Osbern the Steward

Osbern the Steward, known in French as Osbern de Crépon[1] († about 1040), was the Steward of two Dukes of Normandy and the father of William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford, one of William the Conqueror's closest counsellors.


Osbern was the son of Herfast de Crepon and the nephew of Gunnor, Duchess of Normandy,[2][3] initially mistress and then second wife of Richard I of Normandy. Under Robert the Magnificent (1027–1035), he had the role of Steward or Seneschal.[4] He kept this role after the Duke's death in 1035.[5] He became one of the legal protectors of the young successor to the duchy, William the Bastard, known later as William the Conqueror, then aged 8.[5]

The young Duke William was in danger, as other members of the ducal family were trying to assassinate him to regain power in the duchy, and the Norman barons were rebelling. Osbern was murdered at Le Vaudreuil in the winter of 1040-1041, while protecting the young Duke in the child's bedroom.[6] According to Guillaume de Jumièges, his throat was cut by William, son of Roger I of Montgomery.[7] Barnon de Glos-la-Ferrières avenged the death of his lord by killing the murderer.[8]

Historians of the Normans disagree on the origin of the benefices held by Osbern,[9] specifically which of them came from his father Herfast and which via his marriage to Emma, daughter of the powerful Count Rodulf of Ivry and sister of Hugues, Bishop of Bayeux.[10] He possessed land widely spread across Normandy: in the Bessin at Crépon, at Hiémois (near Falaise), near the confluence of the rivers Seine and Andelle, around Cormeilles, in Talou, in Pays d'Ouche at Breteuil, and at La Neuve-Lyre.

Family and descendantsEdit

Osbern married Emma d'Ivry, daughter of Count Rodulf of Ivry,[3] who was half-brother of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Their children included :

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ as Robert de Torigni called him.
  2. ^ David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror, University of California Press, 1964, réédition 1992, p90, 145.
  3. ^ a b c C. P. Lewis, « William fitz Osbern, earl (d. 1071) », Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  4. ^ David C. Douglas, op. cit., p35.
  5. ^ a b David C. Douglas, op. cit., p37.
  6. ^ David C. Douglas, op. cit., p40.
  7. ^ Guillaume de Jumièges, Robert de Torigni, M. Guizot, Histoire des Normands, Caen : Librairie Mancel, 1826, p168.
  8. ^ David C. Douglas, op. cit., p42.
  9. ^ Pierre Bauduin, David Douglas, David Bates, Élisabeth Van Houts.
  10. ^ Pierre Bauduin, La première Normandie, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2002, p.220-223. Hugues of Bayeux was the son of Rodulf of Ivry. He rebelled against the duke Robert the Magnificent and was exiled. The duke took the opportunity to give some of the exile's lands to his Steward.
  11. ^ C. L. Kingsford, « Osbern (d. 1103) », revised by Marios Costambeys, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Further readingEdit

  • David Douglas, « The Ancestors of William Fitz Osbern », The English Historical Review, vol. 59, n°233 (Jan 1944), p62-79.