There is no satisfactory evidence of this celebrated Norman having fought at Senlac, although it has been suggested that Wace may have designated him as the Sire de Préaux -- "Cil de Praels," of which Eudo was undoubtedly possessed in 1070. M. le Prévost, therefore, who himself furnishes us with this information, for which he acknowledges his obligation to M. Henault, is rather inconsistent in at the same time charging the poor poet with "a gross anachronism," on the ground that the house of Préaux was a junior branch of the family of Cailli, which had only just been detached from it at the period Wace wrote, A.D. 1160; for if the evidence ("titre") discovered by M. Henault be trustworthy, Eudo Sire de Préaux in 1070 may well have been so four years previously, and at any rate we know that he died in his Castle of Préaux in 1120, which is of itself a sufficient answer to M. le Prévost's objection, and as he himself records that fact, his note on the subject *[Roman de Rou, Tom. ii, p. 250] is incomprehensible.
But to our memoir. This Eudo was the fourth son of Hubert de Rie, the loyal vassal who saved the life of Duke William in his flight from Valognes by mounting him on a fresh horse, and misleading his pursuers, who were close upon his heels (vide vol. i, p. 23). Three of Hubert's four sons were directed by him to escort the Duke, and not leave him till he was safe in Falaise. Whether Eudo was one of the three we know not, as Orderic does not name them; but as they must all have been young at that time, and Eudo the youngest of the four, it is probable that Ralph, Hubert, and Adam were the guides and guardians of their youthful prince, themselves not much his seniors.
Whether all four were in the Conqueror's army we have at present no means of ascertaining, but we find them all in England, and, if we may trust our authority, their father also immediately after William was possessed of the crown.* [History of the foundation of St. Peter's, Colchester, Cotton MS. Nero, D 8.]
The account from which we derive it is rather apocryphal. In the time of King Edward the Confessor, we are told, Hubert de Rie, a trusty servant to William Duke of Normandy, being by him sent on a mission to that king when he lay on his death-bed, came with a pompous equipage *["Cum pompa magna, equis phaleratis of frematu terribilibus, hominibus serico indutis et colore vestrum spectabilis." Such an embassy would scarcely have escaped the notice of the Saxon chroniclers] into England, and after conference with King Edward, returned to the Duke with certain tokens by which he was declared by that King his heir to the crown of this realm, viz, a sword, in the belt whereof were enclosed the relics of some saints, a hunter's horn of gold and the head of a mighty stag, for which service the Duke promised Hubert he should be steward of his household.
But, continues the writer, when Duke William had got the crown, fearing that disturbances might arise in Normandy, and well weighing the sagacity in counsel and dexterity in action of this Hubert, he sent him thither to have an eye to that danger, and soon after him his sons Ralph, whom he had made Castellan of Nottingham, Hubert, governor of the Castle of Norwich, and Adam, to whom he had given large possessions in Kent; the which Adam was first appointed by the King to be one of the commissioners for the compilation of the great survey, 1085.
But Eudo, the fourth son, continuing here in King William's service, obtained from him divers lordships in sundry counties, viz, in Essex twenty-five, in Hertfordshire seven, in Berkshire one, in Bedfordshire twelve, in Norfolk nine, and in Suffolk ten; and personally attending the court it so happened that William Fitz Osbern, then steward of the household, had set before the King the flesh of a crane scarce half roasted, whereat the King took such offence as that he lifted up his fist and had stricken him fiercely but that Eudo bore (warded off) the blow. Whereupon Fitz Osborn grew so displeased as that he quitted his office, desiring that Eudo might have it. To which request the King, as well for his father Hubert's demerits and his own, at the desire of Fitz Osbern readily yielded. Of this story, which I have quoted nearly verbatim from Dugdale,*[Baronage, vol. i. p. 109. The detailed account is to be found in his Monasticon, vol. ii. p. 889] my readers may believe as little as they please respecting the embassy of Hubert to England, and the gifts and bequest of Edward the Confessor, which if true would not have been kept secret by William, whose special interest it was to promulgate the dying declaration of the King of England.
The anecdote about the ill-roasted crane is not improbable, and is at least characteristic, and may have partly influenced the Conqueror in his decision to send Fitz Osbern to Normandy in 1070 (vide vol. i. p.178), for he could ill spare at any time the personal attendance of a trustworthy "cousin and councillor," like the newly created Earl of Hereford.
It is clear, however, that Eudo became Dapifer after the departure of the Earl for Normandy, and for seventeen years enjoyed the favour of his sovereign, and being in attendance on the dying Conqueror at Rouen, was mainly instrumental to the securing of the crown to Rufus, whom he accompanied to England, and by his representations obtained from William de Pontarche the keys of the treasury at Winchester, wherein the regalia, as well as the money, was deposited. Thence he hastened to Dover, and bound the governor of the castle by a solemn oath that he would not yield it to any one but by his advice.
Pevensey, Hastings, and other maritime strongholds he managed to secure in like manner, pretending that the King, whose death was still rumoured in secret, would stay longer in Normandy, and desired to have good assurances of the safety of his castles in England from himself, his then steward.
Returning to Winchester he publicly announced the death of the Conqueror; so, while the nobles were consulting together in Normandy respecting the succession, William II, by Eudo's policy, was proclaimed King in England.
His great service was duly appreciated by Rufus, in whose favour he remained during his whole reign, and in 1096/7 founded the Church of St. Peter's at Colchester, he himself laying the first stone, Rohesia, his wife, the second, and Gilbert Fitz Richard de Clare, her brother, the third.
On the death of Rufus he was coldly looked upon by the new King, Henry, who suspected him of being a partisan of his brother Robert Court-heuse, but subsequently was reconciled to him and visited him when he was dying in his Castle of Préaux, and advised him as to the disposition of his temporal estates.
To his Abbey at Colchester, wherein he desired to be buried, he bequeathed one hundred pounds in money, his gold ring with a topaz, a standing cup and cover adorned with plates of gold, his horse and a mule, and in addition to the lands he had endowed it with on its foundation, he bestowed on it his manor of Brightlingsie.
His body was brought over to England, and according to the desire expressed in his will, buried at Colchester on the morrow preceding the kalends of March, 1120 (20th of Henry I).
By his wife Rohesia, daughter of Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare or de Bienfaite, and Rohesia, only daughter of Walter Giffard, the first Earl of Buckingham, he left issue one sole daughter and heir, named Margaret, married to William de Mandeville, and mother of Geoffrey de Mandeville, first Earl of Essex, to secure whose services King Stephen and the Empress Maude appear to have bid against each other to a fabulous extent. Dying excommunicated for outrages committed on the monks of Ramsey, his corpse was carried by some Knights Templars into their orchard in the Old Temple at London, arrayed in the habit of the Order, and after being enclosed in lead, hung on a branch of a tree, where it remained until absolution being obtained from Pope Alexander, by the intercession of the Prior of Walden, it was, taken down and privately buried in the porch of the New Temple, where his effigy is still to be seen.
Added to this site through the courtesy of Michael Linton, who provided scanned text.