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Constance of Arles
Queen consort of the Franks
Tenure 1001-1031
Spouse Robert II of France
Issue
Hugh Magnus of France
Henry I of France
Adela of France, Countess of Flanders
Robert I, Duke of Burgundy
House House of Capet
Father William I, Count of Provence
Mother Adelais of Anjou
Born 986
Died 25 July 1034 (aged 47–48)

Constance of Arles (also known as Constance of Provence) (986 - 25 July 1034) was the third wife and queen of King Robert II of France. She was the daughter of William I, count of Provence and Adelais of Anjou, daughter of Fulk II of Anjou. She was the half-sister of Count William II of Provence.

Contents

Biography

In 1003, she was married to King Robert, after his divorce from his second wife, Bertha of Burgundy. The marriage was stormy; Bertha's family opposed her, and Constance was despised for importing her Provençal kinfolk. Robert's friend, Hugh of Beauvais, tried to convince the king to repudiate her in 1007. Constance's response was to have Beauvais murdered by the knights of her kinsman, Fulk Nerra. In 1010 Robert even went to Rome, accompanied by his former wife Bertha, to seek permission to divorce Constance and remarry Bertha. Constance encouraged her sons to revolt against their father, and then favored her younger son, Robert, over her elder son, Henri.

During the famous trial of Herefast de Crepon (who was alleged to be involved with a heretical sect of canons, nuns, and clergy in 1022[1]), the crowd outside the church in Orleans became so unruly that, according to Moore:

At the king's command, Queen Constance stood before the doors of the Church, to prevent the common people from killing them inside the Church, and they were expelled from the bosom of the Church. As they were being driven out, the queen struck out the eye of Stephen, who had once been her confessor, with the staff which she carried in her hand.

The symbolism, or reality, of putting an eye out is used often in medieval accounts to show the ultimate sin of breaking of one's oath, whether it be heresy, or treason to ones lordship, or in this case both. Stephen's eye was put out by the hand of a Queen wielding a staff (royal scepters were usually tipped with a cross) thus symbolically providing justice for the treasoned lord on earth and in heaven.

At Constance's urging, her eldest son Hugh Magnus was crowned co-king alongside his father in 1017. Hugh Magnus demanded his parents share power with him, and rebelled against his father in 1025. He died suddenly later that year, an exile and a fugitive. Robert and Constance quarrelled over which of their surviving sons should inherit the throne; Robert favored their second son Henri, while Constance favored their third son, Robert. Despite his mother's protests, Henry was crowned in 1027. Fulbert, bishop of Chartres wrote a letter claiming that he was "frightened away" from the consecration of Henry "by the savagery of his mother, who is quite trustworthy when she promises evil."

Constance encouraged her sons to rebel, and Henri and Robert began attacking and pillaging the towns and castles belonging to their father. Robert attacked Burgundy, the duchy he had been promised but had never received, and Henry seized Dreux. At last King Robert agreed to their demands and peace was made which lasted until the king's death.

King Robert died in 1031, and soon Constance was at odds with both her elder son Henri and her younger son Robert. Constance seized her dower lands and refused to surrender them. Henri fled to Normandy, where he received aid, weapons and soldiers from his brother Robert. He returned to besiege his mother at Poissy but Constance escaped to Pontoise. She only surrendered when Henri began the siege of Le Puiset and swore to slaughter all the inhabitants.

Constance died in 1034, and was buried beside her husband Robert at Saint-Denis Basilica.

Children

Constance and Robert had seven children:

  1. Advisa, Countess of Auxerre, (c.1003-after 1063), married Count Renaud I of Nevers
  2. Hugh Magnus, co-king (1007-17 September 1025)
  3. Henri (4 May 1008 – 4 August 1060)
  4. Adela, Countess of Contenance (1009-5 June 1063), married (1) Duke Richard III of Normandy (2) Count Baldwin V of Flanders
  5. Robert I, Duke of Burgundy (1011-21 March 1076)
  6. Eudes (1013-1056)
  7. Constance (1014-unknown), married Manasses de Dammartin

References

  1. ^ 1

"The heresy was sui generis, probably an amalgam of neoplatonic speculation and of inferences made from the search, familiar to biblical scholars of the time, for an inner meaning beneath the literal surface of the text of Scripture 'written on animal skins.' The radical nature of the denials of the adherents of the doctrines of incarnation and resurrection, have led some historians to argue that the heresy was imported, to some degree ready-made, and that it represents a fragmentary influence from the developed heretical tradition of the movement of the Bogomils, then spreading from its cradle-land in Bulgaria into other parts ... But the absence of any external evidence of Bogomil missionizing at this time and a wider realization of the number of factors in Western society which fostered dissisence in the eleventh century ... have caused the theory to lose support. What seems most likely is that the heresy was intellectual in origin and a facet of the reawakening of learning in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries." Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1991) 16 - 17.

Sources

  • Jessee, W. Scott. A missing Capetian princess: Advisa, daughter of King Robert II of France (Medieval Prosopography), 1990
  • Nolan, Kathleen D. Capetian Women, 2003.
  • Moore, R.I. The Birth of Popular Heresy, 1975.
  • Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis, Lines: 53-21, 101-21, 107-20, 108-21, 128-21, 141-21, 141A-21, 185-2.
  • Lambert, Malcolm. Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation, 1991, 9 - 17.

External links

French royalty
Preceded by
Bertha of Burgundy
Queen consort of France
1001 – 1031
Succeeded by
Matilda of Frisia
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Simple English

Constance of Arles (973 - July 25, 1034) was the third wife of Robert II of France. They were married in 1003 after Robert had got a divorce from his second wife, Bertha. She was buried in the Saint Denis Basilica with Robert II of France.

They had several children:

  • Henry I of France
  • Adela of France - is the mother of Matilda of Flanders, who was the wife of William I of England
  • Robert I of Burgundy
  • Eudes of France
  • Constance of France, married to Count Manasses of Dammartin

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