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Anscarids: Wikis


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The Anscarids or Anscarii or the House of Ivrea were a medieval Frankish dynasty of Burgundian origin which rose to prominence in Italy in the tenth century, even briefly holding the Italian throne. They also ruled the County of Burgundy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and it was one of their member who first declared himself a franc-compte or free count. By a cadet branch of the counts of Burgundy came the House of Burgundy-Spain (Casa de Borgoña-España) which ruled the kingdom of Galicia from 1111 and the Kingdoms of Castile and León from 1126 until 1369.



The founder of the family's fortunes was a petty Burgundian count named Anscar, who, with the support of his powerful brother, the archbishop of Rheims, Fulk the Venerable, brought Guy III of Spoleto to Langres to be crowned king of France in 887. Their plot failing, Anscar accompanied Guy back to Italy to seek that vacant throne and in gratefulness created the March of Ivrea to bestow on his Burgundian faithful. Anscar's descendants held the march until 1030. Perhaps the most illustrious scion of the house was his grandson Berengar, the first of three Anscarids to be crowned king of Italy.

Berengar seized the throne in 950 after the death of Lothair II. He was opposed, immediately, by Lothair's widow Adelaide, whom he imprisoned after his attempt to force her marriage to his son, Adalbert II, failed. Otto I came down the peninsula and forced him to do homage in 952. For the next eleven years, Berengar and his co-crowned son governed Italy until Otto finally formally deposed them in 963.

From 1002 to 1014, Arduin of Italy held the Italian throne as the national candidate in opposition to the German Henry II.


Adalbert was eventually forced to flee to Burgundy, where he died at Autun. His widow remarried to Otto-Henry, Duke of Burgundy and her son by Adalbert, Otto William, inherited the duchy of Burgundy, but was opposed by Henry I of France, who confiscated the duchy, leaving only a small portion around Dôle to Otto. This was the kernel of the later Free County.

The greatest of the free counts was Renaud III, who, from 1127, utilised the title franc-compte as a sign of independence of German or Imperial authority, but was forced to submit to Conrad III. His daughter and heiress, Beatrice, married Frederick Barbarossa and united the Anscarid inheritance with that of the Hohenstaufen. Burgundy was inherited by her son Otto, who had an Anscarid name.


Raymond, son of William I of Burgundy, travelled to Spain in the late eleventh century and there married the reigning queen of Castile, Urraca. His son, Alfonso VII, was even proclaimed Emperor of Spain. The subsequent kings of Castile, León, and Galicia were direct descendants of Alfonso, even after 1369, when rule went to an illegitimate cadet branch, the House of Trastámara.

See also


  • Wickham, Chris. Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society 400-1000. MacMillan Press: 1981.


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