Fulk III, Count of Anjou

Fulk III, Count of Anjou

Fulk III (972 – 21 June 1040), called Nerra (that is, "le Noir", "the Black") after his death, was Count of Anjou from 21 July 987 to his death. He was the son of Geoffrey Greymantle and Adelaide of Vermandois.

He was the founder of Angevin power. He was only fifteen years of age when he succeeded his father. He had a violent but also pious temperament, partial to acts of extreme cruelty as well as penitence. In probably his most notorious act, he had his first wife (and cousin) Elisabeth of Vendôme burned to death at the stake in her wedding dress, after discovering her in adultery with a goatherd in December 999. He made four pilgrimages to the Holy Land in 1002, 1008, and 1038. In 1007, he built the great abbey at Beaulieu-lès-Loches. For all this, modern historiography has this to say:

cquote|Fulk of Anjou, plunderer, murderer, robber, and swearer of false oaths, a truly terrifying character of fiendish cruelty, founded not one but two large abbeys. This Fulk was filled with unbridled passion, a temper directed to extremes. Whenever he had the slightest difference with a neighbor he rushed upon his lands, ravaging, pillaging, raping, and killing; nothing could stop him, least of all the commandments of God. [Erdoes.]

". . . un des batailleurs les plus agités du Moyen Âge". [Achille Luchaire.]

Fulk fought against the claims of the counts of Rennes, defeating and killing Conan I of Rennes at the Battle of Conquereuil on 27 June 992. He then extended his power over the Counties of Maine and Touraine.

All of his enterprises came up against the no less violent ambition of Odo II of Blois, against whom he made an alliance with the Capetians. On 6 July 1016, he defeated Odo at the Battle of Pontlevoy. In 1025, after capturing and burning the city of Saumur, Fulk reportedly cried, "Saint Florentius, let yourself be burned. I will build you a better home in Angers." However, when the transportation of the saint's relics to Angers proved difficult, Fulk declared that Florentius was a rustic lout unfit for the city, and sent the relics back to Saumur.

Fulk also commissioned many buildings. Throughout his reign, while fighting against the Bretons and Blesevins, protecting his territory from Vendôme to Angers and from there to Montrichard, he had more than a hundred castles, donjons, and abbeys constructed, including those at Château-Gontier, Loches (a stone keep), and Montbazon. He built the donjon at Langeais (990), one of the first stone castles. These numerous pious foundations, however, followed many acts of violence against the church.

Fulk died in Metz while returning from his last pilgrimage. He is buried in the chapel of his monastery at Beaulieu. By his first wife Elisabeth, he left one daughter, Adela. By his second wife (1001), Hildegard of Sundgau, he had two children, Geoffrey Martel, his successor, and Ermengard.



*Bachrach, Bernard S. "Fulk Nerra, the Neo-Roman Consul, 987-1040: a Political Biography of the Angevin Count". University of California Press, 1993.
*Erdoes, Richard. "AD 1000: Living on the Brink of Apocalypse", 1988
*Fichtenau, Henry. "Living in the Tenth Century", 1991.

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