Humphrey de Tilleul

Hastings Castle
Hastings Castle, Sussex
Photo © jtriefen, 25 Sep 2006

William the Conqueror erected castles at Lincoln, Huntingdon, and Cambridge, placing in each of them garrisons composed of his bravest soldiers. Meanwhile, some of the Norman women were so inflamed by passion that they sent frequent messages to their husbands, requiring their speedy return, adding that, if it were not immediate, they should choose others. They would not venture as yet to join their lords, on account of the sea voyage, which was entirely new to them. Nor did they like to pass into England where their husbands were always in arms, and fresh expeditions were daily undertaken, attended with much effusion of blood on both sides. But the king naturally wished to retain his soldiers while the country was in so disturbed a state, and made them great offers of lands with ample revenues and great powers, promising still more when the whole kingdom should be freed from their opponents. The lawfully created barons and leading soldiers were in great perplexity, for they were sensible that, if they took their departure while their sovereign, with their brothers, friends and comrades, were surrounded by the perils of war, they would be publicly branded as base traitors and cowardly deserters. On the other hand, what were these honourable soldiers to do, when their licentious wives threatened to stain the marriage bed with adultery, and stamp the mark of infamy on their offspring? In consequence, Hugh de Grantmesnil, who was governor of the Gewissae, that is, of the district round Winchester and his brother-in-law Humphrey de Tilleul, who had received the custody of Hastings from the first day it was built, and many others, departed, deserting, with regret and reluctance, their king struggling amongst foreigners. They returned obsequiously to their lascivious wives in Normandy, but neither they nor their heirs were ever able to recover the honour and domains which they had already gained, and relinquished on this occasion.--Orderic

William the Conqueror gave the defence of Hastings to his distinguished engineering officer and active commander Humphrey de Tilleul, who was put in charge of construction of the motte at Hastings. Humphrey had been in King Edward's service, and his son, Robert of Rhuddlan, received 'the belt of knighthood' from the Confessor's hands. Robert de Eu, was Humphrey de Tilleul's successor at Hastings.

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