De Courcy

Anglo-Normans in Ireland, England and France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries

Steve Flanders

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ISBN: 978-1-84682-094-6
May 2011. 208pp.

'Given the depth of our ignorance of this remarkable man, the subject of de Courcy has long merited thorough investigation … This study by Steve Flanders is not a biography of de Courcy. It is, instead, an investigation of the family that takes its name from Courcy-sur-Dives in Calvados; it examines both its Norman estates and its service to the duke, until the latter became king of England in 1066, at which point the family jumped on board the gravy train and extended its holdings to Oxfordshire, then Somerset, the English Midlands, and as far north as west Yorkshire and the Lake District. It is a tribute to the author’s investigative skills that he has managed to construct a plausible de Courcy family tree despite the obstacle posed by a naming pattern so rigid that for 150 years there was no head of either the Norman or English branches of the family who was not a Richard, a Robert or a William (two men of each name living in parallel on either side of the English Channel). It also says much for the author’s uncomplicated writing style that he effortlessly carries the reader with him through the half-dozen or more Robert de Courcys who come our way during the course of the twelfth century alone', Seán Duffy, Irish Historical Studies (May 2009).

‘Steve Flanders presents a thorough prosopographical study of the Courcy family from their first traceable ancestor, Baudri the German, a retainer of Duke Richard II of Normandy in the early eleventh century, down through the career of their most famous son, John de Courcy, who carved out the Anglo-Norman lordship of Ulster with a daring winter campaign in February 1177 … Flander’s clearing up of the genealogical terrain surrounding the Courcys, summarized in a number of useful tables after chapter 7, is the most valuable part of the book. Excellent maps of the various Courcy lordships and holdings accompany the genealogical tables', Stephen Morillo, Speculum (2010).

‘It has long been recognized that men of Norman descent, by becoming lords not only in England, but also in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, played an important role in shaping relationships between the various territories of Britain and Ireland. Since 1966 there have been valuable studies of some of the families involved in this aristocratic diaspora: W.E. Wightman on the Lacys, Keith Stringer on the de Vescis, Mark Hagger on the de Verduns. But, while they wrote for a small readership of fellow-scholars, and with the appropriate array of footnotes, Steve Flanders has bravely decided to write for the general reader. Hence his book is liberally provided with explanatory phrases, such as ‘a cartulary is a hand-written manuscript containing copies of grants, confirmations and other documents’ … The greater part of his book is devoted to an attempt to sort out the eleventh- and twelfth-century Courcy genealogy', John Gillingham, English Historical Review (June 2011).