William II, Count of Provence

William II (or III) (late 980s – 1019), called the Pious, was the Count of Provence.

William II of Provence
William II of Provence (1655 engraving)
Bornlate 980s
Died4 March 1019
Noble familyHouse of Arles
Spouse(s)Gerberga of Burgundy
FatherWilliam I of Provence
MotherAdelaide-Blanche of Anjou


William was the son of William I (or II) of Provence and Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou, who were married by January 984. She already had several children by previous spouses Stephen of Gevaudan and Raymond, Count of Toulouse, while she had also briefly been married to the future Louis V of France.[1] The son appears in the documents of his father from 992,[1] and succeeded the elder William on the latter's retirement to a monastery just before his death in 994,[2] but as a minor he fell under the control of his paternal uncle, Rotbold I, who would intervene with William and his mother, Adelaide, until his death in 1008.[1][lower-alpha 1] William did not succeed to the margravial title, which went to Rotbold.[2] By 1013, he had married Gerberga, daughter of Otto-William, Count of Burgundy and Ermentrude, Countess of Mâcon and Besançon.[1][4] Due to his relative youth, throughout his rule William faced challenges from the Provençal lords, including the seizing of his family's ecclesiastical interests. These conflicts escalated until William died 4 March 1019, while fighting the castellans of Fos and Hyères, and the two widows, Adelaide and Gerberga, were forced to call on the assistance of Adelaide's older son, William III, Count of Toulouse, to protect the birthright of the young heirs.[1]


Together William and Gerberga had:


  1. Countess Adelaide was called his mother and guardian in a document in the cartulary of the Abbey of Montmajour (F. de Marin de Carranrais, L'Abbaye de Montmajour. E'tude Historique, etc., Marseille, 1877). Europäische Stammtafeln n.s. II, 187, shows Adelaide-Blanche marrying William's father c.984-86 and concludes that young William must have been born to his father's first wife, Arsinde. Argument for Arsinde as William's mother has also been based on his marriage to Gerberga of Burgundy. Her father, Count Otto-William, was once thought to have been a fifth husband of the widowed dowager countess of Provence, Adelaide-Blanche, which would have placed their children's marriage within prohibited affinity. (See Constance Bouchard, 'Consanguinity and Noble Marriages in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries', Speculum, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Apr., 1981), pp. 268–287). However, this was based on a misunderstanding of a document that referred to Otto William and Adelaide-Blanche without ever indicating the two were married. Several recent scholars who specifically studied the question see no bar to making William II Adelaide's son, as he is explicitly called in contemporary documents.[1][3]


  1. Thierry Stasser, "Adélaïde d'Anjou, sa famille, ses unions, sa descendance - Etat de las question", Le Moyen Age 103 (1997): 9-52
  2. Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Marburg, Germany: Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 187
  3. Christian Settipani, La Noblesse du Midi Carolingien, (Oxford: Unit for Prosopographical Research, 2004), pp. 68 & n, 70
  4. Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Marburg, Germany: Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafeln 59, 187

See also

  • Jean-Pierre Poly, La Provence et la société féodale 879–1166 (Paris: Bordas, 1976)
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