Walter de Clare

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Walter de Clare
1st Lord of Nether Gwent
1st Lord of Caerwent
3rd Lord of Striguil Castle
Fitz Gilbert de Clare.png
The Coat of Arms associated with the House de Clare until 1200 C.E.
SuccessorGilbert de Clare
WifeNever married
Noble familyHouse de Clare
FatherRichard Fitz Gilbert
MotherRohese de Giffard
Clare Castle, Suffolk, Kingdom of England
Clare Castle, Suffolk, Kingdom of England
BuriedClare Priory

Walter de Clare, 1st Lord of Nether Gwent, 3rd Lord of Striguil Castle (1075-1138) was the son of Richard Fitz Gilbert (1024-1090) by his wife Rohese de Giffard (1034-1113). He ever married and unfortunately died childless. On his death his nephew, Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1100-1148), inherited his title of Baron of Nether Gwent as well as Striguil Castle in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, England. Striguil Castle had its named changed around 1400 to Chepstow Castle by which it is known today.


Tintern Abbey Founded by Walter de Clare now sits in ruins.

Around 1119 Walter de Clare reaped the rewards of anothers' downfall when he was granted the profitable Lordship of Nether Gwent in South-West Wales. This Lordship had been established earlier by William Fitz Osborne, 1st Earl of Hertford (1020-1071) who had conquered the area in the 1060s, but had been seized by the Crown of England when hsi son rebelled. The King of England decided that he die not want such a huge tract of land falling into the possession of just one Nobleman again so he divided into an 'upper' region centered around Abergavenny and Monmouth and a 'lower' region controlled from Striguil Castle. he was also granted the Manor of Tidenham just across the Wye in Gloucestershire, which subsequently formed part of the Lordship. When Walter de Clare gained the Lordship of Nether Gwent the area was under fairly secure Norman rule since the Conquest in 1066 so there was ultimately no need for Walter to undertake a campaign of castle building on the scale carried out in Ceredigion.

Walter de Clare would later go on to found Tintern Abbey on 9 May 1131. His firs cousin William de Giffard, Lord Chancellor of England, Bishop of Winchester, who had introduced the first colony of Cistercians to Waverley, Surrey, in 1128. The Cistercian monks who lived at Tintern followed the Rule of St. Benedict which appealed to Lord de Clare. After being persuaded by Walter de Gifford Lord de Clare finally founded Tintern Abbey which would exist until the reign of King Henry VIII of England when His Majesty's Dissolution of the Monasteries ended monastic life in England. With this austere way of life, the Cistercians were one of the most successful orders in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Carta Caritatis (Charter of Love) laid out their basic principles, of obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer, and work. This was Lord de Clares legacy which today sits in ruins.

Land Grants

Little is known of Walter's life. The first mention of Walter de Clare in the historical record is when he was granted the Lordship of Nether gwent, including Striguil Castle beside the River Wye, by King Henry I of England. This occurred sometime before 1119. Walter's Barony of Nether Gwent and Striguil Castle was generally considered a English Feudal Barony, and Walter de Clare is considered a Baron by most historians. These lands had previously been held by Roger de Breteuil, 2nd Earl of Hereford, who rebelled in 1075 and had his lands confiscated by the king. Walter's land grant was part of a larger series of grants by Henry in southern Wales, including some given to Walter's brother Gilbert de Clare. Henry also granted lands to another brother of Gilbert and Walter: Robert Fitz Richard, 1st Baron of Little Dunmow, who received Little Dunmow. These grants from the king to the de Clare family helped bring them over to the Royal side during the conflict between the king and his nephew William Clito over the control of Normandy in the late 1110s.

Royal Charters

Walter was a witness on 12 of Henry's royal charters, all before 1131. He also was a witness for some royal charters issued by Henry's successor, King Stephen of England, early in Stephen's reign. One was a charter issued at Henry's funeral on 4 January 1136 and another at Stephen's court at Easter 1136. These two charter attestations show that he was an early supporter of Stephen in the king's seizure of the throne from Henry's daughter Empress Matilda. These early charters from Stephen's reign are Walter's last appearances in documents during his lifetime. Also in 1136 Walter was in charge of the defense of Le Sap in Normandy against Geoffrey V of Anjou.

Death and legacy

Historians differ over whether Walter ever married, but all agree that he died childless.


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