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No identification of this noble Norman has yet been made by any of the commentators on the "Roman de Rou," in which alone we find such a personage included in the list of the followers of the Duke of Normandy. Mr. Taylor says, "M. le Prévost rather inconclusively observes that Ralph, William's guardian, was too old and his children too young to be engaged," and adds, "Ralph's age is hardly itself a competent contradiction to Wace's statement; for his charter giving the Church of Mireville to Jumièges shows that he was living in 1079. William, his son and successor as Chamberlain, so appears in 1082." I certainly do not share the opinion of Le Prévost, and am at a loss to know where he found that Ralph, the Chamberlain of Tankerville, was guardian to Duke William. I have just mentioned this Ralph as the supposed brother of Gerold de Roumare and uncle of the William de Roumare I believe to have been at Hastings. Ralph was hereditary chamberlain of Normandy; but which of his family had first exercised that oftice is at present unknown.

The small Church of St. George, in the vill of that name in the forest of Roumare, first endowed by Duke William, was subsequently rebuilt by Ralph, who is styled by the Duke in his charter of confirmation, "Meus magister Aulaque et Camera mea princeps." "My major-domo or master of the household and first chamberlain." Ralph also had the church re-decorated, and confirmed the grant which his father, Geraldus, and his brothers had given to St. George. A brother of Ralph, named Giraldus, was also an officer of William's household; and it was "Coram Giraldo Dapifer meo" that William, while yet Duke of the Normans, ratified a convention between Hugh de Pavilly and the Canons of St. George, the witnesses being the same Giraldus and Robert his son.

Now we have here two Gerolds, one who simply styles himself "a soldier of Christ," and the other the Dapifer (steward or seneschal) of William, King of the English. We also find one of these Gerolds rejoicing in two wives, named Albreda and Emicia, and who has a son, Robert, by the first; while the other Gerold had a wife named Helisendis. Whether they were both Gerolds of Roumare, how they were connected, which was the father of Roger de Roumare, and which of Ralph the Chamberlain, has yet to be distinctly proved. The names of Gerald, Robert, Ralph, and William were much too common at that period to be of themselves sufficient identification; but that the chamberlain of Tankerville mentioned by Wace was Ralph, the son of Gerold and father of William the Chamberlain, I think cannot reasonably be doubted. A little more light on the family of the Chamberlain has been thrown by the authors of "Recherches sur le Domesday," in their notice of a personage better known to the readers of English history, namely ...

Text continues with Urso d'Abetot

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