Sunday, November 25, 2012

Civil War Witness, 1

Coronation of Louis the Pious, by Jean Fouquet (1455)
Yesterday's post about William of Gellone didn't mention his family at all, but he had four sons, Barnardo, Guitcario, Gaucelm, and Helmbruc. I want to talk about Barnardo, are as he is better known, Bernard.

Bernard (795-844) was Duke of Septimania by heredity and Count of Barcelona by conquest (once his father took it from the Moors, as mentioned yesterday). He was one of the closest advisers to Charlemagne's son, the Emperor Louis the Pious, who ruled from 814-840. He would have been well-known to Louis' sons, and would have known them well in return—this will become very important a little later.

On 29 June, 824, he was married in the Chapel of Aachen to a woman of whom little is known prior to this. Dhuoda was her name, and she was no doubt from a noble family. At first she accompanied her husband on his military missions: Louis asked him to patrol the Spanish Marches, in which trouble from Moorish incursions was only to be expected. In 826 they had a son, named William for Bernard's father. At some point afterward, Bernard sent her away to Uzés in southern France, keeping William to be raised at court. His reasons are unknown; we would like to assume it had something to do with her safety. (Reports that Bernard was having an affair with Louis' wife, the Empress Judith, are suspect because they were all made by known political enemies.)

Bernard seemed to make enemies when he was brought to court. The Emperor had sent his son Lothair to take up the Iron Crown of Lombardy in 829, and asked Bernard to take the position of chamberlain and watch over another son, Charles. Bernard asked his brother Gaucelm to handle his affairs in his absence. The choice to send Lothair away and give him a title was wise, because he was in frequent conflict with Louis' second wife Judith, who was trying to secure a realm for her son, Charles the Bald.

Louis did give Charles something: Alemannia, which reduced the size of what Lothair would inherit from his father. Lothair accused Charles of illegitimacy—of being, in fact, the son of Judith and Bernard. Lothair held his temper in check, and it was another son, Pepin of Aquitaine, who would be the first to start a war.He gathered an army and marched toward Paris; he was joined by his younger brother, Louis the German. Their father came home from a campaign in Brittany to find his country in turmoil; he was surrounded by Pepin's forces and captured. Judith was imprisoned. Bernard fled to Barcelona.

Lothair set out with an army to take control of the situation for his own ends. Louis, meanwhile, offered his two captors/sons a larger share of lands upon his death, so they freed him and swore loyalty to him again. This larger force now faced Lothair's army of Lombards; Lothair was forgiven his insurrection and sent to Italy for good. Pepin returned to Aquitaine. Judith was returned after swearing to her innocence. Bernard was exonerated. The civil war was over.

A few years later, it would happen again.


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