Giselbert of Loon

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Giselbert van Loon (c. 980 – c. 1045) is probably the first, and certainly the first definitely known count of the County of Loon, a territory which to roughly correspond to the modern Belgian province of Limburg, and generations later became a part of the Prince-bishopric of Liège. Very little is known about him except that he had two brothers, one of whom, Bishop Balderic of Liège, is much better attested in historical records.

It is not documented when Giselbert started his rule, but his brother Balderic became Bishop by 1008. Giselbert apparently died around 1045, because in 1044 a charter of St. Barthélémy of Liége mentions a count Giselbert, probably (but not certainly) him, and in May 1046 the next generation of counts, the brothers Emmo and Otto, appear as counts of Loon.[1]

Giselbert's county was based in Borgloon, originally simply called Loon. The castle, probably built by his grandson, was a motte-and-bailey, with a hall and a chapel in the front court.[2] The area forms the core of the modern town. The castle itself was destroyed some generations later and the hill on which it stood was excavated in the 19th century.

Giselbert's parents are not known for sure but it has been proposed that he is likely to be an descendant of Count Nevelong, who is known to have married a Regnarid, bringing together two important families in the region with the right types of influence to put the brothers into their various positions. Two specific hypotheses have been published: that he was a son of Count Rudolf, Count of Betuwe (Nevelong's son), or Otto, Count of Looz (Nevelong's grandson).[3]

What is more certain is that he had two brothers, Bishop Balderic II of Liège, and Count Arnoul of Haspinga. Concerning their ancestry, Bishop Balderic II of Liège, about which more is written than his brothers, was said to be a kinsman of both Lambert I, Count of Louvain and Arnoul of Valenciennes, a grandson of Nevelong and his Regnarid wife.[4] He also shared blood with two clerics who, like the Balderics but unlike the Regnarids, seem to have been kinsmen of the Ottonian dynasty in Germany, Gerard of Florennes, and Bishop Arnulf (archbishop of Reims).[5] Nevelong's family, furthermore, are called the "Balderics" because they had two bishops with this name in generations before Balderic II: Nvelong's brother Balderic was Bishop of Utrecht and Nevelong's son Balderic was the first Bishop of Liège with that name.

Balderic was able to donate his personal possessions at Pannerden in Batavia (Betuwe), as area associated with the family of Nevelong, to the church in Liège. More difficult to interpret, and also related to the same general northern river delta area, just before the Battle of Vlaardingen, where Balderic died of sickness on campaign, he was accused of wanting to spare a blood-relative, which implies a close relationship to Count Dirk III of Holland.[6]

Giselbert's brother Arnulf (or Arnoul, or Arnold) was apparently described in 1040 as count of a county named Haspinga, in the land of Haspingow, a reference which has caused many different interpretations.[7] It is probable that when Haspinga was donated to the Prince-bishopric of Liège, Loon, itself a fief of Haspinga, became a fief of Liege. In any case when the male line of the Counts died out, the Bishop claimed the county successfully.

Giselbert was the first known guardian of the goods (voogd, advocatus) of the Saint-Jacobs-Abbey Liege, founded by his brother Balderic.

Giselbert was succeeded as Count of Loon by:

  • Count Emmo (d. before 1078), probably his son
  • Count Otto, who may have shared his brother's rule in some way.

Otto's son Giselbert II, Count of Duras, married Oda, daughter of Otto II, Count of Chiny. Giselbert later battled Arnold II, Count of Looz, the grandson of Emmo, over the Abbey of Sint-Truiden.

Giselbert's wife is not known with any certainty. A wife named Erlende is sometimes mentioned in genealogies, including the Europaische Stammtafeln. As explained by Baerten (1965 part I) this is no longer accepted. The Vita Arnulfi describes Lutgarde of Namur as mother of both Emmo Count of Loon, who was father of Count Arnulf of Loon and his sister Sophia, and also Otto, who was father of Count Gislebert of Duras. This Lutgarde is described as a sister of Count Albert of Namur. Her husband is not named there.[8] But the Gesta of St Trudo appears to say that the same Lutgarde was the mother of Bishop Balderic II, the brother of Emmo's supposed father Gilbert.[9] This implies that Gilbert was a brother to Emmo. On the other hand, these sources are in conflict with each other and at least one of them seems to be misinterpreting the facts.


  1. ^ Verhelst (1984) believes it is not him in 1044, but a Gilbert who was advocate of the Abbey of St Truiden, and a member of the comital family of Duras in 1023. He also doubts that Giselbert of Loon was the father of Emmo and Otto. There is only one relatively late and unreliable medieval source which says Giselbert was father of the next counts, the brothers Emmo and Otto, Gestorum Abbatem Trudonensium Continuatio Tertia 1007, MGH SS X, p. 382. The 1044 charter is analyzed in Bormans (1861) "Notice d'un manuscrit intitulé Cartulaire de Van den Berch, conservé aux archives de l'État, à Liège" Bulletin de la Commission royale d'Histoire 3rd series 2 p.280 [1]. The 1046 charter is reproduced in Miraeus (Foppens ed.) Opera diplomatica et historica III p.303
  2. ^ Vaes p.129
  3. ^ Rudolf is the proposal of Vanderkindere, accepted as most likely also by Baerten. Otto is proposed in two different ways. J.M. Winter proposed that Otto was a son of Rudolf, and Jongbloed of Nevelong's daughter Bertha.
  4. ^ That bishop Balderic II of Liège had common ancestry with Count Arnoul, who modern historians believe to mean Arnoul of Valenciennes, grandson of Nevelong, is mentioned in his biography the Vita Balderici Ep. Leodensis link. That bishop Balderic II had common ancestry with Lambert Count of Louvain is stated in the Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium, lib. III, ch. 5, M.G.H., SS., t. vii, p. 467-468.
  5. ^ For the 2 clerics, Kupper refers to the Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum Bibliothecae regiae bruxellensis, Part I, Vol. 2 p.486 (1008-1012)
  6. ^ Vita Balderici p.735.
  7. ^ Latin: "comitatum Arnoldi comitis nomine Haspinga in pago Haspingowi", in a grant of this county by Emperor Henry III to Saint Lambert's Cathedral, Liège. See MGH DD H III 35 p.45
  8. ^ Vita Arnulfi Episcopi Suessioniensis I.3, MGH SS XV.2, p. 879.
  9. ^ Gestorum Abbatem Trudonensium Continuatio Tertia 1007, MGH SS X, p. 382


  • Baerten (1965), "Les origines des comtes de Looz et la formation territoriale du comté", Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, 43 (2): link
  • Baerten, Jean (1969), Het Graafschap Loon (11de - 14de eeuw) link
  • Jongbloed (2008), "Flamenses in de elfde eeuw", Bijdragen en Mededelingen Gelre
  • Kupper, Jean-Louis. (1981) Liège et l’Église impériale aux XIe-XIIe siècles [en línea]. Liége: Presses universitaires de Liège link. ISBN 9782821828681. doi:10.4000/books.pulg.1472.
  • Kupper, Jean-Louis (2013), "La donation de la comtesse Ermengarde à l'Église de Liège (1078)" (PDF), Bulletin de la Commission royale d'Histoire Année, 179: 5–50 
  • Vaes, Jan (2016), De Graven van Loon. Loons, Luiks, Limburgs, ISBN 9789059087651 
  • Vanderkindere, Léon (1902), La formation territoriale des principautés belges au Moyen Age (PDF), 2, p. 128
  • J.M. Van Winter (1981) "De voornaamste adelijke geslachten in de Nederlanden in de 10de en 11de eeuw" in Blok, Algemene geschiedenis der Nederlanden
  • Verhelst (1984 and 1985) "Een nieuwe visie op de omvang en indeling van de pagus Hasbania" Handelingen van de Koninklijke Zuidnederlandsche Maatschappij voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiednis