Ralph de Gacé († 1051) (a.k.a. Raoul de Gacé) Seigneur de Gacé and other estates in Normandy, was a member of the House of Normandy[a] who played a significant role during the minority of William the Conqueror.
Ralph[b] was the middle son of Robert, Archbishop of Rouen and his wife Herlevea and as such a member of the royal house of Normandy. While his older brother Richard received the countship of Évreux, Ralph was given the seigneury of Gacé in Lower Normandy. He also held Bavent, Noyon-sur-Andelle (now Charleval), Gravençon (near Lillebonne), and Écouché. After the death of Robert I Duke of Normandy in Nicaea, Archbishop Robert assumed the regency of Normandy for the duke's young illegitimate son William. The archbishop was able to keep order in Normandy but at his death in 1037, rebellions and private wars erupted.
One of the rebellious lords was Ralph de Gacé. In 1040, assassins acting under the orders of Ralph de Gacé murdered the chief tutor of young duke William, Gilbert, Count of Brionne, while he was riding near Eschafour. In 1043, Duke William and his advisors William Count of Talou and Archbishop Mauger decided to convince Ralph de Gacé to support the duke. Ralph, now in command of the duke's army next campaigned against Thurstan le Goz who along with the king of France had occupied Falaise. Ralph captured Falaise, forced Thurstin into exile, and King Henry I of France to withdraw from Normandy. While Ralph remained a key member of Duke William's inner circle, Ralph was known to have made large donations to the abbey of Jumieges. Ralph died in 1051.
Ralph married Basilla, daughter of Gerard Flaitel. They had a son:
- Robert de Gacé, who died without heirs.
- Ralph de Gacé was a first cousin of Robert I, Duke of Normandy making him the cousin once removed of William the Conqueror. See: Europäische Stammtafeln, Band II (1984), Tafel 79.
- Ralph was jokingly called Tète d'Ane or 'Ass-head' due to his large head and shaggy hair. See: William M. Aird, Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy: C. 1050-1134 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2008), p. 128 n. 130.
- Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, Trans. Thomas Forester, Vol. II (, London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), p.160
- Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Marburg, Germany: Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 79.
- David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964), p. 33
- Francis Palgrave, The history of Normandy and of England till 1101, Vol. 4 (London: Macmillan & Co., 1864), p. 246
- The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, Ed. & Trans. Elizabeth M.C. Van Houts, Vol. I (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992), pp. 80-5
- David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964), p. 64
- David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964), p. 41
- David Crouch, The Normans; The History of a Dynasty (London & New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2007), p. 63
- David Crouch, The Normans; The History of a Dynasty (London & New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2007), p. 64
- Anselme de Sainte-Marie, Histoire de la Maison Royale de France, et des grands officiers (Paris: Compagnie des Libraires, 1726), p. 478
- Surrey Archaeological Society, Surrey archaeological collections, relating to the history and antiquities of the county (London : Lovell Reeve & Co., 1858), p. 38