RAOUL DE FOUGERES
"He of Felgieres," says Wace, "also won great renown with many very brave men he brought from Brittany." The absence of the baptismal name, as in so many other instances, is a serious obstacle to satisfactory identification.
A Ralph and a William de Fougères (de Filgeriis, as it is latinized) are found tenants in Domesday, but we have no evidence to show that the Ralph therein returned was the Raoul presumed to have been "Cil de Felgieres," as Wace writes it, alluded to in the above passage (Rom. de Rou, l. 13,496). Meen or Main II was Baron of Fougères in Brittany at the time of the Conquest, and not too old to have been himself in the expedition, being about the age of the Conqueror, having succeeded his father Alfred I in 1048, and surviving the invasion of England some sixteen or seventeen years. By his wife Adelaide he had three sons -- Juthael, Eudes or Odo, and Raoul. The two former died in his lifetime without issue, and he was therefore succeeded by his younger son Raoul, circa 1084. So says Dom. Morice, in his Histoire de Bretagne, and M. de Pommereul, who follows him in his History of the Barons of Fougères (L'Art de Verifier les Dates, vol. xiii. p. 270, edit. 1818). This would be fairly borne out by the date of Domesday, at which a Raoul is stated to hold certain lands in Surrey, Devonshire, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.
But then who was William? The first William de Fougères that I can find mention of was one of the seven children of Raoul by Avoyse or Avicia, daughter of Richard de Bienfaite, and as he was certainly not the eldest son, Raoul being succeeded first by Meen III, who died without issue, and he by Henri I, the next brother, in 1137, William, their younger brother, could surely not be of sufficient age to hold lands in England in 1085. There must be either some great confusion of dates or there was a William de Fougères unknown to Morice or his copyist. The account of Raoul is very vague.
Long before he succeeded his father we are told he had given proofs of his valour, by following William Duke of Normandy to the conquest of England. By that prince he was put in possession of large territories, out of which he made various donations to the Abbey of Risle and to that of Savigny, which he founded in 1112. He confirmed the foundation of the Priory of the Holy Trinity by his mother, Adelaide, and gave it, as well as the Church of Saint Sulpice at Fougères, to the Abbey of Marmoutier. Subsequently he travelled to Rome, and passing by Marmoutier, confirmed all his previous gifts to it. He died in 1124, leaving by his wife aforesaid seven children -- Meen, Henri, Gauthier, Robert, Guillaume, Avelon, and Beatrice.
Now if these dates can be depended on, and they are not materially affected by any test I have been able to apply to them, it is not surprising that Le Prévost should doubt the presence of Raoul at Hastings, between which event and that of his death there would elapse fifty-eight years. Still, allowing him to have been a young man of two-and-twenty in 1066, he would have been only eighty in 1124 -- not an improbable age for him to have attained, and we have no evidence to show that he did not do so. Unless we could prove that he was too young to fight at Senlac in 1066, the benefit of the doubt must be accorded to him.
He was therefore, we may conclude, the companion of the Conqueror and the tenant in Domesday: but this does not advance us a step in our knowledge of the William de Fougères in the same record. He must have been born before 1066 to have held land in capite in 1085, and as William, the son of Raoul and Avicia, had certainly two if not four elder brothers, not counting the sisters whose births might have intervened, we must date the marriage of Raoul as far back as 1060 at least, which would make a serious addition to the venerable age I have already accorded to him.
We have two later Williams, who of course are quite out of the question, but whom I must mention, in order to correct a serious error in L'Art de Verifier les Dates, which its authors have been led into by Morice, tending to create the greatest confusion.
Henri Baron of Fougères, second son of Raoul I, and brother of Meen, whom he succeeded, had, by his wife, Olive de Bretagne, three sons -- Raoul, Frangal, and Guillaume. Raoul, the eldest, succeeded his father as Raoul II. The above writers give him two wives, and make him father, without distinguishing the mothers, of four sons -- Geoffrey, Juhel, Guillaume, and Henri -- the eldest of whom, they say, succeeded him. Mr. Stapleton has clearly shown that Geoffrey was not the son, but the grandson of Raoul II, being the only son of Guillaume (William) de Fougères, who died in his father's lifetime, 7th June, 1187, leaving issue this Geoffrey, a minor at his grandfather's death in 1194, and in ward to his great-uncle, Guillaume, and an only daughter, Clemencia, married first to Alain de Dinant, and secondly, to Ranulph Blondeville, Earl of Chester.
There are many other inaccuracies involved with this in the account of Raoul and his family, but with them I have no business here. The important one affecting the pedigree of the Earls of Chester I could not pass without notice. The seal of William de Fougères (Cotton Charters, 52 A, 15) affords us an interesting example of "armes parlantes." The shield is simply charged with branches of fern (fougère).
Added to this site through the courtesy of Michael Linton, who provided scanned text.