Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy - Gloucester Cathedral

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Robert Curthose Gloucester cathedral medieval effigy

 

Robert Curthose was the eldest son of William the Conqueror. He mortgaged the Duchy of Normandy to his brother William II King of England in order to raise the money necessary to participate in the First Crusade (1096–1099). On returning from the crusade he was in the process of marrying a weathy wife, when his brother William died, and his youngest brother Henry I seized the English throne.1 Robert invaded England to reclaim the throne in 1101 the resulting struggle between the two brothers lasted five years until Henry I won a decisive victory at the battle of Tinchebray in Normandy.2 Robert was captured and held prisoner at Devizes Castle and later at Cardif Castle where he was held until his death in 1134. He was buried in the Abbey church of St Peter which became the chapter house of Gloucester Cathedral.1

 

Robert Curthose Gloucester cathedral medieval effigy crusader knight

 

Robert's effigy is of painted Irish bog oak and was made about 100 years after his death.3 The effigy is that of a cross legged knight, which since the 16th century was thought to symbolize one who had participated in the Crusades. However this theory has since been rejected, and it is now thought that the cross legged form where the figure is drawing a sword allowed sculpture to impart vigour into the effigy.4 The tomb chest that his effigy lies on dates from the 15th century.5

 

Robert Curthose Gloucester cathedral medieval effigy crusader knight