12th-Century Royal Succession Turmoil: Societal Taboo Against Fratricide

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Medieval battle (INK/ Adobe Stock)

12th-Century Royal Succession Turmoil: Societal Taboo Against Fratricide

In 1106, King Henry I of England captured his elder brother, Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, during their decisive clash at the Battle of Tinchebray. While Robert Curthose’s capture provided Henry I with the necessary leverage and military prestige to annex Normandy and usurp the title of duke, the king was now presented with the serious dilemma of what to do with his deposed sibling. Even captured and momentarily humbled, Robert Curthose was a potential figurehead for any future aristocratic resistance to Henry I’s rule.

Battle of Tinchebray by Rohan Master (Public Domain)

Battle of Tinchebray by Rohan Master (Public Domain)

 As the eldest son of William the Conqueror, the now deposed Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy arguably possessed a superior claim not only to Normandy but England itself. Upon his death in 1087, the Conqueror’s Will had stipulated that his patrimony, those lands he had inherited from his own father, be inherited by his eldest son Robert Curthose. Meanwhile the throne of England, which he had nominally inherited from his cousin, Edward the Confessor, and secured through military enterprise, was bestowed upon his second eldest surviving son, King William II Rufus.


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