My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Harlette Herleva of Falaise

I love stories of strong women. Not that I prefer men to be wimpy, or anything like that, it's just that women are supposed to be "the weaker sex" and... I mean, yeah, I may run the other way when I see a spider but I've given birth three times which I think is MUCH harder than killing a spider.

So today in my research I came across this lady.... Herleva of Falaise... the mother of William the Conquerer AND the mother of my 29th great-grandmother.

Herleva (c. 1003 - c. 1050) also known as Arlette, Arletta, Herlève and Herleva, was the mother of William I of England. She had two further sons, Odo of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain, who became prominent in William's realm.
The background of Herleva and the circumstances of William's birth are shrouded in mystery. The written evidence dates from a generation or two later, and is not entirely consistent. The most commonly accepted version says that she was the daughter of a tanner named Fulbert from the small Norman town of Falaise, where they lived. Translation being somewhat uncertain, Fulbert may instead have been a furrier, embalmer, or a person who laid out corpses for burial.
It is argued by some that Herleva's father was not a tanner but rather a member of burgher class. The idea is supported by the fact that her brothers appear in a later document as attestors for an under-age William. Also, the Count of Flanders later accepted Herleva as a proper guardian for his own daughter. Both facts would be nearly impossible if the father (and therefore her brothers) of Herleva was a tanner, little more than a peasant.
Relationship with Robert the Magnificent
According to one legend, still recounted by tour guides at Falaise, it all started when Robert, the young Duke of Normandy saw Herleva from the roof of his castle tower. The walkway on the roof still looks down on the dyeing trenches cut into stone in the courtyard below, which can be seen to this day from the tower ramparts above. The traditional way of dyeing leather or garments was for individuals to trample barefoot on the garments which were awash in the dyeing liquid in these trenches.
Herleva, legend goes, seeing the Duke on his ramparts above, raised her skirts perhaps a bit more than necessary in order to attract the Duke's eye. The latter was immediately smitten and ordered her brought in (as was customary for any wench that caught the Duke's eye) through the back door. Herleva refused, saying she would only enter the Duke's castle on horseback through the front gate. The Duke, filled with lust, could only agree. In a few days, Herleva, dressed in the finest her father could provide, and sitting on a white horse, rode proudly through the front gate, her head held high. This gave Herleva a semi-official status as the Duke's mistress.
She later gave birth to his son, William, in 1027 or 1028, and probably a daughter, Adelaide, in 1030.

Some accounts indicate that Robert the Magnificent is NOT Adelaide's father but... either way, Herleva the harlot is still my great-grandmother. Gotta love it!

Herleva of Falaise (1003 - 1050)
is your 30th great grandmother
Daughter of Herleva of
Daughter of Princess Adelaide "Countess of Aumale" of
Daughter of ADELIZA
Daughter of Lady Adelise de
Daughter of Hawise Maud de
Son of Rohese
Daughter of Gilbert
Daughter of Heloise de
Daughter of Agnes
Daughter of Anice
Daughter of Joyce
Son of Ellen
Son of John
Daughter of John
Daughter of Jane
Daughter of Elizabeth
Daughter of Muriel
Daughter of Ellen
Daughter of Ursula
Daughter of Ann
Daughter of Margaret
Daughter of Mary
Son of Hannah
Son of William
Son of Benjamin
Daughter of William
Son of Pansley Elaine
Daughter of Moseley Peyton
Son of Rosa Bertha
Daughter of Charles Pelham
Son of Leta Mae
Daughter of James Edward


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alisha said...

So, uh, does this mean that I'm descended from a mistress as well? : P