Sancho, Count of Provence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Partially preserved seal of Sancho of Provence

Sancho (Catalan: Sanç, French: Sanche; died 1223) was a Catalano-Aragonese nobleman and statesman, the youngest son of Queen Petronilla of Aragon and Count Raymond Berengar IV of Barcelona. He was at different times the count of Cerdanya (c.1175–89), Provence (1181–85), Gévaudan, Rodez and Carlat (1183–85), and Roussillon (1208–12).[a] He served as the regent of Provence from 1209 until 1218 during the minority of Count Raymond Berengar IV, and as regent of Aragon and Catalonia from 1214 until 1218, during the minority of King James I.


Count of Cerdanya[edit]

Sancho was a minor at the time of his father's death (1162) and he did not inherit lands or titles, but only the right of reversion should his elder brothers die without heirs.[1] Thus, according to his father's will, he should have inherited Provence and Cerdanya after his elder brother Raymond Berengar III, count of Provence, was assassinated in 1181. In fact he inherited Provence, but may have received Cerdanya shortly before that.[2]

Sancho came of age between 1175, when he first began witnessing royal charters of his eldest brother, King Alfonso II of Aragon, in Catalonia and Provence. Before 1180, he occasionally signed documents with the title "Count of Cerdanya" (comes Ceritanie), but usually he was described as just "the king's brother". Alfonso does not seem to have entirely trusted his administration of Cerdanya, for he intervened in the county in 1177 and again in 1188. Sancho is not recorded as count of Cerdanya after that.[1][2]

Count of Provence[edit]

Sancho's first responsibility after inheriting the county of Provence in 1181 was to defend the county from the claims of Count Raymond V of Toulouse. For the following four years, Sancho and his brother Alfonso prosecuted a war against Toulouse.[3] On 9 December 1182, Alfonso visited his brother in in Aix and exempted the Knights Hospitaller from commercial duties and tolls in Provence.[4] In March 1183, Alfonso enfeoffed Sancho with the counties of Gévaudan, Rodez and Carlat.[5][6][7] Sancho's expense account for his stay at Perpignan in November 1184, where he met his brother, has survived and provides a detailed look at how his court functioned.[8]

In 1184, Sancho signed a treaty with the count of Toulouse, Count William IV of Forcalquier 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. He then intervened on the side of Genoa in that commune's war against Pisa.[1][9][10][7] These actions of disloyalty caused a rift between the brothers, and Alfonso dispossessed Sancho of Provence (and Gévaudan, Rodez and Carlat). In his place he appointed Roger-Bernard I, Count of Foix, as his bailiff or procurator in Provence.[11] According to some historians, like Joan Cabestany, the king was merely looking for an excuse to seize control of Provence.[12] Alfonso had travelled to Aix-en-Provence by March 1185, when the dating clause of a charter reads "when we recovered Provence from the hands of Sancho, our brother". Evidence of ill-will can even be found in the Gesta comitum Barcinonensium, which records of Alfonso that "his brother Sancho he never loved and did not wish to give him anything in his kingdom."[b][13]

The troubadour Peire Vidal was a contemporary critic of Sancho.

The hostility between Sancho and Alfonso caught the notice of the troubadour Peire Vidal:[13]

Francs reis, Proensa·us apella,
qu'En Sancho la·us de clavella,
qu'el en trai la cer'e·l mel
e sai tramet vos lo fel.
(Liberal king, Provence calls you, while Lord Sancho takes it away from you, because he takes the wax and the honey and send to you the bile.)

The troubadour Bertran de Born had a different opinion:[13]

Proenza pert, don es eissitz,
que so frair Sanso prezan mais...
(He is losing Provenec, which he left, where his brother Sancho is better loved...)

Although removed from office, Sancho continued to style himself Count of Provence.[3]

Count of Roussillon and procurator of Provence[edit]

In 1204, Sancho and his son, Nuño Sánchez, witnessed the donation of the county of Roussillon to Maria of Montpellier, the new wife of King Peter II, Sancho's nephew. Since Roussillon was a region in which Sancho had ambitions, his recognition of the donation to Maria was critical.[14] In 1208, Peter finally granted Sancho the government of the county of Roussillon. In 1209–10, Sancho left the day-to-day government in the hands of a "vicar and bailiff" (vicarius et baiulus), Ferran de Norvais. In January 1211, Peter "granted" Roussillon to Guillem de Creixell, but this probably refers to a grant of the county's revenues, since Guillem was the king's creditor, in which case Sancho continued to govern the county into 1212.[2]

In 1209, Sancho's other nephew and Alfonso's successor in Provence, Count Alfonso II, died, leaving a minor heir, Raymond Berengar IV. King Peter appointed him governor of Provence on behalf of Raymond Berengar. One of his first tasks was to subdue the rebellious city of Arles.[15] Sancho also promptly associated with him his own son in the governance of Provence. They pursued a policy that favoured communal liberties and commercial activity while opposing encroaching French and Papal influence.[3] For their base in Provence, Peter granted Sancho and Nuño the ports of Agazi, Boch and Monaco.[16]

In 1212, Sancho fought at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa on the side of Peter II.[3] That same year Roussillon was transferred from Sancho to his son Nuño, to be held by the latter along with Cerdanya and Conflent for life.[2]

Peter II died fighting the anti-Catharist crusaders at the Battle of Muret in 1213. His heir and successor, James I, a minor, was taken captive by Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester. An army was soon assembled at Narbonne with the support of Viscount Aimery III to recover the captive king and avenge the dead king. Sancho and his son Nuño were among the leading men present. The situation was diffused, however, by the papal legate Peter of Benevento.[17]

Procurator general of the realm[edit]

Since Peter had placed his kingdom under the authority of the Papacy, the papal legate arranged for James to be placed under the guardianship of Guillem de Montrodon, master of the Templars in Aragon and for Sancho to be appointed procurator general, effectively regent.[3] The exact date of Sancho's appointment is uncertain: it occurred either late in 1214 or early in 1215.[3][18] James in his autobiographical Llibre dels fets, later accused Sancho of wanting to be king and of plotting for the throne.[9] This claim has been widely accepted by historians, but Salvador Sanpere has written a short monograph to "vindicate" Sancho's actions.[12]

In the summer of 1214, Peter of Benevento convened a cort (council of the realm) in Lleida. The assembled clergy and nobility agreed on a political programme for James's minority that included a prohibition on new taxes. Sancho was charged with implementing the programme. In 1215, Sancho wrote to Pope Innocent III requesting more authority. In a series of orders dated 23 January 1216, Innocent created a regency council composed of nobles from both Aragon and Catalonia to assist him and ordered the cities of the two realms to subsidise the regent's redemption of pledged lands (royal demesne that had been pawned by Peter II to fund his wars). Royal finances were transferred to Guillem de Montrodon.[9]

In 1214, Gaston VI, Viscount of Béarn and Count of Bigorre, died. In order to prevent the county of Bigorre from falling out of Aragon's orbit, Sancho married his son Nuño to the heiress, Gaston's widow, Petronilla, in 1215. This marriage, however, was annulled by the pope (1216), and Petronilla ended up marrying Guy de Montfort, brother of Simon IV de Montfort, the leader of the Albigensian Crusade. In 1217, Sancho led Aragon into war on the side of Raymond VI of Toulouse against the Crusaders, perhaps to avenge Peter II.[3] Sancho sent a Catalan contingent to the siege of Toulouse, where Simon de Montfort was killed in 1218.[18]

Sancho's policy of intervention in Occitania was opposed by a faction of Aragonese feudatories led by his nephew, Ferdinand, abbot of Montearagón, and by those who wished to make peace with the Papacy.[3][12] In two bulls dated 28 and 29 December 1217,[18] Pope Honorius III threatened to excommunicate James and Sancho, respectively, and to authorise a crusade against their realm if they did not abandon Raymond VI's cause. Under pressure from several sides and apparently unwilling to abandon the Toulousain alliance, Sancho stepped down as regent.[3][9] On 8 September 1218 he signed an agreement with James which formally terminated the regency. In it, he agreed to keep peace with the king and in exchange the king granted him lands and revenues—15,000 solidi from five castles in Aragon and 10,000 solidi from Barcelona and Vilafranca. James also promised not to attack his lands or to permit anyone else from doing so for a period of seven years. This last clause secured James's neutrality in the event that Sancho continued to fight the Crusaders. The historian Ferran Soldevila considers Sancho's promise to keep the peace an indication that his resignation was not wholly voluntary.[18][19]

Shortly after his resignation, in the same month of September 1218, Sancho was present at the assembly in Lleida, where he was named as one of the king's advisers when James confirmed the privileges of Montpellier, which he had inherited from his mother. This same assembly appointed Guillem IV de Cervera as procurator in Sancho's place.[20]


Sometime before 1184, Sancho married Ermessenda, daughter of Geoffrey I of Rocabertí and Ermessenda de Vilademuls. In 1185, he married Sancha Núñez de Lara, daughter of Count Nuño Pérez de Lara and Teresa Fernández de Traba, and step-daughter of Ferdinand II of León. By her he had his only known son, Nuño Sánchez.[3]


  1. ^ Provence was part of the Kingdom of Arles in the Holy Roman Empire, while Roussillon and Cerdanya were nominally part of the Kingdom of France at the time; Gévaudan, Rodez and Carlat were indisputably part of France. The County of Provence only encompassed part of Provence, which also included the Marquisate of Provence (ruled by the counts of Toulouse) and the County of Forcalquier. Roussillon and Cerdanya effectively belonged to the Counts of Barcelona, who were de facto independent princes.
  2. ^ Fratrem quoque suum iam dicti Ildefonsi regis Aragonensis, Sancium nomine, nunquam dilexit et nullam portionem sui regni illi dare voluit.
Preceded by
Raymond Berengar III
Count of Provence
Succeeded by
Alfonso II
Count of Cerdanya
Succeeded by
Title last held by
Girard II
Count of Roussillon



  1. ^ a b c Cheyette 2001, p. 333.
  2. ^ a b c d Bisson 1984, vol. 1, p. 194.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Salrach 2016.
  4. ^ Miret i Sans, Joaquim 1904, p. 417.
  5. ^ Aurell 1986, p. 183.
  6. ^ Miret i Sans, Joaquim 1904, p. 419.
  7. ^ a b Smith 2010, p. 29 n. 78.
  8. ^ Bisson 1984, vol. 2, pp. 120–23.
  9. ^ a b c d Bisson 2000, pp. 58–60.
  10. ^ Orvietani Busch 2001, p. 241.
  11. ^ Orvietani Busch 2001, p. 9.
  12. ^ a b c Orvietani Busch 2001, p. 71 n. 33.
  13. ^ a b c Riquer 1950, pp. 211–13.
  14. ^ Orvietani Busch 2001, pp. 68–69.
  15. ^ Smith 2010, p. 41.
  16. ^ Orvietani Busch 2001, p. 74.
  17. ^ Smith 2010, pp. 42–43.
  18. ^ a b c d Orvietani Busch 2001, pp. 16–17.
  19. ^ Bisson 1989, p. 355.
  20. ^ Bisson 1989, pp. 360–62.


  • Aurell, Martin (1986). "L'expansion catalane en Provence au XIIe siècle". In J. Portella. La formació i expansió del feudalisme català. Girona. pp. 175–95. 
  • Bisson, Thomas N., ed. (1984). Fiscal Accounts of Catalonia under the Early Count-Kings (1151–1213). 2 vols. University of California Press. 
  • Bisson, Thomas N. (1989). "The Finances of the Young James I (1213–1228)". Medieval France and Her Pyrenean Neighbours: Studies in Early Institutional History. The Hambledon Press. pp. 351–92. 
  • Bisson, Thomas N. (2000). The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short History. Clarendon Press. 
  • Cheyette, Fredric L. (2001). Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours. Cornell University Press. 
  • Miret i Sans, Joaquim (1904). "Itinerario del Rey Alfonso I de Cataluña, II en Aragón: II (de 1174 a 1185)". Butlletí de la Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona 2 (15): 389–423. 
  • Orvietani Busch, Silvia (2001). Medieval Mediterranean Ports: The Catalan and Tuscan Coasts, 1100–1235. Brill. 
  • Riquer, Martí de (1950). "El trovador Giraut del Luc y sus poesías contra Alfonso II de Aragón". Butlletí de la Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona 23: 209–48. 
  • Sanpere y Miquel, Salvador (1913). "Minoría de Jaime I: Vindicación del procurador Conde Sancho, años 1214–1219". I Congrés d'història de la Corona d'Aragó (Barcelona, 1908). Barcelona. pp. 580–694. 
  • Salrach, Josep Maria (2016). "Sanç I de Rosselló-Cerdanya". Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  • Shideler, John C. (1999). A Medieval Catalan Noble Family: The Montcadas, 1000–1230. University of California Press. 
  • Smith, Damian J.; Buffery, Helena, eds. (2003). The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon: A Translation of the Medieval Catalan "Llibre dels Fets". Ashgate. 
  • Smith, Damian J. (2010). Crusade, Heresy and Inquisition in the Lands of the Crown of Aragon (c. 1167–1276). Brill. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Martin-Chabot, Fernand-Eugène (1902). La politique hors d'Espagne d'Alphonse II, roi d'Aragon (1162–1196) et marquis de Provence (PhD). Mâcon: École des Chartes.