May 30th Reginald de Dunstanville


On this day in 1141, Reginald de Dunstanville (1110 – 1175), an illegitimate son of King Henry I, was made the first Earl of Cornwall and the High Sheriff of Devon. Known in Normandy as Reginald de Dénestanville he was the son of Henry by his mistress Sybilla Sybil Corbet (pictured left) who was the wife of ‘Herbert the King’s Chamberlain’ and known as the King’s Fifth Concubine.

Following Henry’s death (December 1st 1135), his nephew, Stephen de Blois was crowned King on arrival in London three weeks after Henry’s death.   This contravened a solemn oath that Stephen had made to Henry’s daughter, Matilda, the king’s sole remaining legitimate child in 1127.  Despite Stephen’s ascendancy to the throne being confirmed by Pope Innocent II, Matilda invaded England in 1139 to claim the throne, plunging England into a civil war between nobles who used the war as cover to settle feuds.  The war ended in a stalemate with Matilda in control of the south of England and Stephen controlling the north.   

Despite never being crowned Queen to due to a rebellion by many nobles and common people, Matilda named Reginald as Earl of Cornwall with a requirement that he put down any rebellion in the country. In 1173 he granted a charter to Truro and significantly referred to ‘All men both Cornish and English’ implying a separation between England and Cornwall.  Reginald married Mabel FitzRichard, the daughter of a powerful Cornish landowner and had seven legitimate and two illegitimate children.



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