|King Henry I of England|
|Artist's illustration of Bristol Castle, which Robert de Caen originally built|
|Loch Tay island, where Queen Sybil's church stood|
Sybil’s full-blood brother Rainald de Dunstanville first became Earl of Cornwall, when he supported King Stephen. Like his half-brother Robert of Caen, he soon switched sides and led a rebellion. Rainald married well in 1139 to Beatrice, an heiress with lands throughout Cornwall. They would have seven children together. Two years later, his half-sister Matilda conferred the earldom on him again. The Anarchy allowed Rainald to evade payment of taxes on his holdings, which did not change until 1175, when Rainald died without a living male heir.
In 1103, Juliane, another bastard daughter of King Henry by his mistress Ansfride, married Eustace de Pacy in Normandy. The couple shared similar circumstances. Eustace’s father William de Breteuil acknowledged him despite his illegitimate birth. Sixteen years later, King Henry held his own granddaughters from Juliane as pledges for Eustace’s safekeeping of the castle at Ivry. Eustace failed in his bid and as revenge, Henry had his granddaughters eyes put out and the tips of their noses cut off. A naturally aggrieved Juliane sided with her husband against her father. He besieged her in the castle at Breteuil. She requested a meeting with him, but tried to put a bolt from a crossbow in his heart. Surrounded and helpless, Juliane surrendered. Later, she and her husband sought Henry’s forgiveness and she retired to the abbey at Fontevrault.
Isabel is one of the most provocative of Henry’s illegitimate daughters. The controversy stems from her ancestors’ ties to Henry. Isabel was the granddaughter of Comte Robert de Meulan, who had been an advisor to King Henry from the beginning of his reign. The men were longtime friends and Henry would have seen Robert’s children grow up during his long reign. When Robert died in 1117, Henry claimed his eldest sons, the 13-year-old twins Waleran de Meulan and Robert of Leicester as wards. Their sister Isabel was at least three years younger, yet in 1120, she bore Henry an illegitimate daughter who shared her mother’s name. While this last of the King’s mistresses went on to marry Gilbert de Clare and become the mother of Richard, known as Strongbow, her daughter never wed.
Henry acknowledged at least fifteen other bastards during his lifetime. No other English king, including Charles II five centuries later, fathered as many illegitimate children. For those aligned with Henry’s children through marriage and political alliance, the link to royal blood mattered most, not the legitimacy of that connection.