Robert II "the Devil" of Normandy was born about 1008 in Normandy.
He was the son of Richard II of Normandy and Judith De Bretagne. Some sources call him Robert The Magnificent.
Robert helped in the restoration of Henry, King of France, to his throne and received the gratitude of the monarch, in the form of Vexin, as an addition to the lands he had received from his father.
He also aided Edward the Confessor, when he was in exile.
He became Duke of Normandy in 1028, succeeding his brother Richard III, Duke of Normandy, whom he was suspected of poisoning. In the 8th year of his reign, he set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Fatigue from the journed and the hot climate, weakened him and caused him to die on his return home in 1035, in Nice, Bithynia. William of Malmesbury recorded that his son William the Conqueror sent a mission to Constantinople and Nicea about 1086 to bring back his father's body, to be buried in Normandy. This mission travelled as far as Apulia, Italy on their return journey. Here they received word that William had died and they decided to re-inter Robert's body in Italy.
On his pilgrimage, he is said to have travelled barefoot and in such humble clothing that when he passed through a little town in France, a warder at the gate thought he was a beggar and struck him over the shoulders with a halbert. His friends wanted to avenge the insult, but he prevented it, saying, "Pilgrims ought to suffer for the love of God; I love his blow better than my city of Rouen."
When he reached Constantinople, he appeared in full state. His mule was even shod with silber shoes, which were purposely fastened on loosely so that they fell off and were a prize for the crowd. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he paid his devotions and made rich gifts at all of the holy shrines.
When his father died, his elder brother Richard III, succeeded as Duke of Normandy. Robert became Count of Hiemois. On the death of his brother, he succeeded. He is said to have received his nickname of "the Devil" or "le Diable" because he had his brother murdered. Another legend is that his mother was in dispair over not having a son and prayed to the devil for a son.
He had a mistress named Herleva, Herlette or Arlette of Falaise.
He had children:
1. Adeliza of Normandy, Countess of Aumale, b. 1029, named by Robert of Torigny in one place as full sister to William I and in another she is said to have had a different mother. She married 1. Engerrand II, Count of Ponthieu, 2. Lambert II, Count of Lens, 3. Odo II of Champagne
2. William the Conqueror, William I of England b. 1028
He is said to have sponsored monastic reform in Normandy.
Gesta Normannorum Ducum
Royal & Noble Genealogical Data On the Web or Directory of Royal Genealogical Data
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