He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his womanizing

guilhem

Gather around, I bring you Guilhèm IX, the Duke of Aquitaine,  referred to in the 13th century vida as “one of the most courtly men in the world and one of the greatest deceivers of women. He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his womanizing, and a fine composer and singer of songs. He traveled much through the world, seducing women.” So basically, a medieval equivalent of a rockstar.

As a child of adultery, one could say that Guilhèm, Count of Poitiers and the grandfather of the infamous Queen Eleanor, was predestined to his casanovan lifestyle. To make Guilhèm legitimate, his father had to marry his mistress, walk to Rome to atone for his sin and get the Pope to approve Guilhèm as his legitimate heir.

Guilhèm married at the ripe age of 16, fathered seven children, and in the spirit of a proper “rock-star” managed to upset the church that had him excommunicated twice! The first time was over the taxes owed church. Guilhèm threatened to kill the Bishop if he didn’t absolve him, and the sly Bishop pretended to comply. But once Guilhèm removed the sword from his neck the bishop rattled out the rest of anathema, then all snotty and holier than thou presented his neck to the duke, telling him, “Go ahead, kill me now.” According to contemporaries, Guilhèm hesitated a moment before sheathing his sword and replying, “I don’t love you enough to send you to paradise.” 

The second time Guilhèm got himself excommunicated was over Lady Dangerose, a wife of one of his vassals. What do you do when you desire a woman married to your vassal? You abduct her:)  Once Guilhèm had Dangerose in his possession, he installed her in the tower of his castle in Poitiers. Sources say she was compliant and willing abductee. To further taunt Dangerose’s husband, Guilhèm had the likeness of Dangerose painted on his shield. At this point I feel bad for the D’s husband and Guilhèm’s wife, remember Guilhèm is married and has seven kids.

When the whole affair became known to Guilhèm’s wife, Philippa, she was furious. You read a lot about medieval women in England paying fees to remain single, but there are many cases like this one where the wife fights to stay married. Sadly (or not),  like the cuckolded husband of Dangerose, Philippa, too, was powerless against Duke Guilhèm. She appealed to her friends, but no one dared to raise arms and oppose their overlord. The Church sent a Papal legate to order Guilhèm to return Dangerose to her husband or else be excommunicated. Guilhèm chose to be excommunicated 🙂 His children with Philippa, especially his eldest son, didn’t take this lightly. So what did Guilhèm do to sooth the ruffled feathers of his son? As crazy as it sounds, he gave him Dangerose’s daughter for wife (she had children by her cuckolded husband). Don’t try to figure out the family relationships in that one. 

As was popular at the time, Guilhèm joined the Crusade, but while successful in seducing ladies, he failed as a commander and nearly got himself killed when  he fought Seljuk Turks.

But enough of that, lets have Guilhèm tell us how he has tricked two ladies into having sex with him:

In Auvergne, around Limoges,
I was going alone and incognito:
I found the wife of Sir Guari
and of Sir Bernart;
they greeted me simply by the name of Saint Leonard.

One told me in her tongue:
“God save you, Sir Pilgrim;
you certainly look of high status,
in my opinion,
but we see so many fools going around the world.”

And hear what I answered;
I didn’t say “ah” nor “bah”
(neither did I mention iron nor wood)
but only as much as:
“Babariol, babariol, babarian”

So Dame Agnes told Dame Ermessen:
“We have found what we looking for:
sister, by all means, let’s host him,
since he is dumb,
and nobody will know our purpose from him.”

One took me under her cape
and lead me into the room, by the hearth:
and know that I appreciated it,
and the fire was good
and I warmed myself gladly with those large cinders.
And they fed me capons
and know that I had more than two,
and there were neither a cook nor kitchen-boys
but only we three;
and the bread was white, and the wine good, and the pepper abundant.

“Sister, if this man is playing it dumb
and refrains from speaking for our sake
let’s bring in our red cat
right away:
it will make speak immediately, if he deceives us in any way.”

Agnes went fetch the bothersome thing
and it was big and had long whiskers
and I, as I saw it among us,
was so afraid of it
that I almost lost heart, and lust.

When we had drunk and eaten,
I stripped myself naked for their sake.
They brought in, from behind, the cat,
[which was] mean and treacherous:
one spread it from the ribcage down to the heels.
Suddenly, she pulled the cat by the tail
and it scratched:
they gave me more than a hundred sores that time
but I wouldn’t have budged, even if they had killed me.

Thereafter Dame Agnes told Dame Ermessen:
“He is dumb, it is clear:
sister, let’s get ready for merryment and pleasure.”
I lingered 41 days that way.

You shall hear how much I fucked them:
a hundred and eighty-eight times,
so much that they almost broke my equipment
and my tool;
and I can’t describe the aching, so much I was taken.

Monet, you shall go in the morning,
bringing my verse in your purse,
straight to the wife of Ser Guari
and of Sir Bernat,
and tell them, for the love of me, to kill the cat.

Sources: http://www.trobar.org/troubadours/coms_de_peiteu/

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