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Earl Roger died in 1094 and was buried in Shrewsbury Abbey, His lands were divided between his two sons, Robert de Belesme, by his first wife, and Hugh, by his second wife. Hugh was killed a few years later whilst fighting the Vikings on Anglesey, and Robert purchased his brother's lands from the King.
Robert de Belesme has passed into history as a real 'bad egg'. Together with Robert, King Henry's brother, Robert de Belesme led the barons in a revolt to depose the new King. Earl Robert (de Belesme) strengthened the castles at Shrewsbury, Montgomery and Ludlow, and even built a new one at Bridgnorth. But King Henry marched against him and, after taking Bridgnorth, reached Shrewsbury to confront Earl Robert. Earl Robert met the King at the gates, confessed his treason and relinquished the keys of the Castle. His banishment was a great relief to the oppressed townsfolk of Shrewsbury.
After Robert was banished, Shrewsbury Castle became a Royal fortress, and during Henry's reign Shrewsbury, like many towns, flourished as he lifted many of the restrictions that had, probably by necessity, been placed on the Saxons by William. Trade increased, towns grew and sheep farming was introduced by the Cistercian monks. This latter was of great importance to The Marches region and much of Shrewsbury's wealth came from the backs of sheep.
By this time, Shrewsbury was beginning to attain a shape which is recognisable today, and two bridges had been built to ease access to the town. The 'English' bridge was probably built when the Abbey was built, and the original 'Welsh' bridge was built, probably a few yards upstream from the present structure.
Henry I died in 1135 and his death brought civil war between the supporters of the claimants to the throne. Henry had made his barons promise that his throne should pass to his daughter Matilda and her husband Geoffrey of Anjou. But on Henry's death Stephen, a grandson of William was crowned instead. Shrewsbury Castle was garrisoned in support of Matilda and King Stephen laid siege for four weeks. Stephen finally took the castle and slaughtered ninety-three defendants 'for their obstinacy'. The final outcome was that Stephen adopted Matilda's son, Henry Plantagenet, as his heir.
In our great English Abbeys it was the custom to encourage pilgrims as a means of increasing income. For this reason, in 1137, Abbot Herbert of Shrewsbury Abbey negotiated with the Welsh for the purchase of the remains of St. Winefride from Holywell in North Wales. Legend told of how this holy virgin had resisted the advances of a pagan prince. He had cut off her head but had himself melted as wax before a fire. Her priest had replaced her head and she become the blessed Wenefreda shining with unnumbered virtues'. Of course, it wasn't referred to as tourism, but the increase in visitors, even in the form of pilgrims, brought income to the town as does tourism today.
Henry II came to the throne in 1154 and with him came a new era of development and prosperity. With the wool came the cloth industry, and Shrewsbury wasn't alone in seeing a new merchant class emerge. For Shrewsbury, it was a time of imports, too, as leather imported from Cordova was used in a thriving leather industry in Frankwell.
Henry visited Shrewsbury in 1158, on his way to Wales, and he obviously saw the importance of this Marches town as he was responsible for rebuilding thecastle in stone.
It was an era of charters, through which Shrewsbury became 'independent' from the Crown. Such charters gave a town the right to collect dues, elect officials, set up guilds and hold markets. - The earliest still in existence was granted by Richard I in 1189.
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