Duke William IX of Aquitaine


‘Duke William was without a doubt a true original. He was excommunicated twice. On the first occasion, in 1114, when the bishop of Poitiers imposed the penalty for some unknown offence, he held the bishop at sword point in the cathedral and demanded absolution. He didn’t get it, which says something for the bishop’s courage and possibly explains why the duke’s crusade hadn’t achieved anything. The second excommunication was caused by William’s affair with the Viscountess of Chatellernault, alarmingly known as Dangerosa. It was said he kidnapped this mother of three and installed her in a tower in his palace at Poitiers. William of Malmesbury says he even had her portrait painted on his shield, so ‘I could bear her into battle as she had borne me into bed’. The duke’s wife was not at all happy about this.

William also fantasized about establishing a convent of prostitutes, and his verse includes a great deal of crude sexual joking, with women portrayed as fine horses to be mounted, or as captives, and he jokingly records his seduction by two ladies whose only concern was to avoid disclosure.’

– Jones. T., Ereira. A. 2004. Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives London, Great Britain: BBC Books (2005) p. 48

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