Revolt of the Earls, 1075

Revolt of the Earls, 1075

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  • When Ralph married Emma, (Roger de breteuil's sister) there was a big Wedding feast. This was where Ralph and Roger told Waltheof of their plans. With his background of rebelling against William, he was an ideal co-conspirator. Between the three of them they had vast amounts of land and money.
  • The revolt was well timed so it took place when William was in Normandy, meaning Archbishop Lanfranc had to deal with it.
  • Waltheof thought better of getting involved and told archbishop Lanfranc who sent out men to find out what was going on.
  • Lanfranc wrote letters to Roger to try to stop him from rebeling, reminding him of how his father helped William
  • At the same time, preparations were underway to stop the rebellions from reaching Archbishop Lanfranc. Bishop Wulfstan prepared to stop William from crossing the river Severn, and in the east Normans were attempting to block ralph in East Anglia
  • William then returned to England. At the same time a huge fleet of 200 Danish ships arrived. This fleet could have meant that the Normans were defeated, however the Danish leaders didn't dare to fight against William himself. Instead, the raided the east coast and sacked York cathedral before going home.
  • Ralph escaped to Brittany, while his wife Emma held out in Norwich castle until she could make a deal that ensured her and her followers safe passage to Brittany
  • Waltheof fled abroad. William tricked him into thinking he would be let off if he came back. When he did come back he was imprisoned. Waltheof thought that his actions in reporting the rebellion would count in his favour but William had run out of patience with him and he was executed in May 1076. William imprisoned Roger for life.
  • William then attacked Ralph's castle in Normandy (shown top left) but had to retreat. Military victory in Normandy proved harder to achieve than in England, because in Normandy he was fighting against enemies with knights and castles of their own.
  • The Earls' revolt was linked to Williams policy of decreasing the size of earldoms, and thus, their power. He wanted to be much stronger than his earls.
  • William was very threatened by the revolt. It involved three powerful Earls with the Danish fleet, and support from Brittany and France.
  • The revolt failed because Lanfranc organised defensive actions. Anglo Saxons who supported William and Williams reputation stopped the Danes from reaching London and  attacking the monarchy.

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