Discussion:
"Eudoxia" of Montpellier - part 3 - repudiation and death
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Peter Stewart
2020-03-08 00:11:02 UTC
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If we can credit the story in verse from a troubadour, Eudokia arrived
for her marriage with an immense dowry - even allowing for exaggeration,
it was quite probably substantial and even ostentatious since Manuel's
embassy was on the way to impress the royal court of France that a
marriage into the Byzantine imperial family would be advantageous.

This is an addition reason why Alfonso of Aragon and Guillem of
Montpellier were unlikely to have the temerity to switch bridegrooms -
bestowing a rich prize on an unexpected recipient - unless the Greek
ambassador had the personal authority to approve this. It would have
taken around 2+ months to obtain permission from Constantinople, and
it's scarcely credible that Manuel would have appreciated such a hold-up
to his ambassador's more important mission after a royal bride over the
matter of who should marry a young relative that he had thought suitable
only for a count of Provence, a second son who was beholden to his elder
brother and potentially (as he proved) subservient to Manuel's adversary
Frederick Barbarossa.

Anyway, Eudokia did marry Guillem VIII of Montpellier. According to
their grandson James of Aragon, this was after Guillem had held up the
embassy and insisted on the marriage, leaving the ambassador no choice
except to negotiate a contact making any child, male or female, heir to
Montpellier. Eudokia produced Guillem's only legitimate child, their
daughter Maria (mother of James). The alleged contract seems likely to
be a retrospective embellishment, since Guillem fathered male offspring
by his concubine and putative second wife Agnes and his eldest son born
to this bigamy became his successor.

It is notable that, despite her imperial background and the open
adultery of her husband, Eudokia became something of a nonentity as
viewed from Rome. Through most of the 1190s the papacy was engaged in a
bitter dispute with Philippe Auguste over the king's arbitrary
repudiation of his second wife, Ingeborg of Denmark, and his bigamy with
Agnes of Andechs-Meran. Evidently there was no appetite for a similar
struggle with Guillem over the same offense and timeframe: in 1191 Pope
Celestine III extended his apostolic protection to Guillem and his
namesake eldest son by Agnes, and the bull from Rome was copied into the
seigneurial cartulary of Montpellier inserting also the name of Agnes
herself as Guillem's wife. This was not in the original version as
recorded in Rome. Celestine was apparently undisturbed by Guillem's
domestic arrangements, as his legate convened a council at Montpellier
in December 1195 at which bigamy and divorce were not among the various
matters discussed. Pope Innocent III was later asked through the
archbishop of Arles to legitimate the sons of Agnes for the purposes of
feudal inheritance, and he famously refused to do so on the grounds that
this was secular business within the authority of the king. As to the
canonical matter of his separation from Eudokia, the pope specifically
said that Guillem had proposed nothing to justify a divorce - this
effectively precludes the legend that she had engaged in adultery with a
troubadour, since that in itself would have provided a substantial
argument on Guillem's part.

Eudokia's name is not recorded in the course of correspondence about
this, and she is referred to somewhat slightingly as "a certain Greek".
The papal court would of course have known her family origin. At no
stage were any influential relatives in Constantinople so much as
mentioned. Manuel had died in September 1180, before Eudokia's daughter
was born, and his son Alexios II was murdered exactly three years later
by Manuel's cousin Andronikos I who was in turn murdered in September
1185 (it was a dangerous month for Komnenoi). The Angelos dynasty had
taken power by the 1190s when Guillem was arguing over his obligations
to Eudokia, and no voice appears to have been raised from Constantinople
over her shabby treatment in Montpellier.

Innocent III's decretal "Per venerabilem" addressed to Guillem was
written in September/December 1202, obviously before Guillem's death
shortly after his testament dated 4 November in that year or at any
event before news of this had reached Rome. Eudokia was clearly still
living, but there is no medieval evidence for her supposed
reconciliation with Guillem on his deathbed. She is said to have been
sent to live at Aniane where his paternal uncle was then abbot, but
there is no reason to assume from this that she became a nun as
sometimes alleged: Aniane was a male monastery, and if she lived there
at all it was more probably as the abbot's guest (willing or otherwise)
than as a veiled religious.

There is also no medieval evidence for when Eudokia died, that is often
placed very soon after the death of her husband in November 1202. In the
records of her daughter's charter dated 6 August 1207, that was
mentioned before as the lost but twice-documented source for her name,
Eudokia is not said to be deceased. Guillem was explicitly dead
("quondam") but this description does not clearly extend also to his
wife who is named immediately after him without qualification.

Peter Stewart
Peter Stewart
2020-03-08 02:54:27 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
There is also no medieval evidence for when Eudokia died, that is often
placed very soon after the death of her husband in November 1202. In the
records of her daughter's charter dated 6 August 1207, that was
mentioned before as the lost but twice-documented source for her name,
Eudokia is not said to be deceased.
To be exact, the Latin notice of this charter gives the date 6 August
1207 ("Anno Incarnationis ... 1207 octavo Idus Aug.") - the other,
written in French by Pierre Louvet in the 1660s, gives 8 August instead
("La mesme année [1207] et le 8 aoust"). It is unclear if Louvet
recorded this from the original charter or from the earlier Latin notice
of it, but either way he evidently misunderstood the dating "VIII idus"
to mean 8th day of the month rather than correctly the 8th day
(inclusive) before the ides (13th) of August.

Peter Stewart

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