By Neil Strevitt
Anglo-Norman Studies v.24 (2004)
Introduction: In July 1101, Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy and eldest son of William the Conqueror, landed in England with the intention of challenging his younger brother Henry I, for the English throne. Though contemporaries recognized a good story when they saw one, modern historians have shown a reticence to consider the episode with only three detailed studies devoted to the campaign of 1101. The first came from E.A. Freeman in the nineteenth century, who is characteristically nationalist terms saw a ‘listless’ Curthose momentarily dazzled by the prospect of the English throne, with the English rallying to support the king they had freely chosen. The second came from C.W. David, who considered the campaign as part of his biography of Curthose, published in 1920, in a chapter entitled ‘The Failure to Gain the English Crown’. As one might expect, David relied exclusively upon narrative sources, which meant he saw the outcome of 1101 as much a result of Curthose’s personal failings as Henry’s success.