List of rulers of Provence

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Map showing the march and county Provence and the county of Forcalquier as parts of the Kingdom of Burgundy-Arles in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The land of Provence has a history quite separate from that of any of the larger nations of Europe. Its independent existence has its origins in the frontier nature of the dukedom in Merovingian Gaul. In this position, influenced and affected by several different cultures on different sides, the Provençals maintained a unity which was reinforced when the region was made a separate kingdom during the Carolingian decline of the later ninth century. When Boso of Provence acquired the region in 879, it was known as Lower Burgundy until it was merged with Upper Burgundy in 933 to form the Kingdom of Arles.[1] The counts of Arles began calling themselves "count of Provence"; although in name vassals, they were de facto autonomous princes.[1] After 1032, the county was part of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the eleventh century, Provence became disputed between the traditional line and the counts of Toulouse, who claimed the title of "Margrave of Provence". In the High Middle Ages, the title of Count of Provence belonged to local families of Frankish origin, from 1112 to 1245[1] to the House of Barcelona (a cadet branch of the House of Aragón[1]), from 1245 to 1382 to the House of Anjou,[1] and from 1382 to 1481 to a cadet branch of the House of Valois.[1] It was inherited by King Louis XI of France in 1481,[1] and definitively incorporated into the French royal domain by his son Charles VIII in 1487.

Merovingian dukes[edit]

During the period of the Merovingian dynasty in Gaul, Provence was a province ruled by duces (dukes), military leaders and district commanders who served as defenders of the frontiers of the kingdom and ruled over vast territories as opposed to the comites (counts), who ruled the cities and their environs. Provence was usually a part of the division of the Frankish realm known as the Kingdom of Burgundy, which was treated as its own kingdom. Their title sometimes appears as rector Provinciae.

This is an incomplete list of the known Merovingian-appointed dukes of Provence.

Carolingian dukes[edit]

Provence was ruled by a poorly known series of dukes during the period of general Carolingian unity until the Treaty of Verdun (843).

Carolingian kings[edit]

After the division of the Carolingian Empire by the Treaty of Verdun (843), the first of the fraternal rulers of the three kingdoms to die was Lothair I, who divided his middle kingdom in accordance with the custom of the Franks among his three sons. Out of this division came the Kingdom of Provence, given to Lothair's youngest son, Charles. A heritage of royal rule was thus inaugurated in Provence which, though it was often subsumed into one of its larger neighbouring kingdoms, was just as often proclaiming its own sovereigns.

The kingdom of Provence was also known as Lower Burgundy (or Cisjurane Burgundy). Its capital was first Vienne then Arles.

Counts and margraves, within the Empire[edit]

In the aftermath of the death of Louis the Blind, Provence began to be ruled by local counts placed under the authority of a margrave. Firstly, Hugh of Arles served as duke and regent during Louis' long blindness. Secondly, Hugh gave the march of Vienne and duchy of Provence to Rudolf II of Burgundy in a treaty of 933. Rudolf was never recognised by the nobles of the country and appointed Hugh, Duke of Burgundy, as its first margrave.

At the time, the premier counts in the region were the counts of Arles and those of Avignon. Those who would first bear the title comes Provinciae or "count of Provence" descended from one Rotbold of Arles. William I and Rotbold I did not divide their father's domains and this indivisibility was maintained by their respective descendants. It is thus impossible to ascertain who succeeded whom in the county as various reigns overlap.

By his marriage to Emma of Provence, daughter of Rotbold II, William III, Count of Toulouse inherited lands and castles in Provence. Emma inherited the title Margrave of Provence upon her elder brother's death in 1037. Her son Pons by William III did not survive her, but her grandson did and claimed her title in opposition to the younger line of counts of Provence.

Bosonid dynasty[edit]

Name Born Reign Consort Death Notes
William I the Liberator c.950
Son of Boson II of Arles and Constance of Vienne
961–975 Arsenda of Comminges
no children

Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou
four children
After 29 August 993 First counts of Provence and brothers, ruled together until 975, when William took the margravial title. and Rotbold took the same title in 993, after William abdication.
Rotbold I Son of Boson II of Arles and Constance of Vienne 961–993 Emilde
two children
Regency of Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou:993–999
William II the Pious c.980
Son of William I and Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou
999–1019 Gerberga of Burgundy
four children
4 March 1019 Fell under control of his uncle Rotbold until his death in 1008.
Rotbold II c.980
Son of Rotbold I and Emilde
1008–1014 Ermengarde of Burgundy
before 1002
three children
William III Son of Rotbold II and Ermengarde of Burgundy 1014–1037 Lucie
before 1002
three children
William IV c.980
Son of William II and Gerberga of Burgundy
1019–1030 Unmarried 1030
Fulk Bertrand c.1000
Son of William II and Gerberga of Burgundy
1030–1051 Hildegard
two children
27 April 1051 Brothers, ruled jointly after their elder brother's death.
Geoffrey I c.1000
Son of William II and Gerberga of Burgundy
1030–1062 Etienette
four children
February 1062
After William III's death with no descendants, the line of counts became the sovereign line in Provence, but not uncontested. In fact, through Emma, who inherited her brother William III's margravial title, her descendants, the counts of Toulouse, claimed Provence for themselves as margraves, in spite of never having ruled there.
William Bertrand I c.1040
Son of Fulk Bertrand and Hildegard
1062–1094 Theresa of Aragon
no children

Adelaide of Cavenez
one child
28 July 1094 Co-ruled as brothers and cousins.
Geoffrey II c.1040
Son of Fulk Bertrand and Hildegard
1062–1067 Ermengard
no children
28 July 1094
William Bertrand II c.1050
Son of Geoffrey I and Etienette
1063–1093 Matilda
one child
28 July 1094
Gerberga 1045/65
Daughter of Geoffrey I and Etienette
1094–1112 Gilbert I of Gévaudan
two children
28 July 1094 Considered a wise ruler.[2] She abdicated in 1112 to her eldest daughter, soon after her marriage to the count of Barcelona.

House of Gévaudan[edit]

Name Born Reign Consort Death Notes
Douce I c.1090
Daughter of Gilbert I of Gévaudan [fr] and Gerberga
1112–1127 Ramon Berenguer III of Barcelona
3 February 1112
five children
1127 Ruled together with her husband, the Catalan Ramon Berenguer III of Barcelona.

Houses of Barcelona (comital) and Toulouse (margravial)[edit]

Division of Provence obtained by Alfonso Jordan in 1125.

With a lack of interest in the Reconquista on their southern frontier, the Catalans turned towards their origins, the Mediterranean littoral and northwards. They coveted the region between the Cévennes and the Rhône, then under the control of Toulouse. In 1112, the count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer III, married the heiress of Provence, Douce, who was the daughter of the Countess Gerberga of Provence, Gévaudan, Carladais, and part of Rodez. The marriage was probably taken at the urging of the church, which was then in conflict with the House of Toulouse. In 1076, Count Raymond IV was excommunicated, but he still lent his support to Aicard, the deposed archbishop of Arles (since 1080). With the count away on the First Crusade, the church took the opportunity to seize the balance of power in the region. This marriage effectively put Provence under Catalan control.

To accommodate the longstanding claims of the count of Toulouse, in 1125, Raymond's heir, Alfonso Jordan, signed a treaty whereby his family's traditional claim to the title of "Margrave of Provence" was recognised and the march of Provence was defined as the region north of the lower Durance and on the right of the Rhône, including the castles of Beaucaire, Vallabrègues, and Argence. The region between the Durance, the Rhône, the Alps, and the sea was that of the county and belonged to the house of Barcelona. Avignon, Pont de Sorgues, Caumont and Le Thor remained undivided.

Internally, Provence was racked by uncertainties over rights of succession. Douce and Ramon Berenguer signed all charters jointly until her death in 1127, after which he alone appears as count in all charters until his death in 1131. At that time, Douce's younger sister, Stephanie was married to Raymond of Baux, who promptly laid claim to the inheritance of her mother, even though Provence had peacefully passed into the hands of her nephew, Berenguer Ramon I.

Ruler Born Reign Death Ruling part Consort Notes
Ramon Berenguer I the Great
El Gran
11 November 1082
Son of Ramon Berenguer II
and Mafalda of Apulia-Calabria
1112 –19 July 1131 19 July 1131
aged 48
County of Provence María Rodríguez de Vivarbr/>1103
two children

Almodis de Mortain
no children

Douce I, Countess of Provence
3 February 1112
seven children
His last marriage with the heiress of Provence brought it under Barcelona domain. His reign saw a proliferation of Provençal culture in Catalonia.
Alfonso Jordan 1103
Son of Count Raymond IV of Toulouse and Elvira of Castile
1125 - 16 August 1148 16 August 1148
aged 44–45
Margraviate of Provence Faydite d'Uzès
four children
Also Count of Toulouse. Obtained half of Provence by the division agreement of 1125.
William III c.1080
Son of Ermengol IV, Count of Urgell and Adelaide, Countess of Forcalquier
1129 –7 October 1129 7 October 1129
aged 48–49
County of Forcalquier Gersende of Albon
two children
Came from the Urgell branch of the House of Barcelona. Inherited the neighbouring County of Forcalquier.
Guigues c.1090?
First son of William III of Forcalquier and Gersende of Albon
7 October 1129 –1149 1149
aged 58–59
County of Forcalquier Unknown
one child
His child probably predeceased him, as he was succeeded by his brother.
Regency of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona (1144–1157) In August 1161, he travelled to Turin with his uncle to obtain confirmation of his countship in Provence from the Emperor Frederick I, for Provence was legally a fief of the Holy Roman Empire.
Ramon Berenguer II c.1135
Son of Berenguer Ramon I and Beatrice of Melgueil
March 1144 – March 1166 March 1166
aged 30–31
County of Provence Richeza of Poland
17 November 1161
one child
Raymond I 1134
Son of Alfonso Jordan and Faydite d'Uzès
16 August 1148 - December 1194 December 1194
aged 59–60
Margraviate of Provence Constance of France
(annulled 1166)
five children
Also Count of Toulouse as Raymond V.
Bertrand I 1104
Second son of William III of Forcalquier and Gersende of Albon
1149 –1151 1151
aged 46–47
County of Forcalquier Josserande de la Flotte
three children
Bertrand II c.1130?
First son of Bertrand I and Josserande de la Flotte
1151 –13 May 1207 13 May 1207
aged 76–77
County of Forcalquier Cecilia of Béziers
two children
Left no male heirs, and was succeeded by his brother.
Regency of Richeza of Poland (1166-1167) She ruled a few months, as her half brother-in-law, Alfonso II of Aragon, claimed Provence for himself on the basis of the imperial enfeoffment of 1162.
Douce II c.1162
Daughter of Ramon Berenguer II and Richeza of Poland
March 1166 – 1167 1172
aged 9–10
County of Provence Unmarried
Alphonse I the Troubadour
El Trobador
Alfons I 1-25 March 1157
Son of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla
1167 – 1173 25 April 1196
aged 44
County of Provence marriage agreement with
Mafalda of Portugal 1159-1162, not fulfilled

Sancha of Castile
18 January 1174
seven children
Formal union of the Kingdom of Aragon and Barcelona. Alfonso also reunited various feudal dependencies. In August 1161, he travelled to Turin with his uncle obtain the confirmation of his countship in Provence from the Emperor Frederick I, for Provence was legally a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1173, he gave the county to his younger brother Ramon Berenguer. However, he kept the title until his death in 1196.
Ramon Berenguer III
Son of Count Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona and Petronilla of Aragon
1173–5 April 1181 5 April 1181
aged 22–23
County of Provence Unmarried Abdicated of Cerdanya to his brother Sancho. In 1173, assuming the county of Provence, changed his name to Ramon Berenguer. In 1176, he joined Sancho in conquering Nice from Genoa. He was assassinated.
Sancho c.1161
Son of Count Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona and Petronilla of Aragon
5 April 1181 – 1185 1223
aged 61–62
County of Provence Ermesinde of Rocabertí
one child

Sancha Núñez de Lara
one child
Received from his brother the counties of Cerdanya and Roussillon, and in 1181, received also the County of Roussillon, in the sequence of the same brother's death. In 1184, Sancho signed a treaty of alliance with the count of Forcalquier, the count of Toulouse and the Republic of Genoa agreeing to oppose the king of Aragon's efforts to dominate Genoa and to take the city of Marseille from him. Abdicated from Provence in 1185, but ruled in Cerdanya-Roussillon until his death.
Alphonse II 1180
Son of Alfonso I and Sancha of Castile
1185 –2 February 1209 2 February 1209
aged 28–29
County of Provence Garsenda, Countess of Forcalquier
July 1193
one child
His reign was marked by his conflicts with the count of Forcalquier, to whose granddaughter he was married.
Raymond II 27 October 1156
Saint-Gilles, Gard
Son of Raymond I and Constance of France
December 1194 - 1 August 1222 1 August 1222
aged 65
Margraviate of Provence Ermessende of Pelet
no children

Beatrice of Béziers
after 1176
(annulled 1189)
one child

Joan of England
October 1196
two children

A daughter of Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus
(annulled 1202)
no children

Eleanor of Aragon
January 1204
no children
Also Count of Toulouse as Raymond VI. Allied with the Cathars, like many of the neighbouring Languedoc states, his domains in Toulouse were challenged by the Albigensian Crusade between 1215 and 1218.
William IV c.1130
Second son of Bertrand I and Josserande de la Flotte
13 May 1207 –7 October 1209 7 October 1209
aged 78–79
County of Forcalquier Adelaide of Béziers
one child
Left a daughter, Garsenda, who predeceased him; he was succeeded by his granddaughter, also named Garsenda.
Garsenda c.1180
Daughter of Rainou of Sabran and Garsenda of Forcalquier
7 October 1209 –1222 1242
aged 60–61
County of Forcalquier
(House of Sabran)
Alfonso II, Count of Provence
July 1193
one child
In 1222, she abdicated for her son, and Forcalquier was absorbed by Provence.
Forcalquier annexed to Provence
Regency of Garsenda, Countess of Forcalquier (1209–1220) Supporter of the Provençal lyric and culture and the Albigensian Crusade. He also helped his father-in-law in his conflict with Turin and Guigues VI of Viennois. His surviving four daughters all married kings, causing a dispute about his succession.
Ramon Berenguer IV 1198
Son of Alfonso II and Garsenda, Countess of Forcalquier
February 1209 –19 August 1245 19 August 1245
aged 46–47
County of Provence Beatrice of Savoy
5 June 1219
six children
Raymond VII July 1197
Beaucaire, Gard
Son of Raymond II and Joan of England
1 August 1222 - 27 September 1249 27 September 1249
aged 52
Margraviate of Provence Sancha of Aragon
March 1211
(annulled 1241)
one child

Margaret of Lusignan
(annulled 1245)
no children
Also Count of Toulouse as Raymond VII. Took Carcassonne with Count Roger-Bernard III of Foix, in the Albigensian Crusade.
Beatrice 1229
Daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV and Beatrice of Savoy
19 August 1245 –23 September 1267 23 September 1267
Nocera Inferiore
aged 37–38
County of Provence Charles I, King of Sicily
31 January 1246
seven children
Her inheritance caused tense relations with her sisters; Her husband installed his French court in Provence and, after her death, inherited the county.
Joanna c.1220
Daughter of Raymond VII and Sancha of Aragon
27 September 1249 - 25 August 1271 25 August 1271
aged 50–51
Margraviate of Provence Alphonse of France
no children
The war between Louis VIII of France and Languedoc region ended with the Treaty of Meaux (1229), determining the wedding of Joan, the heiress of Toulouse, with Alphonse, prince of France. The lack of descendance of the couple determined the annexation of the County of Toulouse, the Duchy of Narbonne, and the Margraviate of Provence to the Crown of France after their deaths.

Capetian Angevin dynasty[edit]

Queen Joan died heirless, leaving the county to Louis I of Anjou, son of King John II of France the Good, of the House of Valois, and great-great-grandson of Charles II of Naples.

Valois-Anjou dynasty[edit]

  • 1382–1384 Louis I of Anjou, Count and then Duke of Anjou (1351), Duke of Calabria and Count of Maine (1356), Duke of Touraine (1370), nominal King of Sicily (1382)
  • 1384–1417 Louis II of Anjou, Duke of Anjou, Calabria and Touraine, Count of Maine, nominal King of Sicily (1384), Count of Guise (1404), son of Louis I
  • 1417–1434 Louis III of Anjou, Duke of Anjou and Touraine, nominal King of Sicily (1417), Duke of Calabria (1424), son of Louis II
  • 1434–1480 René I of Naples the Good, Count of Guise (1417–1422), Duke of Lorraine and Bar (1431), King of Naples and (nominal) Sicily and Jerusalem (1434–1442), Duke of Anjou and Touraine (1434), King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona (in dispute, 1466–1472), son of Louis II
  • 1480–1481 Charles III (V of Maine), also known as Charles of Maine, Count of Maine and Guise (1472), nephew of René I

Upon his death, the heirless Charles du Maine bequeathed the counties of Provence-Forcalquier to King Louis XI of France. From that point forward, the title of Count of Provence simply became one of the many hereditary titles of the French monarchs. The only time the title was used independently afterwards was by the future Louis XVIII of France, who was known as the Comte de Provence until the death of his nephew Louis XVII in 1795, after which he claimed the throne of France.

Governors and grand seneschals, within France[edit]


Grand seneschals[edit]

  • 1480–1481 Pierre de La Jaille (see Château de Ranton)
  • 1482–1483 Raymond de Glandevès-Faucon
  • 1483 Palamède de Forbin
  • 1485–1493 Aymar de Poitiers, Count of Valentinois

Governors – grand seneschals[edit]

Grand seneschals[edit]


In 1790, the French Revolution definitively ended the governorship.

See also[edit]


  • Harding, Robert (1978). Anatomy of a Power Elite: the Provincial Governors in Early Modern France. Yale University Press.
  • Jouanna, Arlette (1998). Histoire et Dictionnaire des Guerres de Religion. Bouquins.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Provence §1. Geschiedenis". Encarta Encyclopedie Winkler Prins (in Dutch). Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum. 2002.
  2. ^ Clement, Francois. L' Art De Vérifier Les Dates Des Faits Historiques, Des Chartes, Des Chroniques, Et Autres Anciens Monumens, Depuis La Naissance De Notre-Seigneur, p. 436 (Jombert, 1784).
  3. ^ Harding 1978, p. 227.
  4. ^ Jouanna 1998, p. 378.

External links[edit]