Robert Fitzwalter

Robert Fitzwalter

Robert Fitzwalter (d. 9 December, 1235), leader of the baronial opposition against King John of England, belonged to the official aristocracy created by Henry I and Henry II. He was one of the twenty-five Magna Charta Sureties.

He was the third Lord of Dunmow Castle, Essex. He was son to Walter Fitz Robert of Woodham Walter and his second wife Maud de Lucy , daughter of Richard de Lucy of Diss.


He served John in the Norman wars, and was taken prisoner by Philip II of France, and forced to pay a heavy ransom. He was implicated in the baronial conspiracy of 1212. According to his own statement the king had attempted to seduce his eldest daughter; but Robert's account of his grievances varied from time to time. The truth seems to be that he was irritated by the suspicion with which John regarded the new baronage. Fitzwalter escaped a trial by fleeing to France. He was outlawed, but returned under a special amnesty after John's reconciliation with Pope Innocent III. He continued, however, to take the lead in the baronial agitation against the king, and upon the outbreak of hostilities was elected marshal of the army of God and Holy Church (1215).

It was due to his influence in London that his party obtained the support of the city and used it as their base of operations. The famous clause of Magna Carta prohibiting sentences of exile except as the result of a lawful trial refers more particularly to his case. He was one of the twenty-five appointed to enforce the promises of Magna Carta and his aggressive attitude was one of the causes which contributed to the recrudescence of civil war (1215).

His incompetent leadership made it necessary for the rebels to invoke the help of France. He was one of the envoys who invited Louis to the Kingdom of England, and was the first of the barons to do homage when the prince entered London. Though slighted by the French as a traitor to his natural lord, he served Louis with fidelity until captured at the Battle of Lincoln on 20 May, 1217.

Released on the conclusion of peace, Fitzwalter joined the Fifth Crusade (1217 - 1221), but returned at an early date to make his peace with the regency. The remainder of his career was uneventful; he died peacefully in 1235.

See the list of chronicles for the reign of John. "The Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois d'Angleterre" (ed. F. Michel, Paris, 1840) gives the fullest account of his quarrel with the king.

Marriage and children

He was married to Gunnora de Valoniis, daughter to Robert de Valoniis of Bennington. They were parents to at least three children

*Matilda Fitzwalter.
*Christian FitzWalter. Married William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex.
*Sir Walter Fitzwalter of Dunmow Castle (c. 1222 - 1258). He was married to Ida de Longspree, daughter of William of Salisbury, 2nd Earl of Salisbury.


Through legends developing around his daughter, Matilda Fitzwalter, Robert Fitzwalter has become associated with Robin Hood as Maid Marian's father. [Additional discussion of the story of Matilda, its relation to Robert Fitzwalter, and how the story changed to Maid Marion is available in cite book
last =Thomson
first =Richard
authorlink =Richard Thomson
coauthors =
title =An Historical Essay on the Magna Charta of King John: To which are Added the Great Charter in Latin and English
publisher =J. Major and R. Jennings
date =1829
location =London
pages =pp. 504-508
url =
doi =
id =
isbn =


*Genealogics name|id=00368693

ee also

*Magna Carta
*Magna Charta Sureties

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