Beatrice this was an act of defiance, perhaps even of treachery. She was countess of Mauguio, and no one, not even her son, would take the title without her good grace. She responded by disin- heriting him, eventually giving her county to her daughter Ermessend, who was quickly married to the future Raimond VI of She had vindicated her dynastic self-esteem and she quietly
retired on a pension of
sol. Melg. per year.
Beatrice and Ermengard were heiresses, fulfill- ing a role that had been modeled by other heiresses at least as far back as Garsendis, who inherited the
who took over the lordship on her husband’s death in 1123; Tiburgis, whose father, William of
bequeathed her five castles plus all his lands and rights in the Narbonnais (though he had a son who succeeded to most of the remain- der of his holdings); and Adalais, widow of
gundio, who claimed the castles of
Poujet as her marriage portion. (In her settlement with her brother-in-law, William VIII, she gave up those two castles in return for the castle of san and 2,000 sol.
These women of the great aristocracy had their
a number of rural
castles--from her father, Viscount William, in
other heiress was his widow, who received the city of Agde and some neighboring fortresses19 She represents the more frequent case of women as major players in regional politics. Among the
counterparts further down the hierarchy, for prac- tices of dowry, marriage gift, and succession were the same as far down the social scale as documents let us reach. domina who received oaths of fidelity for castles, so there were others who gave them (and received them from their fel-
As there were
Trencavels, viscounts of Albi,
and fighting men). Among the cas-
Nimes and rulers of Carcassonne and the widows appear as rulers of their late husbands' do- mains in nearly every generation, beginning with Ermengard, sister of the last count of Carcassonne, who with her husband, Raimond-Bernard, allied with the count and countess of Barcelona to take over her brother’s lands. After Raimond-Bernard’s death (in 1074 or soon thereafter), this Ermengard quickly established herself in her late husband's
territories of Albi and Nimes as well as her
Carcassonne, and the Razes.
tles held by the lords of Montpellier, six had a woman castellan at some time during the twelfth century. Even the powerful vicariate of the city fell to an heiress at the very end of the
Were these women in any way “exceptional”? It is meaningless to count up those who can be iden- tified in the surviving documents and compare their number to the men in equivalent positions. First, the information that survives is not a ran- dom sample; there is no way, therefore, to esti- mate the margin of error in whatever percentage
Oaths of fidelity for twenty-five castles sworn to her, or jointly to her and her son sur- vive in the Trencavel She must be con- sidered the real founder of the Trencavel dynasty.20
So too in the lineage of the lords of Montpellier, there were Ermessendis, the widow of
we might calculate.
Second, being an “exception”
is not a matter of numbers but of expectations. Medieval society was not an equal opportunity employer. In the line of succession in Occitan wills, daughters took their place after their broth- ers. Dowries were given to couples, and marriage
18. HGL 6:44-45; HGL 8~93.
J. Rouquette and A.
Cart&ire de Mapelone, z ~01s.
5x316. 20. 82&64, 21. Cheyette, 8~4ff. Germain, 551; 440, 441; 22. Castties: LIM
“The ‘Sale’ of Carcassonne to the Counts of Barcelona and the Rise of the Trencavels,”
Lit&r imtrumentomm mem~ri&um (Monrpellier: SociCtC archeologique,
ed., Adalais, no. 494.
nos. 348, 360, 365, 367;
esp. Ermessendis: A.
no 468; Poujet: nos. 482,485. 495,
119. See also Adalais, vicar ofpaulhan (no. 541).
offem d Georges Dub
23. It is on this point that we part company with
Claudie Amado, “Femmes entre elles,” Boeck, 1992), 125-5 esp. 14Off.