Session 4: Lordship, History, and the Dominae of Northern France: Rebellion and the Countess

Rebellion and the Countess

Heather J. Tanner (Ohio State University)

This paper spoke about rebellion and retribution during the reign of King Philip II Augustus of France. It also examines how some nobles fought and lost at the Battle of Bouvines (1214) and punishments that resulted from it for their wives, whom the French king held as also being responsible.

Rebellion was formally defined as a man who attacks his lord before renouncing his loyalty. In order to obtain proper justice legally, the man had to renounce his fealty and wait 40 days to seek retribution. During the first half of the 13th century, rebellion was still not considered treason.

Tanner suggests that all heirs male or female were required to swear homage to the King Philip. During his reign, the Captien King was increasing his control over northern France through steep relief payments, and demanding fortifications, land, and increasingly large payments from heiresses.

Phillip focused his attention on securing the allegiance of the lords in Normandy who had close ties to the English. The County of Flanders was added to the royal domain in 1183. The marriage between the Count’s daughter and Philip created the County of Artois. This alliance led to dissension over this territory with this dispute not being resolved until Christmas of 1199. In 1202, Count Baldwin went on Crusade and was killed two years later. His two heirs, both daughters, were taken control over by Philip, who marries them off. In the deal to secure the marriage of Jeanne of Flanders with Ferdinand of Portugal , the French king is give control over two important Flemish towns. This leads to war with Ferdinand, (Jeanne’s husband) up to 1214.

At Bouvines, Ferdinand is captured and held prisoner until 1231. Jeanne is allowed to rule Flanders under royal supervision. Tanner finds other examples of the treatment of the wives of defeated nobles and notes that of four countesses she studied, one was allowed to keep her property, two were deprived of lands but later regained it. Tanner believes that reasons for the treatment of these wives was mostly determined by political necessity rather than any overall policy by King Philip.

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