Counts of Blois

During the Middle Ages, the counts of Blois were among the most powerful vassals of the King of France.

Count of Blois
Crown of a Count of France (variant).svg
Old Arms of Blois.svg
Arms of the House of Blois
Creation date832
Created byLouis the Pious
PeerageNobility of France
First holderWilliam, Count of Blois
Last holderGaston, Duke of Orléans
Subsidiary titles
StatusDissolved
Extinction date1660
Seat(s)Château of Blois

This title of nobility seems to have been created in 832 by Emperor Louis the Pious for Count William, the youngest son of Adrian, Count of Orléans. Over a few decades, the county was gathered to the royal lands of France until the end of the 9th century, before being relegated to the status of viscount.

From its second creation in 956 to the definitive integration to the Dukedom of Orleans in 1397, the county was directed by the last viscount's descendants, Theobald I. His descendants, called House of Blois ended up related to a large number of European noble families.

In 1397, the title was ceded by Count Guy II in the favor of Duke Louis I of Orléans, who was the second son of King Charles V. The very last hereditary count of Blois was his grandson, Duke Louis II, who annexed the county to the Crown lands of France when he was crowned King of France in 1498 under the name of Louis XII.

The title reappeared in 1626 when Duke Gaston of Orléans was offered a newly independent County of Blois from Orléans, but King Louis XIV refused this favor to his brother, Duke Philippe, when he received the traditional apanage in 1660.

Carolingian county (832–c.900)Edit

It is likely, but not certain, that the title of count of Blois was granted before the year 832.

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
  William of Orléans
(died in 834)
832–834 None Son of Count Adrian of Orléans, he was invested with the title of first Count of Blois by King Louis the Pious,[1] being his father's vassal. By 834, he allied with King Pepin I of Aquitaine so that the latter could recover his kingdom, which had been given to his half–brother, King Charles II.[2] The mission was successful, but William died, with no descendants. His brother Odo was appointed as his heir but died the same day.
  Robert the Strong
(c. 815 – Sept. 866)
834–866 Margrave of Neustria
Count of Orléans
Count of Tours
Count of Anjou
Count of Auxerre
Count of Nevers
Supposed son of Count Robert III of Worms and Waldrade, the last daughter of Count Adrian, who would have inherited the county as a dowry following the death of her two brothers and her husband in the war against King Charles II. He inherited the county of Orléans around 860 following the fall of Count William of Orléans, uncle of the previous one.[1]
  Hugh the Abbot
(died in 886)
866–886 Margrave of Neustria
Count of Paris
Count of Orléans
Count of Tours
Count of Anjou
Count of Auxerre
Count of Nevers
Son of Count Conrad I of Auxerre and Adelaide of Tours, he was Robert the Strong's sworn enemy before his death, but he inherited his possessions and raised Robert's two orphaned sons, Odo and Robert I.[3]
  Odo
(died in 898)
886–888 King of the Franks
Margrave of Neustria
Count of Paris
Count of Orléans
Count of Tours
Count of Anjou
Eldest son of Robert the Strong, elected King of the Franks by 888, he decided to pass on his other titles to his brother Robert I.
  Robert I
(died in 923)
888 – c. 900 Margrave of Neustria
Count of Paris
Count of Orléans
Count of Tours
Younger brother of the previous one, he was not elected King when his brother died in 898. He focused on the counties of Paris and Orléans, and he decided to gradually delegate the management of Blésois, Touraine and Anjou to viscounts.[4]

Viscounty (c.900–956)Edit

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
  Garnegaud
or Odo of Chartres
(died in 906)
c. 900–906 Count of Chartres Possible grandson of the deposed Count William of Orléans, his brother Theobald II is said to have bought back the county of Chartres in 886 and passed it on to Odo when he died. Married to Rothilde of Tours, Odo would have been named viscount by King Robert I. He would have died a few years after taking up his position, which is why Robert I would have recovered it at his death. Historians do not know if Garnegaud and Eudes were the same person or not.
  Robert I
(died in 923)
906–923 King of the Franks
(from 922)
Margrave of Neustria
Count of Paris
Count of Orléans
When Odo died, Robert took over the management of the county until his death. He was eventually elected King by 922.
  Hugh the Great
(c. 898 – 956)
923–940 Duke of the Franks
Margrave of Neustria
Count of Paris
Count of Orléans
Count of Tours
Count of Anjou
Son of the preceding one. After having been invested Duke of the Franks in 936, he ended up offering the domain in the form of a viscounty to Theobald the Elder, like he had given him the viscounty of Tours in 909.
Theobald the Elder
(c. 890 – died in 943)
940–943 Viscount of Tours Possible son of Viscount Odo of Chartres (or Garnegaud), he was made Viscount of Tours in 909, then Viscount of Blois in 940. He married Richilde of Maine, granddaughter of Carolingian King Charles II.
Theobald I of Blois,
aka Theobald the Trickster
(c. 910 – 977)
943–956 Viscount of Tours Son of Theobald the Elder and Richilde. He married Countess Luitgarde of Vermandois. At first close to Hugh the Great, he was offered the viscounty of Tours in addition to his inheritance from Blois. He started to build many fortresses on his domain. At the Hugh's death by 956, Theobald preferred to turn to the Carolingian King Lothair II, and took advantage of this to become Count of Blois and Tours.

House of Blois (956–1230)Edit

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
Theobald I of Blois,
aka Theobald the Trickster
(c. 910–977)
956–977 Count of Tours
Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Provins
Lord of Chinon
Lord of Saumur
After 956, Theobald continued to conquer surrounding territories like Vierzon, Sancerre, Chinon, Saumur, Beaugency, and Provins.
  Odo I of Blois
(c. 950 – died in 996)
977–996 Count of Tours
Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Provins
Count of Reims
Count of Beauvais
Count of Dreux
Second son of Count Theobald I and Luitgarde, he succeeded to his father after his brother's death in Normandy. He attacked Count Bouchard I of Vendôme, a King Hugh Capet's ally, and conquered Melun. He bought his alleagence to the King by giving the county of Dreux to him. He married the Carolingian Bertha of Burgundy.
  Theobald II of Blois
(c. 983 – 11 July 1004)
996–1004 Count of Tours
Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Provins
Count of Reims
Count of Beauvais
Elder son of Count Odo I, her reign was mainly supervized by his mother, who remarried King Robert II. The King took back Tours from Count Fulk III of Anjou, but Theobald died due to exhaustion on the way back from Rome in 1004, when he was 19.
  Odo II of Blois
(c. 985 – 15 Nov. 1037)
1004–1037 Count of Tours
Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Provins
Count of Reims
Count of Beauvais
Count of Sancerre
Count of Meaux
Count of Troyes
Younger brother of Count Theobald II, he declared war to all his neighbors, and refused to give back his dowry (half of the county of Dreux) to Duke Richard II of Normandy. He continued to fight against Count Fulk III of Anjou, and finally won against him, but he was defeated in his turn in Pontlevoy by Count Herbert I of Maine. By 1022, he inherited the county of Troyes and Meaux from his cousin, and gathered the Blois-Champagne territory. Since he was also son of Bertha of Burgundy, he claimed his succession rights over the Kingdom of Arles from 1032 onwards, but he was killed next to Bar-le-Duc 5 years later.
  Theobald III of Blois,
or Theobald I of Champagne
(c. 1019 – Sept. 1089)
1037–1089 Count of Tours
Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Provins
Count of Reims
Count of Beauvais
Count of Sancerre
Count of Meaux
Count of Troyes
Lord of Château-Thierry
Elder son of Count Odo II, who transmitted him the county, but Theobald refused to recognize King Henry I's legitimacy. As a result, the King took the county of Tours back to give it to his ally, Count Geoffrey IV of Anjou, after the battle of Nouy of 1044. He gathered again his father's territories of Blois and Champagne by getting rid of his cousin, Count Odo, and established Champagne as a proper county. He married his father's hoe's daughter: Gersent of Le Mans.[5]
  Stephen II of Blois, or
Stephen Henry of Blois
(c. 1045 – died in 1102)
1089–1102 Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Provins
Count of Sancerre
Count of Meaux
Count of Reims
Elder son of Count Theobald III, he married Adela of Normandy, who was actually William the Conqueror's daughter. Under his wife's influence, he was among the first noblemen in responding to Pope Urban II's call for the First Crusade. With other Counts, he fell out of favor when they left the Siege of Antioch, but Count Stephen found a more honorable death at the Second battle of Ramla of 1102. His second son was Stephen, King of England (1135–1154).
  Theobald IV of Blois,
or Theobald II of Champagne
aka Theobald the Great
(c. 1090/1095 – 10 Jan. 1152)
1102–1152 Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Troyes
Count of Champagne
Lord of Sancerre
First son of Count Stephen II and Adela of Normandy, his reign was managed by his mother until his majority. He faced upheavals from his vassal Hugh III of Le Puiset. When his uncle went to the Holy Land, he inherited the County of Champagne. He was approached by the Norman barons to become King of England, who also called on him to become their Duke but, in the end, his brother Stephen was chosen in 1135. Instead, he turned the Champagne into a powerful county, and founded the Champagne fairs.
  Theobald V of Blois
aka Theobald the Good
(1130 – died in 1191)
1152–1191 Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
When his father Count Theobald IV died, his territories were split between his sons, among which Theobald received the county of Blois and the Champagne was offered to Henry. Theobald tried to conquer Vendôme and took part of Henry the Young King's rebellion to reconquer Tours. He married Princess Alice and, as a consequence, entered into the Royal family of France. With his nephew Count Henry II of Champagne, he joined the Third Crusade, but was killed during the Siege of Acre in 1191.
  Louis I of Blois
(1171 – 14 April 1205)
1191–1205 Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Duke of Nicaea
Son of Count Theobald V, whom he beneathed the county from. He married Lady Catherine of Clermont who was the female heir of the county of Clermont. He was also part of the Fourth Crusade, and was made in 1204 Duke of Nicaea, Anatolia. He was killed the following year, during the Battle of Adrianople, on April 14th.
  Theobald VI of Blois
(1190–1218)
1205–1218 Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Count of Clermont
Unique son of Count Louis, he inherited both counties of Blois and Clermont. He got leprosy when he travelled to Spain, and died in 1218 while being recluse and having no descendant. The counties of Blois, Chartres, and Châteaudun were split between his aunts, Lady Margaret and Lady Isabelle.
  Margaret of Blois
(1170 – Sept. 1230)
1218–1230 Countess of Châteaudun Third daughter of Count Theobald V and Princess Alice, she inherited the counties of Blois and Châteaudun when her nephew died. Her husband, Lord Walter II of Avesnes, was the jure uxoris Count during her life.

House of Avesnes (1230–1241)Edit

Title held by House of Avesnes.

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
  Mary of Blois
(c. 1200 – 1241)
1230–1241 Countess of Châteaudun
Lady of Avesnes
Lady of Bohain
Lady of Guise
Daughter of Countess Margaret and Lord Walter II of Avesnes, she inherited all her parents' domains, and thus became Countess of Blois and Châteaudun, and Lady of Avesnes, Bohain, and Guise. She married Count Hugh I of St Pol who was the jure uxoris Count during her reign.

House of Châtillon (1241–1397)Edit

Title held by House of Châtillon.

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
  John I of Châtillon
(died in 1279)
1241–1279 Count of Chartres
Count of Châteaudun
Lord of Avesnes
Lord of Guise
Son of Countess Mary and Count Hugh, he was Count of Blois, then Count of Dunois and Chartres, and Lord of Avesnes and Guise.
  Joan of Châtillon
(c. 1253 – 29 Jan. 1292)
1279–1292 Countess of Chartres
Countess of Châteaudun
Lady of Guise
Daughter of Count John and Lady Alix of Britanny. She sold the county of Chartres to King Philip IV, and died a few years later. Her holdings were transmitted to her cousin, Hugh.
  Hugh II of Châtillon
(9 April 1258 – 1307)
1292–1307 Count of Châteaudun Grandson of Countess Mary through his father, Count Guy III of St Pol, he renounced to the county of St Pol when he received that of Blois by 1292.
  Guy I of Châtillon
(1298–1342)
1307–1342 Count of Châteaudun
Lord of Fréteval
Lord of Château-Renault
Son of Count Hugh II and Béatrice of Dampierre, he was part of the beginning of the Hundred Years' War when it broke out in 1337, along with his brother-in-law, King Philip VI.
  Louis II of Châtillon
(1320–1346)
1342–1346 Count of Châteaudun
Lord of Fréteval
Son of Count Guy and Margaret of Valois, he beneathed the county of Blois and Dunois, but died during the battle of Crécy, in northern France.
  Louis III of Châtillon
(bef. 1340–1372)
1346–1372 Count of Châteaudun
Count of Soissons
Lord of Fréteval
Son of Count Louis I, he succeeded to his father when he was a child, so her mother was regent during his reign's first years. He died with no heirs and devolved by his wills the counties of Blois and Avesnes to his brother, John.
  John II of Châtillon
(1340–1381)
1372–1381 Count of Châteaudun
Count of Soissons
Lord of Fréteval
Brother of Count Louis II, he died with no heirs after losing the War of the Guelderian Succession.
  Guy II of Châtillon
(1346 – 22 Dec. 1397)
1381–1397 Count of Châteaudun
Lord of Fréteval
Brother of the two precedent Counts, he was born a few months after his fater's death. He inherited the counties of his brother John II and all his close family's remaining territories: Blois, Châteaudun, Soissons, and Avesnes. By 1360, he was taken prisionier by the English as a consequence of treaty of Brétigny. His release costed him the county of Soissons. In 1374, he married his cousin Marie of Namur, with whom he had a son, Lord Louis III, who died in 1391. Therefore, Guy took the decision the give his titles to Duke Louis I of Orléans (even though there were closer heirs in the House of Blois-Châtillon). From 1391 to his death, he remained the usufructuary count of Blois.

House of Orléans (1397–1498, 1626–1660)Edit

Even though the rights on the county were given to Duke Louis I of Orléans, Bloisian was not immediately integrated in the Crown's land. As a results, Dukes of Orléans also did hold the title of Count of Blois, until 1498 when Duke Louis II became King Louis XII.

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
  Louis I of Orléans
(13 March 1372 – 23 Nov. 1407)
1397–1407 Duke of Orléans
Duke of Touraine
Count of Valois
Count of Soissons
Count of Angoulême
Count of Vertus
Second son of King Charles V, Orléanais is given to him as an apanage in 1392, then he received the full rights on Bloisian when Count Guy II died in 1397. He was assassinated on the Duke of Burgundy's order, John the Fearless.
  Charles of Orléans
(24 Nov. 1394 – 5 Jan. 1465)
1407–1465 Duke of Orléans
Count of Valois
Count of Soissons
Son of the precedent one. After a journey in England, he married Marie of Cleves, settled in the château of Blois then in Tours where he nogotiated a truce in 1444 which eventually would end up the Hundred Years' War.
  Louis II of Orléans,
then Louis XII of France
(27 June 1462 – 1st Jan. 1515)
1465–1498 Duke of Orléans
Count of Valois
King of France (after 1498)
Son of the precedent one. Born in the château of Blois, he went to Amboise when King Charles VIII died in 1498. He was immediately crowned under the name Louis XII. As a consequence, the duchy of Orléans came back to the Crown's lands, and the entire King's court moved to Blois.

On August 6, 1626, after a failed conspiracy in Nantes, Duke Gaston reluctantly accepted to marry the wealthy lady Duchess Marie of Montpensier, as Cardinal Richelieu wanted him to do. As a gift, he received the duchies of Orléans and of Chartres, plus the county of Blois.

Portrait Name Reign Other titles Description
  Gaston of Orléans
(24 April 1608 – 2 Feb. 1660)
1626–1660 Duke of Orléans
Duke of Valois
Duke of Anjou
Duke of Chartres
Lord of Montargis
Second son of King Henry IV, the county was gifted to him as an apanage once he married Marie de Bourbon, Duchess of Montpensier in 1626.

When Gaston died, his Orléans-based apanage came back to the Crown. King Louis XIV decided to give it to his own younger brother, Duke Philippe, excepted Bloisian (and so the châteaux of Blois and Chambord) as well as Languedoc. Therefore, the county became definitively part of French territory.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Merlet 1900, p. 14.
  2. ^ Michel-Jean-François Ozeray (1834). Histoire générale, civile et religieuse de la cité des Carnutes et du pays Chartrain, vulgairement appelé la Beauce, depuis la premiere migration des Gaulois jusqu'à l'année de Jésus-Christ 1697, époque de la dernière scission de notre territoire par l'établissement du diocese de Blois - Volume 2 (in French). p. 111. ISBN 978-1271144358..
  3. ^ Michel-Jean-François Ozeray (1834). ibid (in French). p. 114. ISBN 978-1271144358.
  4. ^ Hélène Noizet (2007). La fabrique de la ville : espaces et sociétés à Tours (ixe – xiiie siècle) (in French). p. 101. ISBN 978-2-85944-572-0.
  5. ^ Evergates 1999, p. 11.

SourcesEdit