Ranulf Flambard was born the son of Thurstin a priest in Bayeux, Normandy. He is believed to have had three brothers, Fulcher, Osbern and Geoffrey but little is known of their lives.
Flambard was a appointed Keeper of the King’s Seal
Ranulf became chaplain to Maurice, Bishop of London.
It is believed that Flambard was one of those officials who worked on compiling the Domesday Book.
1087 (9th September)
King William I of England and Duke of Normandy, died. His son William Rufus
inherited the English throne while his elder brother Robert Curthose
inherited Normandy. His youngest son, Henry
, inherited a sum of money.
1087 (26th September)
Ranulf Flambard entered the service of the new King. He retained his previous position as Keeper of the King’s Seal.
1087 (26th September)
Flambard was appointed Dean of Christchurch, Hampshire. He also took control of the country’s finances and some sources call him the first Justicar of England, though he did not officially hold that title.
Ranulf Flambard oversaw the construction of the King’s Hall at Westminster Palace.
1093 (6th March)
William was taken ill and believing he was dying appointed Anselem of Bec
as Archbishop of Canterbury
. The appointment proved to be a disaster for William, who was not dying after all. Bec called for churchmen to be more politically aware and take a more prominent role in government.
By this time Flambard had become an able and devious treasurer. When canons died he did not replace them but rather kept their incomes and used the money to rebuild his church. Records also show that around this time the fyrd was summoned to help fight in Normandy. Each man brought with him ten shillings, provided by his district, to pay for his keep while on campaign. Flambard seized this money, dismissed the fyrd and bought mercenaries instead.
King William quarrelled with Anselem of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury over the way William conducted himself. William and Ranulf Flambard, enjoyed partying and having fun, activities which were financed by raising taxes and selling church offices.
William faced a new rebellion against his rule. This new rebellion was led by Robert Mowbray. William marched north, defeated Mowbray and imprisoned him.
1095 (25th February)
The Council of Rockingham
This was held to try to settle the ongoing disputes between King William II and Anselem of Bec. The Council was unsuccessful.
The Pope intervened in the dispute between William II and Anselem of Bec. He sent Walter of Albano as Papal Legate to England. The Legate’s remit was to find reconciliation between the King and Archbishop. The Legate managed to find a solution and the two men were reconciled.
Robert Curthose decided to join the first Crusade and in order to raise money for the venture he leased Normandy to William for 10,000 marks.
King William II ordered that a stone wall be built around the Tower of London to replace the wooden pallisade. The construction work was supervised by Ranulf Flambard.
1097 (8th November)
William and Anselem of Bec had another disagreement and Anselem left England for Rome. William confiscated the Archbishop’s lands.
William appointed his favourite, Ranulf Flambard as Bishop of Durham.
1100 (2nd August)
William II was killed by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. The arrow was fired by Walter Tirel, one of the party that had accompanied the King. Historians are divided as to whether William’s death was an accident or an assassination.
1100 (2nd August)
William’s younger brother, Henry knew that his elder brother Robert was away on crusade and seized the throne as King Henry I
1100 (5th August)
Coronation Charter of Liberties
Henry issued this charter denouncing his brother’s oppressive rule and promising a return to good and fair government. Henry knew that when Robert Curthose returned to Normandy from Crusade there could be trouble. He therefore promised to grant favours to the Barons if they agreed to support him.
1100 (15th August)
Ranulf Flambard was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of embezzlement. Henry I wanted to punish Flambard as an example to the people that his rule would be different to that of his brother. Flambard was the first person to be imprisoned in the Tower and was not confined to a cell but had the run of the building.
1101 (3rd February)
Flambard escaped from the Tower of London after plying his guards with alcohol. The drunk guards fell asleep and Ranulf escaped from a window on a rope smuggled in with the alcohol. He fled to Normandy and persuaded Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, to invade England.
1101 (late May)
King Henry I ordered that Flambard be dispossessed of all his lands and titles. The Archbishop of Canterbury charged Flambard with simony (selling church positions for financial gain).
1101 (20th July)
Robert Curthose and Ranulf Flambard landed at Portsmouth to lay claim to the English throne. Many influential barons led by Robert of Belleme flocked to his side, believing him to be the true King of England. However, the former court of Rufus, led by Robert of Meulan and the English church remained loyal to Henry. Conflict was avoided when they agreed to negotiate.
Treaty of Alton
After extensive negotiations, a peace treaty was signed that agreed that Henry should keep England but pay Robert a pension of 2,000 marks per year.
Robert of Normandy made Flambard administrator of the see of Lisieux as a reward for his advice and support.
Henry sent his trusted friend Robert Fitzhamon into Normandy. After provoking a fight with Robert Curthose, Fitzhamon was captured. Henry invaded Normandy in protest at Fitzhamon’s imprisonment in Bayeux and placed Bayeux under siege. When the town refused to surrender Henry burnt it. Having seen the fate of Bayeux the town of Caen surrendered to Henry. A new peace treaty was made between Henry and Robert Curthose but it did not hold and sporadic fighting dragged on throughout the year.
1106 (28th September)
Battle of Tinchebrai
Henry succeeded in defeating Robert Curthose’s smaller army at Tinchebrai. Robert de Belleme escaped but Duke Robert of Normandy was captured and sentenced to indefinite imprisonment.
After Curthose’s defeat, Ranulf Flambard made peace with King Henry I and returned to England as Bishop of Durham.
Council of Reims
Flambard attended this ecclesiastical council held by the Pope.
Ranulf Flambard ordered the construction of the first stone bridge in Durham.
1128 (5th September)
Ranulf Flambard died. He was buried in the chapter house at Durham.
Published Jan 12 2020 @ 5.48 p.m. – Updated – [last-modified]