FEMALE Constance of Arles

Wife of Robert II, king of France.

The first biographer of Constance’s husband recorded a play on her name, “Constant and strong, Constance who does not play games” [“Constans et fortis, quae non Constantia ludit”, Helgaud 74]. She was by all accounts a formidable woman, impulsive and dangerous in pursuit of her own way. One modern scholar has described her as the only outstanding personality among the French queens of her time [Facinger 5], another as an impossible virago [Duby 85]. Constance armed with a stick was a force to be reckoned with, even in the unqueenly duty of crowd control, as her husband knew and her former confessor was to discover at the cost of losing an eye during an inquest into heresy at Orléans in 1022 [“rege jubente, Constantia regina ante valvas basilicæ stetit, ne populus eos intra æcclesiam interficeret; et sic de gremio sanctæ æcclesiæ ejecti sunt. Qui cum ejicerentur, regina Stephani, sui olim confessoris, cum bacul, quem manu gestabat, oculum eruit”, Cart. S.-Père de Chartres 1:114–5]. Her ferocious behaviour was enough to keep Fulbert, bishop of Chartres, from attending the coronation of her son Henri in 1027 [“Ad benedictionem Heinrici regiae prolis uoto quidem rapior, sed aduersa me corporis ualitudo retardat. Temptarem tamen utcumque moderatis equitacionibus eo peruenire, si non absterreret seuicia matris eius, cui satis creditur cum mala promittit, fidem facientibus multis et memorabilibus gestis eius”, Fulbert 122].

Date of birth: ca. 985×990 (see Commentary)
Place of birth:

Date of death: 22 July 1034 (see Commentary)
[“XI kal. [augusti]...Obiit regina Constancia”, Obit. S.-Germain 267; “Inclita vero regina Constantia post mortem sui senioris piissimi Rotberti anno tertio moritur”, Ado. Chron. Contin. II; “Porro Constantia Regina post tertium obitus viri sui annum, diem clausit ultimum, sepultaque est juxta eum”, Hist. Franc. Fragm. 160.]
Place of death: Melun
[“eodem mense atque in eodem castro quo rex obierat, et ipsa obiit”, Glaber 158 – see Robert II’s page and Commentary (under Date of Death) below for his death at Melun.]
Place of burial: Abbey of Saint-Denis
[“portata est ad sancti Dionisii basilicam, ac iuxta regem sepulta”, Glaber 158. Constance was buried on 25 July, “regina Constantia…8. Kal. Aug….sepelitur”, Ado. Chron. Contin. II – this date was recorded for her death in the obituary of Argenteuil priory, “VIII kal. [augusti] Ob.…Constancia regina”, Obit. Argenteuil 348.]

Father: Guillaume I (II) "le Libérateur", d. aft. 29 August 993, marquis of Provence. (see Commentary)
[“Hęc [Constantia]…jurat per animam Willelmi, sui genitoris”, Helgaud 74; “Hic rex...Duxit autem uxorem Constantiam, filiam Guillelmi comitis Arelatensis”, Hug. Fleury Hist. 385; “regina Constancia, comitis Provincie filia”, Hist. Reg. Franc. 403; “Constantia, filia Adelaidis, cui prenomen erat Candida” (“the White”, i.e. Blanche), Ado. Chron. Contin. II.]

Mother: Adélaïde alias Blanche, d. 1026, daughter of Foulques II, count of Anjou.
[“Hic rex...Duxit autem uxorem Constantiam…natam de Blanca, sorore Gaufridi comitis Andegavensis”, Hug. Fleury Hist. 385; “Constantia, filia Adelaidis, cui prenomen erat Candida” (the White, i.e. Blanche), Ado. Chron. Contin. II; “Fulco comes Andegavensis, qui cognominatus Bonus fuit, genuit—...Blancam—de Blanca nata est Constancia regina”, Geneal. Com. Andegav. 248, no. 3, written in the late-11th century at Saint-Aubin d’Angers; the family origin of her mother is also set out in a letter from St Ives, bishop of Chartres, to the archbishop of Rheims, “Generatio autem sic est:

          Gaufridus Grisagonellus. Blanca Arelatensis comitissa.
  Fulco Andegavensis comes.          Constantia regina.”,

Ives de Chartres 215–6, no. 211.]

Spouse: m. perhaps ca. May 1004, Robert II, d. 20 July 1031, king of France.
[“Rotbertus, gratia Dei, Francorum rex…manu mea illam firmavi et conjunx mea Constantia regina…Signum Rotberti regis. Signum Constantie regine, conjugis ejus”, Cart. N.-D. de Chartres 1:87–8, no. 13, charter of King Robert II dated 4 February 1031; “Hic rex [Robertus]....Duxit autem uxorem Constantiam, filiam Guillelmi comitis Arelatensis”, Hug. Fleury Hist. 385; “Accepit autem supradictus rex…Constantiam, inclitam reginam”, Glaber 106. See the Commentary on his page for the date of the marriage.]

See the page of Robert II for details.

FEMALE Advisa (probable daughter), also mistakenly called Adélaïde, b. perhaps bef. November 1005, d. aft. 4 March 1063;
Renaud I, count of Nevers & Auxerre

MALE Hugues (II) Magnus, b. 1006×bef. 9 June 1007, d. 28 August 1025, associate king

MALE Henri I, b. probably bef. 17 May 1008 (see Commentary), d. 4 August 1060, king of France, betrothed to Mathilde of Franconia;
m. (1) her neptis Mathilde;
m. (2) Anna (also called Agnès) Iaroslavna of Kiev

MALE Robert I, b. ca. 1010×1015, d. 18 or 21 March 1075, duke of Burgundy;
m. (1) Hélie (also called Petronilla) of Semur-en-Brionnais;
m. (2) Ermengarde of Anjou

FEMALE Adèle, b. ca. 1010×1015, d. 8 January 1079, m. Baldwin V, count of Flanders

MALE Eudes, d. 15 May in or aft. 1054


Date of Birth:

Constance was most probably born ca. 985×990, estimated from the likely dating of her marriage to Robert in 1004×1005 and the birth of their first child probably before November 1005. Her parents were definitely married by 986 [“ego Willelmus comes, inclytus marchio, & uxor mea nomine Adalaix comitissa…anno Dominicae incarnationis nongentesimo octogesimo sexto”, Cart. Avignon 89–90, no. 79], but there is no evidence to place their marriage in January 984 as stated by Stasser 22 citing Poly 15, no. 24 (unseen by him at the time). However, in the item cited Poly actually placed the marriage of Adélaïde and William of Provence in 981×982, while the document ascribed to January 984 (actually no. 26 on page 16) is a notice in which William occurs without any mention of a wife, dated Wednesday 2 January in the 44th year of King Conrad [“in die mercoris…IIII nonas januari, anno XLIIII regnante Conrado, rege Alamannorum sive Provincie”, Cart. S.-Victor 1:647, no. 654]. The regnal year given indicates 981 (counting from July 937) but 2 January fell on a Sunday in 981 and on Wednesdays in 978 and 984, any of which might be the correct year of this charter.

Date of Death:

Constance died in 1034, three years after the death of Robert II, and not one year after him in 1032 as maintained by several modern historians [e.g. Brandenburg no. X 137 (c), Facinger 6, 21 & 41, Kerrebrouck 57]. This error comes from misreading a passage in the third book of Rodulf Glaber’s Histories [“Anno quoque sequenti, mense Iulio, Rotbertus rex apud castrum Meledunense diem clausit extremum...Tunc rursus oritur inter matrem et filios rediuiua discordiae crudelitas, ac preteritarum irarum frena laxant inueterata odia. Diu multumque uastando res proprias debacatum est, donec Fulco Andegauorum comes, cognatus scilicet ipsorum, matrem redarguens cur bestialem uesaniam erga filios exerceret, utrumque parentum in pacem reduceret. Sequenti uero anno, eodem mense atque in eodem castro quo rex obierat, et ipsa obiit”, Glaber 158]. The ambiguity here comes from the phrase “Sequenti vero anno”, taken by some historians as relating the year of Constance’s death not to the peace brought about by her cousin Foulques III of Anjou which immediately precedes it in the narrative, but rather to the year, month and place of her husband’s death with which the passage begins. Further reasons confirming an interval of three years between the two deaths were argued compellingly by Dhondt (1967) 143 note 15, augmenting the suggestion in RHF 11:160 note 6. Constance died on 22 July, as quoted above from the obituary of Saint-Germain des Prés, and not on 25 July (the date of her burial) as stated by Kerrebrouck 57. It is sometimes asserted that Constance retired to a convent in her widowhood [e.g. by Dhondt 147 followed by Verdon 196]: however, the only evidence cited for this is the statement in a charter of her grandson Philippe I that his father Henri I had received her crown and necklaces at Senlis [“omnes consuetudines terrarum sancte Marie beatique Reguli ecclesiis necnon et dominio pontificis adjacentium extra munitiones hujus civitatis [Silvanectensis] sitarum pater meus eis concessit, et inde coronam matris sue Constantie cum monilibus accepit”, Actes de Philippe 111, no. 39, dated 15 June 1068]. There appears to be no good reason why these precious items might not have been taken from Melun to Senlis for safekeeping after her death; possibly “monilibus” (necklaces) has been misread as “monialibus” (nuns), leading to a false idea that her crown had been left with them in a cloister.


Medieval and modern authors have been confused about the father of Constance and her mother’s names: the sources and historiography are discussed in Hist. Gen. Languedoc 4:157–61, Pfister 60–4 and Lot 361–9 Appendix IX. Rodulf Glaber mistakenly gave her father as William V, duke of Aquitaine [“Accepit autem supradictus rex illius cognatam, nomine et animo Constantiam, inclitam reginam, filiam uidelicet prioris Willelmi Aquitanie ducis”, Glaber 106]. A 12th-century hand amended this passage, inserting corrections above the line [(shown here in Roman type) “Accepit autem supradictus rex neptam predicti fulconis nomine et animo Constantiam, inclitam reginam, filiam uidelicet prioris Guillelmi comitis arelatensis natam de blanca sorore eius”, ibid, notes (a) and (b)]. Hugues de Fleury, writing early in the 12th century, gave her father correctly in Historia Francorum brevis (see above), but in another work as William III, count of Toulouse [“Robertus...habuit...uxorem sapientam nomine Constanciam, filiam Guillelmi Tholosani comitis”, Hug. Fleury Actus 385]; perhaps the author did not realise that these were two different men. Of these alternatives only William of Provence (Arles) can be shown to have had a daughter named Constance by a wife named Adélaïde, as indicated in the latter’s charter for Montmajour dated August 1001 subscribed by their son and daughter [“signum Adalax Comitissæ et filii sui Willelmi Comitis et filiæ suæ Constantiæ, qui hanc Chartam facere jusserunt”, quoted in RHF 10:569]. We also know from a contemporary account that Robert was eager to greet Constance on her arrival for their marriage from the region of Arles [“Hugonides Robertus uxoriam inire copulam jamdudum mente tractans, et ab Arelatensium partibus assumere sibi conjugem volens, exercitum congegat, sponsæ jamjamque adventanti occursurus”, Mirac. Bened. iii, 8 (148), written 1005 by Aimoin of Fleury]. The monks of Saint-Aubin d’Angers lost track of Constance’s paternal antecedents entirely, giving her mother correctly as a daughter of Foulques II the Good, count of Anjou, while variously asserting that her father was King Lothaire IV or King Louis V and that she had carried the throne from the Carolingian dynasty to her Capetian husband [“Lotharius...accepit uxorem Blancham, filiam Fulconis Boni comitis Andegavensis...et habuit ex ea filiam, Constantiam nomine, que fuit data cum regno Robberto regi”, Ann. S.-Aubin d’Angers 35 (addition in codex B); “Ludovicus Blanchiam, filiam Fulchonis Boni, accepit uxorem. In quo reges Francorum defecerunt. Habuit tamen filiam, Constantiam nomine, uxorem Roberti ducis et regis, matrem Hahinrici regis”, Ann. S.-Aubin d’Angers 35 note 1 (genealogy of the kings of France in codex D).


Actes de Philippe = Recueil des actes de Philippe Ier, roi de France (1059–1108), edited by Maurice Prou, Chartes et diplômes relatifs à l’histoire de France (Paris, 1908)

Ado. Chron. Contin. II = Adonis archiepiscopi Viennensis chronicon, anonymous second continuator, MGH SS 2:326

Ann. S.-Aubin d’Angers = Annales Sancti Albini Andegavensis, in Recueil d’annales angevines et vendômoises, edited by Louis Halphen, Collection de textes pour servir à l’étude et à l’enseignement de l’histoire 37 (Paris, 1903) 1–49

Cart. Avignon = Les chartes du pays d’Avignon (439–1040), edited by Georges de Manteyer, Documents inédits pour servir à l’histoire du département de Vaucluse 2 (Mâcon, 1914)

Cart. N.-D. de Chartres = Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres, 3 vols, edited by Eugène de Lépinois & Lucien Merlet (Chartres, 1862–5)

Cart. S.-Père de Chartres = Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Saint-Père de Chartres, edited by Benjamin Guérard, 2 vols, Collection des cartulaires de France 1 (Paris, 1840)

Dhondt (1967) = Jean Dhondt, ‘Une crise du pouvoir capétien, 1032–1034’, Miscellanea Mediaevalia in memoriam Jan Frederik Niermeyer (Groningen, 1967) 137–48

Duby = Georges Duby, Le chevalier, la femme et le prêtre: Le mariage dans la France féodale (Paris, 1981)

Facinger = Marion Facinger, ‘A Study of Medieval Queenship: Capetian France 987–1237’, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 5 (1968) 3–47

Fulbert = Fulbert, bishop of Chartres, The Letters and Poems of Fulbert of Chartres, edited & translated by Frederick Behrends, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 1976)

Geneal. Com. Andegav. = Genealogiae comitum Andegavensium, in Chroniques des comtes d’Anjou et des seigneurs d’Amboise, edited by Louis Halphen & René Poupardin, Collection de textes pour servir à l’étude et à l’enseignement de l’histoire 48 (Paris, 1913) 247–50

Glaber = Rodulfus Glaber, Historiarum libri quinque, edited by John France (Oxford, 1989)

Helgaud = Helgaud of Fleury, Vie de Robert le Pieux: Epitoma vitae regis Rotberti pii, edited by Robert-Henri Bautier & Gillette Labory, Sources d’Histoire Médiévale publiée par l’Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes 1 (Paris, 1965)

Hist. Franc. Fragm. = Historiae Franciae fragmentum (excerpt), RHF 11:160–2

Hist. Gen. Languedoc = Claude de Vic & Joseph Vaissète, Histoire générale de Languedoc, avec des notes et les pièces justificatives, edited by Ernest Roschach, Auguste Molinier & others, 16 vols (Toulouse, 1872–1904)

Hug. Fleury Actus = Hugh of Fleury, Modernorum regum Francorum actus, MGH SS 9:376–395

Hug. Fleury Hist. = Hugues de Fleury, Historia Francorum brevis (excerpts), MGH SS 9:377–95

Ives de Chartres = St Ivo, bishop of Chartres, Divi Ivonis epistolæ, edited by François Juret with additional notes by Jean-Baptiste Souchet, revised by Jean Fronteau, reprinted in PL 162:columns 11–288

Kerrebrouck = Patrick van Kerrebrouck, Les Capétiens 987–1328, Nouvelle histoire généalogique de l’auguste maison de France II (Villeneuve d’Ascq, 2000)

Lot = Ferdinand Lot, Les derniers Carolingiens: Lothaire, Louis V, Charles de Lorraine, 954–991, Bibliothèque de l’École des hautes études 87 (Paris, 1891)

MGH SS = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores series

Mirac. Bened. = Les miracles de Saint Benoît, edited by Eugène de Certain (Paris, 1858). Citation is by book and chapter, with the page number in parentheses

Obit. Argenteuil = Obituaire, prieuré d’Argenteuil, Obit. Sens 1.1:343–51

Obit. S.-Germain = Obituaire du IXe siècle, l’abbaye de Saint-Germain des Prés, Obit. Sens 1.1: 246–80

Obit. Sens = Obituaires de la Province de Sens, Recueil des Historiens de la France, Obituaires, 4 vols. in 5 (Paris, 1902-23)

Pfister = Christian Pfister, Études sur le règne de Robert le Pieux (996–1031), Bibliothèque de l’École des Hautes Études 64 (Paris, 1885)

PL = Patrologiae cursus completus…, Latin series, edited by Jacques-Paul Migne & others, 221 vols. (Paris, 1844–64)

Poly = Jean-Pierre Poly, ‘Catalogue des actes des comtes de Provence, 945–1116’, La société féodale en Provence du 10e au 12e siècle, thesis, Université de Paris II (1972)

RHF = Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, edited by Martin Bouquet & others, revised by Léopold Delisle, 24 vols. (Paris, 1869–1904)

Stasser = Thierry Stasser, ‘Adélaïde d’Anjou, sa famille, ses unions, sa descendance: état de la question’, Le Moyen âge 103 (1997) 9–52

Verdon = Jean Verdon, ‘Les veuves des rois de France aux Xe et XIe siècles’, Veuves et veuvage dans le haut Moyen âge, edited by Michel Parisse (Paris, 1993) 187–98

Compiled by Peter Stewart

First uploaded 29 May 2012.

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