William Ramnulfids, Duke William IX of Aquitaine, Count of Poitiers; and Dangereuse de l’Isle Bouchard, Countess of Châtellerault (His Mistress).
William IX of Aquitaine is one of my favorite historical characters of the middle ages. Not only was he crusader, he was also one of the first troubadours. Also, William IX was the grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of my favorite Queens. In 1088, at the age of fifteen William became Duke of Aquitaine, one of the most richest, most powerful duchies, and vassels of the Frankish Kingdom. He married Phillipa of Toulouse in 1094. Sometimes it is said that William IX had a wife before Phillipa, but that is disputed. I will chose to say that Phillipa was his first marriage, since that is a known fact, as they had several children together (2 sons and five daughters).
In 1101, William took the cross and set out in the Second Crusade, which ended up being and unsuccessful disaster. William was not known as a great leader or general, but as a poet and musician, and his forces were destroyed by the Seljuk Turks. He only escaped to Antioch with a handful of men.
Back at home, William was always in hot water with the Church. He was a constant pain to the Pope. The Pope excommunicated him twice. The first time was over tax rights of the Church. It was a funny story that the Bishop was reading the excommunication when William threatened him by sword saying that he had to give him absolution before he read it. The Bishop did, and then finished quickly, saying the absolution was not valid. When the Bishop presented his neck for the Duke to strike with his sword, the Duke is said to have changed his mind and say, “I don’t love you enough to send you to paradise.”
The second excommunication was even more interesting. Duke William desired one of his vassal’s wives, the Viscountess Dangerose. He abducted her and made her his lover openly, and she did to little protest. They happened to be madly in love with each other, and he kept her a willing prisoner in the tower of his castle in Poitiers. This caused much drama with his wife for some reason. Phillipa appealed to many for help, but no one could help her. Duke William was overlord and none dared to go against him. Humiliated and heart broken Philippa entered a convent, where she died shortly after. Her death did not allow Dangerose to become the wife of the Duke, as she was still married to the Viscount of Chatellerault. The Pope demanded that Duke William to return the Viscountess to her husband. William refused and was excommunicated again. He was absolved and readmitted to the Church only after making many generous contributions. William also married his heir, also named William to, Aenor of Chatellerault, Dangerose’s daughter by her husband.
For awhile, William busied himself with fighting alongside Spain in an effort to regain Spanish territories controlled by Moorish/Islamic rulers. He died in 1126.
A Song Written By Duke William IX: