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Grard d'Auvergne and Ramnulf de Poitou:

relationships in the Frankish nobility


by Steven S. Green
2013, Russellville KY, USA

Despite rapid strides in the study of the Frankish nobility, an enigma concerning Grard d'Auvergne and his son Ramnulf continues to haunt scholarship. As with Robert le Fort, for whom the building of consensus on an identification took so long, a complex set of clues drives analysts to vigorous debate over the blood ties of these particular ninth century figures. The arguments to follow will put forward, if not a verifiably correct solution to the problem, at least clear evidence that such a solution could be hiding in plain sight, taunting our inability to perceive the logic which only truth itself can engender. Certain relevant statements in historically reliable souces, criteria which should be met in any model, are assumed as factual by scholars: those of Admar de Chabannes, who informs that Ramnulf, son of Grard, is a consanguineus (one with common ancestry) of Raino II, Comte d'Herbauges, and that Ramnulf's son, Rainulf II, is a cousin of Guillaume le Pieux; that of the Vita Hludovici Pii describing Grard as a gener or son-in-law of Ppin I d'Aquitaine; and the identification by Abbon de Fleury in De Bellis Parisiac of Ramnulf's son Ebalus, Abb de Saint-Denis as nepos (nephew, sometimes in a broad sense) of Rorico's son Gauslin. This last piece of information is the basis for the widespread belief that Ramnulf married a daughter of Rorico. Who was the first wife of Grard and mother of Ramnulf, Comte de Poitou? Historians reject allegations that she was a daughter of Emperor Louis I with good reason, for nothing in any historical record supports this too good to be true scenario. Moreover, it is everywhere agreed that the second wife of Grard, a daughter of Ppin, King of Aquitaine (Mathilde, one is convinced) cannot have been Ramnulf's mother, chronologically. Did Grard first marry a Rorgonide? Is Rorico I, Comte du Maine, the father-in-law of Grard? This latter idea of Settipani flies in the face of the conventional model espoused by Levillain in which Ramnulf marries a daughter of Rorico. Obviously, the two theories are mutually exclusive, as a Christian man can scarcely marry his own mother or aunt. The reasoning herein postulates the accuracy of the original interpretation, that Ramnulf did marry a daughter of Rorico; nevertheless, the overall objectivity of Settipani's idea will be found not entirely devoid of merit. The degree of inbreeding tolerated by society and the Church must be assessed in light of the

very broad parameters of compliance exercised among the Franks, and this will allow for a common sense interpretation of the chroniclers' report concerning the relationship of Raino and Ramnulf. First, however, the unambiguous comment of Admar de Chabannes must be addressed, whereby Ramnulf/Rainulf II, son of Ramnulf, is revealed as a cousin of Guillaume le Pieux, Duc d'Aquitaine. There are only so many ways this can occur. Having already abandoned the terra firma of Levillain's model, Settipani resorts to the risky policy of inventing a wife for Ramnulf among the Guilhemides (family of Guillaume de Gellone), a tree which is not so poorly documented. A far simpler, more streamlined and credible explanation is that Grard, Ramnulf's father, is somehow ancestral to Guillaume, and indeed he is found to be so on this wise. Guillaume's father, Bernard Plantevelue, it is without dispute, married Ermengarde, daughter of Bernard, Comte d'Auvergne and Liegardis, or Lieutgarde. In this discussion, the identity of Bernard Comte d'Auvergne is not important (and his ancestry is uncertain), although it is somewhat helpful to hear that he is traditionally known by the surname de Chlon de Vergy. As for Lieutgarde, some report only that she married Foulques de Limoges, while others state that this was her second marriage, Bernard d'Auvergne having died in 868, Foulques surviving until 883. Among each set of informants there is a faction identifying Liegardis/Lieutgarde as the daughter of Grard d'Auvergne, and no clear, apparent motive for fabricating such a tale (if it were lies) comes to mind. This claim deserves a fair trial, and should be weighed against the complete absence of any tradition suggesting that Ramnulf married a sister of Bernard Plantevelue, which is the foundation of Settipani's attempt to explain the cousinage of Ramnulf II and Guillaume le Pieux". The conclusion here must be that Lieutgarde, believed to have been born circa 825, is the full sister of Ramnulf, and half-sister of Grard d'Aurillac, son of Mathilde. It might seem reasonable to surmise that in the absence of any powerful protector, having lost her father Grard at Fontenoy in 841, her brother Ramnulf at Brissarthe in 866, and her husband Bernard in 868, that bereaved and over 40, she might turn to her half-brother Grard, who held the County of Limoges, for aid in securing a new, virile young husband. The otherwise obscure Foulques de Limoges, then makes perfect sense as a loyalist, recruited locally by Grard d'Aurillac, for the purpose of such an arranged marriage. Therefore, it could be argued that the surname of Lieutgarde's second husband Foulques supports the suggestion that she was the daughter of Grard. If this is correct, then Rainulf II was a first cousin to Ermengarde, wife of Bernard Plantevelue, and a first cousin, once removed to Guillaume le Pieux, in more or less complete vindication of Admar de Chabannes. It may be noted in passing that a few apparently deviant genealogies show Bernard, Comte d'Auvergne as a son of Grard. This could then be dismissed as a not totally incomprehensible corruption of what is suggested here as true.

The office of Comte d'Auvergne may then be viewed as having devolved through the generations of Grard's family as follows. Grard died in battle in 841, leaving his brother Guillaume to be nominated to the honor and to survive until 846. At some point, Bernard de Chlon de Vergy, the putative son-in-law of Grard, became Comte d'Auvergne, through the good graces of Lieutgarde, it may be supposed. At length, and perhaps after a hiatus of some years, presuming the death of Bernard circa 868, the thread would again be picked up, this time by the husband of Lieutgarde's daughter Ermengarde, Bernard Plantevelue, who was named Comte d'Auvergne some time after 872. All this is indicative of a loyalty to the Frankish crown spanning generations, the remarkably advanced status of women in the Frankish power structure, and the consistent application of long term, de facto recognition of faithful service even in the absence of a hereditary system of lands and titles. This lends a substantive plausibility to the proposal that Lieutgarde was Grard's daughter and shuts the door somewhat on alternative theories as to how Rainulf II and Guillaume le Pieux happen to be cousins. Specialists in onomastics might be asked whether the name Lieutgarde could be a feminine adaptation of the masculine name Liuthard which occurs in the family of Grard, Comte de Paris. This might support the Levillain/Settipani concept that Grard d'Auvergne was descended from the Grardide Counts of Paris. Clearly, Settipani thought that the blood of the Counts of Maine flowed in the veins of Ramnulf. About that, he is apparently not wrong, but it is not from Rorico. Neither can it be from Rorico's father Gauslin, who shall hereafter be called Gauslin II to distinguish him from Gauslin, Bishop of le Mans in the preceding generation. At this stage it is seen necessary to coin the term Rothgaride, in the expectation that Raino II, Comte d'Herbauges will ultimately be found in a different branch of the family from which Rorico is descended. There, the true common ancestor of Rainulf II and Raino II will finally be allocated. Had Grard d'Auvergne married the daughter of a brother or cousin of Gauslin II, one also ancestral to Raino I, perhaps his father, two conditions would be met. Firstly, (and here it is assumed, for the expediency of the argument, that Raino II is the son of Raino I) ecclesiatic prohibitions against incest would not be violated when Ramnulf married Rorico's daughter, and secondly, the term consanguineus could be applied in its strict definition to Ramnulf and Raino II, Comte d'Herbauges, in total vindication of Admar de Chabannes. Either Bilichildis, widow of Bernard, Comte de Poitiers as of 844, or her sister would be granddaughters of Gauslin II. Ramnulf would be a grandson of Grard d'Auvergne's putative Rothgaride father-in-law, but in the worst case, Ramnulf and whichever daughter of Rorico would have, as common great-grandparents, either Herv, son of Rothgar and his wife, or Gauslin, Bishop of le Mans, son of Rothgar and his wife. Ramnulf and the daughter of Rorico would be second cousins, and sufficiently distant that the church should not have interfered.

The information about the early Rothgarides is insufficient to make any statement with too much certainty, other than the fact that an ancestor of Raino II must also be an ancestor of Grard's first wife, and that this man cannot be Rorico or his father Gauslin II. For Grard to have married a sister of Raino I is only one example of how this might occur.

SOURCES: Cawley, Charles. Medieval Lands, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy Pichot, Henri. Bienvenue sur l'arbre de Henri Pichot: Grard d'Auvergne. Wikipdia. Ramnulf Ier de Poitiers

ALSO SEE: GRARD D'AUVERGNE AND RAMNULF DE POITOU genealogical chart entitled

Ramnulf/ Liegardis sibling theory