Beaumont - Encyclopedia


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BEAUMONT, BELMONT, or Bellomont, the name of a Norman and English family, taken from Beaumont -le-Roger in Normandy. Early in the I ith century Roger de Beaumont, a kinsman of the dukes of Normandy, married a daughter of Waleran, count of Meulan, and their son, Robert De Beaumont (d. II18), became count of Meulan or Mellent about 1080. Before this date, however, he had fought at Hastings, and had added large estates in Warwickshire to the Norman fiefs of Beaumont and Pont Audemer, which he received when his father entered the abbey of St Peter at Preaux. It was during the reigns of William II. and Henry I. that the count rose to eminence, and under the latter monarch he became "the first;among the counsellors of the king." A "strenuous and sagacious man" he rendered valuable service to both kings in their Norman wars, and Henry I. was largely indebted to him for the English crown. He obtained lands in Leicestershire, and it has been said he was created earl of Leicester; this statement, however, is an error, although he exercised some of the privileges of an earl. His abilities as a counsellor, statesman and diplomatist gained him the admiration of his contemporaries, and Henry of Huntingdon describes him as "the wisest man between this and Jerusalem." He seems to have been a man of independent character, for he assisted Anselm against William Rufus, although he supported Henry I. in his quarrel with Pope Paschal II. When Robert died on the 5th of June '118 his lands appear to have been divided between his twin sons, Robert and Waleran, while a third son, Hugh, became earl of Bedford in 1138.

Robert De Beaumont (1104-1168), justiciar of England, married a granddaughter of Ralph Guader, earl of Norfolk, and receiving his father's English fiefs in 1118 became earl of Leicester. He and his brother, Waleran, were the chief advisers of Stephen, and helped this king to seize the bishops of Salisbury and Lincoln in '139; later, however, Robert made his peace with Henry II., and became chief justiciar of England. First among the lay nobles he signed the Constitutions of Clarendon, he sought to reconcile Henry and Archbishop Becket, and was twice in charge of the kingdom during the king's absences in France. The earl founded the abbey of St Mary de Pre at Leicester and other religious houses, and by a charter confirmed the burgesses of Leicester in the possession of their merchant-gild and customs. His son, Robert, succeeded to the earldom of Leicester, and with other English barons assisted prince Henry in his revolt against his father the king in 1173. For this participation, and also on a later occasion, he was imprisoned; but he enjoyed the favour of Richard I., and died in Greece when returning from a pilgrimage in 1190. His son and heir, Robert, died childless in 1204.

Waleran De Beaumont (1104-1166) obtained his father's French fiefs and the title of count of Meulan in 1118. After being imprisoned for five years by Henry I. he spent some time in England, and during the civil war between Stephen and the empress Matilda he fought for the former until about II so, when he deserted the king and assisted the empress. His later history appears to have been uneventful. The county of Meulan remained in possession of the Beaumont family until 1204, when it was united with the royal domain.

Another member of the Beaumont family, possibly a relative of the earlier Beaumonts, was Louis De Beaumont (d. 1333), bishop of Durham from 1317 until his death. This prelate was related to the English king, Edward II., and after a life spent in strife and ostentation, he died on the 24th of September 1333. John Beaumont, master of the rolls under Edward VI., was probably a member of the same family. A dishonest and corrupt judge, he was deprived of his office and imprisoned in 1552.

The barony of Beaumont dates from 1309, when HENRY

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