916), p. 308
  5. David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964), p. 40
  6. Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, trans. Thomas Forester, Vol. I (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), p. 391, n. 2