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Carolingian kingdom of Aquitaine, which came to an end in 877, had extended from the Loire to the Pyrenees. Its centre had been Berri and Auvergne, and its capital seems for some time to have been Bourges. Its ancient dependence upon the king of the Franks is attested by the numerous charters of the tenth century which include the phrase, 'rex Francorum et Aquitanorum.' After 877, the duchy,—as it now became—was a cause of strife between the great counts of the south and west, the counts of Poitou and Auvergne within the borders of Aquitaine, the count of Toulouse without. The counts of Auvergne held the title between 885 and 927; it then came to Raymond of Toulouse; finally, sometime after 950, it was attached to the count of Poitou. From this time Auvergne ceased to be the centre of the duchy, and the titles of Poitou and Aquitaine, though they are distinguished in the charters at the end of the twelfth century, became almost synonymous. The effect of these changes was to shake the allegiance of the states on the border. Gascony broke away, and was only restored between 1037 and 1060, partly by conquest, partly by rights of inheritance in the counts of Poitou. The greater part of Berri, including the viscounty of Bourges and the county of Bourbon, attached itself to the king; the rest, divided into the great lordships of Déols, Châteauroux and Issoudun, recognised the count of Poitou as suzerain.2 Auvergne also recognised the new dukes (955) and was administered by viscounts who, like the viscounts of Chartres and Anjou, assumed the title of Count. 3 Similarly the Limousin which had possibly held of Toulouse in the ninth century, came to
1. Modern historians have enlarged upon the folly of Louis VII in adding the title 'dux Aquitanorum' to his name after his marriage with Eleanor, as though he were not overlord of Aquitaine already. See Lot, Fideles ou Vassaux ? pp. 49–50. Louis surrendered the title in 1154. Delisle, Introduction, p. 131.
2. Longnon, Atlas, Texte, p. 218.
Aquitaine in the tenth; its lords, like those of Turenne, Thouars, and Châtellerault, who were also dependent upon the counts of Poitou, retained the old title of viscount. Périgord, and those counties of Gévaudan, Brioude and Velay, which gave access from the west to the Rhone, were also in Aquitaine. Querci was definitely attached, on the other hand, to the great county of Toulouse. These states on the borders were the stakes in the long game which the Capetians and Plantagenets played against each other. To defend them or subdue them needed men and money; and in getting men and money Henry II made changes which affected the future history of England and Normandy. The meaning of the ‘scutage of Toulouse,' with which he paid his way in his first campaign, is still far from clear, but at the least it reminds us of this.
This bald summary is sufficient to suggest the extent to which the duchy of Aquitaine was divided as compared with Normandy or Anjou; and the shifting politics of the several states in their relations to their suzerain or to each other simply reflected on a larger scale their internal chaos. The congenial spirit of this distraction was voiced by the songs of Bertrand of Born; its nature is revealed for us in the passionate struggle between the counts of Auvergne and the bishop of Clermont, in the lamentations of harassed and weary travellers, in the awful ravages of the cottereaux of Berri or Gascony, with the equally terrible punishments which they suffered.1 It was in the heart of this country, at le Puy-en-Velay, that, in 1182, the country folk, worn out by evil, gathered round the carpenter, Durand Dujardin, and vainly sought to restore peace by organised association against the mercenaries. Faced by such a disordered society Henry II and his sons could enforce their feudal claims only by an appeal to
1. In his posthumous work, La Société française au temps de Philippe Auguste (Paris, 1909), the late M. Achille Luchaire illustrates many of his conclusions by re rence to these and other incidents in the history of central France.
self-interest or by means of the sword; and Richard especially, who was half a Poitevin, was a master in the art of both weapons. He was never so much at home as when he was pitting one Aquitanian baron against another. Henry was less patient of these methods; he would gladly have come to terms with the French king, had the latter's ambition and his own masterful sense of legality permitted it. There is something curiously ironical in his contention, sound enough in its way, that Berri should belong to him because the archbishopric of Bourges once belonged to Aquitaine. The king of France possibly reflected that throughout central France there was not a single dignitary of the Church who could live at peace with his lay neighbours for more than a few months.
The relation of Gascony to the dukes of Aquitaine seemed still more precarious than the relations of Auvergne or the Limousin, since the racial exclusiveness of the Gascons, afterwards so advantageous to the rule of the English kings, made unity with the rest of the duchy almost impossible. Just as Normandy took its name from the Northmen, Gascony took its name from the Vascones, who had settled in the district known in Roman times as Novempopulania, ecclesiastically the archbishopric of Auch. They formed a state apart, a people with idiosyncrasies famous in history, and still more famous in literature. Abbo of Fleury, who was afterwards killed (1004) in a scuffle between the Gascon and alien monks of the same religious order, said of his Gascon home: 'In the possession of such a dwelling I am more powerful within these lands than our lord, the king of the Franks, himself;
1. Ben. Pet., i, 10. The contention was not irrelevant, since there had been a close connection between political and ecclesiastical divisions. For Normandy and the archbishopric of Rouen see below, p. 50. The conquests of the counts of Anjou in the eleventh century added the "pagus Medalgicus ” (des Mauges), south of the Layon, to the diocese of Angers. (Longnon, Pouillés de la province de Tours (1903), p. 45.)
for here no one has reverence for his lord.'1 After the disappearance of the kingdom of Aquitaine, the Gascons had called back their native line of dukes from its exile in Spain, and continued in their independence for two centuries. Unlike most of their neighbours in the south of France, they continued to express recognition in their charters of the kings of the Franks after the accession of Hugh Capet, whose father, Hugh the Great, even seems to have become a mythical hero in Gascony; but within their borders the dukes possessed all the powers of royalty. This was especially the case after their acquisition of the county of Bordeaux in the middle of the tenth century. They referred to their lordship as a 'regnum, called ecclesiastical councils and appointed bishops. They founded abbeys, including the magnificent house of SaintSever. But at the same time the independence of the nobility increased. The heritability of fiefs was firmly established. The subdivision of the ducal family created the families of the counts of Fézensac and Astarac; the counts of Armagnac and of Bigorre, the viscounts of Béarn, Lomagne, Oloron, Dax, and Marsan maintained themselves independent of control; the viscount of Béarn even cast off the yoke altogether. In consequence these upland baronies, lying along the banks of the countless streams which run steeply down the northern slope of the Pyrenees, lost any common centre they might have had and were exposed, indifferently, to influences from north, south, east and west. There is little geographical distinction between the eastern states of Gascony and the great county of Toulouse, along the upper Garonne; the passes of the Pyrenees, again, gave access to the kingdoms of the south, which crossed the mountains in the east and west. After the reunion of Gascony and Aquitaine in 1039, Duke
1. Vita Sancti Abbonis, in Migne, Patrologia Latina, cxxxix, 410. For Gascony, see Jaurgain, La Vasconie (Pau, 1898–1902); Degest, in Revue des questions historiques (1902), lxxii, 424; Barrau-Dihigo, La Gascogne (Paris, 1903), in the series “Les Régions de la France."
Guy Geoffrey had to fight for many years against his rival, the count of Armagnac, before, in 1060, Gascony gave in its allegiance, and he could have the satisfaction of leading Gascons against William of Normandy, whose successors were also to be his successors. From this time the Gascons remained loyal, after their own treacherous and rebellious fashion, to their overlords, Poitevin, Angevin, English. Bordeaux became the centre of government. Originally this city, an alien settlement of the Brigantes, had no connection with Gascony, to which it was not added until the middle of the tenth century. It was always a colony, a sea-city; although a great market with profound influence upon the valleys of the Garonne and the Dordogne, it was not, even in the thirteenth century, so great a centralising force as Paris or Tours.1 But, by its situation, Bordeaux, with its ring of towns stretching as far as Saint-Macaire and Castillon, was the natural base of a foreign domination. For three centuries, as the link between Gascony and England, the city attracted trade, dictated the nature of agriculture for the sake of export, and set up a standard of life in rivalry with the feudalism of the hills.
In virtue of its racial coherence Gascony took a position midway between Poitou and Saintonge, on the one side, and the remaining states of Aquitaine on the other. The principle of contract, in all its naked simplicity, was frankly regarded by the barons of Aquitaine as the beginning and end of the motives upon which their relations to the duke were based.2 As is well known, this was the ruling principle in feudalism of every degree, but
1. Vidal de la Blache, in Lavisse, Histoire de France, I, i, p. 373.
2. See Gervase of Canterbury, Rolls Ser., i, p. 211. After the conference at Soissons had been broken off (1168) Louis VII retired to Bourges and received the oaths and hostages of the 'proceres Pictavorum.' See John of Salisbury's letter in the Memorials of Thomas Becket (vi, 408, cf. p. 411).