- Richest of the Rich position: 14
- Birth/Death: 1060-1128
- Origin of wealth: Church
- Wealth: £5,000
- Net National Income: £250,000
- Net National Income Percent: 2%
- In Today’s Money: £22.19 billion
This royal favourite of his time had an unusual end. He lived to be 68 years old, more than double the normal lifespan of the times, and died a natural death in his own bed. Those two facts aside, he is one of the most extraordinary though least known figures in English history. According to the historian, Southern -
The great line of administrators who fashioned and finally destroyed the medieval system of government in England begins with Flambard.
The son of a poor priest in Bayeux, Flambard attached himself to Odo of Bayeux (q.v.) and after the Conquest became chaplain to the Conqueror. But it was under William’s successor, William Rufus, that he made his name and fortune.
From his position as the king’s chaplain he enforced royal writs, usually relating to fines, penalties or confiscation. He became a leading legal expert and administrator, the de facto enforcer for at least three chancellors. Flambard’s main task was simply to impose Norman rule by fining and penalising the conquered out of their lands. He was accused by one chronicler of going around measuring England with a rope so he could impose taxes. A self-made man, Flambard built his fortune by taking a cut on all of the exactions he made and used the money to buy lands and make loans. When he fell out of royal favour on the death of William Rufus in 1100, he again used a rope, this time to escape from the Tower of London. He then married off his wife to a rich farmer and bought himself the Bishopric of Durham, with its vast revenues and power, for £1,000. His attempted seduction and rape of his wife’s niece, Theodora, in 1114 led her to become one of England’s most famous hermits, Christina of Markyate.
By the time Flambard died in 1128, he was worth £5,000. This represented about 2% of national income