BATTLE OF HASTINGS.
On the death of Edward the Confessor, Britain was invaded by the Danes, Normans and Scots.Harold I defeated the Danes under Tostig at Stamford Bridge in the North, but immediately had to hurry south to meet the invasion from Normandy by William the Conqueror.He was defeated and killed and William went on to take London and claim the throne.
HARROWING OF THE NORTH. In response to resistance in the North, William laid waste much of the area between Durham and York.
William ordered the Domesday book to be compiled to ascertain the value of his newly won lands and according to that the manor of ‘Scheltun’ was in the hands of Richard de Surdeval.
SKELTON APPEARS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN WRITTEN HISTORY.
The Domesday Book entry reads:- Households – 12 villagers.
Land and resources –
Ploughland: 7 ploughlands. 1 lord’s plough teams. 3 men’s plough teams.
Other resources: Meadow – 20 acres. Woodland 2 furlongs mixed measures.
The whole manor 5 miles long and 2 broad. Valuation- Annual value to Lord: 16 shillings in 1086; 2 pounds in 1066.
The Normans had lain waste many areas of the North and the 16 shillings taxable value of Skelton as compared to 40 shillings prior to 1066 is taken to indicate the extent to which the village was on the receiving end of this subjugation.
Owners – Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Count Robert of Mortain.
Lord in 1086: Richard (of Sourdeval).
Lord in 1066: Uhtred.
DEATH OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.
He was succeeded in Normandy by his eldest son Robert Curthose and in England by his second son, William Rufus.
There was an abortive conspiracy to put Robert, Duke of Normandy on the English throne. It was essential to support the right side – William dispossessed those not loyal to him and rewarded his supporters. Some Historians believed that this was the time that the De Brus family gained possessions of their lands in the Cleveland area or even that they came across in 1066, but most seem now to agree that during the reign of William Rufus, the Skelton area was still in the possession of a Richard de Sourdeval, as tenant of Count Robert of Mortain, who was in charge of large areas in other parts of the North of England, which had not yet been brought fully under Norman control. To the Norman mind Count Robert did not “own” this land. Men in his position were the King’s tenants-in-chief and held the land on the king’s behalf. They had to kneel before him, place their hands between his, and swear to serve him in peace and war. In turn anyone who held land from the tenant-in-chief owed them the same duties and so on down the line. This was the Feudal System.
WILLIAM RUFUS KILLED [possibly murdered] while out hunting and the throne of England was claimed by both of his brothers, Henry I and Robert, Duke of Normandy. Robert landed at Portsmouth and was supported by a number of barons who held land in England and in Normandy and wanted to see the two areas united. This issue was settled by negotiation.
Arms of De Brus
Henry was recognised as King at the expense of a large regular payment to Robert.
BATTLE OF TINCHEBRAI – Henry I invaded and conquered Normandy, defeating his brother at the Battle of Tinchebrai.
Henry I now sought to avoid any recurrence of rebellion and according to the Anglo Norman chronicler Orderic:-
“treated the Magnates with honour and generosity, adding to their wealth and Estates, and, by placating them in this way, he won their loyalty,”
Historians seem to agree that this was the time that the De Brus family gained possession of their lands in Cleveland.
The Count of Mortain may have been made tenant-in-chief during the reign of William Rufus, but Mortain was disposseessed for having supported Robert at Tinchebrai, which was on the border of the Mortain’s French land. He was held prisoner for the remainder of his life, as was Henry’s brother, Robert, who died 28 years later in Cardiff Castle.
The De Brus family’s French possessions were at Brix, in that part of Normandy that juts out toward England, the Cherbourg or Contentin Peninsula. The Normans imposed control by building strong, stone Castles and it is believed that the De Brus’s first made their headquarters in Cleveland at the Castle in Castleton, N Yorks.
ROBERT DE BRUS – married Agnes, the daughter of Fulk Pagnell, and through her he became lord of Hart and Hartness [manors around Hartlepool] and Carlton and other manors in Cleveland.
They had two sons, Adam and Robert.