Ermengarde of Narbonne (c. 1120–c. 1194)

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Ermengarde of Narbonne (c. 1120–c. 1194)

Viscountess of Narbonne. Born around 1120 in Narbonne; died around 1194 in Narbonne; daughter of Aimery II, viscount of Narbonne; married at least three times, although husbands' identities are uncertain; children: none.

Ermengarde was the eldest daughter and heiress of Viscount Aimery II of Narbonne, a county located in what is now southeast France. Her father died when she was still young, and thus she faced the dangers encountered by all medieval women left with a sizeable inheritance—the possibilities of invasion, rebellion, or kidnapping and forced marriage. Ermengarde proved herself capable of handling her affairs well despite her youth. She used her troops to put down incipient rebellions by her vassals, and repelled Count Alphonse of Toulouse's attempts to take over Narbonne while ostensibly protecting its young heiress. Ermengarde married several times, although sources do not clearly identify her husbands, and they did not play a major role in her government. She was fiercely loyal to the pious King Louis VII of France and led her troops to help Louis put down rebellions by his vassals in southern France. During her reign of more than 60 years, Ermengarde became famous as a benevolent and balanced judge in feudal court cases under her jurisdiction. The viscountess was also renowned as a patron of troubadours, the singer-poets who composed themes on various aspects of love. She died around 1194.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Ermengarde of Narbonne (c. 1120–c. 1194)

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