On 9th April 1139, the Treaty of Durham (Peace of Carlisle) was concluded between King Stephen of England and David I of Scotland. David and his son Henry were handed Carlisle, Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire north of the Ribble except the castles of Bamburgh and Newcastle with Henry made Earl of Northumberland. This treaty, agreed by Stephen to avoid fighting on two fronts against Empress Matilda’s invasion, unfortunately could not avert the impending civil war later to be called The Anarchy. As part of ‘the deal’, Prince Henry of Scotland was given the hand in marriage of Ada, daughter of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey and lord of Sandal Castle. Their issue included two kings of Scotland: Malcolm IV and William I (The Lion).
On 5th February 1118, Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester, adviser to Henry I, died. His death was attributed to the shame of his much younger wife Elizabeth (de Vermandois), a granddaughter of Henry I of France and niece of Philip I of France, being seduced by William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey and lord of Sandal Castle. The couple married later that year.
On 1st August 1141 the Empress Matilda began to besiege the palatial castle of Bishop Henry of Winchester. The defenders threw burning material from the ramparts which began to set the whole city ablaze. At the same time, Queen Matilda (King Stephen’s wife) was now approaching Winchester with an army of her own, which included William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey, and owner of Sandal Castle. Following the Empress Matilda’s flight from Winchester, William de Warenne would capture Robert, Duke of Gloucester – Matilda’s half- brother – which would prove very useful as a bargaining agent in obtaining the release of King Stephen, who had been captured at the Battle of Lincoln, earlier that year.
On 23rd April 1144, the Castle of Rouen, the Duchy of Normandy’s capital city, garrisoned by William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal castle, surrendered to Count Geoffrey of Anjou, husband of Empress Matilda, after a three months’ siege. Geoffrey was soon invested as Duke of Normandy, ceding Gisors and the Vexin to Louis VII of France in return for his recognising Geoffrey as the new Duke.
On 25th October 1154 , King Stephen died and, when the reign of Henry Plantagenet, Henry II, began on 19th December 1154, Henry allowed William of Blois, 4th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal castle, to retain the earldom of Surrey in right of his wife Isabel de Warenne. Many historical records (and indeed on this site) note the confusion around whether there were seven or eight earls of Surrey who owned Sandal Castle. The answer is in fact seven, as both William of Blois and Hamelin de Plantagenet were both classed as the fourth earls due to their marriages to Isabel de Warenne, the 4th Countess of Surrey. On this date, William also succeeded as Count of Mortain, north-western France (jure patris, by right of his father).
On 11th October 1159, William of Blois, 4th Earl of Surrey, died. William had taken ownership of Sandal Castle in 1148. William’s parents were Stephen, Count of Boulogne, and Matilda Contessa de Boulogne. William had been born circa 1137 but did not want to be king, so his father Stephen acknowledged his cousin Matilda’s son, Henry, as his successor. The two centuries between the death of William of Blois in 1159 and the last Earl of Surrey in 1347 mark the period when the timber castle at Sandal was reconstructed in stone and received its full complement of buildings, which lasted until their destruction in the Civil War.
On Sunday 14th September 1141, the Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross, William de Warenne , 3rd Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal castle, was part of the army of Queeen Matilda of Boulogne, the wife of the imprisoned King Stephen who had been captured at Lincoln in February of that year. Queen Matilda’s forces defeated those of the Empress Matilda at Winchester. Robert, Earl of Gloucester, one of the key supporters of the Empress Matilda, was captured, placed into the custody of William of Ypres and imprisoned at Rochester Castle. William of Malmesbury wrote of Gloucester: “Such consciousness of his lofty rank did he breathe, that he could not be humbled by the outrage of fortune.” He was later exchanged for King Stephen who was returned to the throne on 1st November 1141, having been released from Bristol Castle but leaving his wife and son, Eustace, as hostages to guarantee good faith. However, this did not end the civil war which would drag on until 1153.