On this day 890 years ago—10 February 1127, William IX of Aquitaine died in Poitiers, France. He was my 27th great-grandfather through his son William X of Aquitaine and my two-times 29th great-grandfather through his daughter Agnes of Aquitaine.
William IX is best known as the earliest troubadour whose work has survived to modern-day (as evidenced by the video below). William IX’s songs are boisterous, amorous, humorous, sometimes coarse or raunchy, and full of courtly love.
William IX was born on 22 October 1071 to William VIII of Aquitaine and his third wife Hildegarde of Burgundy. Although William IX’s birth was celebrated by the Court, the Catholic Church, at first, considered him illegitimate because of his father’s divorces and his parents’ consanguinity. Consequently, William VIII was forced to make a pilgrimage to Rome soon after his son’s birth to seek Papal approval of his third marriage and to insure William IX’s legitimacy. In 1086, William VIII died, leaving the Duchy of Aquitaine to his son William IX.
In 1089, William IX married Ermengarde d’Anjou, daughter of Fulk IV d’Anjou (my 28th great-grandfather) and his first wife, Hildegarde of Beaugency. Unfortunately, this marriage was destined to fail. as William IX proved to be a prolific philanderer. William IX’s numerous affairs both angered and depressed his wife, who suffered from severe mood swings. On several occasions, Ermengarde d’Anjou retreated to the calm of a cloister. In 1091, William sent Ermengarde d’Anjou back to her father, and the marriage was dissolved. The couple was childless.
Philippa was their only surviving child; as such, by the laws of Toulouse, she was William IV’s heir. In 1088, William IV of Toulouse embarked on a pilgrimage to Palestine, leaving his brother Raymond IV as regent. When William IV died in 1094, Philippa’s claims as heir were ignored, and Raymond IV retained control of Toulouse.
In 1095, William XI invited the Pope to spend Christmas at his court. While there, the Pope urged William IX to join the crusade, William IX was not interested in joining the cause at that time.
In the autumn of 1096, Raymond IV of Toulouse joined the First Crusade, leaving his son to rule Toulouse. However, in the spring of 1098, William and Philippa marched into the city of Toulouse, wresting control without the loss of a single life. Despite the lack of bloodshed, both William IX and Phillipa were threatened with excommunication. That next year, Philippa gave birth to their first child in Toulouse: William X (referenced above).
With a desire to regain favor with the Church, William decided join the crusade. However, he needed to finance his campaign. In 1099, William IX stunned his wife when he mortgaged her birthright, Toulouse, to her cousin Bertrand in exchange for monies to fund his expedition.
In 1100, before he left for the Holy Land, Philippa persuaded William IX to set aside land for the establishment of Fontevraud Abbey. Philippa was then sent to Poitiers, from where she would rule Aquitaine on behalf of her husband in his absence.
William IX arrived in the Holy Land in 1101. While there, he fought skirmishes in Anatolia. His recklessness led to his being ambushed on several occasions with great losses to his own forces. In September 1101, William IX’s army was destroyed by the Seljuk Turks at Heraclea. William and only six of his soldiers escaped.
After William IX’s return from the Holy Land in 1102, he and Philippa lived in Toulouse with each other, having five daughters (including Agnes, referenced above) and a second son.
Meanwhile, rumors of William IX’s infidelities were rampant. Philippa of Toulouse chose to ignore the gossip and instead focused on her faith, continuing to be the primary sponsor of the Fontevraud Abbey.
Following the death of Bertrand in Syria in 1112, William IX won back Toulouse for his wife in 1113. By 1114, Philippa was spending most of her time ruling Toulouse.
William IX was excommunicated twice. The first time was in 1114 for an alleged infringement of the Church’s tax privileges. The second time William IX was excommunicated was for abducting Dangereuse (my 27th great-grandmother), wife of Aimery I de Rochefoucauld, Viscount of Châtellerault (my 27th great-grandfather). William IX installed Dangereuse in the tower of his castle in Poitiers.
Upon returning to Poitiers from Toulouse, Philippa was distressed to discover William IX’s mistress residing in her home. Philippa appealed to friends and the church for assistance in ousting Dangereuse, but her pleas were to no avail, as no one was able to persuade William IX to give up his mistress. Although William and Dangereuse were excommunicated by the Pope, William IX used his wealth and power to eventually reconcile with the Pope and was accepted back into the Church.
Deeply humiliated, Philippa retired to Fontevraud Abbey in 1116. While at the abbey, Phillipa befriended her husband’s first wife, Ermengarde d’Anjou. Sadly, Philippa did not survive long at the abbey; she died there on 28 November 1118.
After the death of Philippa, Ermengarde d’Anjou sought to avenge her friend. In 1118, Ermengarde traveled to the court of her ex-husband William IX, where she demanded to be recognized as the rightful Duchess of Aquitaine. William ignored the request. In October 1119, Ermengarde appeared before the Council of Reims, demanding that the Pope excommunicate William IX, oust his mistress from the ducal palace, and restore Ermengarde to her rightful place as the Duchess of Aquitaine. The Pope declined her request. William was readmitted to the Church around 1120, after making concessions.
Between 1120 and 1123 William joined forces with the Kingdoms of Castile and León. His troops fought side-by-side with Castilians in an effort to wrest Cordoba from the Moors.
In 1121, Aimery I and Dangereuse’s daughter, Aenor of Châtellerault (my 26th great-grandmother), married William IX’s son and heir, William X. Relations between William IX and his son improved some after this marriage.
In 1122, William IX lost control of Toulouse to Alfonso Jordan, the son and heir of Raymond IV, who had taken Toulouse after the death of William IV. William IX did not trouble to reclaim it.
Then, on 10 February 1127, at the age of 56, William IX died after suffering a short illness.