Today’s history lesson is about Folklore, legend and truth… there are some stories of history that are so interesting that storytellers can not help but weave their own versions of that history. I am going to share one of those stories today. I will give you the basic limited facts of this history and then I will share my own version of the story.
I ran across this story some time ago and as a writer, I was immediately sucked into it. I couldn’t help but use it in some way. Really, what writer can resist a piece of history that involves a woman named Dangereuse, especially when she is connected to Royalty such as Eleanor of Aquitaine!
Dangereuse de l’Isle Bouchard (Poitevin: Dangerosa; 1079-1151) was the daughter of Bartholomew de l’Isle Bouchard. She was the maternal grandmother of the celebrated Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was also mistress to her granddaughters’ paternal grandfather William IX, Duke of Aquitaine. As the mistress of William the Troubadour, she was known as La Maubergeonne for the tower he built for her at his castle in Poitiers. Dangereuse was a sobriquet she received for her seductiveness; her baptismal name may have been Amauberge.
Dangereuse’s paternal grandparents were Archimbaud Borel de Bueil and Agnes de l’Isle Bouchard. Through her granddaughter, Dangereuse was an ancestor of many monarchs and members of the nobility, including: Richard I of England, Marie, Countess of Champagne, John of England, Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany, Joan, Queen of Sicily, Eleanor, Queen of Castile, Matilda, Duchess of Saxony and Henry the Young King. Her granddaughter Eleanor was Queen consort of France, Queen consort of England and Duchess of Aquitaine (in her own right).
Dangereuse married Viscount Aimery I of Châtellerault at an unknown date. She advised her husband to donate property to Saint-Denis en Vaux in a charter dated 1109, which means they were married before this point. Dangereuse was a woman who did as she pleased and cared little for public opinion.
Their marriage produced five children (two sons and three daughters):
- Hugh (died before 1176) succeeded his father as Viscount
- Raoul (died 1190) married Elisabeth de Faye and had issue
- Aenor/Eleanor (c. 1103 – March 1130) married William X, Duke of Aquitaine, mother to Duchess Eleanor and Petronilla
- Amable, married Wulgrin II, Count of Angoulême
- Aois (fate unknown)
Whilst travelling through Poitou, Duke William IX of Aquitaine met the “seductive” Dangereuse. This led to her leaving her husband for Duke William, who was excommunicated by the church for “abducting her”; however, she appeared to have been a willing party in the matter. He installed her in the Maubergeonne tower of his castle in Poitiers, and, as related by William of Malmesbury, even painted a picture of her on his shield.
Upon returning to Poitiers from Toulouse, William’s wife Philippa of Toulouse was enraged to discover a rival woman living in her palace. She appealed to her friends at court and to the Church; however, no noble could assist her since William was their feudal overlord, and whilst the Papal legate Giraud complained to William and told him to return Dangereuse to her husband, William’s only response to the bald legate was, “Curls will grow on your pate before I part with the Viscountess.” Humiliated, in 1116, Philippa chose to retire to the Abbey of Fontevrault.
Dangereuse and William had three children:
- Henri (died after 1132), a monk and later Prior of Cluny
- Adelaide, married Raoul de Faye
- Sybille, Abbess of Saintes
Some believe that Raymond of Poitiers, was a child of William by Dangereuse, rather than by Philippa of Toulouse. The primary source which names his mother has not so far been identified. However, he is not named in other sources as a legitimate son of Willam IX. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that he was born from the duke’s relationship with Dangereuse. If this is the case, Dangereuse was grandmother to Bohemund III of Antioch, Maria of Antioch and Philippa of Antioch.
Philippa died two years later and William’s first wife Ermengarde set out to avenge Philippa. In October 1119, she suddenly appeared at the Council of Reims being held by Pope Calixtus II and demanded that the Pope excommunicate William (again), oust Dangereuse from the ducal palace, and restore herself to her rightful place as Duchess Consort. The Pope “declined to accommodate her”; however, she continued to trouble William for several years afterwards.
The relationship between William and his legitimate son William was troubled by his father’s liaison with Dangereuse. This was only settled when the pair arranged the marriage between William the Younger and Dangereuse’s daughter Aenor in 1121; the following year Eleanor of Aquitaine was born.
William died on 10 February 1127; nothing is recorded of Dangereuse after this point. She died in 1151.
Realistically, this is one of those stories where just the facts of it were so good that it did not need story tellers to embellish upon it… Dangereuse and William created a far better story or legend than any of the paid story tellers of the time could hope to make up on their own. As I mentioned though, it is certainly a piece of history that begs for retelling in some way!
I could not resist including it in my own fanciful version of history and fantasy. You can read my version in my longer story/legend of Melusine.
I did of course have to use some creative license to fit her into my story. In my version or interpretation of the events, I did change Dangereuse’s parentage in order to weave her into the storyline, but I tried to keep the rest of the story intact because with a story this good already, one really doesn’t need to change too much.
Here is the excerpt of the story where Melusina talks about the past and gives her story of Dangereuse.
Melusina began again with her history lesson. The most important thing you need to understand for now is that Avalon was and is real, and I believe it does indeed play an important part in the history and, the future of our world. Those legends about some Royals being connected to and descended from the rulers of Avalon… well, some of them are indeed true too! My Father’s kingdom was in what was in an area of France known as Anjou… My sister Loralie went to take her rightful place as ruler there. During the earliest years she had a difficult time managing the lands as a woman, and as of course a woman with a tainted history? I will be honest, she made her share of mistakes along the way. Don’t we all? The key is that she always managed to find her way around the mistakes and come out ahead! Of course, as woman and a ruler, she was in need of a husband. She did eventually find one, and settled into her reign of the land with him. They led a quiet life and were successful in their management of the small kingdom. It is her daughter who started the chain of events leading towards Royalty. Personally, I blame my sister for it from the beginning? Who would not expect some sort of troubles when giving a child the name of Dangereuse? Yes, that is what my sister chose to name her only child!
Legend of Dangereuse
Let us just say that Dangereuse was much adored, given much leeway. She was a headstrong stubborn girl who fortunately inherited her Mother’s ability to put a positive spin on her mistakes! My sister and her husband allowed her much free reign without instilling the consequences. My sister, who was normally quite level minded, fair and at times even harsh with consequences in the other facets of life, was just the opposite with Dangereuse. Ahhhh enough of my personal observations on her parenting skills… it did eventually turn out well for the girl! Dangereuse was raised in the practical real world where, at the time it was unwise to mention any ties to magic or old beliefs so she did maintain that secret! She was married quite young, as was the usual practice then, and it appeared it would be a successful union?
Considering her youthful tirades and exploits, it was lucky that she found a suitable match?! Much to her parents relief… and a rather large dower, she was wed to a wealthy young Noble Viscount Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault. They were married for seven years and produced five children within that time! She even provided him with the requisite heir and a spare in their two sons, Hugh and Raul. The other three were daughters- Aenor, Amable and Anois. It was their daughter, Aenor who went on to achieve far greater fame than anyone could have supposed or hoped for? Aenor is the old language for Eleanor…Aenor married William X of Aquetane. But, more about that later. After seven years of marriage, Dangereuse was supposedly abducted by William IX of Aquetane while riding through the woods. I say supposedly because that is the public version, the nice version? In reality, Dangereuse went willing and had no qualms about becoming his prisoner/mistress! He installed her in the Maubergeonne tower of his castle in Poitiers, and even painted a picture of her on his shield. Obviously this caused quite some scandal and dissent within his court…especially with his current wife, not to mention Dangereuse’s husband! Now, admittedly back then, events such as this abduction were somewhat common… none was so public and blatent as this one! Dangereuse remained with him and bore him three more children. One other person not at all happy with this situation was William’s son by his first wife, William X. Such a mess! William finally appeased his son by wedding him to Dangereuse’s daughter by her first husband, Aenor. This union also somewhat appeased Dangereuse’s husband? So, Aenor married William X of Aquetane and within a year, their daughter Eleanor of Aquetane was brought into the world! So, there you have my sister Loralie’s quiet contribution to part of the Royal connection?
My sister Loralie may have had only one daughter, but that one daughter was quite fertile and fruitful enough to produce a number of descendents who went on to provide connections to royalty! I will not go into the web of genealogy here as it would confound and confuse you more than you already are?! I will only mention that Dangereuse’s grand daughter Eleanor of Aquitaine eventually became both Queen of France and Queen of England! Among her descendants were Jacquetta of Luxembourg and her daughter, Elizabeth Woodville… I bring these two up because they are important to our history. Jacquetta was one who returned to the ancient beliefs and held within her our powers of communicating with nature. She also had enough common sense and wisdom to understand the seriousness and importance of her gifts! She tried to teach this to her daughter, Elizabeth but Elizabeth did not take it seriously enough! Elizabeth was another stubborn and headstrong girl who chose to use her gifts and powers unwisely. I believe that much of the problems with our world and our shifts in time started with her?! She refused to let things be, refused to accept her defeats and constantly made attempts to change the course of history and the future even after she was retired away to an abbey because of her continuous interference in things that she should have left alone. Instead of rejoicing in the fact that her daughter had come to the throne of England and leaving it at that, she constantly made attempts to unseat the now King Henry VII and ultimately her daughter. To make a long story short, she made their lives miserable! Many accuse Margaret Beaufort Stanley of being the Mother in law from Hell, but I would rather say it was Elizabeth who fit that category!