BALDWIN DE MEULES
This younger brother of Richard de Bienfaite is not distinctly mentioned in the Roman de Rou in the list of the Norman knights at Hastings; but M. le Prévost considers him to have been the personage spoken of as
"Cil ki fu Sire de Reviers."
Notwithstanding that, he contends the first who assumed the name of Reviers was Richard, the son of this Baldwin, who in 1082 witnessed a charter to the Abbaye aux Dames, in which I believe him to be mistaken.
Wace so constantly leaves us to discover who was the "sire" of the fief he mentions at the date of the Conquest, and confounds the son with the father, that M. le Prévost may be excused for his belief could he prove that Richard Fitz Baldwin was ever called " De Reviers," a vill near Creulli', arrondissement of Caen, from which the family of Rivers derived their name.
Richard, indeed, could not have been in the battle, as he was living seventy years afterwards, and could scarcely have been born in 1066.
No special deeds are, however, recorded of the Sire de Reviers in that memorable conflict. He is only said to have brought with him many knights, who were foremost in the fight, and trampled down the English with their powerful war-horses.
Whatever were the services of Baldwin, he was rewarded by the gift of one hundred and sixty-four manors in the west of England, one hundred and fifty-nine being in the county of Devon, besides nineteen houses in Exeter, and a site within the walls to build a castle on for his own residence, the government of the city and the shrievalty of the county being confided to him. He is therefore called Baldwin the Viscount, or the Sheriff, and Baldwin of Exeter, in addition to his Norman appellations, Baldwin de Sap, Baldwin de Meules, or, as it is latinised, de Molis (the two estates which were restored to him by Duke William at the same time that his brother Richard received Bienfaite and Orbec), and his patronymic Baldwin Fitz Gilbert de Brionne, or sometimes simply Baldwin de Brionne.
Under each of these names he will be met with in different chronicles and histories, to the bewilderment of the readers unversed in Norman genealogy. By his wife Albreda, (Dugdale oddly enongh describes her as "niece to King William, viz., daughter of his aunt." Whichever she might be, she could not be both.) who is said to have been a daughter of an aunt of the Conqueror, and by some his niece, he had issue three sons, Richard, Robert, and William, the second of whom in 1090 was intrusted with the custody of the Castle of Brionne, and on being commanded by the Duke of Normandy to deliver it up to Roger de Beaumont, to whom for a great sum of money Court-heuse had promised it, in his answer obliged us with the following pedigree: —
"If," he is reported to have said, "you will retain it in your own hands, as your father did, I will immediately render it to you, otherwise I will keep it as my own inheritance as long as I live. For it is very well known to all the inhabitants of this country that old Richard, Duke of Normandy, gave it with the whole country to Godfrey, his son, and that he at his death left it to Gilbert, his son, who, being barbarously murdered by wicked men, his sons for refuge fled to Baldwin, Count of Flanders; whereupon your father (William the Conqueror), taking it wholly into his own hands, disposed thereof to several persons as he thought good; but after a while, having wedded the daughter of the said Count of Flanders, at the request of that Count, he rendered to Baldwin, my father, Mola and Sappo (Meules and Sap), and gave him his aunt's daughter to wife; and to Richard, my father's brother, he restored Benefact (Bienfaite) and Orbec, and lastly by your special favour I do now enjoy this Brionne, the principal town of Gilbert, my grandfather."
If any dependence is to be placed on this passage in Orderic, it is clear that Robert de Meules must have known that his father's wife was the cousin of the Conqueror, and that his father was then dead, which corroborates the statement of the priest Walkelin, that Richard and Baldwin, sons of Count Gilbert, were recently deceased in 1090 or 1091. Baldwin is said to have had also three daugliters. one of whom, named Adeliza, wife of Ralph Avenel, alone survived him, and a natural son named Guiger, who was shorn a monk in the Abbey of Bec. But who was his wife Albreda, said to have been a niece of Richard II, Duke of Normandy? and who was Emma, another wife of Baldwin, twice mentioned by William, both as Duke of Normandy in 1066, and as King of England in 1082, in his charter to the Holy Trinity at Caen, and by which of them was his issue? For, be it remarked, that Robert, in his address to Court-heuse, though be speaks of his father having married a cousin of the Conqueror, does not call her his mother, nor by naming her enable us to identify her either as Albreda or Emma.
In Domesday, "the wife of Baldwin the Sheriff" is returned as the holder of Wimple, in Devon, but unfortanately no Christian name is recorded. Pere Anselm gives Baldwin two wives — 1, Albreda, and 2, Emma; and suggests that the former was the child of an illegitimate daughter of Richard II, Duke of Normandy, wife of Mauger, Vicomte of the Cotentin, and quotes a charter of hers by which, with the consent of her sons Richard and Robert, she gives to the Abbey of Bec the land of Bradeforde and the Church of St. Michael d'Ermentonne. (In M. de Magny's list we have Badouin and Roger de Meules. Who was Roger?) As the first wife of Baldwin this evidence is conclusive as regards Richard and Robert at any rate being the issue of Albreda. By his second wife Emma, with whose consent he gave the Churches of La Forest and two hundred acres of land in the same place to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen, be may have had the two youngest daughters, as one appears to have been named Emma, and married Hugues de Wast.
And now to return to the question of who was "le Sire de Reviers" at Senlac, if Baldwin were not he. That he had a son Richard is indisputable; but that son, known only as Richard Fitz Baldwin and Richard the Viscount, having succeeded his father in the shrievalty of Devonshire and the barony of Okehampton, died in 1137 without issue; and being first buried at Brightly, was subsequently removed by his sister Adeliza, his sole heiress, to Ford Abbey; and there is no authority for his having ever been called De Redvers or De Reviers.
Dugdale, in his " Baronage " (vol. i., p. 785), has, however, confounded him with one who was well known by that title —
Added to this site through the courtesy of Fred L. Curry, who provided a photocopy of the section.