By Judith A. Green
Prosopon: Newsletter of the Unit of Prosopographical Research, Issue 10 (1999)
Introduction: The history of the important honour of Belvoir in the Norman period has been discussed by several historians, most recently by K.S.B. Keats-Rohan. Missing pieces of the jigsaw have been filled in and, though gaps remain, most notably about the basis of Ranulf II earl of Chester’s claim in Stephen’s reign, the picture is now much clearer. It highlights the crucial role of women in the descent of honours, bringing us to the heart of politics and patronage under the Norman kings, and the crucial question of how much manoeuvre the king had in deciding in favour of one claimant rather than another.
In 1086 Belvoir was held by Robert de Tosny. He is known to have had three sons. One, Berengar, is recorded in Domesday Book both as his father’s under-tenant and as a tenant-in-chief. Berengar inherited his father’s estates in Normandy and it seems that William inherited Belvoir (the fate of the third son Geoffrey is not recorded). By the date of the Lindsey Survey, which was probably drawn up in summer or autumn 1115, some of the Lincolnshire estates held at Domesday by Robert de Tosny had passed to his son-in-law Robert de Insula, husband of Albreda. Keats-Rohan has demonstrated that Albreda was the sister and not the widow of Berengar de Tosny as was previously thought. Albreda had at least two sisters, Adeliza, the wife of Roger Bigod, and Agnes, the wife first of Ralph de Belfou and secondly of Hubert de Ryes.