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Medieval Sourcebook:
Chronicle of the Counts of Anjou, c. 1100

© Trans. Steve Lane []

From Louis Halphen and René Poupardin, Chroniques des Comtes d'Anjou et des Seigneurs d'Amboise (Paris: Picard 1913).

This text was probably composed between about 1100-1140 by a monk of Anjou, a territory of western France. It is a mythologized account of the rise of the counts of Anjou ("consuls", in the monk's terminology) from the tenth to the late eleventh century (the following section ends with the death of Fulk Nerra in 1040). The legends here begin with tales of the family under the late Carolingians.

The footnotes are those of Halphen and Poupardin. I have included some boldface explanatory material in square brackets in the text, as well as the Latin for certain words, where the translation alone seemed too impoverishing.

Chronicle of the deeds of the consuls of Anjou


Since I believe I have made clear the things which it was necessary to know about the kings of the Franks, necessary for the foregoing work and especially for this one which follows, I will now explain in detail, briefly and appropriately, in a few words, as best I am able, the things concerning the consuls of Anjou which I discovered written down confusingly and in an uneducated style. For, since our own life is short, we must render as long-lived as possible the memory of those whose virtue is held to be distinguished and eternal.[1] Since military prowess proceeds from the apex of physical and spiritual virtue, it has been customary to transfer the wise government of the ancient cities, from less good rulers, to some of the very best. Therefore, in the time of Charles the Bald, some new men, not of noble rank, more inclined to good and honorable deeds than the nobles, rose to positions of power and eminence. Those men, whom he saw thirsting for martial glory, he did not doubt would throw themselves into danger and do battle with fate.[2] There were also in those days men of ancient lineage, with many portraits [of ancestors] who prided themselves rather on the deeds of their ancestors than on their own. These men, whenever they were given any important post or position, would choose some commoner to tell them how to do their job; when the king had ordered them to give commands to others, they looked for someone to command them in turn. So, from this whole troop of nobles, king Charles had only a few with him; to the new men he kindly offered the spoils of war, and estates won through great labor and peril. From that stock [i.e. the new men] there was Tertullus, from whom the line of the consuls of Anjou took its beginning, a man who knew how to wound the enemy, sleep on the bare earth, put up with hunger, suffer winter and summer with equal patience, and fear nothing but a bad name. Doing these things and others, it is said that he brought forth nobility for himself and his line. Concerning his father, I will say what it necessary. I beseech the readers to put faith in these words, and not to think that I have written untruths.

On Tertullus

There was a certain man of Armorica Gallia called Torquatius, whose race [genus] was of old expelled from Armorica by the Bretons at the order of the emperor Maximus. This man was given the corrupt name of Tortulfus by the Bretons, who were ignorant of the proper use of the old Roman name. Charles the Bald, in the year in which he expelled the Normans from Anjou and from his whole realm, made this man the forester of the forest called Blackbird's Nest. As many relate the story, his race [genus] lived for a long time in the forests, despite the opposition of the Bretons. This man was a countryman who had grown up in the pays de Redon [pagus Redonicus, an area of southwest Brittany], lived off of his hunting skills and the abundance of the wild: men of this sort (as some tell it) the Bretons call birgi, while we Franks call them "huntsmen." There are also others who think this man lived in villages with the peasants of Redon. Which of these two is more accurate is not very important, since those who pass the stories on are not in much disagreement, and no wonder: for we have often read of senators who were working in the fields and were snatched away to become emperors.[3] In this man, since he was plainly great by birth, the weapons of old age, namely the skill and exercise of virtues, brought forth wondrous fruit, and the knowledge of a life well spent and the memory of his good deeds was extremely pleasing to him.[4]

Now this man brought forth Tertullus, reckoned by the ancient genealogies of the tale-tellers [relatores] as the first of the stock [progenies] of the counts of Anjou. It is know that this Tertullus, a man of keen mind, overcoming his own lot and unstable circumstances by the bigness of his spirit, began to desire greater things for himself, and dared to strive for them. Now around the time in which Charles the Bald, son of Louis and nephew of the emperor Charlemagne, was made a king, one of the triarchy, though he did not reign for long, the same Tertullus, leaving the confines of his father's holdings, and, trusting in his own resources, wishing and hoping to make more of himself, came from the western regions into France proper and went to bear arms in the king's clientele. At that time a great many others, well aware of their own strength in arms, hungry for fame and honors and hoping to better themselves through their own strength, converged from many diverse regions, beckoned by the bounty of the royal munificence, and incited by the opportunities of the age.

Now when the same king Charles, after long dissensions, after severe wars waged against his own brothers, emerged as victor and survivor, an emulator of his grandfather's uprightness and glory and the survivor of many struggles; nor would he have been much short of filling the void [that is, exercising unhindered kingship] had the briefness of life not caught up with him: for he was hastening to patch up, with a wondrous wisdom and goodness, all the evils which had fallen on the kingdom and the republic during the earlier struggles with his brothers. He had destroyed the tyranny of Nominöe, pseudo-king of the Bretons, since the latter was already powerfully opposed by the will of God and of his saints, especially by the aid of St. Florentius; and he tamed the treacheries of many other enemies as well. For God, glorious and wondrous in his saints, shows Himself to be more wondrous and glorious still when he works wonders through them.

Charles also pressed back the hostility of the Normans, a hostility with which they had first devastated, then violently possessed, that fringe of our land of Gaul which touches upon Ocean. He avenged their violence, and reduced their power to naught. On this account, soldiers flocked to him from all quarters: these men he took to himself and held them dear, and whomever he esteemed above the others he honored, and lauded him in proportion his strength and his faithfulness.

Among these men he held Tertullus dear, of whom we are speaking, for his merits, and gave him a wife and a piece of a fief in the castle of Landonense, and gave him a holding made up of some other lands, both in the Gâtine and in other places of France. But at that moment the king, with the greater part of his undertakings interrupted by the sudden destruction of his kingdom, before the peace and reconstruction he had envisioned [could be accomplished], according to the permission of God, in whose hand lie all powers and kingdoms, was taken from wordly affairs by a premature death, bringing on France a calamity which would endure a long time.

He left behind a son, heir to his kingdom, called Louis, who had retained only the name of his grandfather.[5] Now this one was vastly inferior in character to his father and grandfather, and indeed to all of his royal ancestors, and lived such a useless life that his inertia won him the nickname Do-Nothing. In the time of his wretched rulership the Normans and some other men of an evil and tyrannical disposition, having regathered their strength, flared up into malice again, and reveled for a long time in a land deprived of its governor. The Normans, having well and cruelly outstripped the limits of their earlier invasion and plunder, depopulated Neustria and much of Aquitaine with theft, arson and murder.

On Ingelgerius

Around this time, when Tertullus had died in France, his son, Ingelgerius by name, who had been born under Charles the Bald, remained in possession of his father's estates. For Tertullus had taken a noble wife, a relative of the duke of Burgundy, named Petronilla, who had given birth to the boy. This one was made a knight [miles] in the presence of the aforementioned Louis. This youth was nimble, the best of knights, not only his father's equal in strength but his better; he acquired many estates, and did bold and daring deeds. Even when he was young, when a certain noble matron, his godmother and an inhabitant of the Gâtine, had been falsely accused of adultery by her enemies, who wished (on account of her "crime") to confiscate her goods, he defended and freed this woman by a determined battle against her accuser. When he had done this he was greatly loved by all of her family, and indeed by all the nobles who bemoaned the stain on such a noble lady, and so his holdings around his father's castle of Landonense were greatly augmented.

After this the king gave him the viscounty of the city of Orléans as a benefice. Later, having become the royal representative at Tours, he defended that area vigorously from the Normans. Two nobles and priests of Tours, Adalaudus and Raino, brothers who were born nobly as citizens of Orléans, conferred on Ingelgerius, who was performing his duties wisely and justly, their niece Aelindis as a bride, handing over their own estates along with her by the permission of the king and nobles, goods which had come to them in the areas of Tours and Orléans by legitimate inheritance. Their ancestral estate was at Amboise, a small town near the hilltop ruins of an old castle destroyed some time ago by the wiles of the Normans. At the request of these priests, Louis had the castle rebuilt and fortified for Ingelgerius. These priests also got for him, by their intercession, half the count-ship of the city of Angers, because there was another count in Anjou, across the Mayenne. But each part of that territory, suffering the attacks now of the Normans, now of the Bretons, had been reduced to a great wasteland, along with the city. But since the king and the two bishops, and the other priests of France who were being compelled by the king to garrison the city, were all worn out by defending the city, Ingelgerius, in whose strength they all trusted, took up arms against the marauders in order to defend the city and its region, and was there made count. The things he then did were no less than had been hoped for; he waged many wars and won great victories over the enemy.

For a long time, as long as he lived, he turned back the fury of those who were growing fat, and restored peace to Anjou, except in the areas across the Mayenne. He commended Amboise to Robert, son of Haimo, a strong man and one who was faithful to him; this man held part of the fortress through heredity, and was Ingelgerius' liege-man. In the midst of all these affairs Ingelgerius died; his son Fulk, surnamed the Red, succeeded him. He did deeds which were the very image of his father's, and even greater, against the enemies.

On Fulk the Red

On the death of his father, in the time of king Louis Do-Nothing, Hugo duke of Burgundy was summoned and elected by the common counsel of the Franks to be the guardian of Louis' son Charles, who was still in wardship and unfit to rule the kingdom, since Louis himself was weakened by illness; Hugo was the boy's relative on his mother's side, as the histories say. This Hugo, a man noteworthy for his faith and virtue, was more fitted for this guardianship than the previous prince had been, and he hoped and wished to administer this duty for the liberation of his own country: and had the length of his life permitted it, he would have done so. Having taken up with Christian devotion and fidelity that power which at that time was called abbacomes[6], but which was later converted by his successors into the more arrogant word "dukedom," that prince received a share in the royal estates as a reward for his work. This was done by the bishops and the nobles of the whole realm, who gave him Neustria with the consent of the young king Charles. This name [Neustria] comprised all the lands between the Loire and the Seine, from the zone between Paris and Orléans down to the ocean. When this piece of land had been given to him whole, together with its cities and counties, abbacies and castles, excluding only the dioceses, which were retained as part of royal holdings, he wanted to strengthen the zeal of his counts and other chief men toward the defense of the area. For this reason he enriched them all with honors and rewards.

Now this man bestowed the whole of the county of Anjou, which had formerly been bipartite, upon Fulk the Red, joined to him in kinship through his grandmother, as it has been told to us. He also conferred on him the monasteries of St.-Aubin and St.-Lézin, both of which had formerly been royal possessions. All of these things Charles the Simple, son of Louis Do-Nothing the Stammerer, gave to him.

[A long passage follows in which Fulk the Red is described in terms drawn from Sallust's work on Catiline.]

This Fulk then took a noble wife from the country of Tours, Roscilla by name, daughter of Warnerius, who at that time owned three castles in the Touraine, the ones called Loches, Villentrasti and Haia, two of which Fulk thereafter acquired by unjust means. That Warnerius, whose daughter Fulk had married, was the son of Adelaudus, that is, of the man to whom Charles the Bald had given Loches. [...]

This Fulk lived a long time and saw his sons grow to adulthood; one of them, named Guido, who had been made bishop of Soissons by the abbacomes Hugh, did some peculiar things, but also a particularly noble and outstanding deed. Charles the Simple, whom we have said was the surviving son of Louis Do-Nothing, had been captured by the Normans: Guido offered himself as hostage in Charles' place, and freed him from his imprisonment.[7] Fulk the Red had another son, named Ingelgerius, a stong and martial youth. [Ingelgerius is then described in terms drawn from Sallust's work on Jugurtha]. In resisting the Normans he fought a number of excellent battles; by these men he was captured and killed, losing thus the light of his youth. And Fulk the Red had a third son, younger than the others, of whom we shall speak later. Now Fulk the Red, having reached old age, with the marauding of the Normans now calmed somewhat, sensing the nearness of death (since the light of his eyes was weakening), was suddenly pricked and made remorseful for the excesses of his life (for he is said to have been a weak man as far as concerned the wantonness of his lusts); through the lord Hervey bishop of Angers, a religious and God-fearing man, he made amends for his sins before God: for his redemption he bequeathed his entire treasury to the poor, and gave in perpetual alms to the monasteries of St.-Aubin and St.-Lézin, both of which had clerics living in them at the time, the excellent estate of Chiriacum, located by the Loire [929-930]. The clergy of St. Martin [of Angers], after this donation, were admitted to a sixth share of the revenues of the estate by the other two congregations.

Of Fulk who was surnamed "The Good"

After these things had happened, when Fulk the Red had died, another Fulk, his youngest son, who was surnamed "the Good," succeeded him. For one reads that he [Fulk the Red] had three sons: bishop Guido, Ingelgerius and this same Fulk. He was of a peaceful, calm and mild temperament. That best of men preferred to hear his own good deeds praised than to recite the deeds of others: he cultivated his good character both inpeace and in war: a sense of justice, a great concord, and the least greed distinguished him.[8] He fought no wars, because in his time peace had already been made with the Normans. For once their duke Rollo had been baptized with all his men, duke Hugo and the king of France granted to them the land they had held up to that time, once the Normans had sworn to serve France and to keep the peace. For Rollo, having been made a catholic Christian, took to wife Gilla, the daughter of Charles the Simple, and began to call the land which had been given to him Normandy. Furthermore, the Bretons were made tributaries of these Normans by order of the king and the duke.[9] These Bretons, on account of the treacheries they had committed previously, were so oppressed by the Normans that they could make none of their usual attacks and raid against their neighbors, the people of Anjou, Poitou, and Maine.

Now in those times, Fulk the second, the lover of all goodness, lived in peace, and was diverted by his studies of ecclesiastical piety and religion. He gave liberally to the church from his own pocket, as he greatly esteemed the cult and the honor of the Church of God. He had a special love and reverence for the church of St. Martin. He was enrolled in the college of the brethren of St. Martin's monastery at Tours, and rejoiced to be known as a canon there; on that saint's feast-days he stood in the choir with the singing priests, in clerical robes, following their discipline. On the occasions when he arranged to go there to celebrate certain of the yearly feasts, he would offer up a rich array of liturgical items; he lodged with the humblest of the priests, and always took care that the house where he was going to stay should be made beautiful with a splendid outlay of adornments; the idea being that, after he had departed, his host, formerly of modest means, should be enriched by the remains of the things which were left behind; he is known to have done this in not a few cases. Whenever he caught sight of the monastery, while approaching from the direction of Tours, he would at once get down from his horse and pray devotedly, prostrate on the ground, reminding himself of how lucky he was to enjoy the blessings of the saint's intercession.

So, in the time of that peace which had been granted by divine blessing, as was said above, to the country of Anjou, the same count worked as hard as he could to repair churches, the city and the territory. He saw to the improvement of livestock and cultivation and, desiring also to incite others by his example, he made recompense for the shortages of former times, which constant war had aggravated, with a great abundance of the fruits of the earth. At that time, many from foreign countries and from the provinces which lay nearby migrated into that country to live, both because of the merciful nature of the prince and the fruitfulness which was called forth from the earth there. For that land, because it had long lain fallow and had no crops sown there, had grown most rich, and at that time shone forth and responded with a marvelous fertility in its fruits and other goods of all kinds. That land was covered in many of parts by the increase of the forests. The new settlers cut down these forests and used the lands which were opened, and the land thus rewarded them with an easy labor.

Chronicle of Geoffrey Greymantle

This Fulk the Pious had three sons, of whom the eldest, Geoffrey, ruled as consul. Another, named Guido, was bishop of Puy. The youngest, called Drogo, was well-loved by Fulk, who had fathered him in his old age; he was trained in letters and the liberal arts, and succeeded his brother Guido as bishop of Puy, with the blessing of king Hugh. The consul Geoffrey, trained as a knight in the French style, a man full of martial vigor in arm and breast, proved himself outstanding over the course of many expeditions. He glowed with a special serenity, mercy flourished in him; he cultivated a special generosity, opposed his enemies fiercely, and protected his own people vigorously, all of which things befit the best of princes. Because of his outstanding and singular merit, the king made him and his heirs standard-bearers in battle and cup-bearers at the royal coronation; the count, wearing the nickname Greymantle, won the highest rewards for his uprightness.

In those days[10] the Dane Huasten raided the coastal regions of Gaul for three years, and finally went to his brothers Edward and Hilduin, who were consuls of Flanders, with fifteen thousand Danes and Saxons, having with him Hethelulf, a man of great size and strength, called Hautuin in the French language. The Danes and the Sueves ran all through the lands of the Franks, and did great harm to the towns and castles with their plunder and arson. When, with fire and sword and the aid of the Flemish, they had passed thorugh nearly all of the depopulated land near Flanders which the Franks inhabit, they decided to pass over to Paris and scatter terror all through that area. They then came into that pleasant and lovely valley called Montmorency, the castle of which they captured and fortified, and decided to stay for a while in the area of Paris. Out of fear of their daring the king ordered his nobles to gather from all quarters at the time of Pentecost at Paris, seeing that he himself had no resources to fight back with, since the Franks who had been compelled to take refuge within the walls of Paris did not dare try to break out. Day by day Hethelulf the Dane harangued the Frankish armies, and came before the city of Paris like another Goliath, looking to fight a single combat with one of the Franks. He vanquished and killed many knights from among the noblest and mightiest of the Franks; the king, stirred up with grief, forbade anyone else to venture forth to fight with him.

Geoffrey count of Anjou, when he had heard the royal messenger who was summoning him to come to the king's Pentecost court, made his arrangements for the castle of Landonense, which was his, before the appointed day, and came to Orléans a few days before the Ascension. There, when he had heard all about the strength and cruelty of the Dane, like a magnanimous man who hides his anger when talking with a friend, ordered his men to go before him to the castle of Landonense and await him there. Keeping only a single knight and two squires with him, he withdrew from his men in secret and stopped at Êtampes, warning his comrades to reveal themselves to no one.

The next day the consul set out secretly on his journey. He turned aside at the castle of St.-Germain, not far from the city of Paris, and ordered the miller who watched over the mills on the Seine to make him a fitting boat at [Geoffrey's] expense. Wishing to stay hidden, the consul spent the night in the miller's house. In the morning, with a single knight and his horse, he went across the Seine in the company of two millers. When he had seen and heard the Dane, the count growled and quickly mounted his horse and, leaving his friends in the boat, went forth alone to meet the Dane in an open field; the Dane road towards him, urging his steed on with his heels. The count pierced him through the breast, so that the lance came out through his armor, and thus struck him to the earth. The count withdrew unharmed, but the Dane, who had received a tremendous blow which had split his shield and breastplate, and whose lance was broken, withdrew the count's iron lodged in his left side and wounded the count's horse in its back leg. The count, seeing the Dane groaning and struggling to rise, savage-eyed and still full of menace, drew his own sword and cut off the Dane's head, like another David. Then he swiftly mounted his horse again and huried with the enemy's horse and his head, to the boat. On the other side, the count handed over the head to be brought into the city [Paris]. He himself returned in secret to his men at Landonense, ordering his friends along the way not reveal who he was.

Many were watching from the lookouts of the walls and ramparts and from the church-spires [of Paris]; though they did now know who he was, they envied his good fortune. The citizens, though, rejoiced in their lord Christ, and giving great thanks they scattered outside the city walls. The head-bearer then entered the city and, in the presence of the king, swore he did not know the knight's identity, as one he had never seen. But, if he were to see him, he was sure he would recognize him. The king, forming a plan in his heart, remained silent for the moment. Now the Danes, grieving and roused to great anger, fiercely beset the Franks and would on no account stop their attacks against them. They left Montmorency despoiled and aflame, and ravaged all the places of Senlis and Soissons up to Laon. Now on the appointed day the princes who had been summoned, namely the dukes and consuls and the magnates of all France, and all of those of high birth, known for their skill, gathered in the royal hall. Geoffrey count of Anjou, garbed in a tunic of that cloth which the French call grisetum[11], and we Angevins buretum, seated himself among the princes. Now the miller, who had been summoned for this purpose by the king, knew Geoffrey the moment he laid eyes on him and, with the king's permission, approached the consul with a joyous expression. On bended knee, having grasped the count's tunic, he said to the king and the others, "this man, in this grey shirt, struck down the Dane and lifted away the shame of the Franks, and struck terror into their army." The king proclaimed that thereafter he should be called Geoffrey Greymantle, and the whole assembly gave its assent.

While this was going on, messengers suddenly appeared, anouncing that the Danes had made camp in the valley of Soissons; innumerable Flemish knights had joined them, since they have a great many people in the duchy. When the king heard this, he addressed the nobles thus: "You see, best of men, that I cannot recount without great weeping the many calamities and difficulties with which the Frankish people have been beset. What can I say to the common people, when many of you, sprung from noble bloodlines, grow pale with hunger, and the plague of the Danes contaminates your labors? Already your fields, laid waste, are rarely if ever touched by the plow. Let not, I beseech you, the praise of the Franks be debased by our own negligence. O unbroken race [genus]! O unconquered people [gens]! Be not afraid. Things are at their worst, the battle at its most fierce, the enemy in his numbers is close by. Go forth, mightiest of knights! Behold, the hour of battle is at hand; stir up your warlike strength and show your ancestral might when the time comes. What good are words? Let each man now take counsel with himself." The nobility now worried over what the king had said. Some of them answered: "We can give no opinion about the battle at present, but we recommend that for the moment a truce be made, and battle be postponed until our strength is greater." But Geoffrey Greymantle, adding his own advice, spoke his opinion: "You, consular lords and illustrious men, light and flower of victorious France, honor and mirror of a battle-ready knighthood, fight on your own behalf, and lay down your souls for your brothers. Shall we watch the people, which committed itself to us and to the king, die unavenged? I see that you are all of one spirit, thanks be to God, and that none of you disagrees with his fellow. How does the lord differ from the serf, the noble from the commoner, the rich man from the poor, the knight from the footman, unless the advice of we who watch over them is of some good, unless our own aid protects them? If the Danes are to rule over me unpunished, I no longer want to live. Dying ingloriously is worth the same as being compared to stupid beasts, being likened to brute animals. All of you should hunger for battle, because you all believe this will be necessary for the common good. This is the course I myself suggest, and earnestly demand; I ask that we not die like slothful or imbecilic creatures, that we not be a disgrace and an infamy to all peoples."

At these words they all went forth, not without great sorrow on the part of those they were leaving behind. Neither these nor the ones who were leaving thought they would ever again enjoy the sight of the other; they rushed together in the kisses of loved ones, and all were moved to tears. They came then to the valley of Soissons and entered a valley, lovely in its levelness; there, each one disposed and decorated his own troops. The chief men discussed how the battle was to be fought, and this they entrusted to the Angevin Geoffrey. "Well," said Geoffrey, "each of you go and gather your men, and come to the battle with your troops when the sign is given. Then, where it is necessary, conduct the battle with lances and swords, and remember the deeds done and the blows struck by our fathers." Six lines were set up: five went out to sustain the brunt of the battle and to fend off the enemy's army with a fierce fight. The king came afterward, with his own troop, to see how the battle went, and to give aid, and to take up the battle if the Danes were winning out.

The trumpets blared, the horns resounded, a great cry from each side was heard; shield was thrust back by shield, boss was repelled by boss; once lances had been shattered, swords themselves were being notched and scarred. The ranks of the Danes and Flemish came up into hand-to-hand battle, overtook the French and began to drive them back. They were unable to withstand the rush of so many nations [nationes], but, staggering, began instead to contemplate retreat. So great was the [size] and noise of the cloud of missiles that the air itself seemed to grow dark. The king began to moan: he looked around at all his men like one gifted with second sight and said "O Christ, come to the aid of your Franks!" and to Geoffrey, who was carrying the king's standard, he added (by means of a messenger), "Geoffrey, spur on your swift steed and come to the aid of the tottering Franks. Be mindful, I beseech you, of your ancestors, that you in no way besmirch the reputation of the Franks." Geoffrey, guarded by the sign of the holy cross and surrounded by his followers, was quick among the armies, and was opposed by one of the bravest of the Danish knights. Geoffrey had ridden up against the heathen, to make the pennons of the royal standard dance in the faces of the Danes, and to put some fear into them with his loud battle-cry. With this advance by their chief centurion,[12] the Franks, taking courage again, rushed wildly on the Danes all at once with their weapons drawn. there was a great shattering of armor and weapons, and a clear fire flared from the bronze helms. Wounds were dashed against wounds and the fields were darkened with much blood. You would have seen hanging intestines, heads cut off, dismembered bodies on all sides. The Danes were seized with a swift and sudden terror; tottering in their ranks, they gave themselves up to flight. The Franks followed them, striking them down, slaying them, trampling them underfoot. Many knights and footmen died there, and their leaders were found thereafter, dead in the midst of five thousand of their troops. Having won a great victory, the Franks returned rejoicing to their own people, bring with them many captured horses and much plunder which they had taken in the battle. Then there was great rejoicing in France, and all gave the proper thanks to God.

Now it was from the regions of Germany that a new war arose. A certain Teuton of Swabia, called Edelthed, who was of the stock [genus] of Faramund and Clovis, was seeking the kingship of the Franks by hereditary right. With the aid of Otto, king of Italy, he assaulted Lotharingia and the upper parts of France. He complained publicly about the agreements king Hugh had made in a conference in the presence of Henry, duke of Lotharingia, Richard count of Normandy, and Geoffrey of Anjou, namely that Hugh should give up the kingdom of the Franks to him [Edelthed]; Edelthed felt that king Hugh should at least give him the leadership of France, as Hugh had possessed it once. He said that the rest of the princes and many of the magnates had pledged their faith to this. The others hesitated, and Geoffrey Greymantle got up and said : ... "I will not permit that you should rule over us. I deny that the king, or I or my colleagues has given an untrue oath." Bertold, brother of the duke of Saxony, a man perfectly made, offered to fight on the Teuton's behalf, and said "let our peers and equals judge what is best, for this is a dispute which cannot be quelled." The great men of each side were brought together, and heard the complaints of each party. A messenger was sent to one party and this answer came back to the waiting judges: "we have agreed among ourselves that whoever wins the case will hold the kingdom in peace; the other will leave the kingdom and live his life in peace." This was all granted, and put in writing by the bishop's hand, with the parties prepared to accede to it.

The queen, a kinswomen of Geoffrey of Anjou, sent him a part of the girdle of the blessed virgin Mary, which she had in her chapel, an item Charles the Bald had brought back from Byzantium; she ordered him to tie it around his neck, and assured him this would bring him victory. Geoffrey went forth to do battle, animated now by an even greater faith. Berthold was a man of such strength and hostility that it was believed no one would dare to come out against him. He said: "let him come, send him out. I shall smother him like a wretched puppy who has dared to enter a battle." Battle was joined, and the fight raged fiercely. Neither fell at the first onslaught, but Berthold was gravely wounded by the count between the shoulder blades, as he was turning his horse; his blood poured forth. Both fought fiercely and relentlessly, their brazen helms echoed, and no quarter was given them. Berthold fell from his horse, and got to his feet at once; the consul, full of zeal, got down as well. You would have seen their bodies drenched in blood and sweat, hands beating against hands, feet against feet, bodies against bodies. In the end Bertold's breastplate was broken and his entrails spilled, and that mightiest of warriors, Geoffrey Greymantle, was victorious. The Franks gave thanks to Christ, and they held a solemn celebration and offered fitting praises to God. The Theutons with their duke Edelthed returned in confusion to their own lands. Geoffrey sought permission from the king and queen to return to his own lands; the girdle was given to him, as he deserved, and he had it placed in the church of the blessed Virgin Mary in Loches, where he installed canons to live there and at the same time endowed the church richly from his own goods. After these things, with the enemy turned back and beaten down with God's favor, Geoffrey lived many years and ruled his lands in peace. [d. 987]. No one dared mutter a word against him. He brought forth many sons, of whom the youngest, called Maurice, outlived the others while their father was still alive.

Chronicle of the Consul Maurice

Maurice, the son of Geoffrey Greymantle, a prudent and honest man, a lover of peace and of the good, held his consulate more through wisdom than through wars. He knew well that the fruits of skill and virtue are at their best when conferred on one's close friends. For that reason he conferred many gifts [beneficia] on his family and those who were bound to him by true friendship, gifts concerning which Cicero says[13] that he who receives them should remember them, and he who gave them not bring them up. Maurice affirmed that superiors sometimes must sometimes bring themselves to the level of inferior friends, and that inferiors should not grieve to be surpassed by Maurice's men in skill, fortune or dignity. On these grounds he raised up many of his men and brought them to the highest honors. [A passage describing Maurice in terms from a classical text follows]. He took to wife a woman from the countryside of A., daughter of Haimo consul of Saintonge, niece of Raymond count of Poitou; from this woman Fulk Nerra was born.[14]

Against Maurice there rose up a certain scoundrel, full of guile and every evil, Landric of Dun (?), who had hatched many plots against the consulate of Anjou, and he unjustly beset the faithfu men of the count in Loches and Amboise with many labors. The consul Geoffrey, the father of Maurice, had bequeathed Amboise on this Landric, and had also given to him a well-fortified house in the southern part of Chateauneuf. This man gave back to Geoffrey's son Maurice a recompense which God never knew, namely bad things for good. He thought he would take Amboise from the consul, trusting in the advice of Odo of Champagne, who held Blois, Tours, Chartres, Bria, and Champagne, with the city of Troyes, all the way up to Lotharingia. Coming down through Tours and Langeais, he besieged Valeia, with the help of Gelduin of Saumur, who held Saumur, Ucceum, and many other holdings in the territory of Tours and Blois, in fief from the aforesaid Odo. Two brothers, Archenbaud of Buscenschaicus and Supplicius the treasurer of St. Martin, opposed Landric; they were both well-trusted by the consul, and held part of the fort of Amboise by hereditary right. They had a fortified house in Amboise, in a place where the treasurer, after his brother's death, had built a stone fortress. he often attacked Landric and his allies from this property and from that of the count.

Maurice was troubled by a grave illness, and so he spoke to his son Fulk, already grown up and a powerful knight, in this way: "My son, no house is tiny which has many friends. Let me urge you to hold dear those who have been faithful friends to both of us, lest otherwise you spare the evil men who would love to escape their punishment. The evil are always jealous of the good. As Seneca says, it is easier for a poor man to escape contempt than a rich man to escape envy: he who spares the bad people harms the good ones.[15] I can see that you, thank God, have all the uprightness of your ancestors. For this I now rejoice, and order you to take over the treasury, and your brother." With this the distinguished man bowed to nature [and died].

Of Fulk Nerra

Fulk Nerra ... a youth of no modest build, began to defend the consulate vigorously from its many enemies. New wars were always emerging out of nowhere against the new prince. At the admonition of that most evil Landric, Odo of Champagne and Gelduin of Saumur tried to expel Fulk from Tours, thinking they could wrest Amboise and Loches from the count. The opportunities of the present time suggested this plan to them, for the treasurer Supplicius, his brother newly dead, ruled Amboise by himself, responsible only to the consul. Nor did this wise hero [Fulk] delay in hastening to expose himself to danger and to punish the enemy. When he had gathered as much of an army as he could, he boldly entered the land of his enemies, and, going beyond Blois, he arrived at Chateaudun. The inhabitants of the castle, girt with the knightly belt and protected by armor, began to prepare themselves like a garrison; gathering together quickly they assaulted the consul and his men. The Angevins held off their frequent charges until evening. When they tried to withdraw they were unable to fend off the enemy's rushes, since the men of Chateaudun were pressing at the backs of those who were trying to flee. The consul's men, since they could no longer sustain the battle nor put the others to flight, gathered together and tried to go back and fight. The men of Amboise had been sent ahead, and the Angevins now completely surrounded them and defeated them. The men of Chateaudun now were taken by fear and, scattering, tried to flee. The count, fighting in his own castle put them to flight. Many of the commoners were captured, while others were put to the sword. They rested there for the night, holding twenty knights captive, tied up with the rest of the prisoners, under guard. The next day they plundered the land and did great harm to its serfs. Having experienced the joy of victory, they returned to Amboise on the third day.

At Amboise the consul besieged the house of Landric; his men gathered and beset the house so fiercely that they forced those in the house to give up all hope of resistance. Knowing they could not resist, and knowing they could not evade the punishments and death they deserved if captured, they began to negotiate via messengers: they would give up the house, if the count spared their lives. When counsel had been taken, it seemed good to all that so great a danger be removed without any risk to the besiegers. So life was granted to them and the house, once it had been handed over, was completely destroyed. Landric and his men were expelled from the castle. From there the count, crossing the Loire, stopped at a house he hasd secured, once called Caramantus, now Villa Moranni. >From there he entered Valeia, going through Semblenchiacum, which he had also secured for himself, and through the land of his vassal and friend Hugh of Alvia, who was said to be lord of the castle called Castellum and also of St.-Christophe; finally he descended into Anjou, to the displeasure of the citizens of Tours. Fulk took Mirebeau and Loudun, as well as Chinon, which belonged to Odo, as well as Saumur and Monsorellum; from there he made war on the men of L'Isle-Bouchard, and returned to Loches through the land of Guenon, which belonged to lord Noaster. Then count Fulk, having finished his business, installed a warlike man, exceptionally skilled at arms, Lisois of Basogerio (Baugé?), nephew of the viscount of St.-Susanne, at Loches and Amboise, and ordered the knights, greater and lesser alike, to obey him. This man [Lisois] had brothers, kinsmen and many relations, all of whom stayed with him of their own will.

For whoever, as Boethius says, "leaves an established rank, will not have a happy end."[16]

Conan, count of Brittany, wanting to exceed the bounds of his consulate,[17] scorned Fulk and, trusting in the strength of his four sons, did not cease to ravage the borders of Anjou. There was a river, the Mayenne, not last among the rivers of the west, which washed Anjou with its gentle waters, which a bridge of stone embraced, ready to suffer the waters of winter.[18] Conan and his sons wanted their consulate to extend to this river. When Conan realized that Fulk had left Anjou, he himself went to the royal court at Orléans; meanwhile he ordered his sons to hurry to Anjou and search out milder lands. When his sons heard that Fulk was absent they were overjoyed, sure they would prevail over the Angevins, whom they thought were few and unarmed. While the consuls awaited the king at Orléans, Fulk withdrew into a house to relieve himself. Conan came into the main chamber of the house, so that Fulk was separated from him only by the width of a wall, and told his men that in four days his sons would be at the gates of Angers, destroying all before them. When the count had heard this he rushed off to their aid, pretending he was going to the castle of Landonense, and rode night and day, changing horses often; he ordered those of his men whom he met on the way to follow him. At evening of the second day he entered Anjou secretly, and gathered together many knights and footmen outside the city. On the appointed day the Bretons rushed impetuously up to the gates of the city. Fulk and his men rushed swiftly down on them from hiding; they killed some, and chased after the others, whom they had put to flight. For when they [the Bretons] realized the consul had returned, the enemy no longer had the courage to resist. In this manner, being dispersed, each fled as quickly as he could. Two of Conan's sons died in the battle, and innumerable footsoldiers; the other two sons were captured, along with many knights, barons and footsoldiers. Fulk returned at once to the royal court, and, on the day the king arrived, he and one of his knights, riding the dappled horse of Alan, Conan's eldest son, dismounted before the king's hall. The Bretons asked where the horse had been gotten: the truth was made known, and announced to Conan. Then Conan bewailed his fate and wept before the king, and sought peace from the bishops; with the intervention of king Robert, and Richard duke of the Normans (who was married to Conan's daughter Judith), peace was made. Conan's eldest son Alan was redeemed, together with his brother. All the captives were freed after the payment of a fit price, and Fulk possessed in peace the consulate of the land over the Mayenne.

By his wife Fulk fathered Geoffrey Martel and a daughter called Adela. Fulk, a God-fearing man, went to Rome on a pilgrimage, and, having accepted with blessings a papal letter, set out again for Jerusalem, which at that time the Gentiles held. When he got to Constantinople he met Robert duke of Normandy, who was making one and the same journey. Now Richard, duke of Normandy, had two sons by Judith, daughter of Conan count of Brittany, named Richard and Robert. Richard, the eldest, was poisoned by his brother Robert. Robert, to make satisfaction to God for this crime, set off barefoot on this journey in the seventh year of his dukedom. Before this event Robert had fathered William, the worthy man who acquired England, by a concubine. When Fulk had found Robert and joined up with him, he handed the papal letter over to the emperor. These two were then led at the emperor's order through the lands of the Saracens by the men of Antioch, who had been present there by chance and joined them. Robert died while traveling through Bithynia. Fulk came to Jerusalem under a safe-conduct. He was unable to enter the city gate, where pilgrims were vigorously urged to give up their money to gain entry. When he had paid the fee both for himself and for other Christians who were lingering in the area of the gate, unable to enter, he and these others went swiftly into the city; but the cloisters of the tombs were also closed to them. For [the Saracens], knowing him to be a man of quick temper, mocked him, and said he would never get to the tomb he wanted to see unless he were to urinate upon it and upon the holy cross. The prudent man, though unwilling, agreed to this. A ram's bladder was found, cleaned and washed and filled with the best wine and then placed between the count's thighs. Shoeless, he approached the Lord's Sepulchre, and let the wine flow forth upon it; he freely entered the tomb with his companions, and prayed there with an outpouring of many tears. Soon, when the hard stone had grown soft, he sensed the divine power, and, kissing the tomb he was able to tear out a piece of it with his teeth and hide it; unbeknownst to the gentiles, he took it away with him. Fulk, giving large gifts to the poor, was worthy of receiving a piece of the Lord's cross from the Syrians who were guarding the tomb. Returning then to Loches [i.e. in France], he built a church to the honor of the Lord's Sepulchre beyond the river A., namely at Beaulieu, and installed monks and an abbot there. At Amboise, in the church of the virgin Mary, he placed a piece of the True Cross and a pair of thongs with which Christ's hands were bound. In that church, in Fulk's time, the body of the blessed Florentinus, which had been brought from the countryside of Poitou, was placed. There he installed canons, as well as Supplicius, the treasurer of St. Martin.

Men at that time were complaining about Odo of Champagne, Gelduin of Saumur and Geoffrey the young, lord of St.-Aignan, who had afflicted Fulk's land and men with many insolences during the year and a half Fulk spent abroad. Gelduin, in fact, had fortified the court of St.-Pierre of Pontlevoy as though it were his own property; there were not yet monks there. Fulk, though, went and built a fortress called Montrichard on a mountain near the river Cher, which was part of the personal estate of Gelduin and the fief of the archbishop of Tours, once the towns of Reabblus Nobilis and Nanteuil (?), which lay between Montrichard and the river, had been destroyed; both towns were part of Gelduin's fief. He set up Roger Diaboler, lord of Montresor, as guardian of Montrichard. Meanwhile Odo had gathered a great host of knights and footsoldiers in Blois to destroy Montrichard. When Fulk heard this he took his best knights and footsoldiers, joined up and allied with Herbert, consul of Le Mans, and went out to meet Odo. Odo, as was his way, trusted in the great numbers of his troops, and so crossed the Brenne River. Fulk, leaving Amboise, came to a place near Pontlevoy. Herbert rode up to the bank of the Cher and made camp there. What more is there to say? Odo, thunderstruck, stood with his heart frozen, not believing the Angevins would dare to fight with him. To his men he said briefly: "Pour out all your strength; let each one who wishes to see his homeland and his dear kinsmen, his offspring and his chambers and his abandoned goods, look to his sword ..."[19] Battle was joined. Fulk and his men were hard pressed; Fulk, falling from his horse, was heavily struck. The men of Blois had almost attained the victory, and would have if a messenger had not gone straight to Herbert and warned him that Fulk had been beaten and captured. After this rumor had run through the whole army count Herbert, an extremely fierce warrior, flew with his fellow warriors to the battlefield. There were some unexpected friends whom he had summoned, who were keeping the enemy busy on the left wing. For a long time the Angevins bore up under the blows of battle; it pleased Christ to confer strength on them, and riddle their enemies with confusion. Odo's knights could not withstand the ferocious blows of the men of Le Mans and Anjou, and were put to flight, leaving their footsoldiers in the camps to be slaughtered. When the Angevins had dismembered these men at will, they pursued the fugitives as far as they were able or dared, striking down all the knights whom they could catch. When about six thousand had been killed or captured, the remainder escaped, each one going where he could. When the enemy had been put to flight and slaughtered, the victors proceeded to despoil their castles, collected the best of the plunder and returned to Amboise, enriched by the number and ransom of their captives.

The following year, when Odo of Champagne was being attacked by the duke of Lotharingia, Fulk, that modest and prudent man, built a fortress at Montboyau to put pressure on the city of Tours, which he greatly desired to possess. Odo on the other hand soon besieged this fort, bringing with him a great multitude, drawn from different peoples [gentes], with Gelduin of Saumur rushing up with all of his men as well. Fulk likewise got together as many men as he could in Valeia and, taking some good advice, since he neither dared nor was able to fight, crossed the Loire and rode the whole night; he found Saumur empty of defenders and entered it at the crack of dawn, taking the whole town up to the fortress itself. Those within the fortress had no hope for relief, no place to flee to, only the indignity of surrender. They knew the Angevin race was fierce and warlike, and that they would not give up something they had undertaken until they had gained everything they wished for. They knew further that they were utterly without mercy. Therefore they made satisfaction to the consul under the law of surrender. They said: "You must let us leave the fortress unharmed, protect us from those butchers, and let us serve you and remain alive." When he had heard this the count accepted them with the honor of liberty, and honored them with a great festival. When it became known that he had done this and that he had joined the freed men to himself, this induced others to surrender as well. When the fortress was taken and its attendants sent away, he ordered that watchful men be found to guard the castle.[20]

Fulk, having gained Saumur as he had wished, later got ready to go, and went over to near Chinon, crossing the Vienne between Noaster and L'Isle Bouchard on a bridge made of boats, and besieged Montbazon. Odo withdrew from the siege of Montboyau and set his path toward Fulk's army. The clever Fulk, abandoning the siege, withdrew to Loches and made camp in a field. So each one rested, having sent his army home. When Odo was at Blois, his messenger told him that Germans, with the duke of Lotharingia, had besieged Bar-sur-l'Aube. Hastening home, Odo pursued the Germans, who had already come up into Lotharingia. He fought with them and, though gravely wounded, came out the victor; but he died on the battlefield not long after, and his son Thibaut succeeded to his lands [1037]. Menawhile Fulk besieged and captured Montbazon, and handed it to Guillaume de Mirebeau to guard. Arraud of Breteuil (?) and other traitors handed over their lord Geoffrey, prince of St.-Aignan, to Fulk; later, when Fulk was absent, the same man was strangled in prison in Loches by his betrayers. The count then gave to his seneschal Lisois as a wife the niece of Supplicius the treasurer(to whom he had given the fortress of Amboise with all its lands) and also gave him Virnullium and Maureacum and the "vicarage" of Champagne. Thus, retaining his lands, he passed them on to his son [Geoffrey] Martel. The land was quiet and in peace then up to the death of Fulk, who in truth did not live much longer [d. 1040].


[1]Much of this introductory peroration is drawn from the writing of the Roman historian Sallust, specifically his works on Catiline and Jugurtha (1st century BC). Sallust's words are indicated by italics here; our author has often pieced them together in a way which completely reverses Sallust's meaning.

[2]The "he" here is not identified.

[3]A reference to Cicero's De Senectute XV.

[4]The italiziced passage is from De Senectute III, 9.

[5]The boy's grandfather was Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne.

[6]That is, a count who is also a lay abbot, that is, has control of a monastery.

[7]Here the author confuses Charles the Simple with king Louis IV; the events described took place in 945.

[8]The italicized words are from Sallust's work on Catiline.

[9]This is a Norman tradition, but there is no good evidence that this happened, since Brittany was outside the control of the French king in the early 10th century.

[10]The following story is perhaps drawn from old epic poems, now lost, in which Geoffrey Greymantle appears as the hero; the tale is similar in tone and style to 12th century chansons de geste, such as the Song of Roland.

[11]A coarse woollen cloth.

[12]The author here and elsewhere seems to rely on classical texts and terms for description of these battles.

[13]Cicero, De Amicitia 20.72.

[14]The woman's genealogy is probably made up, in order to justify later Angevin claims on Saintonge.

[15]Seneca, De moribus 114 and 133.

[16]Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy 2/6:21-22.

[17]A curious phrase which suggests the author tended to refer to a variety of territorial lords as "consuls."

[18]Italicized text from Lucan, Pharsalia IV.13-16.

[19]Italicized material is from Lucan, Pharsalia 339, 344-349.

[20]Saumur was captured ca. 1026.


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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Paul Halsall May 1997


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