The Extra-Long Post on the Genealogy of the Tenth-Century Counts of Toulouse No-One Was Asking For

This is something of a lengthy digression, but an important one. Before marrying Louis V, Adelaide-Blanche’s previous husband was Raymond, ‘duke of the Goths’. His legacy is evidently important for the marriage and the realm. But who was Raymond?

Part of the problem is that the family of the counts of Toulouse and Rouergue is famously complicated. Sébastian Fray put it best: he said (paraphrasing): it’s not that the sources are bad or in limited supply, it’s simply that the counts are attached to using an obnoxiously small number of personal names. Thus, trying to distinguish all of the different Raymonds and Hughs makes things like the problem of the Three Bernards look entry-level. I was going to go to a café for lunch last Tuesday, but instead I dove down this rabbit warren and next thing I knew it was five hours later and my fiancée was concerned. After all, there’s about half a dozen historians who’ve written about this and the reconstructed family tree can vary wildly whether you’re reading Fray, or de Latour, or de Framond, or any of the others whose work is less immediately linkable…

(You know, I’m re-reading this in the editing process and I think I’m going to start giving all the Raymonds and Hughs numbers to make my life easier. Anyway, back to the sources:)

For our purposes, the main question revolves around the identity of Raymond [1] dux Gothorum, the former husband of Adelaide-Blanche. Looking at the attestation of counts called Raymond in the Midi, we know very little about him, and he’s never attested with Adelaide during his lifetime. Our specific data about him personally consists of his rough date of death, c. 980; and the fact that he was a descendant of Count Raymond Pons (at the very least, his great-grandsons William IV of Toulouse and Raymond of Saint-Gilles were and there’s no more plausible way that that filiation comes to them then via Raymond dux Gothorum). The next question becomes, how is he a descendant of Raymond Pons?

There are two important pieces of evidence. The first comes from a manuscript known as the Roda Codex. This work includes genealogies for dynasties around the Kingdom of Navarre, and one of the shortest and most succinct is of Raymond Pons’ family:

“The names of the counts of Toulouse. Pons took to wife a daughter of Garcia Sanchez and begat Raymond [2]. Raymond begat Raymond [3], whom they killed at Garazo, and lord bishop Hugh [1], who himself died hunting.”

The second bit of evidence is the will of a Count Raymond [4] which dates from c. 960 and includes information about a number of his family members, including his wife Bertha and sons Raymond [5] and Hugh [2] (as well as his nepotes – and in this case it’s vanishingly unlikely that doesn’t mean ‘nephews’– Raymond [6] and Hugh [3]), and his kinsman (consanguineus) Count William. Bertha, incidentally, is a niece of Hugh of Arles, meaning this Raymond is the ‘prince of the Aquitanians’ referred to by Liutprand of Cremona.

Can we put these sources together, and say that the Raymond [4] of the will is Raymond [2], son of Raymond Pons? Not so fast, alas. The consensus amongst historians is that this particular Raymond [4] is actually Raymond [7], a son of Count Ermengaud of Rouergue. (This Ermengaud is usually said to be part of the family of the counts of Toulouse, but there is no evidence for this at all.) Ermengaud is attested as having two sons, a Raymond [7] and a Hugh [4]. (See! Told you this was a pain!) Is there any reason to equate Raymond [4] of the will with Raymond [2] son of Raymond Pons rather than Raymond [7] son of Ermengaud? (For what it’s worth, those are the only two plausible options, thank the Lord.)

I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.

Not directly; but before we get into why, I want to introduce one further piece of evidence. We also have a will from Raymond Pons’ second wife Garsendis, from c. 972, referring to various nepotes (again, almost certainly nephews) including a ‘Count Hugh [5]’ and a ‘Raymond [8] son of Gudnildis’. These two figures are often taken to be brothers; personally, I think Raymond [8] son of Gudnilidis is a red herring. Without the comital title, he is unlikely to be Count Hugh [5]’s brother and it’s not like there aren’t enough Raymonds running around. So besides Raymonds we also want a reconstruction which will somehow make Garsendis aunt of a Count Hugh [5] who either does not have a brother Count Raymond or has some plausible reason that the brother Count Raymond doesn’t show up in the will.

So, going back to the question, who is Count Raymond [4] of the will? Having weighed the options at extreme length, I do think it is Raymond [2] son of Raymond Pons. The identification with Raymond [7], son of Ermengaud, has a few attractive features. It makes a family tree based on the attested relationships in our sources slightly more economical, insofar as we have to hypothesise fewer relationships and unattested people. (Don’t get me wrong, though, unattested people do still have to be hypothesised.) However, it has a number of weaknesses. For one thing, it makes placing a number of relationships we known about (such as the existence of a Hugh [6] abbicomes son of Raymond [9] in the mid-980s) harder than the alternative. There’s also no terribly plausibly way to have Counts Hugh who are nephews of both Raymond [4] of the will and Garsendis, but who don’t have comital brothers named Raymond.

The hypothesis that Raymond [4] of the will was Raymond [2] son of Raymond Pons, though, has some external strengths. Above all, it explains the marriage with Bertha of Italy: Hugh of Arles, being in pretty desperate straits at that point, would have rather more reason to seek a marriage alliance with the sole son of the most powerful man in Aquitaine than with the joint heir of a relatively minor southern count. It also explains the kinsman Count William in the will (the land Raymond [4] bought from him is not named but is implicitly in Rouergue). This figure is certainly not William Towhead of Poitiers, because the counts of Poitiers are never seen that far east. It is unlikely to be either William the Pious or William the Younger of Aquitaine, largely for chronological reasons. However, it could very well be one of the Count Williams of Angoulême and/or Périgord. That family married into the family of Raymond Pons at the beginning of the tenth century, explaining both the kinship connection and why they would have land in the area to begin with.

Furthermore, the proposed identification makes it easier to construct a hypothesis that explains all of the different nepotes. By making Raymond [7] son of Ermengaud husband of a putative sister of Garsendis and father of the Count Hugh [5] we know was around later in the tenth century, we have a Count Hugh at the right time with the right relationship who doesn’t have a comital brother named Raymond. Giving that Raymond [7]’s brother Hugh [4] a wife who was a daughter of Raymond Pons, followed by two sons called Hugh [7] and Raymond [10], then allows for Raymond [4] of the will to also have the right nepotes as well. This does raise the question of why neither of them are called counts in Raymond [4]’s will, given that Hugh [4] had probably been dead for about fifteen years at that point, but it’s easier to imagine a scenario in which they did not immediately inherit their father’s position – possibly because they were young at their father’s death – than it is to fit the necessary preconditions around another scenario.

So Raymond [4] of the will, husband of Bertha, is very likely Raymond [2] son of Raymond Pons. How does this help us? Well, the good news is that thanks to the work of de Gournay and Fray I’m pretty confident about his descendants. One of the bequests in his will is of an estate called Pallas to his son Raymond [11]. Pallas was later bestowed on the abbey of Conques by a Count Raymond [12] of Rouergue, son of a Count Raymond [13] and Bertildis, who controlled it ‘by hereditary right’. Now, Bertildis and Bertha are not the same name. This means that the Raymond [12] who donated Pallas can’t be the son of the Raymond [4] who wrote the will. He can, however, be a grandson. What we have, then, is Count Raymond [13 = 3], son of Bertha, who appears in charter evidence and who, per the Rodas genealogy, would be the man killed at Garazo (per the Book of the Miracles of St Foy, he was murdered on the road to Compostela (presumably Garazo is on the road to Compostela; such a thing has been suggested but I haven’t been able to find corroborating evidence of this). From him descends Count Raymond [12] donor of Pallas and from him the counts of Rouergue.

The importance of this is that Bertildis was still alive in the 1010s. Neither her husband nor her son, therefore, fit easily into a chronology which requires Raymond [1] dux Gothorum to have married Adelaide-Blanche in the mid-970s and to have died shortly thereafter. This means we need to look elsewhere for our Raymond dux Gothorum.

You may have noticed me cunningly setting up the descent-line above. If Raymond [1] dux Gothorum were the son of Raymond [7] son of Ermengaud through a daughter of Raymond Pons, this fulfils all the extant data points, makes sense chronologically, and preserves the Raymond Pons ancestry of the later counts of Toulouse. Consequently, for the purposes of my reconstruction of the events surrounding Louis V’s kingship in the next post, this is the family tree we’re going to go for:

(If the kerning on this looks wrong, as though I had to edit it after it was made, that’s 100% accurate. My original reconstruction had Raymond dux Gothorum as son of Raymond (II) and Hugh (II) as son of Hugh (I), but re-examining the pattern of their appearances in the charters, Hugh (II) probably wants to be son of Raymond (II) instead.)

And next week, we’ll write the post that was originally supposed to be Part 2 and Last before I got sucked down onto this lengthy, lengthy detour.

Some further notes:

  1. Garsendis’ parentage: Garsendis has been identified as both the same person as Raymond Pons’ Gascon bride and also a daughter of Ermengaud of Rouergue and also as a relation of the viscounts of Narbonne. We have no evidence for any of them, and I don’t think the second assumption in particular is at all necessary. As for the first, it is even less likely: Garsendis’ will doesn’t mention children living or dead, so a number of historians have made the quite reasonable assumption that the marriage was childless.
  2. Sadly, we don’t know where Hugh [1] was bishop of. It wasn’t Toulouse, for sure. His see has been placed in Gascony, which makes sense given that the author of the genealogy seems to have only been interested in the material insofar as it pertained to the Basque country.
  3. Relatedly, Gerbert of Aurillac’s letters mention a Hugh [6] abbicomes son of Raymond, and ask about his marriage. If you thought this was enough to disqualify him from contention as Hugh [1] the bishop then I wouldn’t think you were crazy; but although the case for uxoriousness amongst the tenth-century episcopate is wildly overstated in general, one of the places it does apply is Gascony. Also, the other use of the word abbicomes I’ve found is in the chronicle of Hugh of Flavigny, where it refers to Hugh, bishop of Auxerre and count of Chalon, so it may well be that Bishop Hugh [1] could be Hugh [6] abbicomes.
  4. The Vita Sancti Fulcranni mentions Bishop Fulcrand of Lodève in the second half of the tenth century running across a Count of Toulouse who had repudiated his first wife to marry another woman who had been repudiated by her husband. If this information is accurate, we could hypothesis that Raymond [1] dux Gothorum was also Raymond [13] son of Bertha and husband of Bertildis, having divorced Bertildis in order to marry Adelaide-Blanche. This would have the advantage of being elegant. However, the Vita Fulcranni is of no historical value at all for this period. Besides being constructed of barely-rephrased hagiographical tropes, and besides being thirteenth-century, it is very likely that this episode is based on something which itself happened in the late twelfth century.

8 thoughts on “The Extra-Long Post on the Genealogy of the Tenth-Century Counts of Toulouse No-One Was Asking For

  1. Very nice post (and very complicated topic indeed). Can’t say for mid-last 10th century Raymonds, but at the start of the century it seems that there were already maybe three counts named Regemundus (a son of count Odo -Toulouse-, a son of Bella -Carcassonne-, and the count of -Pallars- and father in law of a Banu Qasi ruler)…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed – the counts of Pallars and Carcassonne just add extra thickets to this forest… It is one reason why I’m unconvinced by onomastic arguments linking the descendents of Odo of Toulouse and those of Ermengaud of Rouergue. I don’t like those sorts of arguments anyway, but ‘Raymond’ is not exactly a diagnostic name in this region, and ‘Hugh’ isn’t a diagnostic name anywhere!


      1. Yeah, as Constance Bouchard argued quite some time ago, the whole leitnamen thing can’t get you very far in deducing who is related to who when names like Boso, Hugh, Odo, William, Raymond (south of the Loire) and Conrad (east of the Meuse) are cropping up absolutely everywhere. As Constance Bouchard herself pointed out, both the house of Normandy and the house of Poitiers extensively used the name William in the tenth and eleventh centuries, yet they did not intermarry until 1152, and if we carried the whole leitnamen thing into the twelfth we’d also presume that William Marshal was a cousin of Henry II.

        I tried explaining the leitnamen thing to a friend who specialises in the late Roman periods, and she joked that if you named your baby Robert then the Robertians/ Capetians would start issuing threats or turn up to your house with a bunch of armed men – as is often the case, specialists in other periods are good at pointing out the absurdities of some of the arguments used by certain early medievalists.


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