Eustace Families Association

Eustace Counts of Boulogne

EUSTACE I, (d. 1046-1047) was a son of Count Baldwin II. He became count in 1023 or 1027 and served until his death in1046/47. Encyclopedia Brittanica (Vol. 8, p. 894) says he was a son of Arnulf I (d. c. 993) and a great-grandson of Baldwin II, count of Flanders (d. 918)

His son, EUSTACE II (d. 1093), count of Boulogne, was the husband of Goda, daughter of the English king Aethelred the Unready, and aunt of Edward the Confessor. Eustace paid a visit to England in 1051, and was honourably received at the Confessor's court. A brawl in which he and his servants became involved, with the citizens of Dover led to a serious quarrel between the king and Earl Godwin.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicles describes the scene as follows:
Eustace came from beyond the sea, soon after the bishop went to the king and spoke to him of what he would, then turned homeward. When he came to Canterbury, he ate there with his men, and went to Dover. When he was some miles from the sea, behind Dover, he put on his byrnie, and so did his companions they fared to Dover. When they arrived, they meant to lodge where it pleased them; one of his men came, wishing to lodge at a householder's without his consent, wounded the householder, and the householder killed him. Eustace got on his horse, and his companions on theirs, went to the householder and killed him on own hearth, then went up to the town and killed, inside and out, more than twenty men. The townsmen killed nineteen on the other side, and wounded they knew not how many. Eustace escaped with a few men, went back to the king, and told him a part of what had happened. The king became very angry with the townsmen; he sent for eorl Godwine and badego into Kent in hostility, to Dover, because Eustace had told the king that it was more the fault of the townsmen than his but it was not so. The eorl would not agree to go in, because it was hateful to him to injure his own following.

Then the king sent after all his counsellors, and bade them come to Gloucester near the second St. Mary's Day. The foreigners had built a castle in Herefordshire among eorl Swein's followers; they did much harm and insulted the king’s men thereabouts where they might.

The latter, to whose jurisdiction the men of Dover were subject, refused to punish them. His contumacy was made the excuse for the outlawry of himself and his family. In 1066 Eustace came to England with Duke William, and fought at the battle of Hastings. In the following year, probably because he was dissatisfied with his share of the spoil, he assisted the Kentishmen in an attempt to seize Dover Castle. The conspiracy failed, and Eustace was sentenced to forfeit his English fiefs. Subsequently he was reconciled to the Conqueror, who restored a part of the confiscated lands.

By his second wife Ida of Lorraine, Eustace became the father of Eustace III and of the crusaders Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin I, count of Edessa and first king of Jerusalem.

Eustace died in 1093, and was succeeded by his son, EUSTACE III, who went on crusade in 1096, and died about 1125.
Eustace III supported Robert II (Curthose), duke of Normandy, in an attempt (1088) to wrest the English crown from his brother William II. He accompanied Robert on the first crusade (1096)returning home in 1100.
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles states the following:
This same year (1100) also in autumn came eorl Robert home into Normandy, and Robert of Flanders, and Eustace eorl of Boulogne, from Jerusalem. As soon as eorl Robert came into Normandy, he was gladly received by all folk, except in the castles that were set with king Henry's men, against whom he had many contests and battles.

At Christmas in 1101, King Henry held his court at Westminster, and at Easter at Winchester; and soon thereafter, the chief men in this land became hostile to the king, both because of their own great disloyalty and also through eorl Robert of Normandy, who was intent upon war with this land. The king sent ships out to sea then, to the hindering of his brother, but some of them later failed of need, turned from the king and bowed to eorl Robert. Then at summer the king fared out to Pevensey with all his army against his brother, and abided his coming there; but meanwhile eorl Robert came up at Portsmouth twelve nights before Lammas. The king with all his army went against them, but the chief men went between them, and reconciled the brothers on the condition that the king give up all that he held by force again the eorl in Normandy, and all who in England had been deprived of their land on account of the eorl were to have it again; also that eorl Eustace have all his father's land here in this land, and that eorl Robert should have each year three thousand marks of silver; and that which- ever of the brothers outlasted the other be heir to all England and also Normandy, unless the dead one had an heir by a legal marriage. And this they fastened then with oaths, twelve of the on either side.

On the death of his brother Baldwin (1118), he was elected king of Jerusalem by the crusaders there, but he had only reached Italy when he heard that his nephew Baldwin II had been put forward in his place. He retired to the Cluniac priory in St. Peter at Rumilly in the Boulonnais in 1125. On the death ofEustace lll, the county of Boulogne came to his daughter, Matilda, and her husband Stephen, count of Blois, afterwards king of England, And in 1150 it was given to their son, Eustace IV.

EUSTACE IV (d. 1153) became the heir-apparent to his father's possessions by the death of an elder brother before 1135.

In 1137 he did homage for Normandy to Louis VII of France, whose sister, Constance, he subsequently married (1140). He was several times used by the king as an opponent to the claims on the duchy made by the counts of Anjou. At a council held in London on April6, 1152, King Stephen induced a small number of the English barons to do homage to Eustace as their future king; but Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to crown him. Eustace died on about August 17, 1153, while engaged in plundering the lands of Bury St. Edmunds. His death made possible a peaceful settlement between Henry of Anjou (afterward Henry II) and Stephen, who made no attempt to designate the throne to his younger son, William, earl of Surrey.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicles relates the following:
Then fared Eustace the king's son to France, and took the sister of the king of France to wife. He believed that he would obtain Normandy thereby, but he prospered little, and quite justly, for he was an evil man; wherever he came he did more evil than good. He plundered the lands and laid heavy taxes on them; he brought his wife to England and put her in the castle at Canterbury.

Eustace was knighted in 1147, and in 1151 joined Louis in an abortive raid upon Normandy, which had accepted the title of the empress Matilda, and was now defended by her husband, Geoffrey ofAnjou. At a council held in London on April 6, 1152 Stephen induced a small number of barons to do homage to Eustace as their future king; but the primate, Theobald, and the other bishops declined to perform the coronation ceremony on the ground that the Roman curia had declared against the claim of Eustace, whose death in 1153 opened up the possibility of a peaceful settlement between Stephen and his rival, the young Henry of Anjou.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicles states:

A good woman she was, but she had little bliss with him. Christ would not have it that he should reign long, and both he and his mother died ( 1152 ) .

See the following for additional information:

Sir James Ramsay, Foundations of England, vol. 1 (1898); J. M. Lappenberg, History of England under the Norman Kings (trans. B. Thorpe, 857); and Freeman's Hist. of the Norman Conquest (1867-79).

E. Rigaux, Recherches sur les comptes de Boulogne, Bulletin de la societe academique de Boulogne-sur-mer, vol.(1891-99).

P. Heliot, Histoire de Boulogne et de du Boulonnais(1937).