Sunday, 14 June 2009

Chapter 25

Of Aimon Vaire-Vache

Royal power ought not to appear confined to narrow limits in any part of its lands, ‘for we know that kings have long arms.’[1] From the frontiers of Berry there came to him Alard Guillebaud[2], a clever man with a silver tongue to plead a case of most eloquently on behalf of his son-in-law. He humbly begged the king to use his sovereign power to call before his court Aimon Vaire-Vache, lord of Bourbon[3], who refused all justice, and to punish him for the presumptuous boldness with which he had disinherited his nephew, the son of his elder brother Archambaud. He asked that Louis should determine by a judgement of Frenchmen what each of them should have.[4] The king inspired both by love of justice and by pity for churches and the poor, for if evil wars arose from this affair the wretched poor would have to pay the penalty for other men’s pride, summoned Aimon to plead his cause. But in vain. Distrusting justice, he refused to come. So, prevented neither by pleasure nor by laziness[5], Louis set out for Berry with a large army, went to Germigny[6] where Aimon had a very strong castle and began to attack it vigorously. 

When Aimon saw that he could not by any means hold out, he lost hope of keeping his freedom and his castle. Seeing only one way to safety, he threw himself at the king’s feet and, to the amazement of many, squirmed round time and again, imploring Louis to treat him mercifully. He surrendered his castle, delivered himself up totally to the royal discretion and submitted to justice with greater humility than he had earlier shown pride in refusing it. The king kept the castle and took Aimon back to France for judgement. He settled the quarrel between the uncle and the nephew most justly and piously by a judgement of the French or by a compromise and with much toil and cost to himself put an end to the oppressions suffered by many. 

He often used to accomplish deeds like this to bring peace to the churches and the poor in Berry, but I have decided not to recount the rest to avoid boring my readers. 


[1] Ovid, Heroides, XVII, 166

[2] Alard Guillebaud was lord of Chateau Meillant and probably the builder of the castle of La-Roche-Guillebaud on the River Arnon. He was married to Lucy the widow of Archambaud V, lord of Bourbon from 1077 to 1096 whose son Archambaud VI ‘the Pupil’ was still very young.

[3] The usurpation of Aimon II Vaire-Vache, son of Archambaud IV, who ruled from 1061 to 1077, occurred in 1096 and he retained control until 1120 when Archambaud VI took over and ruled until 1126. Archambaud VII, Aimon’s son then took over and ruled since 1171.

[4] The narrative is, uncharacteristically for Suger not chronological. The royal expedition took place before 1115 and was very probably in 1109. A charter of Louis VI of between 3rd August 1108 and 2nd August 1109 is dated from Champignolles ‘in expeditione nostra’. Champignolles is on the most direct route from Sens to Germigny-sur-l’Aubois. Ibid, Luchaire, Louis VI le Gros, Annales de son vie et de son règne, n° 90, 91 and 92 showed that the king was at Sens on 13th June 1109. Chazaud, M.A., Etude sur la chronologie des sires de Bourbon (Xe‑XIIIe siècles), Moulins, 1936, Moulins, 1881, new edition by M. Fazy, p. 171 placed the expedition in 1108 or 1109.

[5] This expression may have been a ‘dig’ at King Philip who died the previous year.

[6] This is now Germigny-sur-l’Aubois about thirty miles south-east of Bourges and 160 miles south of Paris.

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