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Volume I-A
Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine

Second edition published December 2010
Author: John R. Mayer
Edited by: Barbara Jean Way née Mayer

Extraneus, Volume I-A, Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine, contains two books:

Book I, Le Strange of Middle Britain
Book II, De Lestrange of LeStrange of Aquitaine


Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine is a sweeping
thousand-year tale of ‘Strange’ lives
intertwined with English and American history. 

Brass of John, 8th Lord Strange of Knockin, and Jacquetta Woodville

Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine is a fascinating book that examines the ancient roots of the Breton family of Extraneus, which arose in Britain Minor or Brittany during the eleventh century and acquired lands in Norfolk and Shropshire, Great Britain after the Norman conquest of England in 1066.  When the Breton family of Extraneus arrived in England, purportedly with William the Conqueror in 1066, it most likely acquired or adopted the surname Extraneus perhaps by its descent from the Count of Brittany, for sons of Brittany would have been decidedly strange with respect to the sons of Normandy.  The surname Strange is said to indicate that the progenitor of the family was a stranger among the Normans.  Regardless of origin, there are no records of anyone named Extraneus before the date of 1082. 

By the fourteenth century the surname Extraneus changed into its English equivalent le Strange, and by the seventeenth century other common spellings came into use, such as Strange and L’Estrange.  This volume also contains an outline of miscellaneous lineages surnamed de Lestrange, D’Estreng, Estreng, Streing, String, Strang, and Strange  which occurred in France, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Ohio.

The Norman nobility that conquered the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 became the Landed Gentry, and eventually came to control numerous castles and manor houses throughout England.  The early history of the le Stranges demonstrates their firm allegiance to the Crown.  In the wars with Wales, they distinguished themselves as Marcher Lords of considerable military strength and they acquired a vast amount of land.  As a result of feudal loyalty and service to the Kings of England in their wars against the Princes of North Wales, the le Stranges gained property, prominence, and power.

Roland le Strange (circa 1092-1145) is generally accepted as having been the progenitor of the main trunks of the family at Hunstanton.  By the thirteenth century, the le Stranges had established two spheres of influence, on opposite sides of England, one in Norfolk and one in Salop.  The focus of power in Norfolk was at the manor of Hunstanton.  In Salop, the Lords Strange were charged with protecting the March of Wales, where the seat of their power was Knockyn Castle.  Branches of the family came to own manors throughout Shropshire.  Some of these manors were granted by the Crown, and several were acquired by annexing them forcibly from the Prince of Wales.

The le Stranges had two baronial houses.  Royal recognition of John le Strange II as Baron Strange of Knokyn probably occurred in 1216.  By royal summons in 1299, John le Strange V (1253-1309) was created the 1st Lord Strange, Baron of Knockyn.  The Barony of Knockyn merged with the Earldom of Derby in 1514.  Fulk le Strange, a descendant of John le Strange III, became Lord Strange of Blackmere in 1309.  The Barony of Blackmere eventually merged with the Earldom of Shrewsbury and fell into abeyance in 1616. Strange peerages are extensively outlined within the pages of the book and there are many intermarriages and relationships with other peerages such as the houses of Stanley, Spencer, Murray, and Hastings.  One individual actually bore 17 different titles.

Certain persons in the Extraneus, De Lestrange and le Strange family participated in the Crusades.  They exhibited tremendous bravery and self-sacrifice in their struggle to wrestle Christian relics from the Muslim hands.  Bernard Extraneus went to Turkey on the People’s Crusade between 1096 and 1101 and therefore was present in the area when the iron point of the Holy Lance was discovered beneath the cathedral in Antioch.  The family has a history of continual service in the form of hospital work, building chapels, and supporting the crusades. 

History from a “Strange” point of view:
The historical connections and the stories are what make this book so deeply interesting.  Included are many tales of political intrigue, murder, beheadings, poisonings, plague, betrayals and war.  There is a description of an enemy who was dragged by horses then hanged, his corpse was quartered for distribution to four parts of the kingdom, and his head was displayed on a lance at the Tower of London.  There are stories of religious persecution and arranged marriages between children, one as young as 6 months of age.  Included is the memorable tale of the Fair Maid, the “Pearl of Brittany”, being held captive her entire life of perhaps 60 years.  One king wanted his nephew mutilated so he would never assume power.  The nephew, still a teenager, was eventually murdered perhaps by the hand of his uncle, the king.  Particularly captivating is the description of Sir Thomas Stanley’s pivotal role in the final battle in the War of the Roses, the Battle of Bosworth, involving King Richard III versus Henry Tudor.  The history continues on to tell accounts of people who were involved with the colonization of America and the Revolutionary War.

There are many connections to notable historical figures all the way from Charlemagne (742-814) to George W. Bush, including several other American presidents, Kings and Queens of England, and Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.  Other famous people weave into the stories such as Shakespeare, Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, and Joan of Arc.

Looking through the window of the Strange family, this book offers a personal glimpse into English culture from a historical perspective. William the Conquerer changed the course of history for England. Across a thousand years since then, you will observe the changes in politics, war, land acquisition and ownership, the King's court, hereditary rights, alliance marriages, peerages, and the rise and fall of family dynasties.

For further information, please refer to the Table of Contents from Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine which includes chapter titles, page numbers, dates covered, surnames, and localities.  You might also wish to refer to the Preface to the First Edition of Extraneus.

Extraneus, Volume I-A, Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine , by John R. Mayer, second edition, 2010
ISBN 978-1-893880-03-0, hardcover, 8-1/2" x 11"
xxvi + 632 pages including bibliographic references, illustrations, and index
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 96229381

NOTE: The printed version of this book is out of print.
The .PDF file referenced below is still available.

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Now available:
.PDF file of Extraneus, Volume I-A, Le Strange of Britain and Aquitaine, by John R. Mayer, second edition, 2010
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