Fulbert of Falaise

Fulbert of Falaise (fl. 11th century) was the father of Herleva, mother of the illegitimate William the Conqueror, the 11th-century Duke of Normandy and King of England. The Walter of Falaise named by Orderic Vitalis is likely a son.

Fulbert has traditionally been held to be a tanner, based on translations of Orderic's additions to the Gesta Normannorum Ducum. He writes that during the siege of Alençon (1051-2), the natives had been mutilated by William after they called him a pelliciarius (pelterer), because his mother's kinsmen had been pollinctores (corpse preparers). One later poetic source interpreted the occupation to be that of tailor, but in part due to flawed transcripts of the original, many historians have concluded he was a tanner.[1] Others have favored a more literal reading, that Herleva's family had been undertakers or embalmers.[2]

Orderic also added to the Gesta that Fulbert served as the Duke's chamberlain (cubicularii ducis).[3] It has been suggested that this occurred after William's birth.[4] Perhaps linking Orderic's two additions, contemporary practice made the chamberlain one of the persons responsible for burials.[5]


  1. e.g. Freeman, ii, 610-17; Douglas, 379-80; de Bouard, 84-5.
  2. van Houts
  3. van Houts, 403; Crouch
  4. Douglas, 381; van Houts, 403
  5. van Houts, 403, citing Lanfranc.


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