Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Faces From the Past - Mercenaries and Made Men

                                                    Shrewsbury, Shropshire ~ and Sicily?

Shrewsbury is within  the winding course of the Severn, which is crossed by two bridges, called English and Welsh bridges.From Debrett's Peerage, we find  that in  1222 Robert I' Enfant was Provost of Shrewsbury.

Also in Shropshire we find  William L'enfant  as Bailiff of Munslow under William Bagod's Shrievalty  (sort of sheriff) but this is later in that century.William  is son of John, who was also may also be father to Walter and Adam, knights in Kildare.

What we see here on the Welsh Marches and the wilds of Ireland is a family who were, perhaps, landless in  the Midi Pyrenees region of their probable origin. Did they come into the British Isles with the Conquerer or was it actually the rulers of Aquitaine,Gascony a c. Warfare and specifically siege warfare was very sophisticated in the Midi and these fighting men sold their swords and indeed became made men.

A book entitled  "Mercenaries and Paid Men" discusses Robert L'Enfant as Justiciar of Sicily about 1272.
So were they "paid men" or  " made men" and where was their allegiance prior to this time?


  1. You are pretty much right on point with my theories Kath. Given that we have the Infans family serving as knights at Peterborough Abbey as early as 1068, I think they were paid men who became made men over the course of a few centuries. Robert L'Enfant of Shrewsbury is a an important figure. He is given pretty much carte blanche in the early 1220s to reinforce castles in Shropshire and Montgomeryshire, 2 counties vitally important to the security of the Welsh Marches. It is important to note that Henry III came of age in 1223 and that is when we really see the fortunes of the Lenfants rise. When Henry III came of age, he replaced most of the castellans and sheriffs with men of his own choosing. Along with this, one of the main opponents to this action was Peter des Roche, a name you have heard before. He was the orignal holder of the lands that included Fantstown in Ireland. It isn't until after his fall and decline from politics in 1234 that we begin to find Fants in possession of lands in Ireland. I don't think this is a coincidence. The men who had been ousted from their positions had been loyal to King John and like him, greedy and corrupt. They looked to Peter des Roches as a leader to address their complaints about being dismissed. Obviously, they lost in their pleas and Peter des Roche suffered politically as well. I am not suggesting the Lenfants were in any way directly responsible for any of this, but I think they were the beneficiaries of what became of it. Their good and loyal service began to be recognized with positions and lands and knighthoods.

  2. Bryan
    The Genealogy for that family goes like this:
    Geoffrey Infans 1086
    Geoffrey of Gunthorpe 1115
    then to Robert of Torpel who is son of Roger Infans of Torpel.. 1127
    They became the Southorpe Family and disappeared by 1269 it says...

    is son