Eudo Dapifer

Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle Photo © Simon Carrington, October 2005

Eudo Dapifer was the fourth son of Hubert de Rie, the loyal vassal who saved the life of Duke William in his flight from Valognes by mounting him on a fresh horse, and misleading his pursuers, who were close upon his heels. It is likely that all four sons fought in the Battle of Hastings as they are all recorded as holding land in England at the time of the great survey. After the battle William the Conqueror awarded certain titles to the sons of Hubert de Rie. Ralph was made castellan of Nottingham, Hubert was made governor of the Castle of Norwich and Adam was appointed as one of the commissioners in the compilation of the Domesday Survey. Eudo received, for his services, twenty five lordships in Essex, seven in Hertfordshire, one in Berkshire, twelve in Bedfordshire, nine in Norfolk and ten in Suffolk. Eudo was promoted to Dapifer or head steward of the royal household in 1070 after an altercation between William Fitz-Osbern and the King.

William Fitz-Osbern had set before the King the flesh of a crane scarce half roasted, whereat the King took such offence as that he lifted up his fist and had stricken him fiercely but that Eudo bore (warded off) the blow. Whereupon Fitz Osborn grew so displeased as that he quitted his office, desiring that Eudo might have it, to which request the King readily yielded.

Eudo married Rohesia, sister of Gilbert Fitz Richard de Clare and only daughter of Walter Gifford. Eudo and Rohesia had only one child, a daughter named Margaret who married William de Manderville. Eudo was responsible for overseeing the construction of Colchester Castle. Due to a lack of building materials in the area, stone was reclaimed from the remains of hundreds of old Roman houses in the region. The castle was built on a similar plan to the Tower of London and was designed by Gundulph, bishop of Rochester.

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