29. (C) GOUEL-BRETEUIL

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Fay Sampson’s Family History

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 ASCHELIN GOUEL DE PERCEVAL and ISABEL DE BRETEUIL (29)

 

ASCHELIN GOEL DE PERCEVAL was the eldest son of Robert d’Ivry and Hildeburge de Chateau-Gaillard.[1] One of the reasons that we know so much about him is that the life of his mother was recorded in the Vita Dominae Hildeburgis (Life of the Lady Hildeburge) and Ascelin himself features largely in the chronicles of the 11-12th-century monk Orderic Vitalis.

He was born around 1045.

He had two brothers, William, who became a knight, and Robert, who took holy orders.

He accompanied his father on the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. Some of his commanders refer to him as Perceval, others as Ascelin or Azelin. The latter is the name that appears in the Domesday Book which lists his English manors.

Battle of Hastings [2]

 

Ascelin’s father had taken part in the Norman Conquest of England and also been rewarded with manors. After falling ill, he returned to Normandy and died as a monk in the Abbey of Bec. Ascelin succeeded to his father’s estates. In addition to his lands in Normandy, the English manors of Harptree, Easton, Weston in Gordano, Stawell, and Badcombe, were among those which fell to Ascelin Gouel de Perceval of Cary.

His father ended his days as a monk and his mother was known as Holy Hildeburge. Ascelin did not follow in their footsteps. He was nicknamed Lupus, the Wolf, for good reason.

Collins Peerage of England, drawing on the contemporary chronicler Orderic Vitalis, tells his story in colourful detail.[3]

Ascelin, sometimes called Ascelin Gouel, Gouel de Breherval, Gouel de Percheval, and Gouel de Yvery, was also surnamed Lupus, or the Wolf, from the violence of his temper and actions, and accompanied his father in the Norman invasion, being mentioned in some accounts of the principal commanders, by the name of Perceval, in others by that of Ascelin, or Azeline, alone. By which last he is recorded in Doomsday book, wherein the manors of Weston in Gordano, West-Harpetree, Stawel, and other estates in the county of Somerset; Tichmarch, in the county of Northampton, &c. appear to have been allotted to him, besides those beforementioned, held at the time of the said survey by his father.

“ In the year 1087, he commanded the Norman forces at the siege of Mante, under William the Conqueror, who there received the hurt of which he died.

“After the decease of that Prince, William Rufus, his second son, obtaining the crown of England, Robert, the elder, was obliged to content himself with Normandy alone, whose government being weak to the last degree, every subject acted as an independent sovereign upon his own estate, whereby that duchy became one continued scene of violence and rapine. During which unhappy state, in the year 1090, William, the youngest brother of this Ascelin, having ravished a woman at Pacey, a town belonging to William, Earl of Bretevil, Pacy, Constantine, and Yvery, brother to the Earl of Hereford, in England; and the said Earl endeavouring to revenge the injury, Ascelin Gouel de Perceval, then in Normandy, took his brother under his protection, and began hostilities against the Earl, by seizure of the castle of Yvery (which the Duke, Robert, had not long before weakly granted to the said Earl of Bretevil, so that the said Ascelin no longer held it under the Duke, but under the said Earl), and to engage the Duke to entertain a good opinion of his proceedings, delivered up to him the said castle, which (having repented of his former concession of it to the Earl), he earnestly desired to get into his hands again. Yet so imprudent (as the historian observes), was the said Duke Robert, that neither reflecting upon the folly of parting a second time with so strong a place to the Earl, or upon the consequences of the resentment of Ascelin, at this treatment, he soon after restored the castle of Yvery to the Earl of Bretevil, for the sum of 1500l.

“The said Earl thus repossessed of this castle, and Ascelin being deprived by him of his command thereof, a long and terrible war in Normandy ensued thereon. For the said Ascelin, having fortified and garrisoned his castle of Breherval, collecting his friends, relations, and dependants, and calling in to his assistance some of the family of Philip, King of France, and associating with Richard de Montfort, nephew to the Earl of Evreux, and son to Almeric, who had been lately killed by the Earl of Bretevil, took the field with great forces against him and his adherents.

“The Earl on his part raised a great power, with which giving battle to Ascelin, in February 1090, the 3d of William Rufus, he was in the very first engagement utterly defeated, with great slaughter of his men; and himself being taken prisoner with Roger de Glotis, and many other persons of note, was confined by the said Ascelin in the castle of Breherval for three whole months, treated there with the utmost severity, and exposed at the upper windows of that fortress, in the depth of winter, to the frost, in his shirt (which was purposely dipped in water), till it was frozen on his back. And the power and resolution of Ascelin was so great, and the weakness of the government so correspondent with it, that the Earl, having no other hopes of being relieved from his distress, was compelled to submit to the terms prescribed by his enemy, obliging him to pay three thousand dreux pounds for his ransom, with a mighty quantity of arms and horses; to resign the possession of the castle of Yvery; and, what was still more galling than all the rest, to give his only daughter in marriage to the said Ascelin. All which articles being fully performed, the Earl obtained his freedom.

“Yet, notwithstanding this alliance, the Earl of Bretevil, unable to forgive the injuries he had received, in the year 1091 raised fresh forces to renew the war; and having fortified the monastery of St. Mary, near Yvery, which he intended for his principal place of arms, placed a strong garrison therein. But Ascelin suddenly gathering together a considerable body of troops, set down before that strong hold, in which the Earl then lay, about the middle of Summer, and pressed the siege thereof with so much vigour, that he soon became master of the place, burned the monastery to the ground, and took many prisoners; among whom were William de Alis, Ernold, the son of Popeline, and eight other knights, the Earl himself escaping with great difficulty.

“This war continued for three years successively, and so much to the disadvantage of the Earl, that by the devastations of his lands, the loss of his men, and the ransom of his prisoners, he was in a manner ruined. At length, in the year 1094, he called in Philip, King of France, to his aid, and agreed to pay him seven hundred pounds for that service. He found means also to procure the assistance of divers other great men of that time, by promises of great rewards, and even at length prevailed on the supine Duke Robert to engage in his quarrel. The clergy concurring also against this formidable enemy, who had given them much offence, by his little reverence to them and their religious houses.

“In consequence of these different negotiations, the confederates assembled their troops in the Lent of the following year, 1095; and Philip, King of France, Robert, Duke of Normandy, many great Lords and Knights, all the militia of the duchy, all the forces the church could raise, with all who held by military tenure of the abbeys there, under the personal command of each respective parish priest and abbot, sat down before the castle of Breherval, to which Ascelin Gouel de Perceval had retired, unable to keep the field against so vast a power.

“The troops who formed this siege were moreover provided in an extraordinary manner for it. Robert de Belesme, a very expert officer, and an inveterate enemy to this Ascelin, had the principal direction, and the artillery or engines were the same which had been employed not long before at the siege of Jerusalem, invented about that time by a famous engineer in the expedition to the Holy Land, and esteemed the most terrible that had ever been till then used in war. These, being brought in service against this castle, ruined the walls and outworks of the place, destroyed the houses of the inhabitants, and cruelly annoyed the garrison. Yet Ascelin had put himself into such a condition of defence, and sustained his men with such courage, that he resisted all the attempts of the confederates for two whole months. And, till wearied with the length of the siege, the prospect of its much longer continuance, the expense of money and loss of men before the place, they offered and concluded a treaty between Ascelin and the Earl, whereby Ascelin was to keep his castle of Breherval, and to remain in every respect as he stood before, this single condition excepted in favour of the Earl, that he should be restored and left quiet in possession of the castle of Yvery aforesaid. Which castle, however, returned again, not many years after, to the said Ascelin Gouel de Perceval, and his descendants, in right of his wife.

“The next mention of this Ascelin, is in the year 1102, the second of King Henry I., when, after the death of the Earl of Bretevil, beforementioned, William de Guader, Rainhold de Craceio, his nephews, and Eustace, his natural son (brother to Isabella, wife to this Ascelin), each claimed his succession; but William de Guader dying soon after, the competitors were reduced to two; viz, Rainhold de Craceio, and Eustace. William Alis, Radulfus Rufus, son-in-law to Ascelin, and Tedbald, supported the latter; but Ascelin Gouel, Almeric de Montfort, and Ralph de Conchis, supporting the other party, Eustace was obliged to fly from Normandy, to demand the protection and support of Henry I., then King of England.

“The King received him graciously, and gave him Julian, his natural daughter, in marriage, promising to maintain him powerfully against Ascelin Gouel, and all his opponents; and accordingly, in the next year, 1103, the Earl of Mellent was sent into Normandy to support Eustace in his possessions, and to quiet the disorders there; but Rainold and Ascelin gave the Earl much resistance. And Ascelin Gouel having taken the son of Stephen de Mellent prisoner, confined him in a dungeon near four whole months; nor could the Earl by any means deliver him, ex ore Lupi, from the jaws of the Wolf, as Ascelin is here styled, till Rainold de Craceio being killed, the Earl of Mellent (who is recorded to have been as well among the wisest, as most potent of the great men in that age, and highly commended for his art and conduct in this particular transaction), concluded a peace in which Ascelin Gouel de Perceval, Earl Eustace, William Earl of Evreux, Almeric, and many other leaders on both sides in that war, were comprehended.

“In the 13th of the same reign, 1113, King Henry going over to visit his Norman dominions, confirmed all the donations to the abbey of Utique, by a new charter, to which many of the great men subscribed, and among the rest, Gouel de Yvery, who was evidently the same person with this Ascelin.

“In the 19th of Henry I. 1119, Eustace, before-mentioned, then Earl of Pacey, Bretevil, Constantine, and Yvery, which had been yielded to him upon the peace before-mentioned, being jealous that the King intended to deprive him of his castle of Yvery, rebelled, and fortified his other castles of Lira, Glotz, Pont St. Pierre, and Pacey, and sent his wife, Julian, to defend the castle of Bretevil against the King, her father. The King soon followed, and attacked the place with so much vigour, as obliged her to surrender, though not till she had attempted to kill him with her own hands, at a conference to which she had treacherously invited him. Provoked at this unnatural attempt, he ordered her to be thrown from the castle wall into the ditch, from whence she escaped to her husband at Pacey, which castle he was suffered to maintain as long as he lived, but forfeited the rest of his estates; of which the King granted part to Ralph de Guader, son to William, one of the competitors before-mentioned. But the castle and Earldom of Yvery were given to Ascelin Gouel de Perceval, and his children, who had pretensions to share of that inheritance by his wife, Isabella, sister of Earl Eustace, and daughter of the late Earl of Bretevil.

“Among the religious acts of this Ascelin, it is recorded, that he joined with his father, Robert, in the grant to the monks of Utique, before-mentioned; and afterwards, that he gave all his lands in Villariis Vistatis, and the tithe of Montinney, to the said church, and confirmed this by his charter, to which his wife and sons also signed, at his castle of Bretevil. In consideration whereof, and from the charity of the monks, as it is expressed, he received sixty shillings. He also granted at Helery, to the monks of St. Ebrulf, free passage in that place, and in all his other lands; and departed this life in the 19th of Henry I. 1119.”

 

The castle of Ivry, which was the subject of so much conflict, had been built by Ascelin’s ancestor Aubrée de Bayeux, and descended from her to Ascelin’s grandfather, Robert d’Ivry. It had then fallen into the hands of the Dukes of Normandy, who appointed a castellan. It had been granted to Isabel’s father Guillaume de Breteuil before Ascelin captured it.

ISABEL DE BRETEUIL was the daughter of Guillaume de Breteuil. Since her father’s marriage to Adeline de Montfort-sur-Risle is said to be childless, we assume that Isabel was illegitimate. Her mother’s name is unknown.

She had a brother Eustace, also illegitimate.

We are told that her forced marriage to Ascelin was galling to her father Guillaume. We are not told how Isabel thought about it.

 

Ascelin and Isabel had at least four sons: Robert, Guillaume (William), Roger, John.

In addition, Ascelin had at least two sons by an unnamed mistress: Robert and Gauthier.

 

Ascelin died around 116-19.

Their eldest son Robert inherited Ivry. He joined the rebellion against Henry I King of England, but rejoined the king who committed the caste of Ivry to him to guarantee his loyalty.

Guillaume was known as Lupellus, the Young Wolf, after his father Ascelin Lupus. This became Anglicised as Lovel, giving rise to a prestigious English surname. After Robert’s death he became Seigneur of Ivry. He in turn rebelled against King Henry I of England in 1123.

Two sons, possibly Guillaume and John de Perceval, were given as hostages to Henry I of England to guarantee the good conduct of their elder brother Robert.

Roger was known as Balbosus.

John, the youngest, was apportioned the manor of Harptree, and took that name, but afterwards changed it to Gournay. From him descended the Barons of Harptree Gournay.

There was also at least one daughter, who married Radulfus Rufus, a Norman nobleman.

 

[1] http://www.connectedbloodlines.com/getperson.php?personID=I10605&tree=lowell
[2] https://cdn.britannica.com/s:690×388,c:crop/77/13177-050-0AF10E6C/Battle-of-Hastings-axman-combat-Norman-English.jpg
[3] Collins Peerage of England: Vol 7. Arthur Collins 1768.
https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_Peerage_of_England_Containing_a_Gene/

 

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