An English baron whose stormy career caused controversy both in his own day and since. As keeper of the Tower of London and as possessor of large estates in Essex and East Anglia, he played a central role in the turbulent politics of Stephen's reign. Despite being created earl of Essex by the king in 1140, he joined Matilda in 1141 and was made hereditary sheriff of Essex. Like many others, swiftly disenchanted by her rule, by the late summer of that year he was back in Stephen's camp. Until mortally wounded while laying siege to Burwell, he did much of the damage which created the notion of Stephen's reign as ‘the anarchy’.
Subjects: British History.