Duchy of Aquitaine
|Duchy of Aquitaine
|Religion||Roman Catholicism (official)|
|Duke of Aquitaine|
|-||lost 1449||Henry VI of England|
|-||conferred 1469||Charles de Valois, Duc de Berry|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
|-||Duke appointed by The Carolingian kings||660|
|-||Annexed by Kingdom of France||1449|
|Today part of||France|
The Duchy of Aquitaine (Occitan: Duche d'Aquitània, French: Duché d'Aquitaine, IPA: [dyk dakitɛn]) ruled the historical region of Aquitaine, an area lying in what is now modern-day France and not to be confused with the present-day French region of Aquitaine, which is much smaller. The duchy was governed under the supremacy of Frankish, English, and later French kings.
The first Duke of Aquitaine, whose name was Felix, ruled the duchy from about 660 AD and, like his successor, Lupus, probably owed allegiance to the Frankish kings. Their seat of government was Toulouse and they were not Franks, but nobles of local stock - Felix was a Gallo-Roman and Lupus possibly a Basque. They weren't Frank appointees either, but independent dukes ruling over the joint realm of Aquitaine and Vasconia (divided by the river Garonne).
About the end of the 7th century, Odo, or Eudes, succeeded Lupus as duke and made himself master of this region. He signed a peace treaty with Charles Martel and inflicted on the Moors a crushing defeat at the Battle of Toulouse in 721. However, Charles Martel coveted the southern realm, crossed the Loire in 731 and looted much of Aquitaine. Odo engaged the Franks in battle, but lost and came out weakened. Soon after this battle, in 732, the Moors raided Vasconia and Aquitaine as far north as Poitiers and defeated Odo twice near Bordeaux. Odo saw no option but to invoke the aid of Charles Martel and pledge allegiance to the Frankish prince.
Odo was succeeded by his son Hunald, who reverted to former independence, so defying the Frankish king Charles Martel's authority. The Carolingian leader attacked Hunald twice in 735 and 736, but was unable to totally subdue the duke and an army put together by counts of key Aquitanian towns, e.g. Bourges, Limoges, etc. Eventually, Hunald retired to a monastery, leaving both the kingdom and the continuing conflict to Waifer, or Guaifer. For some years Waifer strenuously carried on an unequal struggle with the Franks, but his assassination in 768 marked the demise of Aquitaine's national independence, although not its national identity.
In 781 Charlemagne bestowed Aquitaine upon his young son, Louis, and as Louis was generally described as a king, Aquitaine is referred to during the Carolingian period as a kingdom, and not as a duchy. When Louis succeeded Charlemagne as emperor in 814, he granted Aquitaine to his son Pepin I, after whose death in 838 the nobility of Aquitaine chose his son Pepin II of Aquitaine (d. 865) as their king. The emperor Louis I, however, opposed this arrangement and gave the kingdom to his youngest son Charles, afterwards the emperor Charles the Bald. Confusion and conflict resulted, eventually falling in favor of Charles, although from 845 to 852 Pepin II was in possession of the kingdom. In 852, Pepin II was imprisoned by Charles the Bald, who soon afterwards pronounced his own son Charles as the ruler of Aquitaine. On the death of the younger Charles in 866, his brother Louis the Stammerer succeeded to the kingdom, and when, in 877, Louis became king of the Franks, Aquitaine was fully absorbed into the Frankish crown.
By a treaty made in 845 between Charles the Bald and Pepin II, the kingdom had been diminished by the loss of Poitou, Saintonge and Angoumois in the northwest of the region, which had been given to Rainulf I, count of Poitiers. The title of Duke of Aquitaine, already revived, was now borne by Rainulf, although it was also claimed by the counts of Toulouse. The new duchy of Aquitaine, including the three districts already mentioned, remained in the hands of Ramulf's successors, despite disagreement with their Frankish overlords, until 893 when Count Rainulf II was poisoned by order of King Charles III, or Charles the Simple. Charles then bestowed the duchy upon William the Pious, count of Auvergne, the founder of the abbey of Cluny, who was succeeded in 918 by his nephew, Count William II, who died in 926.
A succession of dukes followed, one of whom, William IV, fought against Hugh Capet, king of France, and another of whom, William V, called the Great, was able to strengthen and extend his authority considerably, although he failed in his attempt to secure the Lombard crown. William's duchy almost reached the limits of the old Roman Gallia Aquitania but did not stretch south of the Garonne, a district which was in the possession of the Gascons. William died in 1030. Odo or Eudes (d. 1039) joined Gascony to Aquitaine.
William IX (d. 1127) who succeeded to the dukedom in 1087, gained fame as a crusader and a troubadour. William X (d. 1137) married his daughter Eleanor to Louis VII, King of France, and Aquitaine went as her dowry. When Eleanor was divorced from Louis and married Henry II of England in 1152, the duchy passed to the English Crown. Having suppressed a revolt in his new possession, Henry gave it to his son Richard. When Richard died in 1199, it reverted to Eleanor, and on her death five years later, it was absorbed into the English crown and henceforward followed the fortunes of the other English possessions in France, such as Normandy and Anjou.
Aquitaine as it came to the English kings stretched from the Loire to the Pyrenees, but its range was limited to the southeast by the extensive lands of the counts of Toulouse. The name Guienne, a corruption of Aquitaine, seems to have come into use about the 10th century, and the subsequent history of Aquitaine is merged in that of Gascony and Guienne.
As a successor state to the Roman province of Gallia Aquitania and the Visigothic Kingdom (418–721), Aquitania (Aquitaine) and Languedoc (Toulouse) inherited the Visigothic Law and Roman Law which had combined to allow women more rights than their contemporaries in other parts of Europe. Particularly with the Liber Judiciorum, which was codified in 642 and 643 and expanded in the Code of Recceswinth in 653, women could inherit land and title and manage it independently from their husbands or male relations, dispose of their property in legal wills if they had no heirs, and women could represent themselves and bear witness in court by age 14 and arrange for their own marriages by age 20. As a consequence, male-preference primogeniture was the practiced succession law for the nobility.
- Chisholm 1911, p. 252.
- Wemple, Suzanne Fonay; Women in the Fifth to the Tenth Century. In: Klapisch-Zuber, Christine; A History of Women: Book II. Silences of the Middle Ages, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England. 1992, 2000 (5th printing). Chapter 6, p 74.