Odo De Conteville

Odo De Conteville, a French prelate, half-brother of William the Conqueror, was born in Normandy in 1032. He was made deacon at Fecamp by Hugo. Of Eu, bishop of Lisieux,and, although but seventeen years old, was elevated to the bishopric of Bayeux. in 1049 by his brother the duke of Normandy. He at once took a great interest in the construction of the cathedral, to which he gave rich vases of gold and silver. In 1050 and 1054 he granted charters to the abbeys of St. Evrould, St. Wandrille, and Mont St. Michel. In 1055 he took part in the provincial synod of Rouen, dedicated the church of Troarn May 13, 1059, reconstructed in 1066 the abbey of St. Vigor, and appointed over it Robert of Tombelaine. In the states-general at Lillebonne he was one of the chief promoters of the. expedition against England, and furnished his brother one hundred ships for the undertaking. On the day of the battle of Hastings, Oct. 14, 1066, Odo said mass and blessed the armies, and took an active part in the operations. After the conquest, he received as his reward the town of Dover, and distributed the houses among his warriors. When William returned to Normandy, he entrusted the government during his absence to Odo and William Osborn. The Saxons revolted against their despotic rule, and their first attack was against Dover; but Odo won against them the battle of Fagadon, in 1074. On July 14, 1077, he consecrated the cathedral with great splendor. William was present with a number of bishops, abbots, lords, etc., and gave him the barony and forest of Ellon. On Sept. 13, 1077, Odo was present at the consecration of the church of St. Stephen at Caen, and on Oct. 23 at that of Notre Dame du Bec. After taking part, in May, 1080, in an assembly held at Lillebonne in presence of the duke, he went with an army through Northumberland, which had risen, putting to death or torturing all who were accused of rebellion. As a reward he was made count of Kent and of Hereford. Not satisfied with this, he conceived the desire of becoming pope, the see of Rome having become vacant by the death of Gregory VII. After trying to corrupt all those who he thought could serve his purpose, he raised troops in England, intending to go with them to Italy, and thus secure the object of his ambition. On hearing of these plans, William at once returned to England. He assembled his barons in the Isle of Wight in 1085, and proposed to them to imprison Odo. As they did not dare to do this, he arrested him himself, Odo claiming that as a priest he was amenable only to the pope; but William answered that he arrested him not as a priest, but as his subject, and answerable to him. He caused him to be kept a prisoner in the tower of the old palace at Rouen until 1087. Liberated at the death of William, he at once took an active part in intrigues to overthrow William II, and to crown Robert. Besieged in Rochester, Odo was obliged to flee from England, and returning to Normandy he regained. his ascendency over the weak-minded Robert, and helped him to preserve his possessions. Odo consecrated, in 1092, the incestuous marriage of Philip I, king of France, with Bertrade, countess of Anjoiu, and as a reward received the income of all the churches of Mantes. Yet he was obliged to go to Dijon to be absolved from this fault by pope Urban III. After taking part in the Council of Clermont in 1095, and in that of Rouen in Feb., 1096, he started with his nephew Robert for the Holy Land, but died on the way at Palermo in Feb., 1097. See Gallica Christ. vol. xi; Ordericus Vitalis, Historia ecclesiastica; Prevost, Hist. de Guillaume le Conquerant; Hermant, Hist. eccles. de Bayeux.

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