Elizabeth de Vermandois

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Elizabeth of Vermandois, or Elisabeth or Isabel de Vermandois (c. 1085–c. 1148) ( Carolyn Booths  – 28th Great Grandmother )

Elizabeth is a fascinating figure, much is known about her ancestry and descendants and her somewhat controversial life.

She was the third daughter of Hugh Magnus and Adelaide of Vermandois, and as such represented both the Capetian line of her paternal grandfather Henry I of France , and the Carolingian ancestry of her maternal grandfather Herbert IV of Vermandois. Her respective grandmothers were Anne Of Kiev and Adele Of Vexin.

Her mother was the heiress of the county of Vermandois (France), and descendant of the junior patrilineal line of descent from King Charlemagne. The first count of Vermandois was Pepin of Vermandois, he was the son of Bernard of Italy, grandson of Pippin of Italy and the great grandson of Charlemagne and Hildegard.

As such , Elizabeth has one of the most distinguished ancestral pedigree and connections. Her father was a younger brother of Philip I of France and her mother was  the last of the Carolingians. She was also related to the Kings of England, The Dukes of Normandy, the counts of Flanders and through her Carolingian ancestors she is related to practically every major nobleman in Western Europe.

As the wife of two Anglo-Norman magnates, Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester and William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey, she had several children, and she is the ancestress of hundreds of well-known families down to the present time.

Countess of Leicester

In 1096, Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan reputed to be “the wisest man in his time between London and Jerusalem” insisted, in deference to the laws of the church, on marrying a very young  Elizabeth, she was believed to be aged between 9 and 11 years of age, he being over 35 years her senior at the time. According to middle ages custom, brides were often betrothed young , 8 being the legal age for betrothal and 12 for marriage for woman. The young betrothed would often go to the future husbands castle to be raised by his parents and to learn the customs and ways of hers husbands family. It is considered by  genealogists that the usual age at which a noble bride could expect the marriage to be consummated would be at age 14.

In early 1096 Bishop Ivo, on hearing of the proposed marriage, wrote a letter banning the marriage and preventing its celebration on the grounds the two were related within prohibited degrees. In April of that year Elizabeth’s father count Hugh left on Crusade, his last act being to see his daughter married to count Robert. The crusader was able to convince Pope Urban to issue a dispensation for the marriage which then went forward.

Her husband was a nobleman of some significance in France, having inherited lands from his maternal uncle Henry, Count of Meulan, and had fought at the Battle of Hastings as a known companion of William the Conqueror.    He was rewarded with ninety manors in the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire. The count of Meulan was one of Henry I’s “four wise counsellors and was one of the king’s commanders at the Battle of Tinchebray 28 September 1106. In 1107 Robert became Earl of Leicester. His younger brother Henry de Beaumont was the 1st Earl of Warwick.

Countess of Surrey

Elizabeth, Countess of Meulan apparently tired of her aging husband at some point during the marriage. The historian James Planché says (1874) that the Countess was seduced by or fell in love with a younger nobleman, William de Warenne for whom she left her husband Robert.

William II de Warenne had sought a royal bride in 1093 in a failed attempt to wed Edith of Scotland who later married Henry I of England, but obtained a bride of royal blood when he married  Elizabeth in 1118, at the death of Earl Robert. William de Warenne had apparently abducted Elizabeth in 1115 and concealed the long standing affair.Elizabeth survived her second husband William, dying c.  1147–1148.

Children and Descendants

Elizabeth had a total of 14 children – (9 during her first marriage and 5 from her second)

By her first husband, Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan, (d 5 June 1118), Elizabeth had three sons (including twin elder sons) and five or six daughters:

By her second husband, William de Warenne, Elizabeth had three sons and two daughters:

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