Maria of Montpellier

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Marie
Pedro2 marie.jpg
The consummation of Marie and Peter II's marriage.
Lady of Montpellier
Tenure 15 June 1204 – 21 April 1213
Predecessor William IX
Successor James I
Co-ruler Peter
Queen consort of Aragon
Tenure 15 June 1204 – 21 April 1213
Spouse Barral of Marseille
(m. 1192 - wid. 1192)
Bernard IV of Comminges
(m. 1197 - div. 1201)
Peter II of Aragon
(m. 1204 - her death)
Issue Matilda, Viscountess de la Barthe
Petronila, Countess of Astarac
Infanta Sancha
James I
Father William VIII of Montpellier
Mother Eudokia Komnene
Born 1182
Died 21 April 1213
Rome
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marie of Montpellier (adapted from Occitan: Maria de Montpelhièr) (1182 – 18 April 1213), was by birth heiress and later Sovereign Lady of Montpellier and by her three marriages Viscountess of Marseille, Countess of Comminges and Queen of Aragon.

She was the daughter of William VIII, Lord of Montpellier by his wife Eudokia Komnene, a niece of Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos.

Life[edit]

Since her birth, Marie was the legitimate heiress of the Lordship of Montpellier, because a clausule of the marriage contract of her parents established that the firstborn child, boy or girl, would succeed in Montpellier on William VIII's death.

In April 1187, William VIII repudiated Eudokia Komnene and married with certain Agnes, a relative of the Kings of Aragon. She bore him eight children, six sons and two daughters. Although Eudokia entered in a convent in Aniane as a Benedictine nun, William VIII's second marriage was declared invalid and all the children born from this union declared illegitimate, so Marie remained as the undisputed heiress of Montpellier.

Marie married Viscount Raymond Geoffrey II of Marseille, also named Barral, in 1192 or shortly before, but was widowed at the end of that year. Her second marriage, in December 1197, was to Count Bernard IV of Comminges, and at the insistence of her father, Marie renounced to her rights over Montpellier in favor of her eldest half-brother William (IX), son of Agnes.

From her marriage with Bernard IV, Marie had two daughters, Mathilde (by marriage Viscountess de la Barthe) and Petronille (by marriage Countess of Astarac). The marriage was, however, notoriously polygamous (Bernard IV had two other living wives) and was finally annulled (some say on Marie's insistence, some say on that of King Peter II of Aragon) in 1201. With this annulment, Marie was once more heir to Montpellier, but her father never recognized her and openly acknowledge his son William IX as his heir.

William VIII died in 1202. Marie's half-brother William IX had taken control of the city, but she asserted her right to it. On 15 June 1204 Marie married Peter II of Aragon and thanks to a revolt against William IX, she was recognised as Lady of Montpellier.

From her marriage with Peter II, Marie gave birth two children: Infanta Sancha (born in 1205, died aged one) and Infante James, the future King James I the Conqueror (born on 1 February 1208). Peter II immediately attempted to divorce her, hoping both to marry Maria of Montferrat, Queen of Jerusalem, and to claim Montpellier for himself. Marie's last years were spent in combating these political and matrimonial manoeuvres. Pope Innocent III finally decided in her favour, refusing to permit the divorce. Marie died in Rome (21 April 1213) in her way back to Aragon, and Peter II a few months later (14 September 1213) at the Battle of Muret. Marie and Peter II's only surviving child, James I, inherited Aragon and Montpellier.

Ancestry[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Guillaume de Puylaurens, Chronique 1145-1275 ed. and tr. Jean Duvernoy (Paris: CNRS, 1976) pp. 62–3.

Bibliography[edit]

  • J. M. Lacarra, L. Gonzalez Anton, 'Les testaments de la reine Marie de Montpellier' in Annales du Midi vol. 90 (1978) pp. 105–120.
  • M. Switten, 'Marie de Montpellier: la femme et le pouvoir en Occitanie au douzième siècle' in Actes du Premier Congrès International de l'Association d'Etudes Occitanes ed. P. T. Ricketts (London: Westfield College, 1987) pp. 485–491.
  • K. Varzos, I genealogia ton Komninon (Thessalonica, 1984) vol. 2 pp. 346–359.
Maria of Montpellier
Born: circa 1182 Died: 18 April 1213
French nobility
Preceded by
William IX
Lady of Montpellier
1204–1213
Succeeded by
James I
Royal titles
Preceded by
Sancha of Castile
Queen consort of Aragon
1204-1213
Succeeded by
Eleanor of Castile