Prologue - A Rising Star
Chapter 3 - Aurora Nova
After the shock and terror that came with the rebellion, and subsequent execution, of Peire-Barnard de Foix, the Regency Council and the entirety of the Duchy of Toulouse, needed a break. For the remainder of 1073, and throughout 1074 the duchy experienced a remarkably calm period. Reports from around the time detail burgeoning markets in Toulouse itself as the newly constructed forestry industry got on to its feet. Additionally, census reports taken in Toulouse in 1074 indicate that the city added almost 10,000 new inhabitants over the course of 1073-74. Historians have begun to refer to this period of mid-1073 till the end of 1074 as "The Calm" because it was after this point that things began to radically change in France. As was noted earlier, the French political structure in the 11th century saw the nobility being ceded enormous amounts of power and autonomy where the King had been relegated to an almost solely religious role. Upon ascending the throne, Phillipe Capet had sought to change this. He'd begun trying to exercise more and more control over his nobles in an effort to reign them in. The first notable example of this was the institution, and attempted enforcement, of Pax Dei. Sources close to King Phillipe recorded that he believed it to be a logical extension of his mainly religious role that few people would object to, and, as it turned out, he was correct. Even Gui Guilhem d'Aquitaine and Guilhem de Toulouse accepted the King's pronouncements regarding Pax Dei. For Phillipe, however, this was just the beginning. He then began to demand more and more taxes of his vassals, and required them to supply him with a certain number of armed men per year that were to come and serve on his personal demense. These set of demands, as well as several others that began to come after, were those that the Southern nobility chose to ignore. Nobles in the North, however, didn't have this luxury due to their relatively small holdings and their proximity to Paris. This led to an increase in tensions between the nobles and the crown. King Phillipe, however, was no fool. He knew that his forces were more than a match for any one of the Northern nobles, and perhaps even a coalition of a few of them, but he knew that he could not withstand an uprising of the entire North, especially when he could not count on Aquitaine or Toulouse for extra troops. Therefore, King Phillipe decided to single out certain nobles for special treatment. These nobles, most notably the Duke of Flanders, were exempted from most of the taxation and other burdens that the other nobility had to labor under.
King Phillipe I was not known for his finesse or subtelty, but he was able to hammer together a rough coalition of nobles to allow him to expand his power.
The Duke of Flanders was easily the most powerful noble supporting King Phillipe. His lands supplied almost as many soldiers as the King's and were much wealthier.
The Duke of Anjou was a relatively minor noble in France and his inclusion in "The King's Men" has puzzled historians. The most common theory is that he was used simply to create another front for potential rebels to worry about.
The Duchy of Champagne's position on the German border, made its loyalty of paramount importance to King Phillipe. Historians also point out that the riches of the de Blois dynasty probably didn't hurt either.
While the Duke of Flanders was the most notable, and powerful, of these nobles, he was not the only one. The Duke of Anjou and the Duke of Champagne were both also afforded special treatment from the crown, in exchange for helping to enforce his will against the other nobles in the North. This group has come to be known as "The King's Men" among historians. King Phillipe and his cohorts were ultimately very successful in forcing the other nobles in Northern France to submit to King Phillipe's demands. It was only the common cause for independence that had bound Aquitaine and Toulouse together that made them relatively immune to the pressures of the Capets. This does not mean, however, that they were left to their own devices. Frequently, either King Phillipe or the noble he was trying to bend to his will would undoubtedly try to draw one or both of the Southern Duchies into the conflict. It was a case of the former being true on January 1, 1075. A letter addressed to Raimond de Toulouse was discovered during the renovation of the castle in Rodez, Raimond's capital. It was a fairly typical letter of the time period where King Phillipe was requesting the Duchy of Toulouse to mobilize its troops for one of a variety of exercises. This particular letter is of note, however, because the request was to mobilize not against a foreign enemy, but a domestic one.
The Duke of Valois didn't command many forces, but he used what he had to great effect during his rebellion against King Phillipe.
Herbert de Vermandois was not especially powerful in his own right. He ruled over only three provinces in central France, that together comprised the Duchy of Valois, and they were dangerously close to the Capetian demense. This, to all outside observers, made him seem an unlikely candidate to bring "The Calm" to an end, but fate had a different destiny in mind for the Duke of Valois. On approximately the 1st day of January in 1075, the Duke of Valois declared his independence from France. It's unknown whether or not the date had some significance to the Duke or his rebellion, or whether or not it was just a random occurrence, but nonetheless it caused the year of 1075 to open with a resounding bang. Records from around the time indicate that the Duke of Valois had spent the autumn and winter of 1074 gathering his men in the towns that bordered Capetian lands. When de Vermandois was finally prepared in January, he launched a lightning campaign into the personal demense of the Capets. Letters between Duke de Vermandois and his commanders indicate that he was attempting to quickly seize the Capetian demense, and force them to terms before King Phillipe was able to call for any of his allies. Initially the campaign met with tremendous success. The lands surrounding the fortresses of the Capets, including Paris itself, were quickly seized by the forces of Valois, and it seemed as if the King might be forced to capitulate to de Vermandois. Most historians agree that this desperate situation at the end of January 1075 is what caused King Phillipe to reach out to all his vassals, including the Duchy of Toulouse. Unbeknownst to the King, however, several days before his messenger arrived the Duchy of Aquitaine and the Duchy of Toulouse, through Frederi de Noailles, had signed a historic accord. The two duchies had pledged themselves publicly to each other and sworn that Southern France would be free from Capetian domination, or that the Houses of de Toulouse and d'Aquitaine would be destroyed in the attempt. Needless to say, both Duchies immediately refused the call of their King to come to arms against another rebellious vassal. Without the support of the South, the Capetian situation went from bad to worse. Several of their fortifications fell to the onslaught of the forces of Valois and even Paris itself seemed ready to capitulate, which was an eventuality that would mean the end of the war for King Phillipe. The calls from King Phillipe continued to arrive in the South and each time were resoundingly rejected. In fact, the last messenger from the King to be received in the Duchy of Toulouse was dragged out of the castle personally by Raimond de Toulouse. The true importance of that messenger's arrival was almost lost to history, if not for the dutiful record keeping of Toumas de Gourdon. Bishop de Gourdon remarks in his journal entry for June 19, 1075 that meetings beyond those made publicly known were held with this messenger. De Gourdon alludes that this person sent to the Duchy was not simply a mere messenger, but a high-ranking official within the court of King Phillipe Capet who was sent as a sort of last ditch effort to secure the troops, money, and support of Southern France during this rebellion. What came out of the meeting, however, was the last thing that King Phillipe could have hoped for. The Bishop of Toulouse goes on to say that not only did the Regency Council refuse to raise their troops for the king, but strongly suggested that they might join the rebellious Duke of Valois in order to secure their own independence. The Bishop records in his journal that they made clear in no uncertain terms that the only way Toulousian troops would be marching to Paris, was if they were there to help bind King Phillipe in chains. No one, not even the brilliant Frederi de Noailles, could have predicted the impact that lone meeting would have on the future of the French nation and the Occitan people.
While Frederi de Noailles always used the threat of war to secure King Phillipe's assent to the treaty, historians remain split on whether a hostile rebellion by the Duchy of Toulouse would have succeeded.
Scholars are still unclear on exactly what circumstances led to the Treaty of Rodez in November 1075, but all agree that it was the beginning of a new era in the Duchy of Toulouse. Between the end of January 1075 and November 1075, the rebellion had gone through many different phases. King Phillipe had managed to escape Paris with the aid of a loyalist breadmaker. Accounts of the escape differ, but the most commonly accepted is that the King disguised himself as a baker's apprentice and was allowed out of the city. The version that has the king baked inside a large cake and wheeled out of the city by the baker has less factual support, but perhaps is more interesting to imagine to the average history student. Whatever the case may be, King Phillipe's escape allowed him to rally what remained of his forces and free several of his stronghold's from the forces of Herbert de Vermandois. This proved to be the beginning of the end of the Duke of Valois's rebellion. While King Phillipe was a lackluster statesman, he was widely considered to be, even among his enemies, a renowned tactician and military commander. Once free from the confines of the royal castle in Paris, King Phillipe rallied "the King's Men" and their troops and began to systematically hunt down and destroy the rebel forces. Many military historians agree that failing to quickly capture King Phillipe had doomed the rebel cause many months earlier. The forces of the Duchy of Valois were far inferior in armament and numbers to the loyalist forces, so only a lightning campaign would have been enough to allow for a rebel victory. Historians generally commend the Duke of Valois for recognizing this fact, but fate was not kind enough to allow him to succeed in carrying out his rather well made plan. Therefore, by November 1075, the rebellion and cause of independence was nearly over for the rebels from Valois, for the Duchy of Toulouse, however, it was just beginning. Frederi de Noailles, the renowned chancellor for the Duchy of Toulouse, had spend most of his time during the Valois rebellion negotiating with representatives of the King in the ancient city of Marseille, which, at the time, was part of the independent Duchy of Provence. Few records of the negotiations still exist as they were conducted with the utmost secrecy, but Chancellor de Noailles recorded in his journal his planned course of action:
The chancellor's words turned out to be prophetic. The negotiations that he led in Marseille eventually led to the unprecedented Treaty of Rodez, which guaranteed Toulousian autonomy within the French kingdom. While the document contains much fluff about France's continued "overlordship" and "supervision" of the territory, it is clear to any objective outsider that this document granted Toulouse the independence that it had been seeking for the past decade. The Regency Council celebrated their triumph in magnificent style, with festivals and feasts lasting nearly a month. Raimond de Toulouse personally financed a tournament to be held in honor of Duke Zavie de Toulouse and Toulousian Independence. The joy that washed over the newly independent duchy was, however, somewhat muted. Absent from all of the joy and frivolity was Duke Gui Guilhem d'Aquitaine, long-time friend and ally of the Duchy of Toulouse. For reasons that are still unclear, the Duchy of Aquitaine was never included, or in fact invited, to the negotiations which led to the independence of Toulouse. Therefore, the Duke of Aquitaine found out only when the treaty was officially announced that his long-time allies had gained their independence without him. This, perhaps obviously, caused an ever-widening rift to form between Duke Gui Guilhem and the Regency Council. There are several letters between various members of the Regency Council and the aging Duke of Aquitaine that illustrate the falling out. In the end, the Duke of Aquitaine refused to take part in anymore discussions about "Occitan Unity and Independence". In fact, from the beginning of 1076 until his death, the Duke of Aquitaine was noted as being one of the staunchest supporters of the loyalist movement within the French kingdom.
The King is scared, which is good for our cause. Before the rebellion of Valois he was unsettled by our Occitan pride, now I believe the mere mention of it causes him to quake with fear. Raimond tells me that the siege of Paris is taking too long, and that it is unlikely the rebellion will continue into the new year, but I think it will make little difference. The King need only remain under threat for a little while longer for our negotiations to be successful. I admit, I am not used to using fear as a bludgeon during negotiations, but it seems to be the most effective tactic. I have constantly alluded to a rebellion of all of Southern France against the King, and it has made them more pliable. Toulousian independence cannot be far off.
(Le Roi a peur, ce qui est bon pour notre cause. Avant la rébellion de Valois, il a été perturbé par notre fierté Occitan, maintenant je crois que la simple mention de celui-ci lui cause à trembler de peur. Raimond me dit que le siège de Paris est trop long, et qu'il est peu probable que la rébellion va continuer dans la nouvelle année, mais je pense qu'il fera peu de différence. Le roi suffit restent sous la menace d'un peu plus longtemps pour nos négociations pour réussir. Je l'avoue, je ne suis pas habitué à utiliser la peur comme d'une matraque pendant les négociations, mais il semble être la tactique la plus efficace. J'ai constamment fait allusion à une rébellion de tout le sud de la France contre le Roi, et il les a rendus plus flexibles. L'indépendance Toulousain ne peut pas être loin.)
The alliance between Provence and Toulouse created a new Occitan Alliance in Southern France to combat any attempts King Phillipe might make to bring the Duchy of Toulouse back under his thumb.
The falling out with the Duke of Aquitaine put the newly independent Duchy of Toulouse in a precarious position. Aquitaine had commanded most of the money, resources, and most importantly troops, which helped to make more real any threats that the Southern Nobles had made towards King Phillipe. Without Aquitainian protection, the Duchy of Toulouse was at risk of being re-absorbed into the Kingdom of France, once King Phillipe was in full command of the country. To help bolster their position, they needed new allies, so the Regency Council once again called on Frederi de Noailles to serve the duchy. De Noailles first course of action was to attempt to repair relations with Aquitaine, which met with limited success. The chancellor was able to convince the Duke of Aquitaine to not support any military action against Toulouse, but not to once again enter into an alliance. The Duke of Aquitaine remarked that the notion of Occitan brotherhood had died with the Treaty of Rodez. Seeing that avenue closed to him, Frederi reached out to other Occitan rulers throughout the area. He found a more than amiable partner in the Duchy of Provence. Negotiations with the independent duchy continued throughout 1076, but in November the treaty was finalized. The Duchy of Toulouse and Duchy of Provence had pledged fraternal loyalty to each other and their new cause. The dawn of 1077 saw a new power growing in Southern France, throughout all the halls of France word of this new "Occitan Alliance" was whispered in dark corners and feasting halls. Men of Occitan heritage and their families were said to flock to the two duchies so that they could be a part of this new world developing in Southern France. One thing was for certain, by the end of the year 1078, the influx of Occitan people to Toulouse had caused a massive upswing in the wealth of the duchy and its people. What the future held for this Occitan Alliance remained to be seen, but, for now, the people of Toulouse and Provence could revel in their new friendship and independence.
The influx of people from all over France to the new independent Occitan homeland brought much wealth to both Provence and Toulouse.
Well, there's another update for everyone to enjoy. Toulouse has managed to gain its independence, but it cost them the support of Aquitaine in the process. It remains to be seen whether this new "Occitan Alliance" will stand up to France if it comes to that. As always, comments and feedback are always appreciated. I'd especially like to hear back on the reign summary, as I've been trying to decide whether to do one for the Regency Council before I begin the Zavie updates in earnest. Thanks to all who continue reading!