In 1066 William the conqueror called Fitz-osbern
his "dearest friend who had done more than any other man to bring about the
invasion of England". He was created Earl of Hereford.
He was born in Poitiers in 1030, son of Osbern Sieward of Normandy and brother of Osbern, (later Bishop of Exeter). He married Adeline, sister of Ralph de Tosny.
His military campaigns included conquest of the Isle of Wight, defense against the Welsh, protection of East Anglia from the Danes, suppression of revolt in the Severn estuary. Apart from Clifford Castle in the Welsh Marches which he built, at various times he held castles in Chepstow, Norwich, Hereford, Winchester and the Isle of Wight (Carisbrook). During periods of the King's absences Fitz-osbern was given vice-regal powers to govern the north of England while the king's half brother Odo (Earl of Kent) ruled the south. The brutal rule of these two monstrous Earls made them many bitter enemies.
He died in battle at Ravenchoven in Flanders in 1071. The death-blow was dealt by one of his own knights, named Gerbodon, who had previously unhorsed him, no doubt settling an old score. He was buried "amid much sorrow" at the Abbey of Cormeilles, in Normandy.
His son Roger Fitz-osbern inherited his title and estates. In 1075 Roger together with a Breton, Ralf, Earl of East Anglia led the last serious uprising against the King. It lacked general support in the country and was quickly suppressed. Roger forfeited his estates and was imprisoned for life.
Ordericus Vitalis, the norman chronicler wrote in 1141of the family being lost without trace: "Truly the world's glory droops and withers like the flowers of grass; it is spent and scattered like smoke".
His name lives on at Osborne House in the Isle of Wight, the favourite residence of Queen Victoria.
Source: information came (heavily
internet searches and elsewhere. Believe it if you will. Ed.
Last updated:07 Oct 2003