Garsenda, Countess of Forcalquier
Garsenda was the Countess of Provence as the wife of Alfonso II from 1193 and the Countess of Forcalquier in her own right from 1209. She brought Forcalquier to the House of Barcelona and united it to Provence and she was a patron of Occitan literature, especially the troubadours, and herself wrote some lyric poetry and is counted among the trobairitz as Garsenda de Proensa or Proença. She was, in the words of her most recent editors, Garsenda was the daughter of Rainou, lord of Caylar and Ansouis of the Sabran family, and Garsenda, daughter of William IV of Forcalquier. She was named after her mother, who was the heiress of William IV, Garsenda therefore inherited Forcalquier from her grandfather. The marriage took place at Aix-en-Provence in July 1193 and they had at least two children, Raymond Berengar IV and Garsenda, who married Guillermo II de Montcada, and bore him two children, including Gaston VII, Viscount of Béarn. In 1209 both William IV and Alfonso died and Garsenda became the guardian of their son and heir.
Dissension broke out between the Catalans and the partisans of the countess, who accused Nuño of attempting to supplant his nephew in the county. The Provençal aristocracy originally took advantage of the situation for their own ends, but eventually they lined up behind Garsenda and removed Nuño. The regency was passed to Garsenda and a council was established consisting of the native nobles. It was probably during her tenure as regent that Garsenda became the focus of a circle of poets. There is a tenso between a bona dompna, identified in one chansonnier as la contessa de Proessa, and an anonymous troubadour, the two coblas of the exchange are found in two different orders in the two chansonniers, called F and T, that preserve them. It cannot be known therefore who spoke first, but the womans half begins Vos qem semblatz dels corals amadors, in the poem the countess declares her love for her interlocutor, who responds courteously but carefully. Under some interpretations the troubadour is Gui de Cavaillon, whose vida repeats the rumour that he was the countess lover, however, was at the Provençal court between 1200 and 1209, pushing the date of the exchange forward a bit.
Elias de Barjols apparently fell in love with her as a widow and wrote songs about her for the rest of his life, raimon Vidal praised her renowned patronage of troubadours. By 1217 or 1220 Garsenda had finally ceded Forcalquier to her son, Garsenda retired to the monastery of La Celle around 1225. In 1242, she went to visit her newly born great-granddaughter, Beatrice of England, as the father, Henry III of England, was engaged in a war in France at the time, she brought 60 knights to his service
Alfonso II, Count of Provence
Alfonso II was the second son of Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castile. His father transferred the County of Provence from his uncle Sancho to him in 1185, Alfonso II was born in Barcelona. In 1193, Alfonso married Gersenda II of Sabran, daughter of Rainou, Count of Forcalquier and they had a child who became Ramon Berenguer IV as count of Provence. According to explanations in the manuscripts of Gaucelm Faidits poems, Alfonso was a rival of the troubadour for the love of Jourdaine dEmbrun, Alfonso II died in Palermo, Italy
Blanche of Castile
Blanche of Castile was Queen of France by marriage to Louis VIII. She acted as regent twice during the reign of her son, Louis IX, during his minority from 1226 until 1234 and she was born in Palencia, Spain,1188, the third daughter of Alfonso VIII, king of Castile, and Eleanor of England. Eleanor was a daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, in her youth, she visited the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, founded by her parents, several times. In consequence of the Treaty of Le Goulet between Philip Augustus and John of England, Blanches sister, was betrothed to Philips son, Louis. Their grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, after meeting the two sisters, judged that Blanches personality was more fit for a consort of France. In the spring of 1200, Eleanor crossed the Pyrenees with her, the marriage was celebrated the next day, at Port-Mort on the right bank of the Seine, in Johns domains, as those of Philip lay under an interdict. Blanche was twelve years of age, and Louis was only a year older so the marriage was consummated a few years later, Blanche bore her first child in 1205.
During the English barons rebellion of 1215-16 against King John, it was Blanches English ancestry as granddaughter to Henry II that led to Louis being offered the throne of England as Louis I. However, with the death of John in October 1216, the changed their allegiance to Johns son. Louis continued to claim the English crown in her right, only to find a nation against him. Philip Augustus refused to help his son, and Blanche was his sole support, Blanche raised money from her father-in-law by threatening to put up her children as hostages. She established herself at Calais and organized two fleets, one of which was commanded by Eustace the Monk, and an army under Robert I, Latin Emperor. With French forces defeated at Lincoln in May 1217 and routed on their way back to their London stronghold, on 24 August, the English fleet destroyed the French fleet carrying those reinforcements off Sandwich and Louis was forced to sue for peace. Philip died in July 1223, and Louis VIII and Blanche were crowned on August 6, upon Louis death in November 1226 from dysentery, he left Blanche, by 38, regent and guardian of his children.
Of her twelve or thirteen children, six had died, and Louis and she had him crowned within a month of his fathers death in Reims and forced reluctant barons to swear allegiance to him. The situation was critical, since Louis VIII had died without having completely subdued his southern nobles, the kings minority made the Capetian domains even more vulnerable. To gain support, she released Ferdinand, Count of Flanders and she ceded land and castles to Philip I, Count of Boulogne, son of Philip II and his controversial wife Agnes of Merania. Several key barons, led by Peter Mauclerc, refused to recognize the coronation of the young king, shortly after the coronation and Louis were traveling south of Paris and nearly captured
Louis IX of France
Louis IX, commonly known as Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. Louis was crowned in Reims at the age of 12, following the death of his father Louis VIII the Lion, although his mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom until he reached maturity. During Louiss childhood, Blanche dealt with the opposition of rebellious vassals, as an adult, Louis IX faced recurring conflicts with some of the most powerful nobles, such as Hugh X of Lusignan and Peter of Dreux. Simultaneously, Henry III of England tried to restore his continental possessions and his reign saw the annexation of several provinces, notably Normandy and Provence. Louis IX was a reformer and developed French royal justice, in which the king is the judge to whom anyone is able to appeal to seek the amendment of a judgment. He banned trials by ordeal, tried to prevent the private wars that were plaguing the country, to enforce the correct application of this new legal system, Louis IX created provosts and bailiffs.
According to his vow made after an illness, and confirmed after a miraculous cure. He was succeeded by his son Philip III, Louiss actions were inspired by Christian values and Catholic devotion. He decided to punish blasphemy, interest-bearing loans and prostitution and he expanded the scope of the Inquisition and ordered the burning of Talmuds. He is the only canonized king of France, and there are many places named after him. Much of what is known of Louiss life comes from Jean de Joinvilles famous Life of Saint Louis, two other important biographies were written by the kings confessor, Geoffrey of Beaulieu, and his chaplain, William of Chartres. The fourth important source of information is William of Saint-Parthus biography, while several individuals wrote biographies in the decades following the kings death, only Jean of Joinville, Geoffrey of Beaulieu, and William of Chartres wrote from personal knowledge of the king. Louis was born on 25 April 1214 at Poissy, near Paris, the son of Prince Louis the Lion and Princess Blanche, and baptised in La Collégiale Notre-Dame church.
His grandfather on his fathers side was Philip II, king of France, while his grandfather on his mothers side was Alfonso VIII, tutors of Blanches choosing taught him most of what a king must know—Latin, public speaking, military arts, and government. He was 9 years old when his grandfather Philip II died, a member of the House of Capet, Louis was twelve years old when his father died on 8 November 1226. He was crowned king within the month at Reims cathedral, because of Louiss youth, his mother ruled France as regent during his minority. Louis mother trained him to be a leader and a good Christian. She used to say, I love you, my son, as much as a mother can love her child
House of Capet
The House of Capet or the Direct Capetians, called the House of France, or simply the Capets, ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328. It was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians, historians in the 19th century came to apply the name Capetian to both the ruling house of France and to the wider-spread male-line descendants of Hugh Capet. It was not a contemporary practice and they were sometimes called the third race of kings, the Merovingians being the first, and the Carolingians being the second. The name is derived from the nickname of Hugh, the first Capetian King, the direct succession of French kings, father to son, from 987 to 1316, of thirteen generations in almost 330 years, was unparallelled in recorded history. The direct line of the House of Capet came to an end in 1328, with the death of Charles IV, the throne passed to the House of Valois, descended from a younger brother of Philip IV. He proceeded to make it hereditary in his family, by securing the election and coronation of his son, Robert II, the throne thus passed securely to Robert on his fathers death, who followed the same custom – as did many of his early successors.
Louis VIII – the eldest son and heir of Philip Augustus – married Blanche of Castile, a granddaughter of Aliénor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. In her name, he claimed the crown of England, invading at the invitation of the English Barons and these lands were added to the French crown, further empowering the Capetian family. Louis IX – Saint Louis – succeeded Louis VIII as a child, unable to rule for several years, the government of the realm was undertaken by his mother, at the death of Louis IX, France under the Capetians stood as the pre-eminent power in Western Europe. Unfortunately for the Capetians, the proved a failure. Philip IV had married Jeanne, the heiress of Navarre and Champagne, by this marriage, he added these domains to the French crown. More importantly to French history, he summoned the first Estates General – in 1302 – and in 1295 established the so-called Auld Alliance with the Scots and it was Philip IV who presided over the beginning of his Houses end. The first quarter of the century saw each of Philips sons reign in rapid succession, Louis X, Philip V, Louis – unwilling to release his wife and return to their marriage – needed to remarry.
He arranged a marriage with his cousin, Clementia of Hungary and this proved the case, but the boy – King John I, known as the Posthumous – died after only 5 days, leaving a succession crisis. Eventually, it was decided based on several reasons that Joan was ineligible to inherit the throne, which passed to the Count of Poitiers. Marie died in 1324, giving birth to a stillborn son, the last of the direct Capetians were the daughters of Philip IVs three sons, and Philip IVs daughter, Isabella. Since they were female, they could not transmit their Capetian status to their descendants, the wife of Edward II of England, Isabella overthrew her husband in favour of her son and her co-hort, only for Edward III to execute Mortimer and have Isabella removed from power. Joan, the daughter of Louis X, succeeded on the death of Charles IV to the throne of Navarre, she now being – questions of paternity aside – the unquestioned heiress
Adela of Champagne
Adela of Champagne, known as Adelaide and Alix, was Queen of France as the third wife of Louis VII. She was the daughter of Theobald II, Count of Champagne, and Matilda of Carinthia and Adela married on 18 October 1160, five weeks after his previous wife, Constance of Castile, died in childbirth. Queen Adèle was the mother of Louis VIIs only son, Philip II, Adela was active in the political life of the kingdom, along with her brothers Henry I, Theobald V, and Guillaume aux Blanches Mains. Henry and Theobald were married to daughters of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine and her brothers felt their position threatened when the heiress of Artois, Isabella of Hainault, married Adèles son Philip. Adèle formed an alliance with Hugh III, Duke of Burgundy, and Philip of Flanders, war broke out in 1181, and relations became so bad that Philip attempted to divorce Isabella in 1184. Although her power decreased after the accession of Philip in 1180 and she returned to the shadows when he returned in 1192 but participated in the founding of many abbeys.
Queen Adela died on 4 June 1206 in Paris, Île-de-France and was buried in the church of Pontigny Abbey near Auxerre
Joan the Lame
Joan of Burgundy, known as Joan the Lame, was Queen of France as the first wife of King Philip VI. Joan served as regent while her husband fought on military campaigns during the Hundred Years War, Joan was the daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, and Agnes of France. Her older sister, was the first wife of Louis X of France, Joan married Philip of Valois, Louiss cousin, in July 1313. From 1315 to 1328, they were Count and Countess of Maine, from 1325, they were Count and Countess of Valois and Anjou. King Philip IVs sons, Louis X, Philip V, and Charles IV, left no surviving male heirs, the Hundred Years War ensued, with Edward III of England, a nephew of Louis X, claiming the French crown. Intelligent and strong-willed, Joan proved a capable regent while her husband fought on military campaigns during the war. However, her nature and power earned both herself and her husband a bad reputation, which was accentuated by her deformity, and she became known as la male royne boiteuse. One chronicler described her as a danger to her enemies in court, Joan died of the plague 12 December 1349.
She was buried in the Basilica of Saint Denis, her tomb and her children with Philip VI were, John II. Marie, who married John of Brabant, the son and heir of John III, Duke of Brabant, in 1361, Joans grandnephew, Philip I of Burgundy, died without legitimate issue, ending the male line of the Dukes of Burgundy. Joan is a character in Les Rois maudits, a series of French historical novels by Maurice Druon and she was portrayed by Ghislaine Porret in the 1972 French miniseries adaptation of the series
Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile
Eleanor of England, or Eleanor Plantaganet, was Queen of Castile and Toledo as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. She was the child and second daughter of Henry II, King of England. Her half-siblings were Marie and Alix of France, and her siblings were Henry the Young, Duchess Matilda, King Richard, Duke Geoffrey, Queen Joan. In 1174, when she was 12 years old, Eleanor married King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos and her parents purpose in arranging the marriage was to secure Aquitaine’s Pyrenean border, while Alfonso was seeking an ally in his struggles with his uncle, Sancho VI of Navarre. In 1177, this led to Henry overseeing arbitration of the border dispute, around the year 1200, Alfonso began to claim that the duchy of Gascony was part of Eleanors dowry, but there is no documented foundation for that claim. It is highly unlikely that Henry II would have parted with so significant a portion of his domains, at most, Gascony may have been pledged as security for the full payment of his daughter’s dowry.
Her husband went so far on this claim as to invade Gascony in her name in 1205, in 1206, her brother John, King of England granted her safe passage to visit him, perhaps to try opening peace negotiations. In 1208, Alfonso yielded on the claim, decades later, their great-grandson Alfonso X of Castile would claim the duchy on the grounds that her dowry had never been fully paid. Of all Eleanor of Aquitaine’s daughters, her namesake was the one who was enabled, by political circumstances. In her own marriage treaty, and in the first marriage treaty for her daughter Berengaria, Eleanor was given control of many lands, towns. It was she who persuaded him to marry their daughter Berengaria to Alfonso IX of León, troubadours and sages were regularly present in Alfonso VIII’s court due to Eleanor’s patronage. Eleanor took particular interest in supporting religious institutions, in 1179, she took responsibility to support and maintain a shrine to St. Thomas Becket in the cathedral of Toledo. She created and supported the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, which served as a refuge and tomb for her family for generations, when Alfonso died, Eleanor was reportedly so devastated with grief that she was unable to preside over the burial.
Their eldest daughter Berengaria instead performed these honours, Eleanor took sick and died only twenty-eight days after her husband, and was buried at Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas. Eleanor was praised for her beauty and regal nature by the poet Ramón Vidal de Besalú after her death and her great-grandson Alfonso X referred to her as noble and much loved. Eleanor was played by Ida Norden in the silent film The Jewess of Toledo, José Manuel, La dot gasconne dAliénor dAngleterre. Entre royaume de Castille, royaume de France et royaume dAngleterre, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, ISSN 0007-9731, Vol.54, Leonor Plantagenet y la consolidación castellana en el reinado de Alfonso VIII. Cerda, José Manuel, Matrimonio y patrimonio, La carta de arras de Leonor Plantagenet, reina consorte de Castilla, Anuario de Estudios Medievales, vol
Alfonso VIII of Castile
Alfonso VIII, called the Noble or the one of the Navas, was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death and King of Toledo. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate and his reign saw the domination of Castile over León and, by his alliance with Aragon, he drew those two spheres of Christian Iberia into close connection. Alfonso was born to Sancho III of Castile and Blanche, in Soria on 11 November 1155 and he was named after his grandfather Alfonso VII of León and Castile, who divided his kingdoms between his sons. This division set the stage for conflict in the family until the kingdoms were re-united by Alfonso VIIIs grandson and his early life resembled that of other medieval kings. Though proclaimed king when only two years of age, Alfonso was regarded as merely nominal by the nobles to whom a minority was convenient. Immediately, Castile was plunged into conflicts between the noble houses vying for ascendancy in the inevitable regency.
The devotion of a squire of his household, who carried him on the pommel of his saddle to the stronghold of San Esteban de Gormaz, the noble houses of Lara and Castro both claimed the regency, as did the boys uncle, Ferdinand II of León. In 1159 the young Alfonso was put briefly in the custody of García Garcés de Aza, in March 1160 the Castro and Lara met at the Battle of Lobregal and the Castro were victorious, but the guardianship of Alfonso and the regency fell to Manrique Pérez de Lara. Alfonso was put in the custody of the loyal village Ávila, at barely fifteen, he came forth to do a mans work by restoring his kingdom to order. It was only by a surprise that he recovered his capital Toledo from the hands of the Laras, during the regency, his uncle Sancho VI of Navarre took advantage of the chaos and the kings minority to seize lands along the border, including much of La Rioja. In 1170, Alfonso sent an embassy to Bordeaux to Henry II of England, due to the brides young age of 9, the marriage was finalized at Burgos, before 17 September 1177.
The marriage treaty helped provide Alfonso with an ally against his uncle. In 1176, Alfonso asked his father-in-law to arbitrate the border territories. While Alfonso received back much which had taken from him. In 1186, he recuperated part of La Rioja from the Kingdom of Navarre, in 1187, Alfonso negotiated with Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor who was seeking to marry his son Conrad to Alfonsos eldest child and heir, Berengaria. In April 1188 they agreed on a treaty in Seligenstadt which made clear that she was the heir of Castile after any sons of Alfonso, and this became relevant in her ultimate succession to the throne, even though the marriage to Conrad was never consummated and annulled. The treaty documented traditional rights and obligations between the sovereign and the nobles in Castile, in July 1188, Alfonso convened his court in Carrión de los Condes to allow the nobles to review and ratify the treaty. At that court, Alfonso knighted both Conrad and Alfonso IX of León, who would ultimately marry Berengaria, the younger Alfonso had come to seek the support and acknowledgement of his ascent to the throne of León from his older cousin
Robert II, Duke of Burgundy
Robert II of Burgundy was Duke of Burgundy between 1272 and 1306. Robert was the son of duke Hugh IV and Yolande of Dreux. This was followed by two years of warfare which was ended when King Philip IV of France paid Robert 20,000 livres tournois to renounce his claim to the Dauphiné. Robert ended the practice of giving away parts of the Burgundian estate to younger sons, from on, the whole duchy, however already diminished by earlier dowries, passed unfragmented to the eldest son
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of the Franks from 1137 until his death. He was the son and successor of King Louis VI of France, hence his nickname, immediately after the annulment of her marriage, Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, to whom she conveyed Aquitaine. When Henry became King of England in 1154, as Henry II, Henrys efforts to preserve and expand on this patrimony for the Crown of England would mark the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England. Louis VIIs reign saw the founding of the University of Paris and he died in 1180 and was succeeded by his son Philip II. Louis was born in 1120 in Paris, the son of Louis VI of France. The early education of Prince Louis anticipated an ecclesiastical career, in October 1131, his father had him anointed and crowned by Pope Innocent II in Reims Cathedral. He spent much of his youth in Saint-Denis, where he built a friendship with the Abbot Suger, an advisor to his father who served Louis well during his early years as king.
Following the death of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, Louis VI moved quickly to have Prince Louis married to Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, heiress of the late duke, on 25 July 1137. In this way, Louis VI sought to add the large, on 1 August 1137, shortly after the marriage, Louis VI died, and Prince Louis became king of France, reigning as Louis VII. The pairing of the monkish Louis and the high-spirited Eleanor was doomed to failure, she once declared that she had thought to marry a king. Louis and Eleanor had two daughters and Alix, in the first part of his reign, Louis VII was vigorous and zealous in his prerogatives. His accession was marked by no other than uprisings by the burgesses of Orléans and Poitiers. He soon came into violent conflict with Pope Innocent II, the pope thus imposed an interdict upon the king. As a result, Champagne decided to side with the pope in the dispute over Bourges, the war lasted two years and ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army. Louis VII was personally involved in the assault and burning of the town of Vitry-le-François, more than a thousand people who had sought refuge in the church died in the flames.
Overcome with guilt and humiliated by ecclesiastical reproach, Louis admitted defeat, removed his armies from Champagne and he accepted Pierre de la Chatre as archbishop of Bourges and shunned Raoul and Petronilla. Desiring to atone for his sins, he declared his intention of mounting a crusade on Christmas Day 1145 at Bourges, bernard of Clairvaux assured its popularity by his preaching at Vezelay on Easter 1146. In the meantime, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, completed his conquest of Normandy in 1144, in exchange for being recognised as Duke of Normandy by Louis, Geoffrey surrendered half of the Vexin — a region vital to Norman security — to Louis