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Fulk FitzWarin

Fulk FitzWarin (also called Fulke or Fouke FitzWaryn or FitzWarren, etc.) (c. 1160 1258) was an English nobleman turned outlaw from Whittington Castle in Shropshire. The historical Fulk, or Fulk III FitzWarin, was a Marcher Lord who rebelled against King John from 1200 to 1203 over his familial right to the estate of Whittington.[1] After his death he was the subject of an "ancestral romance", Fouke le Fitz Waryn, which contains a highly embellished account of his life and family history.[2] The bulk of the narrative is concerned with his period as an outlaw, which has various similarities to the later legends of Robin Hood.[3]



Fulk III was the son of Fulk II FitzWarin (died 1197) by Hawise le Dinan, daughter and co-heiress of Josce de Dinan, the holder of Ludlow Castle for the Empress Matilda during the civil war between the latter and King Stephen.

The family had long been struggling to retain the manor of Whittington, of which the crown had deprived them. After his father's death in 1197 Fulk III paid a fine of 100 for his inheritance of the manor, probably as a feudal relief, yet King John granted it instead to Meurig, son of the Welsh nobleman Roger of Powys. This action caused Fulk III to rebel against King John between 1200 and 1203. He was assisted in his rebellion by 52 followers including his brothers William, Phillip and John and by the family's tenants and allies in the Marches. Hubert de Burgh was sent by the king with 100 knights to counter Fulk's rebellion, but the matter was apparently settled amicably as in October 1204 Fulk had recovered Whittington on payment of a fine of 200 marks. The family likewise struggled over a long period to retain the manor of Alveston in Gloucestershire.

Between 1221 and 1226 Fulk III founded Alberbury Priory which he granted to the Augustinian canons of Lilleshall but later transferred it to the Order of Grandmont

Fulk III married firstly Matilda le Vavasour, daughter of Robert le Vavasour. She was the widow of Theobald Butler, the brother of Archbishop Hubert Walter. He married secondly Clarice d'Auberville. He had 2 sons and 4 daughters:

  • Fulk IV FitzWarin(d.1264, drowned at the Battle of Lewes)
  • Fulk Glas of Alberbury
  • Hawise, wife of William Pantulf, a Marcher Lord
  • Joan
  • Eva
  • Mabel

Fulk III lived to a great age and some time before his death in 1258 handed over control of much of his responsibilities to his son and heir Fulk IV. In 1252 he made his will which stated his wish to be buried at his foundation of Alberbury Priory.

Romance of Fouke le Fitz Waryn

The biography of Fulk III survives in a French prose "ancestral romance", extant in a miscellaneous manuscript containing English, French and Latin texts, which is based on a lost verse romance. A 16th century summary of a Middle English version has also been preserved. The work is part of the Matter of England.[4] According to the tale, as a young boy, Fulk was sent to the court of King Henry II, where he grew up with the future King John. John became his enemy after a childhood quarrel during a game of chess. As an adult, Fulk was stripped of his family's holdings, and took to the woods as an outlaw. The story may in fact also have confused aspects of the lives of two Fulk FitzWarins, Fulk I(d.1171) and Fulk II (d.1197), father and son. The romance of Fulk FitzWarin has been noted for its parallels to the Robin Hood legend. [5] It is also similar to that of other medieval outlaws such as Eustace the Monk and Hereward the Wake.

Fulk Fitzwarin II is depicted in the stained glass window at St Laurence Church, Ludlow.



Further reading

  • Meisel, Janet. Barons of the Welsh Frontier: the Corbet, Pantulf and FitzWarin Families, 1066-1272, 1980.
  • GEC Complete Peerage, Vol 5, pp.495- et seq. for barony by writ granted to Fulk V FitzWarin(d.1315), son of Fulk IV(d.1264).

External links

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