• Richest of the Rich position: 6
  • Birth/Death: c 1030-1097
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £7,500
  • Net National Income: £150,000
  • Net National Income Percent: 5%
  • In Today’s Money: £55.498 billion

Half-brother to William the Conqueror, Odo was one of the most powerful men in Britain after the 1066 invasion. His wealth arose from his royal connection, and he was piling up his asset wealth even before the invasion. William made him Bishop of the immensely lucrative see of Bayeux while Odo was still a teenager. He played an active part in William’s invasion and subsequent conquest of Britain and was generously rewarded with the earldom of Kent and vast English estates, which were worth over £3,000 a year by the 1080s.

Odo increased his wealth by settling land disputes for a price, and he acquired an unsavoury reputation for luxury, vice and cruelty but proved to be an efficient military commander, helping William to pacify the north of England.

In the twenty years after the Conquest, Odo also managed to increase the yield on his land holdings by around 40%, which would have increased his wealth substantially. We estimate that his total wealth would have been around £7,500, representing 5% of net national income. In today’s terms, that would have been a chunky £55.4bn fortune, but it did not save Odo from an ignominious end.

His position depended on good relations with the king, yet in 1082, William decided to destroy his brother. Odo was arrested and imprisoned in Rouen. He was restored by William Rufus, but made the mistake of joining the rebellion by the ‘old guard’ against the new king. Their defeat led to the confiscation of Odo’s English lands. He spent his last years at Bayeux but died in Sicily in 1097, on his way to the First Crusade.

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