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 Urse came from an undistinguished

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PostSubject: Urse came from an undistinguished   Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:51 pm

The main sources for Urse's life are English documents such as charters and writs which mention his activities.[11] Often these are contained in collections of such documents, known as cartularies, which were assembled by monasteries and cathedral chapters to document their landholdings. Cartularies frequently contain documents from landholders surrounding a monastery,[12] which is the case with many of the documents mentioning Urse.[13] Other sources of information on Urse are Domesday Book, which mentions his landholdings in 1086, and a number of chronicles, including William of Malmesbury's Gesta pontificum Anglorum, Florence of Worcester's Chronicon ex chronicis, and Hemming's Cartulary, a mixed chronicle and cartulary from Worcester Cathedral.[11] There are also mentions of Urse in Norman sources, such as charters for Saint-Georges de Boscherville Abbey.[13]
[edit] Family and early life

Urse came from an undistinguished family,[14] and made his way on military reputation.[15] He was probably born in about 1040, but the exact date is unknown.[11] He was from St Jean d'Abbetot in Normandy, where his family had lands,[13] and where he himself was a tenant of the lords of Tancarville.[16] Other tenants of the Tancarville lords included Robert d'Abetot and his wife Lesza, who held lands close to St Jean d'Abbetot in the early 12th century; despite the name, it is not certain that Robert d'Abetot was related to Urse.[17] Urse had a brother usually called Robert Despenser,[11] sometimes known as Robert fitz Thurstin,[18] who also became a royal official.[11] The historian Emma Mason suggested that Urse may have been a nickname rather than a forename, perhaps given on account of his tenacious temperament.[19][notes 1] Urse's usual last name derives from his ancestral village in Normandy. His brother's usual last name of Despenser derives from his office, that of dispenser, in the royal household.[11]

Ralph, the Lord of Tancarville during the reign of King William I of England and Urse's overlord in Normandy, fought at the Battle of Hastings, but there is no evidence that Urse himself was present.[16][notes 2] He is probably the same person as the "Urse d'Abetot" who was a witness to a charter of William before the invasion of England. The historian Lewis Loyd refers to Urse as "in origin a man of no importance who made his way as a soldier of fortune".[3]




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