FEMALE Melisende

Probable wife of Fulcois, count [of Mortagne?].

In the foundation charter of Saint-Denis de Nogent, in the first year of king Henri I of France [20 July 1031 - 19 July 1032], viscount Geoffroy (II) of Châteaudun gives the church of Champrond in the lordship of Nogent to Saint-Denis, after the death of his mother Melisende, mentioning also his sons Hugues and Rotrou and his avunculus Bouchard, with his wife Helvise also witnessing ["... ego Gauffridus, Castridunensium vicecomes, ... cum consensu filiorum meorum Hugonis videlicet et Rotroci, ... et terram Burcardi avunculi mei, ... Post mortem autem matris mee Milesendis, dono ecclesiam de Campo-Rotundo, ... + S. domini Gaufridi, vicecomitis ... + S. Hugonis, filii domini Gaufridi vicecomitis. + S. Rotroci, fratris ejus. + S. Eleusie, matris eorum. ..." Cart. S.-Denis de Nogent, 13-19 (#5)]. No other early record is known to mention Melisende, but several different husbands have been conjectured for her by various scholars trying to deduce the parentage of Geoffroy.

Date of birth: Say 950×960?
Place of birth:
Unknown.
If Hugues du Perche was her son, then a birth closer to 950 would be likelier. If he was not her son, then there would be no obstacle to a somewhat later birthdate.

Date of death: After 20 July 1031.
Place of death: Unknown.
The wording of the foundation charter of Saint-Denis de Nogent implies that Melisende was still living at the time of the charter.

Probable father or father-in-law: Geoffroy (I), fl. 967?-985, viscount of Châteaudun.
Probable mother or mother-in law: Hildegarde, d. after 1005.
For reasons which are discussed on the page of Geoffroy (II), Hildegard and her probable husband Geoffroy (I) appear to have been grandparents of Melisende's son Geoffroy (II). Thus, either Melisende or her husband was a child of Geoffroy (I) and Hildegarde. As discussed below in the Commentary section, it is difficult to decide between the two options.

Probable spouse: Fulcois, count [of Mortagne?].
Fulcois appears as the avus of Melisende's grandson Rotrou, son of her son Geoffroy ["..., ego Rotrochus comes de Mauritania, et mea uxor Adeliz et filii nostri, Rotrochus, et ceteri nostri infantes, ... ut annuatim anniversarium avi mei Fulcuich, comitis, et avunculi mei Hugonis et patris mei vicecomitis Gaufridi faciant, ..." Cart. S.-Vincent du Mans, 350-1 (#609)]. Since Rotrou's maternal grandfather appears to be accounted for [see the page of Geoffroy (II)], the most natural interpretation of avus as "grandfather" would make Fulcois the father of Geoffroy and thus husband of Melisende. See the Commentary section for other husbands who have been assigned to Melisende.

Son:

MALE Geoffroy (II), d. ca. 1038×9, viscount of Châteaudun;
m. Helvise, living 1031,
daughter of Rainard, lord of Pithiviers, and his wife Helvise.
See the 1031×2 charter cited above.

Possible son:

MALE Hugues du Perche;
m.
Béatrix, daughter of Aubry II, count of Mâcon, and widow of Geoffroy (II), count of Gâtianis.
The charter of count Rotrou which mentions his avus Fulcois also mentions Rotrou's avunculus Hugues, who was probably a son of Fulcois. For the possible identification of Hugues as Hugues du Perche, see the page of
Hugues du Perche.



Commentary

The husband of Melisende

No known source explicitly names the husband of Melisende. Nevertheless, she has been assigned supposed husbands by various authors, generally men who have been assigned as father of her son viscount Geoffroy (II) of Châteaudun by means of one piece of evidence or another. See the page of Geoffroy (II) for more details.

Conjectured husband: Rotrou de Nogent, fl. 967?-996.
[Thompson (2002), 195-6 (hypothesis 2)]. For details on Rotrou, see below under the discussion of Melisende's parentage. Although it is quite likely that Rotrou belongs in the family, he was more likely a generation further back.

Claimed husband: Geoffroy, viscount of Châteaudun (another of the name).
[Murs (1856), 120, 131; Romanet (1890-1902), 30 (table), 44 (table); Keats-Rohan (1997), 202 & n. 72; Settipani (1997), 262 (table)] If the conclusion that Fulcois was the husband of Melisende is incorrect, then one possibility would be that there were two viscounts of Châteaudun named Geoffroy in the period 1004-1039, with Melisende as the wife of the elder of them.

Falsely attributed husband: Guérin/Warin de Domfront.
[Bry (1620), 137-8; Anselme, 3: 306] As discussed on the page of Geoffroy (II), this claim is due to a misinterpretation of Orderic Vitalis.

Supposed earlier husband: Hervé (II), fl. 974 - ca. 980, count [of Mortagne?].
Based on a genealogy supposedly taken from the cartulary of Saint-Denis de Nogent, Estournet has indicated that Melisende was married first to Hervé II, count of Mortagne, by whom she had no children, and then married Fulcois in about 985 [Estournet (1928), 118-9, citing Bibl. nat., ms. lat. 17049, p. 211]. Unfortunately, it is not clear what authority this source has, and he does not quote the passage from the manuscript, making it unclear if the Melisende in question was the same Melisende, mother of Geoffroy.

The parentage of Melisende

The one early source mentioning Melisende says nothing about her parentage. However, her son Geoffroy became viscount of Châteaudun, so it is natural to investigate how he came to hold that title. Archbishop Hugues of Tours, earlier viscount of Châteaudun, was succeeded as viscount in 1003×4 by Geoffroy, probably the same as Melisende's son. On two occasions, a nepos of archibishop Hugues named Geoffroy is mentioned [1005×23: "... Hugo archipræsul. Gaufridi, nepotis ejus. ..." Cart. S.-Père de Chartres, 1: 117-8 (#6); 1032: "Gauffredi nepotis Hugonis archiepiscopi" Settipani (1997), 261 n. 247, citing Coll. Tour. Anj., ii1, #419]. It is probable that Geoffroy, nepos (probably to be interpreted as "nephew") of Hugues, was the same person as the latter's successor as viscount. See the page of Geoffroy (II) for a more detailed discussion of this.

Did the Châteaudun connection come through Melisende or through her husband?

If the likely conclusion that Melisende's son Geoffroy was a nephew of archbishop Hugues is accepted as a working hypothesis, there is still the problem of whether this relationship would be on the side of Geoffroy's father or his mother. This in turn could depend heavily on the identity of Melisende's husband. If Melisende's husband were an earlier viscount Geoffroy, then he would probably be a brother of archbishop Hugues. If Melisende's husband were Rotrou de Nogent, then it would be Melisende who was probably a sister of Hugues. However, the most likely possibility is that Melisende's husband was count Fulcois, but in that case it is hard to determine which parent of Geoffroy was a sibling of archbishop Hugues, because we have no indication of the ancestry of Fulcois. Most of those who accept Fulcois as the husband of Melisende have placed her as a sister of archbishop Hugues [Cuissard (1894-6), 43, 120 (table); Estournet (1928), 116, table; Saint-Phalle (2000), 236, 245]. The case in which Fulcois is placed as a brother of Hugues was put forward by Christian Settipani [Settipani (2000), 252-3].

Romanet argued that Melisende had brough the lordship of Nogent to her husband, because when her son Geoffroy donated the church of Champrond in that lordship to Saint-Denis de Nogent in 1031×2, he had reserved the usufruct for his mother [Romanet (1890-1902), 37]. On the other hand, Estournet argued from the fact that Melisende did not witness the act that her consent was unnecessary, and that the donation was therefore not a part of her patrimony [Estournet (1928), 117-8]. In 1997, mistakenly stating that Melisende subscribed to the act, Settipani said that her consent was effective [Settipani (1997), 263 n. 254]. However, this line of argument does not seem conclusive in either direction.

The future archbishop Hugues was evidently succeeded as viscount of Châteaudun in 1003×4 by his nephew Geoffroy. As Settipani pointed out, there is the question of whether a maternal nephew would succeed as viscount when Hugues had a son Helgaud and a brother Alo de Chinon still living [Settipani (2000), 253; Alo was still alive in 1009×12, Lex (1892), 136-140 (Pièces justificatives #10)]. Helgaud may have been illegitimate, or not old enough to become viscount in 1003×4. The claim of Cuissard that Alo was only a maternal half-brother of Hugues is worth mentioning in this context [Cuissard (1894-6), 120 (table)], but it is not clear that there is any evidence to support the supposed earlier marriage of Hildegarde (mother of Hugues) [See the page of Hildegarde for more]. Nevertheless, the fact that Alo was still alive in 1003×4 would seem to be an argument in favor of Geoffroy's probable father Fulcois being a brother of Hugues.

However, the comital title of Fulcois would appear to point in the opposite direction, for there is no indication that the viscounts of Châteaudun during the period 967-1004 had any claim to a comital title, making it seem less likely that count Fuclois was a member of that family. Settipani, who conjectures Fulcois as a son of viscount Geoffroy (I) and Hildegarde in his most recent account [Settipani (2000), 252-3], suggests that the comital title arrived in the family via Hildegarde, who is placed as a possible daughter of count Hervé of Mortagne [ibid., 256-8]. However, this is very conjectural.

Chronology should also be considered here. If the conjecture that Melisende was the mother of Hugues du Perche is correct, then we have a possible tight chronology, although it is difficult to measure the extent of the problem because of the uncertainties involved. Although a birth in 980 or later for Hugues du Perche cannot be ruled out, ca. 970 would seem to be a better estimate [see the page of Hugues du Perche]. However, the viscountess Hildegarde appears in a charter whose date is estimated by the editor to be ca. 1020, although it could be as early as 1005 [Cart. S.-Père de Chartres, 1: 117-8 (#6); see the page of Hildegarde]. If the editor's estimated date for Hildegarde's charter is correct, or nearly so, and Hildegarde really was the grandmother of Hugues du Perche, then the chronology between Hildegarde and Hugues would be tight if Hildegarde was born as late as 940. Since female generations are generally shorter than male generations, this chronological tightness would be relieved slightly if the generation between Hildegarde and Hugues were female, i.e., if Melisende were a daughter of Hildegarde. This argument should not be pressed too far, but it does seem to tilt the probability slightly in that direction.

None of the above arguments is particularly strong. Thus, even though it was probably the case that Melisende's son Geoffroy was a grandson of the viscountess Hildegarde, it is difficult to say with any degree of confidence whether the intervening generation was Melisende or her husband. Thus, with regard to the parentage of Melisende, all we can do is list some possibilities.

Conjectured father (possible): Geoffroy (I), fl. 967?-985, viscount of Châteaudun.
Conjectured mother (possible): Hildegarde, d. after 1005.

Conjectured father (possible): Rotrou de Nogent, fl. 967?-996.
Rotrou appears as a witness on a false act of king Lothaire of France 7 July 967 ["S. Rotrochi" Rec. actes Lothair & Louis V, 141 (#60), a falsification of the 11th or 12th century, but perhaps based on an analysis of an authentic act that had been lost]. His first certain appearance is in an act of 8 September 975 ["S. Roterici" Cart. S.-Benoît-sur-Loire, 1: 152 (#61)]. He then appears fairly regularly for the next two decades, in charters of 5 February 978 ["Rotrocus" Cart. S.-Père de Chartres, 1: 65 (#8)], 3 May 983 ["S. Rotrochii" Lex (1892), 122 (Pièces justificatives #1)], before 986 ["Rotrocus" Cart. S.-Père de Chartres, 1: 72 (#13)], 985 ["S. Rotroci" ibid, 1: 79 (#18)], 12 February 996 ["Signum Ratroch." Lot (1903), 426], and 996×1001 ["S. Rotroci." Lex (1892), 133 (Pièces justificatives #7)]. In addition to the above charters, in which Rotrou appears without further designation, there are two charters which supply additional information. One, dated 989, calls Rotrou a Norman ["S. Rotroci Normanni." Lex (1892), 125 (Pièces justificatives #3)]. Another, undated, is a donation by Rotrou (called "de Nogent" in the heading of the charter) of property in Thivars, near Chartres, to Saint-Père de Chartres [heading: "De terra data in villa quæ Thevas dicitur a Rotroco de Nogiomo." body of charter: "In Dei nomine, Rotrocus seculari miliciæ deditus et Odonis comitis fidelitati devotus, ..." Cart. S.-Père de Chartres, 1: 87 (#4)]. In addition, two twelfth century references mention Rotrou in connection with the Perche during the wars of Richard I of Normandy with Thibaud "le Tricheur", count of Blois and Chartres. He is called count of the Perche by Wace in his Roman de Rou ["Rotro, li quens del Perche" Wace, Roman de Rou, 4134 (1: 187)], and he is connected with the Corbonnais in the Norman chronicle of Benoît de Sainte-More ["Rotrou e cil de Corbuneis" Benoît de Sainte-More, 22564 (2: 244)]. Rotrou is conjectured as the father of Melisende by Settipani [Settipani (2000), 253]. Onomastically (and geographically if his connection to Nogent is correct), he seems like a probable ancestor of the counts of Perche, and this conjecture would be a good possibility if it was Melisende's husband who was a child of viscountess Hildegarde.

Conjectured father (more probably her husband): Fulcois, count [of Mortagne?].
[Keats-Rohan (1997), 203 n. 73] In this conjecture, Fulcois avus of Rotrou (grandson of Melisende) is being interpreted as a more distant ancestor of Rotrou than the literal interpretation of "grandson". While not impossible, it is more likely that Rotrou was a grandson of Fuclois.


Bibliography

Anselme = Père Anselme, Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, 9 vols. (Paris, 1726-33).

Benoît de Saint-More = Francisque Michel, ed., Chronique des Ducs de Normandie par Benoît, 3 vols. (1836-44).

Bry (1620) = Gilles Bry, Histoire des pays et comté dv Perche et dvché d'Alençon (Paris, 1620).

Cart. S.-Benoît-sur-Loire = Maurice Prou & Alexandre Vidier, Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire (Paris, 1907).

Cart. S.-Denis de Nogent = Vicomte de Souancé & Charles Métais, Saint-Denis de Nogent-le-Rotrou 1031-1789 - Histoire et Cartulaire (Revised and expanded edition, Vannes, 1899).

Cart. S.-Père de Chartres = Benjamin Guérard, Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Saint-Père de Chartres, 2 vols. (Paris, 1840).

Cart. S.-Vincent du Mans = R. Charles & Menjot D'Elbenne, eds., Cartulaire de l'abbaye de Saint-Vincent du Mans (Ordre de Saint Benoît) (Mamers & Le Mans, 1886-1913).

Cuissard (1894-6) = Charles Cuissard, "Chronologie des Vicomtes de Châteaudun (960-1395)", Bulletins de la Société dunoise 8 (1894-6): 25-120.

Estournet (1928) = "Les origines historiques de Nemours et sa charte de franchises (1170)" (parts I-III), Annales de la Société Historique & Archéologique du Gâtinais 39 (1928): 105-158.

Keats-Rohan (1997) = K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, "'Un vassal sans histoire'?: Count Hugh II (c. 940/955 - 992) and the origins of Angevin overlordship in Maine", in K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, ed., Family Trees and the Roots of Politics (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1997): 189-210.

Lex (1892) = Léonce Lex, Eudes, comte de Blois, de Tours, de Chartres, de Troyes et de Meaux (995-1037) et Thibaud, son frère (995-1004) (Troyes, 1892).

Lot (1903) = Ferdinand Lot, Études sur le règne de Hugues Capet et la fin du Xe siècle (Paris, 1903).

Murs (1856) = M. O. des Murs, Histoire des comtes du Perche de la famille des Rotrou, de 943 à 1231 (Nogent-le-Rotrou, 1856).

Rec. actes Lothair & Louis V = Louis Halphen & Ferdinand Lot, eds., Recueil des actes de Lothaire et de Louis V rois de France (Paris, 1908).

Romanet (1890-1902) = Vicomte de Romanet, Géographie du Perche et chronologie de ses comtes (Documents sur la province du Perche, ser. 2, no. 1, Mortagne, 1890-1902).

Saint-Phalle (2000) = Edouard de Saint-Phalle, "Les comtes de Gâtinais aux Xe et XIe siècles", in Keats-Rohan & Settipani, eds., Onomastique et Parenté dans l'Occident médiéval (Oxford, 2000), 230-246.

Settipani (1997) = Christian Settipani, "Les comtes d'Anjou et leur alliances aux Xe et XIe siècles", in K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, ed., Family Trees and the Roots of Politics (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1997): 211-267.

Settipani (2000) = Christian Settipani, "Les vicomtes de Châteaudun et leur alliés", in Keats-Rohan & Settipani, eds., Onomastique et Parenté dans l'Occident médiéval (Oxford, 2000), 247-261.

Thompson (2002) = Kathleen Thompson, Power and Border Lordship in Medieval France. The County of Perche, 1000-1226 (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002).

Wace, Roman de Rou = Hugo Andresen, ed., Maistre Wace's Roman de Rou et des ducs de Normandie, 2 vols. (Heilbron, 1877-9).


Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 24 January 2011.

Minor changes made 27 January 2011.

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