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William IX of Aquitaine
William IX of Aquitaine (October 22 1071 – February 10 1126, also Guillaume or Guilhem d'Aquitaine), nicknamed the Troubador was Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony and Count of Poitiers as William VII of Poitiers between 1086 and 1126. He was also one of the leaders of the crusade of 1101 and one of the first vernacular poets and troubadours.
Life and Family
William was the son of William VIII of Aquitaine by his third wife Hildegarde of Burgundy . His birth was an event of great celebration, but at first he was considered illegitimate by religious authorities because of his father's earlier divorces and his parents consanguinity. This obliged his father to make a pilgrimage to Rome soon after his birth, where he sought and received papal approval of his marriage and children.
In 1094 he married Philippa of Toulouse , the daughter and heiress of William IV of Toulouse . By Philippa, William had:
- William X of Aquitaine, his heir.
- Agnes of Aquitaine , who married (1) Aimery V of Thouars ; (2) to King Ramiro II of Aragon
- Henry, abbot of Cluny
- Raymond of Poitiers, ruler of the principality of Antioch, a crusader state
He was excommunicated twice, the first time in 1114 for some unknown offense. His response to this was to demand absolution from the Bishop of Poitiers at swordpoint. He was excommuncated the second time for carrying off Dangereuse, the wife of his vassal Aimery I de Rochefoucauld, Viscount of Châtellerault. He installed her in the Maubergeonne tower of his castle, and, as related by William of Malmesbury, even painted a picture of her on his shield.
This greatly offended both his wife and his son, William. According to Orderic Vitalis, Philippa protested her treatment in October 1119 at the Council of Reims, claiming to have been abandoned by the duke in favor of Dangereuse. She later retired to the convent of Fontevrault. Relations were only patched up with his son when the younger William married Ænor of Châtellerault, Dangereuse's daughter by her husband.
His 13th century Provençal biographer remembers him:
- "[William IX] was one of the most courtly men in the world and one of the greatest deceivers of women. He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his attentions to ladies, and a fine composer and singer of songs."
William invited Pope Urban II to spend Christmas 1095 at his court. The pope urged him to take the cross and leave for the Holy Land, but William was more interested in exploiting the absence of Raymond IV of Toulouse, his wife's uncle, to press a claim to Toulouse. He and Philippa did capture Toulouse in 1098, an act for which they were threatened with excommunication. Partly out of a desire to regain favor with the religious authorities and partly out of a wish to see the world, William joined the First Crusade in 1099.
He arrived in the Holy land in 1101 and stayed there until the following year. His record as a general is not very impressive. William fought mostly skirmishes in Anatolia and was frequently defeated. His recklessness had his army ambushed on several occasions, with great losses to his own side. In September 1101 his entire army was destroyed by the Turks at Heraclea; William himself barely escaped with a few survivors.
Later on in his life, William joined forces with the kingdoms of Castile (an old ally) and Léon. Between 1120 and 1123, Aquitanian troops fought side by side with queen Urraca of Castile, in an effort to conquer the Moors of Cordoba and complete the Reconquista. During his sojourn in Spain, William was given a rock crystal vase by a Muslim ally that he later beqeathed to his granddaughter Eleanor. The vase probably originated in Sassanid Persia in the 7th century.
William's greatest legacy to history was not as a warrior but as a man of the arts. He was one of the first European lyric poets and used vernacular language in his songs and poems. Eleven of his songs are the earliest troubadour poems that have survived into the 21st century (Merwin, 2002). His artistic name was lo cons de Peitieus, and he was one of the most important troubadours of the Middle Age's Provençal literature. The topics of these were very diverse, but the majority is about sex, love and women and often about his own sexual prowesses. This choice of subject in a world used to music only for the praise of God and heroes caused scandal and admiration at the same time. In the next few centuries, troubadours and vernacular poetry would be fashionable and the most important artistic movement of the Middle Ages.
William was a man that loved scandal and no doubt enjoyed shocking his audiences. In the return from the crusade, he abandoned his wife in favour of a married woman, known as Dangereuse from his poems, and faced the risk of excommunication for the deed. He also composed a song about constructing a convent in his lands, where the nuns would be picked among the most beautiful women in the region. The fake nunnery project was abandoned and William ended by giving enormous donations to the church, perhaps to regain the pope's favour. He also constructed the palace of Poitou.
One of William's poems is a musing on mortality; it begins: Since now I have a mind to sing/I'll make a song of that which saddens me, and goes on to say: For I have known delight and dalliance/Both far and near, yea and in my own dwelling/But this day, joy and dalliance, farewell. He died in 1126.
- Harvey, Ruth E. The wives of the 'first troubadour', Duke William IX of Aquitaine (Journal of Medieval History), 1993
- Meade, Marion. Eleanor of Aquitaine, 1991
- Owen, D.D.R. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend
- Parsons, John Carmi. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady, 2002
- Verdon, J. La chronique de Saint Maixent, 1979.
- Waddell, Helen. The Wandering Scholars: the Life and Art of the Lyric Poets of the Latin Middle Ages, 1955
- Merwin, W.S. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2002. pp xv-xvi. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41476-2.
| Preceded by:|
|Duke of Aquitaine|| Succeeded by:|
|Count of Poitiers|
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