m. ABT 1120
Facts and Events
Aubrey de Vere, 1st Earl of Oxford (c. 1115 – 26 December 1194) was a noble involved in the succession conflict between King Stephen and Empress Matilda in the mid-twelfth century.
In 1136 or 1137 Aubrey de Vere married Beatrice, the daughter of Henry, Constable of Bourbourg, and the granddaughter and heiress of Manasses, Count of Guînes in the Pas de Calais. After the death of Manasses late in 1138, Aubrey travelled to Guînes, did homage to Thierry, Count of Flanders, and was made Count of Guînes by right of his wife. The marriage, however, may not have been consummated, due to the poor health of Beatrice.
Aubrey de Vere succeeded his father, another Aubrey de Vere, on 15 May 1141, after he had been slain by a mob in London. He came into his inheritance at a time of civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda over the succession to the crown. King Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln in February 1141, so Aubrey did homage to the Empress. His brother-in-law, the Earl of Essex, appears to have negotiated the grant of an earldom to Aubrey in July 1141, which grant was confirmed by Henry fitz Empress in Normandy. The latter charter provided that Aubrey de Vere would be Earl of Cambridgeshire, with the third penny, unless that county were held by the King of Scots, in which case he was to have a choice of four other titles. In the event, de Vere took the title of Earl of Oxford. Earl Geoffrey made his peace with King Stephen when the king regained his freedom late in 1141 and most likely Aubrey de Vere did as well.
In 1143, however, the King arrested Essex and Oxford at St. Albans. Both were forced to surrender his castles to the King in order to regain their liberty. The earl of Essex retaliated by rebelling against the king; it appears that Oxford did not actively or openly support his brother-in-law.
At some time between 1144 and 1146 the Constable of Bourbourg, arranged a divorce for his daughter Countess Beatrice with Earl Aubrey's consent, after which Oxford ceased to be Count of Guînes. In or before 1151 Oxford married Euphemia. King Stephen and his wife, Queen Maud, gave the manor of Ickleton, Cambridgeshire, as Euphemia's marriage portion. The marriage was short-lived; Euphemia was dead by 1154, leaving no known issue. She was buried at Colne Priory.
On 3 May 1152 Queen Maud died at Oxford's seat of Castle Hedingham, and in the winter of 1152-3 Oxford was with the King at the siege of Wallingford, attesting important charters in 1153 as "earl Aubrey."
In 1162 or 1163 Earl Aubrey took as his third wife Agnes, the daughter of Henry of Essex, lord of Rayleigh. At the time of the marriage Agnes was probably aged twelve. Soon after their marriage, Aubrey's father-in-law was accused of treason and fought (and lost) a judicial duel. By 1165 he attempted to have the marriage annulled, allegedly because Agnes had been betrothed to his brother, Geoffrey de Vere, but probably in reality because her father had been disgraced and ruined. Oxford reportedly 'kept his wife shut up and did not allow her to attend church or go out, and refused to cohabit with her', according to the letter the bishop of London wrote to the Pope about the case when the young countess appealed to the Roman Curia. The pope sided with Agnes and declared the marriage valid, but the earl continued to refuse to take her back as his wife. Agnes's friends appealed to the Bishop of London, and ultimately to Pope Alexander III, who in 1171 or 1172 directed the bishop to order Oxford to restore her to her conjugal rights or to suffer interdiction and excommunication. By Agnes Oxford eventually had four sons, Aubrey de Vere, 2nd Earl of Oxford, Ralph, Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford, and Henry, and a daughter, Alice.
In 1184 Oxford obtained the wardship of the person of Isabel de Bolebec, daughter of Walter de Bolebec, but not the custody of her lands. In 1190 he paid 500 marks for the right to marry her to his eldest son and heir, Aubrey de Vere, later 2nd Earl of Oxford.
Oxford served during the civil war of 1173–4, helping to repel a force under Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, which landed in Suffolk on 29 September 1173. He was present on 3 September 1189 at the coronation of King Richard I.
Oxford died 26 December 1194, and was buried at Colne Priory. His third wife survived him, and later was buried by his side.