AUMÂLE Alba Marla in Latin, whence the English Albemarle.
Small medieval County, on the eastern borders of Normandy in northern France; the town is on the River Bresle WSW of Amiens.
It was given to Odo, the dispossessed Count of Champagne, by his uncle, William the Conqueror, c.1069; he was also lord of Holderness in Yorkshire, between the Humber and the North Sea. His descendants held Holderness for a while even after being displaced in the Norman county in the late 12th century, and since then Albemarle has provided a title for English Dukes and, since 1696, for Earls of the Keppel family.
The French County was held by several different families. The heiress of the Dammartin family, who held it after the Holderness lords in the 13th century, was second wife to King Ferdinand III of Castile (and mother of Edward I’s Queen Eleanor, she of the Crosses). In 1342 the county passed by marriage to the family of Harcourt. The grandson of Marie d’Harcourt, René II, Duke of Lorraine, inherited the County from her in 1476. After his death in 1508 it passed to his younger son, Claude, the founder of the House of Guise.
Aumâle was raised to the rank of a Duchy in 1547 for Claude’s eldest son and passed to a younger son when Claude, Duke of Guise, died in 1550. After the death of the last Duke of Aumâle of the Guise line in 1631, the Duchy passed through his sister to the Dukes of Nemours, a branch of the House of Savoy. The heiress of that family sold the county to Louis XIV in 1688. The ducal title was enjoyed by his bastard son, the Duc du Maine, and was last held by Henri (d.1897), a younger son of King Louis Philippe.