ROBERT OF BELESME (fl. 1100), earl of Shrewsbury. From his mother Mabel Talvas he inherited the fief of Belesme, and from his father, the Conqueror's companion, that of Shrewsbury. Both were march-fiefs, the one guarding Normandy from Maine, and the other England from the Welsh; consequently their lord was peculiarly powerful and independent. Robert is the typical feudal noble of the time, circumspect and politic, persuasive and eloquent, impetuous and daring in battle, and an able military engineer; in person, tall and strong; greedy for land, an oppressor of the weak, a systematic rebel and traitor, and savagely cruel. He first appears as a supporter of Robert's rebellion against the Conqueror (1077); then as an accomplice in the English conspiracy of 1088 against Rufus. Later he served Rufus in Normandy, and was allowed to succeed his brother Hugh in the earldom of Shrewsbury (1098). But at the height of his power, he revolted against Henry I. (1102). He was banished and deprived of his English estate; for sometime after he remained at large in Normandy, defying the authority of Robert and Henry alike. He betrayed Robert's cause at Tinchebrai; but in 1112 was imprisoned for life by Henry I.
See E. A. Freeman's William Rufus and his Norman Conquest, vol. iv.; and J. M. Lappenberg's History of England under the Norman Kings, trans. B. Thorpe (1857).
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