Now primarily known as the grandfather of the celebrated Queen of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, William IX was the son of Duke William VIII of
and Audearde of Burgundy. Described by the writer Alison Weir as intelligent, gifted, artistic and idealistic, he was infamous for an “insatiable thirst for sensual passion and adventure” (Weir, 9). Historians consider him the first Troubadour and his poems were both erotic and often blasphemous (Weir, 9). Though his poetry offended the sensibilities of the Church, they also extolled the virtues of women and helped establish the concept of courtly love, creating the codes of courtesy, chivalry, and gentlemanly conduct that permeated European culture for centuries afterward (Weir, 9). Flamboyant and daring, William IX referred to himself as “Duke of the Entire Monarchy of the Aquitanians” (Weir, 9). His amoral behaviour constantly put him at risk of excommunication and he only avoided the sentence of anathema on one occasion by famously forcing a Bishop to absolve him after charging into the cathedral with a drawn sword (Weir, 9). He married twice and had many lovers, his most famous lover being a Viscountess named Dangerosa. Aquitaine
In 1115, while still married to his second wife Phillipa (daughter of the King of Aragon), William IX desired the wife of one of his vassals, the Viscountess Dangerosa. With no regard for the consequences of his actions, he “abducted her from her bedchamber and bore her off to his palace at
”(Weir, 13). Neither his wife’s remonstrance nor the threat of excommunication swayed him from his purpose. When the papal legate, Giruad, was sent to reason with the Duke, William IX responded by telling the “bald legate that curls would grow on his pate before he would part with the Viscountess” (Weir, 13). When excommunication followed, the Duke defiantly responded by having “Dangerosa’s portrait painted on his shield, saying that ‘it was his will to bear her in battle as she had borne him in bed’”(Weir, 13). A grief stricken Phillipa finally gave up on her husband and retired to Fontevrault Abbey, dying of unknown causes a few years later and Duke William IX continued his illicit affair with the beautiful Viscountess until his own death, which happened while he was still an excommunicate on 10 February 1127. Poitiers
Six years before the death of William IX, both he and Dangerosa arranged for their children, from both their legal marriages, to be married. In 1121, Dangerosa’s daughter, Aenor, by Aimery I de Rochefoucauld, Viscount of Chatellerault and William IX’s heir, by Phillipa, the future Duke William X of Aquitaine became husband and wife. The first child of this celebrated union was a daughter named Eleanor, who became Duchess of Aquitaine and the future Queen of England.
Weir, Alison. Eleanor of
. Aquitaine : Ballantine Books, 1999 New York