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Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence

Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence

Count of Provence
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Count of Provence
Gender male
Birth January 1, 1199 (Aix-en-Provence, canton of Aix-en-Provence-Nord-Est, arrondissement of Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône)
Death August 26, 1245 (Aix-en-Provence, canton of Aix-en-Provence-Nord-Est, arrondissement of Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône)
Family
Mother: GarsendaCountess of Forcalquier
Father: Alfonso IICount of Provence
Spouse: Beatrice of Savoy
Children: Eleanor of ProvenceBeatrice of ProvenceMargaret of ProvenceSanchia of Provence
The details
Biography

Ramon Berenguer IV or V (1198 – 19 August 1245), Count of Provence and Forcalquier, was the son of Alfonso II of Provence and Garsenda de Sabran, heiress of Forcalquier.

He was the first Count of Provence to live in the county in more than one hundred years.

Career

After his father's death (1209), Ramon was imprisoned in the castle of Monzón, in Aragon until he was able to escape in 1219 and claim his inheritance. He was a powerful and energetic ruler who added Forcalquier to his domain.

He and his wife were known for their support of troubadors, always having some around the court. He was known for his generosity, though his income did not always keep up. He wrote laws prohibiting nobles from performing menial work, such as farming or heavy labor.

Ramon had many border disputes with his neighbors, the Counts of Toulouse. In 1226, Ramon began to reassert his right to rule in Marseille. The citizens there initially sought the help of Ramon's father-in-law Thomas, Count of Savoy in his role as imperial vicar. However, they later sought the help of Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse.

In 1228, Ramon supported his father-in-law in a double-sided conflict against Turin and Guigues VI of Viennois. This small war was one of many rounds intended to more firmly establish control over trade from Italy into France, and Provence included several key routes.

While the Albigensian Crusade worked in his favor against Toulouse, Ramon was concerned that its resolution in the Treaty of Paris left him in a precarious position. Raymond turned his troops from fighting France to attempting to claim lands from Provence. When Blanche of Castile sent her knight to both Toulouse and Provence in 1233, Ramon entertained him lavishly, and the knight left well impressed by both the count and his eldest daughter, Margaret. Soon after, Blanche negotiated the marriage between Margaret and her son, Louis, with a dowry of ten thousand silver marks. Ramon had to get contributions from allies for a portion, and had to pledge several of his castles to cover the rest. Ramon and Beatrice travelled with their daughter to Lyon in 1234 to sign the marriage treaty, and then Margaret was escorted to her wedding in Sens by her uncles from Savoy, William and Thomas.

Shortly after, William began negotiating on Ramon's behalf with Henry III of England to marry his daughter Eleanor. Henry sent his own knight to Provence early in 1235, and again Ramon and his family entertained him lavishly. Henry wrote to William on June 22 that he was very interested, and sent a delegation to negotiate the marriage in October. Henry was seeking a dowry of up to twenty thousand silver marks to help offset the dowry he had just paid for his sister, Isabella. However, he had drafted seven different versions of the marriage contract, with different amounts for the dowry, the lowest being zero. Ramon shrewdly negotiated for that option, offering as consolation a promise to leave her ten thousand marks when he died.

In 1238, Ramon joined his brother-in-law, Amadeus IV at the court of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in Turin. Frederick was gathering forces to assert more control in Italy. Raymond VII of Toulouse was also summoned, and all expected to work together in the war.

In January 1244, Pope Innocent IV decreed that no one but the pope could excommunicate Ramon. In 1245, Ramon sent representatives to the First Council of Lyon, to discuss crusades and the excommunication of Frederick.

Ramon died in August 1245 in Aix-en-Provence, leaving the county to his youngest daughter, Beatrice.

Marriage and children

On 5 June 1219, Ramon married Beatrice of Savoy, daughter of Thomas, Count of Savoy. She was a shrewd and politically astute woman, whose beauty was likened by Matthew Paris to that of a second Niobe. The wedding also provided the 14-year-old Ramon with a powerful father-in-law to aid him in establishing his authority and protecting his interests. They had four daughters who reached adulthood, all of whom married kings.

  1. stillborn son (1220)
  2. Margaret of Provence (1221–1295), wife of Louis IX, King of France
  3. Eleanor of Provence (1223–1291), wife of Henry III, King of England
  4. stillborn son (1225)
  5. Sanchia of Provence (1228–1261), wife of Richard, King of the Romans
  6. Beatrice of Provence (1231–1267), wife of Charles I, King of Sicily

His daughters were all educated and literate.

Death and legacy

Ramon Berenguer IV died in Aix-en-Provence. At least two planhs (Occitan funeral laments) of uncertain authorship (one possibly by Aimeric de Peguilhan and one falsely attributed to Rigaut de Berbezilh) were written in his honour.

Giovanni Villani in his Nuova Cronica had this to say about Raymond:

Count Raymond was a lord of gentle lineage, and kin to them of the house of Aragon, and to the family of the count of Toulouse, By inheritance Provence, this side of the Rhone, was his; a wise and courteous lord was he, and of noble state and virtuous, and in his time did honourable deeds, and to his court came all gentle persons of Provence and of France and of Catalonia, by reason of his courtesy and noble estate, and he made many Provençal coblas and canzoni of great worth.

His four daughters

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