Waleran I, the feisty eleventh-century lord of Meulan, raised his own profile considerably by shifting his support among his more powerful neighbors, especially the count of Blois-Chartres, the king, and the Norman duke. In this strategy, Waleran typifies his ilk. Yet much about him remains mysterious, particularly the reasons for which he assigned his loyalty to one party or another at given moments, and the reasons why he came to incline increasingly toward Normandy. Sources concerning Waleran are few and slender; he is generally overshadowed by his better known, late eleventh- and twelfth-century progeny, particularly his great-grandsons, the twins Robert II and Waleran II. Nevertheless, enough information is retrievable to illuminate some of the factors influencing his allegiance. Examining these factors sheds light not only on the doings of one little lord in the eleventh century, but also suggests the broader considerations according to which others like him acted as they maneuvered among, and influenced the affairs of, their larger neighbors.
After a brief overview of Waleran's long career, this examination will consider each of the factors that can be shown to have had some sway over his allegiance. Some factors that surely guided his choices will not be examined. Sheer self-aggrandizement, for example – which undoubtedly loomed large in Waleran's calculations – does not appear clearly in the sources about him. It must therefore be borne in mind as an element shaping his choices, even though its precise impact remains elusive.