Ranulf de Blondeville was once one of the most important Earls of Chester. He is widely considered the 6th Earl of Chester, although some historical documents call him the 4th Earl of Chester. Ranulf was born in 1170 and died in 1232, but he had a rich life filled with power granted to him by his father.
He was the successor of his father, Hugh de Kevelioc, succeeding him as Earl of Chester in 1181 when he was just eleven years old.
The early days of his earldom have little history, as Ranulf was a minor. His true power came in 1188 or 1189, depending on the source, when he was knighted. The act of being knighted wasn’t just symbolic. Following him being knighted, he was granted his father’s estates in both Normandy and England.
He married the Duchess Constance of Brittany in 1188 or 1189, and would enter a power family which included Arthur of Brittany. King John named Arthur his adopted son and heir to the crown. The marriage of Ranulf and Brittany didn’t last, with Ranulf abducting his wife which led King John to march his army after her.
She escaped Ranulf, and their marriage was dissolved as a result.
Ranulf would marry Clemence of Fougeres, gaining power in Normandy as a result. King John kept buying Ranulf‘s patronage when he spent time in France from 1199 – 1204. Ranulf had a brief falling out with the King before becoming a key executor.
He fought for Henry III when the French invaded.
In 1218 – 1219, Ranulf took part in the capture of Damietta, Egypt during the Firth Crusade. The victory led to the prestige of Ranulf. He would return to England, and lived out his last days as the Earl of Chester until 1232 when he died.
Ranulf died at the age of sixty, with his heart being placed in Dieulacres Abbey.
Ranulf never had children, although he was married twice. He is considered the last of the aristocracy which took part in the Norman Conquest. When Ranulf died, he left his estate and possessions to his four sisters.
There are myths that is name was linked to the legendary hero Robin Hood.
The earldom of Chester would pass from Ranulf to his nephew John the Scot. This would lead to the title being annexed and being held only by the English crown ever since. Ranulf‘s presence in Cheshire still remains today.