Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-07 > 1027900576

From: "Stewart, Peter" <>
Subject: Marriage between descendants of Adelais-Blanca
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 10:01:40 +1000

Here is a sidelight on the question of Adelais-Blanca that hadn't occurred
to me before:

Her daughter Constance became the third wife of King Robert II following his
highly controversial second marriage, to Berthe of Burgundy. Pope Gregory V
had demanded in 998 that Robert and Berthe must seperate, since they were
related in the third degree (second cousins) through their common
great-grandparents Emperor Heinrich I the Fowler and his second wife
Mathilde von Ringelheim. The pair didn't comply immediately; after some
years all the prelates who had blessed their union were suspended, and the
kingdom was placed under an interdict which eventually had the desired

By his subsequent marriage to Adelais-Blanca's daughter Constance, King
Robert II was father of Robert I, duke of Burgundy, who in 1049 married a
lady named Ermengardis (they were assassinated together at Fleurey-sur-Ouche
in 1076). According to a genealogy drawn up in Anjou late in the 11th
century, she is identified with Ermengardis-Blanca, daughter of Foulques III
Nerra, count of Anjou & therefore a great-granddaughter of Foulques II le
Bon & his wife Gerberge [see 'Généalogies angevines du XIe siècle' by René
Poupardin in _Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire_ 20 (1900), pp 199-208].
Some support for this identity is provided by the name of Hildegardis, Duke
Robert's daughter by Ermengardis, since the Angevin lady's mother had the
same name - however, Christian Settipani appears to doubt it since he
doesn't mention any such Burgundian marriage in 'Les comtes d'Anjou et leurs
alliances aux Xe et XIe siècles', _Family Trees and the Roots of Politics_
edited by KSB Keats-Rohan (Woodbridge, 1997). He simply records that
Ermengardis-Blanca was married once (to Geoffroy III, count of Gâtinais) and
died after 1043 [tables on pp 264 & 265], although Olivier Guillot had
established that she was certainly living at the end of 1045 or early in
1046 when her mother Countess Hildegardis was preparing to depart for
Palestine [see _Le comte d'Anjou et son entourage au XIe siècle_, 2 vols
(Paris, 1972), vol I p 102 n 453].

Anyway, according to the genealogy repeatedly set down in the 11th century,
and accepted by most historians today, the famous Adelais-Blanca was
daughter of Count Foulques II of Anjou & Gerberge, so that by this scheme
Duke Robert I of Burgundy would also have been their great-grandchild,
through his mother Constance. This means that he was supposed to be in the
third degree of consanguinity with his second wife (assuming she was
correctly identified with Ermengardis-Blanca of Anjou, which seems
straightforward enough to me). Knowledge of the reputed ancestry, on his
side at least, was apparently quite wide-spread: apart from the monk Hugh of
Fleury-sur-Oise, who states it as fact in his history of France, two of the
genealogies in Poupardin's article cited above give this relationship,
including the one already mentioned.

Constance Brittain Bouchard says that a letter to Pope Leo IX reported ca
1050 that Duke Robert had entered a consanguineous union [_Sword, Miter and
Cloister: Nobility and the Church in Burgundy, 980-1198_ (Ithaca & London,
1987) p 257]. Now it strikes me as highly interesting that Robert I should
have risked, indeed should have courted, the same response from Rome to
himself and Burgundy as had brought distress to his father and France half a
century earlier. And if he did, it is somewhat remarkable that we don't hear
more about this course of action and its potential or real consequences from
many sources. It could be argued, of course, that he did provocatively marry
his second cousin and that the pope uncharacteristically decided to let this
pass, smoothly & quietly ignoring the offense - but I doubt the likelihood
of this.

On the other hand, if there were an extra generation in the pedigree of
Constance, as I have suggested in previous posts, this silence from Rome
might well be explained by a knowledge amongst higher clerics at the time
that the official genealogy of Queen Constance was just political
propaganda, deliberately misleading in order to elevate the rank of her
antecedents when King Robert was hard-pressed to find himself yet another
suitable bride after consecutively dumping two kings' daughters.

Régine le Jan says that unions involving consanguinity in the third degree
had been considered scandalous for almost two centuries before King Robert
II's marriage to Berthe, but that beyond this degree was a "zone interdite,
mais tolérée" [_Famille et pouvoir dans le monde Franc (VIIe-Xee siècle)_
(Paris, 1995) p 318]. She points out that King Charles the Bald and his
first wife Ermentrudis of Orléans were cousins in the 3rd & 4th degrees
(i.e. second cousins once removed, one being a great-grandchild and the
other a great-great-grandchild of the common ancestors). This same tolerable
but irregular relationship would have existed between Robert of Burgundy and
Ermengardis-Blanca of Anjou _if_ the famous Adelais-Blanca was really a
granddaughter of Foulques II of Anjou & Gerberge, as I have suggested
before, rather than their daughter.

Does anyone know of a detailed discussion of the Burgundian marriage of
1049? I don't have access to check Ernest Petit's massive history of the
Capetian dukes, which is I suppose the first place to look for this,
although I think the Angevin connection was not usually put forward until
Maurice Chaume suggested it as probable.

Peter Stewart

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