Ermengarde, Viscountess of Narbonne

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Ermengarde (Occitan: Ermengarda, Ainermada, or Ainemarda) (b. 1127 or 1129 – d. Perpignan, 14 October 1197[1]), was a viscountess of Narbonne from 1134 to 1192. She was the daughter of Aimery II of Narbonne and his first wife, also named Ermengarde.

Youth[edit]

Aimery II was killed at the Battle of Fraga on July 17, 1134, fighting against the Almoravids along with Alfonso I of Aragon. Aimery left only two underaged daughters as his heirs, Ermengarde and her half-sister Ermessinde (daughter of Aimery's second wife, also named Ermessinde). Aimery had at least one son, also called Aimery, attested in numerous charters, but he predeceased him (ca. 1130). Thus, the approximately five-year-old Ermengarde inherited the viscounty of Narbonne, which occupied a strategic place in the politics of Languedoc: it was desired by the Counts of Toulouse, the Counts of Barcelona, the Trencavel viscounts of Carcassonne, and the Lords of Montpellier.

A denier minted by Alphonse at Narbonne during the minority of Ermengard (1134–43) bearing the obverse inscription DUX ANFOS and on the reverse CIVI NARBON

Alphonse I of Toulouse, claiming his right to the regency of Narbonne during Ermengarde's minority, invaded the viscounty in 1139 with the support of Archbishop Arnaud de Lévezou. In the same year, Ermengarde witnessed a charter in Vallespir, in the territory of her cousin Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, with whom she must have taken refuge in the face of the threat from Toulouse.

In 1142, Alphonse, whose wife Faydid of Uzes had either recently died or been repudiated, sought to marry the now-adolescent Ermengarde. In reaction to this prospect, which would overturn the balance of power in the region by adding Narbonne to the direct control of Toulouse, a coalition of Occitan lords led by Roger II of Béziers, viscount of Carcassonne, Béziers, Albi and Razès formed an alliance against Toulouse. In 1143 Ermengarde was married to a vassal of Roger II, Bernard of Anduze. Alphonse was defeated by the coalition and taken prisoner, and was forced to make peace with Narbonne and restore Ermengarde and her new husband to the viscounty before being released.

Political activity[edit]

In 1177 she joined Gui Guerrejat (the lover of Azalais de Porcairagues), Bernard Ato V of Nîmes and Agde, and Gui's nephews William VIII of Montpellier and Gui Burgundion, in an alliance in opposition to Raymond VI of Toulouse, whose power suddenly increased when he became ruler of Melgueil as widower of Ermessende of Pelet.

Cultural activity[edit]

Around 1190, a French cleric named André le Chapelain wrote a "Treatise on Courtly Love" (Latin De Arte honeste amandi). In the second part of the Treatise, "How to maintain love", the author spoke of twenty-one "judgements of love" which had been pronounced by the greatest ladies of the kingdom of France. Among them, three judgements were attributed to Eleanor of Aquitaine, seven to her daughter Marie of Champagne, and five to Ermengarde. Although these "judgements" were probably fictional, they attest to the fame acquired by Ermengarde, even in the langue d'oïl in the north. She corresponded with many troubadours, including Peire Rogier, Giraut de Bornelh, Peire d'Alvergne, Pons d'Ortafa, and Salh d'Escola, as well as the trobairitz Azalais de Porcairagues.

In addition it is believed that she welcomed to her court Rognvald II of Orkney, a Viking prince and poet, who composed skaldic poetry for her.[2]

Later years[edit]

Without issue after two unhappy marriages, Ermengarde designated as heir Pedro Manrique de Lara -the second but eldest surviving son of her half-sister Ermessinde (who had died in 1177) by her husband, Count Manrique Pérez de Lara (who was killed in battle in Garcianarro on 9 July 1164)-.[3] In 1192 Ermengarde abdicated the viscounty in favor of Peter and retired to Perpignan, where she died five years later.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cawley, Charles, TOULOUSE NOBILITY, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012 ,[better source needed]
  2. ^ Jacqueline Caille, « Une idylle entre la vicomtesse Ermengarde de Narbonne et le prince Rognvald Kali des Orcades au milieu du XIIe siècle ? », dans G. Romestan (dir.), Art et histoire dans le Midi languedocien et rhodanien Xe-XIXe siècle. Hommage à Robert Saint-Jean. Mémoires de la Société archéologique de Montpellier, 21, 1993, p. 229-233
  3. ^ Cawley, Charles, SPANISH NOBILITY, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012 ,[better source needed]

Sources[edit]

  • Fredric L. Cheyette, Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2001.
  • Jacqueline Caille, Medieval Narbonne: A City at the Heart of the Troubadour World, Ashgate, Variorum Collected Studies Series, 2005.

External links[edit]