Geoffrey II, Count of Anjou


Geoffrey II, Count of Anjou

Geoffrey II of Anjou, called "Martel" ("the Hammer"), was Count of Anjou from 1040 to 1060. He was the son of Fulk the Black. He was bellicose and fought against the Duke of Aquitaine, the Count of Blois, and the Duke of Normandy. During his twenty-year reign he especially had to face the ambitions of the Bishop of Le Mans, Gervais de Château-du-Loir, but he was able to maintain his authority over the County of Maine. Even before the death of his father in 1040, he had extended his power up to Saintonge, where he founded the Abbey aux Dames.

"Geoffrey, count of the Angevins, nicknamed Martel, a treacherous man in every respect, frequently inflicted assaults and intolerable pressure on his neighbors." So reads the first mention of this man in the "Gesta Normannorum Ducum".

"In alliance with King Henry I of France, Count Geoffrey laid siege to Tours in the winter of 1042-3. After the battle of Nouy on 21 August 1044 Count Theobald I of Blois-Chartres (1039-89) was taken prisoner by [Count Geoffrey] , to whom he surrendered Tours with Chinon and Langeais, excluding, however, the monastery of Marmoutier." (ibid)

Henry and Geoffrey became estranged after this, and were not reconciled again until c. 1052, when their names appear together in a charter of August of that year. This is in conjunction with the rebellion of William of Talou against the duke of Normandy, and Count Geoffrey's taking possession of the city of Mans (shortly after 26 March 1051).

Allied once again with King Henry, Count Geoffrey assaulted Normandy and seized the towns of Domfront and Alençon, evidently with the help of treachery within. Duke William laid siege to Domfront, which resisted his efforts to retake it throughout the winter of 1052. And it was at this point that Talou withdrew from the siege and started his rebellion. Duke William's subsequently rapid retaking of first Alençon and then Domfront drove Count Geoffrey back across the Norman border into Maine.

While Count Geoffrey was off-balance, Duke William laid siege to Talou's castle at Arques. King Henry failed to relieve Arques, and Talou's rebellion had failed and he was exiled by late 1053. In late January, early February of 1054, Count Geoffrey and King Henry together invaded Normandy and marched down the Seine toward Rouen. The King had divided his army and sent the other wing through eastern Normandy under the command of his brother Eudes, supported by Count Reginald of Clermont, Count Ralph of Montdidier, and Count Guy I of Ponthieu. This army was defeated in a battle near Mortemer. Upon learning of this reverse, King Henry insisted upon beating a hasty retreat out of Normandy, and perforce Count Geoffrey accompanied him.

For the next several years, the war was centered in the County of Maine, with Duke William on the offensive. But King Henry in 1057, "burning to avenge the insult inflicted on him by the duke, summoned Geoffrey, count of Anjou, to prepare a large army for another expedition into Normandy." (GND) This combined effort placed Duke William temporarily on the defensive. He retreated before the invaders as they moved deeper into Normandy. After pentrating to the Bessin, the Franco-Angevin army began to ford the River Dives near the estuary which is tidal. After the king and Count Geoffrey had crossed over, the remainder of their army got stuck on the opposite bank by the incoming tide. Duke William launched a sudden attack and defeated them. King Henry and Count Geoffrey withdrew again from Normandy and never returned. Count Geoffrey continued to offer resistance in Maine against the Norman expansion until his death on 14 November 1060.

An unusual entry in the cartulary of Ronceray describes a dispute over a vineyard seized by Geoffrey Martel and granted to his "wives, or rather concubines", Agnes, Grécie, Adele, and Adelaide. The first wife, Agnes of Burgundy, was the widow of William V of Aquitaine; she and Geoffrey married in 1032, but had divorced by 1050. He then married Grécie of Langeais, but dismissed her to marry Adele, the daughter of a "Count Odo", perhaps Odo II of Blois. Later he divorced Adele, and took Grécie back as his wife. His last wife was a German woman named Adelaide.

Despite these marital escapades, Geoffrey died childless, after being made a monk in Saint-Nicolas d'Angers in 1060. He was succeeded by his nephew Geoffrey III of Anjou.

ources

* Duby, Georges. The "Knight, the Lady, and the Priest: the making of modern marriage in medieval France", 1983.

* The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, edited and translated by Elisabeth M. C. Van Houts, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995.

* William the Conqueror, by David C. Douglas, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, 1964.


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