Perhaps one of the most famous early personalities of the period was Lady Godiva (Godwa or Godgifu) who allegedly rode naked the streets of Coventry in Warwickshire as a protest against her husband's high taxes on the people of the city. This husband, Earl Leofric, a Saxon Earl of Mercia, died an old man in 1057, nine years before the Norman Conquest. They seemingly had issue, at least one daughter, who married into the Malet family. 29 years after her husband's death, Lady (Countess) Godiva held many estates in Warwickshire, including Coventry, as revealed by the Domesday Book in 1086. Chronologically, either Leofric had married a child bride, or Lady Godiva was a very old woman at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. The former is the most likely. The lordships bestowed on Lady Godiva in Warwickshire by William the Conqueror in 1066 were considerable, probably the result of an alliance struck either with Leofric or Lady Godiva before the Conquest. Since, Lady Godiva was a wealthy woman in 1057, and still wealthy after the Conquest, it is not likely she displayed herself in protest after that date, since she would have been protesting her own taxation. She apparently inherited her lands and titles in 1057. Therefore, the event in question probably took place, if at all, several years before 1057, when, young and innocent, the impatient and passionate Lady Godiva, appalled by her aging husband's despotic ways, leapt on her nag and took to the streets of Coventry in all her naked glory, perhaps too young to realize that within a few short years she would be in full control of all the taxation of her husband's considerable holdings at the time of his death, holdings which she carried through to at least 1086.
Coincidentally almost, in this same county of Warwickshire was the village of Loxley, held at the taking of the Domesday Book in 1086, by St Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester and the Count of Meulan. You will recall the later adventures in the late 12th century of the so-called Robin of Loxley, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, who, similarly protested against Prince John's high taxes, although without disrobing, we assume. Since Robin didn't take any prominent role in the negotiation of the Magna Carta, he had either died, or one must assume both of these events, Lady Godiva and Robin Hood, to be highly fictionalized, representing the legendary spirit of the underprivileged peasantry.
The Warwickshire of the Domesday Book reflected the same pattern of most counties. We will review some of the major landholders. The King retained direct control of most of the strategically important holdings and wealthy lands.
His most favoured benefactor was the Count of Meulan(Roger de Beaumont). Roger (sometimes the records in England show him as Robert but this may be a confusion between the son Robert with his father who actually held the lands) de Beaumont was the most powerful seignior in Normandy. His Chief domain in Normandy was Beaumont le Roger. He adopted the title Count of Meulan from Adelina, his wife's family. He received 90 manors in Warwick, Leicester, Wiltshire and Northampton. There is dispute whether he, Roger, was at Hastings, he was old at the time, but he contributed 60 ships to the invasion force. He was represented by the young Robert, his son, at the Battle of Hastings. By the taking of the Domesday survey, Robert (Roger) de Beaumont, was known as the Count of Meulan, having inherited the title in 1082 on his father's death. He also became a peer of France. He was also known as Roger de Beaumont, or simply Earl Roger, and became the 1st Earl of Warwick, and the Earl of Leicester. In the holdings listed below, Earl Roger, Count Meulan, Robert de Beaumont are one and the same. Initially, although a very powerful magnate, he was only the custodian of the grants made to his father by Duke William until his father's death. By 1082, he had inherited all his father's estates in England and in Normandy. The latter was also Earl of Leicester. Henry de Beaumont, his younger brother, later succeeded to the Earldom of Warwick. Robert(Roger) held a total of 57 manors in Warwick at the Domesday survey. His Chief domain in England was Sturminster Marshal in Dorset. He shared with the King the great power in Warwickshire.
Thorkell was a Saxon, son of Alwin(Aluredus) the Sheriff. Probably one and the same as Thorold of Bucknall in Lincoln, Earl of Leicester, the Sheriff in the time of Edward the Confessor, which would make him a brother (stated as near kinsman) of Algar II, seventh Earl of Mercia. Some have claimed he had strong Norman blood on the distaff side of the family. He was one of the few remaining Saxons to retain his lands when William marched on Warwickshire after the Conquest. He held considerable lands in Warwickshire but may, unofficially, have been under-tenant to the King.
Robert of Stafford, otherwise Robert de Tosny or Toeny, was from Toeny in the commune of Gaillon in Louviers, Normandy. The family were hereditary standard bearers to Normandy. He was the first castellan of the Castle of Stafford. His nephew was Ralph de Limesey. Robert's chief domain was at Melton. Geoffrey de le Guerche was from Le Guerche, near Rennes, on the border of Brittany. He held 26 manors in Leicester and 12 lordships in Warwick. He also held in York and Lincoln. His chief domain was at Melton.
Hugh de Grandmesnil after being banished from Normandy in 1058 was reinstated in 1063 at the Castle of Neufmarche en Lions in Normandy. He was at the Battle of Hastings and received a grant of 100 manors by Duke William, mostly in the county of Leicestershire. He was Sheriff of Leicestershire. He was one of the barons invested with the government of England during the King's absences in Normandy. He married Countess Adeliza who brought him Brokesbourne in Herefordshire and another three lordships in Warwick.
Hascoit Musard was a Breton Noble, son of Hasculph, viscount of Nantes but others claim the family were descended from the Lords of Sauxelles in Le Marche. He was the eldest of four brothers who arrived in the train of Count Alan the Red of Brittany. He was granted the great barony of Staveley in Derbyshire, his chief domain, as well as manors and lordships in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.
Little is known of Osbern FitzRichard, although he may have been related to the great William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford.
Similarly, William FitzCorbucion is of uncertain lineage.
Most of the rest of the Norman nobles holding single lordships were well documented in other counties. This was Duke William's method of distributing power by seeding nobles of loyal allegiance in many dispersed shires.
Duke William of Normandy - King of England.
The Monarch held the great Castle of Warwick but it may have been the chief Domain of Roger de Beaumont, Earl of Warrick within the county.
Bidford on Avon, Brailes, Churchover, Clifford Chambers, Clopton, Coleshill, Corley, Coten, Ettington, Fillongley, Grandborough, Harborough, King's Norton, Lindsworth, Meon, Mosely, Rednal, Stoneleigh, Sutton Coldfield, Sutton under Brailes, Tessall, Upton, Warwick, Wellesborne, Wincot,
Barons and other Magnates holdings.
Countess Godiva. Alspath, Ansley, Ansty, Atherstone, Coventry, Foleshill, Hartshill, Kingsbury,
Count of Meulan. Arlescote, Anstey, Avon Dassett, Barnacle, Bedworth, Bericote, Berkswell, Bourton on Dunsmore, Bulkington, Charlecote, Claverdon, Compton Verney, Fenny Compton, Frankton, Fulbrook, Hillmorton, Hodnell, Ilmington, Kington, Ladbroke, Lillington, Luddington, Marston Jabbett, Milverton, Milverton, Moreton Morrell, Myton, Napton on the Hill, Newbold Comyn, Oversley, Preston Bagot, Roundhill, Seckington, Sherborn, Shilton, Shuckborough, Shuttington, Smercore, Snitterfield, Sole End, Tachbrook Mallory, Thurlsaston, Walton, Warmington, Weddington, Weston in Arden, Wibtoft, Willey, Wolford, Woodcote, Wormleighton, Dorsington,
Thorkell of Warwick, Ashow(2 Mills), Baddesley Ensor, Baginton, Barston, Bericote, Bickenhill, Biggin, Binley, Birdingbury, Brandon, Calcutt, Cawston, Chesterton, Coughton, Curdworth, Dosthill, Elmdon, Fulready, Lea Marston, Little Lawford, Longdon. Mackadown, Middle Bickenhill, Minworth, Nether Whitacre, Newton(Rugby), Nuneaton, Packington, Radbourn, Radford Semele, Ratley, Rugby, Ryton, Walcote, Whitchurch, Wiggins Hill, Willoughby, Wilnecote, Wixford, Wolfhamcote, William FitzAnsulf. Aston(2 Mills), Bartley Green, Birmingham, Edgbaston, Erdington, Handsworth, Northfield, Perry Barr, Selly Oak, Witton,.
Osbern FitzRichard. Aston Cantlow, Barford, Dunchurch, Hillborough, Stretton on Fosse, Temple Grafton, Wilmcote,
Henry de Ferrers. (Earl of Derby, who held many lordships in that county) Austrey, Burton Hastings, Grendon,
Robert of Stafford, Barton on the Heath, Bearley, Bubbenhall, Burmington, Compton Scorpion, Edstone, Idlicote, Little Compton, Moreton Bagot, Offord, Ruin Clifford, Stoneton, Tysoe, Ullenhall, Wolverton, Wootton Wawen,
Geoffrey de La Guerche. Bentley, Brownsover, Hampton in Arden, Hopsford, Hunningham, Monks Kirby, Newbold Avon, Newnham Paddox, Shustoke, Wappenbury, Whitley, Hugh de Grandmesnill. Billesley, Butlers Marston, Cestersover, Lapworth, Middleton, Over Whitacre, Oxhill, Pillerton, Hersey, Pillerton Priors, Quinton, Rowington, Shrewley, Whatcote, Willicote,
William FitzCorbucion. Amington, Ardens Grafton, Barcheston, Binton (3.5 Mills), Exhall, Kineton, Salford Priors, Green, Mapeborough, Marston Green, Studley, Wishaw,
Earl Roger. (Roger de Beaumont) Bilton, Church Lawford, Leamington Spa (2 Mills), Stretton Dunsmore, Wolston,
Earl Aubry. Bramcote, Smeeton,
Ralph de Limsey. Budbrooke,
Earl Ralph. Burton Dassett, Chilvers Coton,
Hascoit Musard. Haseley, Leamington Hastings, Newbold Pacey, Newbold Revel, Whitnash,
Nigel d'Aubigny. Hatton, Kenilworth, Kineton,
William Bonvallet. Lighthorne, Spernall,
Geoffrey de Mandeville. Long Compton,
Ralph de Mortimer. Stretton Baskerville,
Robert of Vessey. Wolvey,
Nicholas the Gunner. Ailstone, Haselor,
Evesham Abbey. Abbots Salford, Bevington,
Kinwarton, Lark Stoke, Oldbarrow, Sambourn,
Weethley, Weston on Avon, Weston under Wetherley, Wixford,
Winchcombe Abbey. Admington, Grand Alne,
St.Mary's of Pershore. Alderminster, Yardley,
Worcester Church. Blackwell, Shipston, Tidmington, Tredington,
St Mary's Coventry. Long Marston. Coventry Abbey. Newnham, Priors Hardwick, Radway, Southam, Ufton, Walsgrave, Wasperton, Bishop's Itchington, Chadshunt, Clifton on Dunsmore, Coundon, Cubbington, Harbury, Honington,
Church of St. Denis. Preston on Stour, Welford on Avon,
St Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester. Alveston(3
Mills),Flecknoe, Hampton Lucy, Loxley, Stratford on Avon,
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. Arrow, Atherstone (Stour), Beausale, Broom,
Bishop of Chester. Bishop's Tachbrook, Caldecote, Farnborough, Harborne, Abingdon Abbey. Hill,
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