The Eagle

Castle Hill, Tutbury, Staffordshire, England

Fulbert de Beine de l’Aigle, 1st baron de l’Aigle, the founder of the castle and dynasty of l’AIGLE.

So this story is about a family that was on the edge of history. Fulbert was a common name in Normandy. There have been a number of attempts to research back beyond 1000 AD.

We know that a castle was built in l’Aigle, around this time, as well as a church. No trace of the castle, but some of the early church can still be seen in the bell tower. Most of the church was built in 1500s.

The reason for the castle appears to be in controlling the traffic on three rivers that are nearby. Why the area was known as “the eagle”, is unknown.

William, the illegitimate son of Robert I, of Normandy was considering a bid to assume the crown of England. It was widely known that a successor was not firmly in place.

The Danes had ruled England for almost fifty years, and Edward the Confessor had brought the House of Wessex back to the throne. King Harald of Norway thought that he should be king. King Harold Godwinson actually took the crown for a few weeks. Harold fought Harald, killed him, then had to go fight William at Hastings.

William had the disadvantage of invading by sea. If Harold could get the upper hand, he could push William into the Channel. The problem is that Harold had just marched his men down from York, where 2/3rds of his best “housecarls” had died fighting Harald at Stamford Bridge.

Considering everything, King Harold might still have won, except for an arrow in the eye. The rest of the Anglo-Saxon army collapsed and ran to their homes. Several Saxon lords had gambled on William winning, even helping him with river crossings, so they were left alone.

Fulbert’s son Engenulphe, was a leader in William’s army, and he died chasing the fleeing Saxon’s after Harold’s death. Fulbert had also died in 1066, but not in the battle. He had stayed in Normandy, sending his son to fight.

So now Engenulphe had a daughter named Bertha. She was born in the newly built castle in Normandy, the daughter and granddaughter of the Lord of Normandy. She probably could have stayed there- after all, her father had died chasing the enemy near Hastings. Instead, she came to England, the daughter of a heroic Norman. She was 26 years old in 1066. She was going to part of the new ruling class.

She met Henry de Ferrieres in England. She may have known of him from Normandy, he was four years older. Henry had made the decision that if they won the battle, he would stay in England. Henry just had to ask William what part of the country would he be allowed to rule. Most of the country was available to be seized, only a few Saxon lords kept their land.

In Tutbury, Staffordshire, there is a ruin called Castle Hill that is most likely the castle that Henry built, and he died there in 1101. Bertha lived almost another thirty years and died in nearby Darley, known today as Derby.

Bertha’s son and grandsons continued building Norman Castles throughout England. Through marriage and alliances, the family spread through England. Oakham Castle in Rutland, Arundel Castle in Sussex, Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland, and Appleby Castle in Westmorland, to name a few, were all homes to the descendants of Fulbert de Beine de l’Aigle.

Fulbert de Beine de l’Aigle is the 32nd great grandfather of my grandkids Isaiah, Abby, and Noa.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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