FITZ - OSBERN, William, Earl of Hereford (d. 1071), was an intimate friend of William the Conqueror, and the principal agent in preparing for the invasion of England. He received the earldom of Hereford with the special duty of pushing into Wales. During William's absence in 1067, Fitz-Osbern was left as his deputy in central England, to guard it from the Welsh on one side, and the Danes on the other. He also acted as William's lieutenant during the rebellions of 1069. In 1070 William sent him to assist Queen Matilda in the government of Normandy. But Richilde, widow of Baldwin VI. of Flanders, having offered to marry him if he would protect her son Arnulf against Robert the Frisian, Fitz-Osbern accepted the proposal and joined Richilde in Flanders. He was killed, fighting against Robert, at Cassel in 1071.
See Freeman, Norman Conquest, vols. iii. and iv.; Sir James Ramsay, Foundations of England, vol. ii.
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