Duke of Aquitaine

The Duchy of Aquitaine was one of the most important feudal territories in medieval France.

Historical foundation of this country was the ancient Roman province of Gallia Aquitania, which was then the entire central and south-western France included. In late antiquity, the province of Aquitania prima, Aquitania Secunda and Aquitania tertia was shared that belonged after the migration of peoples to the kingdom of the Visigoths. After their defeat at the Battle of Vouillé 507 Aquitaine was received into the kingdom of the Franks.

During the 6th to the 8th century, the territory of the Aquitanian Dukat corresponded to the still of the old Roman province, so all the land south of the Loire to the Pyrenees, with the exception of the province of Gallia Narbonensis. At the end of the 8th century, the area of Aquitania tertia was lost to Bordeaux on the immigrating Basques ( Vascons ), which it founded the Duchy of Gascony.

At the beginning of the 10th century had the Toulousain, the land around the city of Toulouse, separated from the rest of Aquitaine. Aquitaine, thus losing its border location to the Pyrenees and, therefore, included the Duchy until the beginning of the 13th century largely today's regions Poitou-Charentes, Limousin and Auvergne, and the departments of Vendée, Dordogne and Lot.

In the 13th century, the High Middle Ages Aquitaine fell apart. The holder of the ducal legal title remained with only the Saintonge and the Périgord two regions of Aquitaine, to the now limited the Duchy. Together with the southern Gascony sat down for this structure in the late Middle Ages by the name " Guyenne ". The field of Guyenne corresponded to the today's French Aquitaine region.

Dukes of Aquitaine under Frankish rulers

The rule of the Frankish kings of the Merovingian dynasty was only weakly expressed in Aquitaine, as was the center of their empire north of the Loire in Neustria and Austrasia. Instead reigned used by the kings dukes ( dux ). Since the early 8th century Aquitaine was exposed to the influx of Basques who have founded their own territory in the southwest with Gascony. At the same time the Dukes had to defend the land against the depredations of the Moors, who advanced over the Pyrenees and the neighboring Narbonensis ( Septimania ) occupied.

Due to the weakness of the late Merovingian kings during defensive battles succeeded the Duke Eudo family, to establish themselves as hereditary prince of Aquitaine.

The Carolingian Unterkönigtum Aquitaine

After the Carolingians were able to subdue by Pippin the Short and especially by Charlemagne to the end of the 8th century Aquitaine their rule, they turned there a one Unterkönigtum their dynasty. It usually immature or younger sons of the dynasty were used as kings over them that the king commanded the entire empire and since the partition of Verdun in 843 the king of the West Frankish kingdom. King Pepin II tried Aquitaine as part of Empire, equal footing with the Western, Central and Eastern Empire to establish, but was defeated by his uncle Charles the Bald. During this time, Aquitaine was particularly drawn by the raids of the Normans.

The Duchy of Aquitaine

Among the last Carolingian kings of the West Frankish empire disintegrated, reinforced by their power struggle with the Robertinern / Capetians, the royal central power and the provinces were established independent dynasties, hereditary has become Count which the kings most only nominally recognized as overlords. In the Aquitanian Regnum it was mainly the Wilhelmiden (also called Gellones ) with its center in the Auvergne and the Ramnulfiden in Poitou, the latter of which temporarily led the title of " dux ". However, the Wilhelmiden took it a leading position in the country, so that William the Pious 909 the title of " Duke of Aquitaine " ( " dux Aquitanorum " ) could assume the 919 by King Charles III. recognized the simple. 927 were finally able to take over the legacy of the Wilhelmiden Ramnulfiden. The Duchy comprised besides the Poitou, Saintonge, Angoumois the that Périgord, the Marche, the lower Berry, Auvergne and the Limousin. Originally belonging to Aquitaine County Toulouse had the other hand, separated at the beginning of the 10th century and formed an independent principality from now on. The Duke of violence in Aquitaine was little strengthened in contrast to Normandy, as the duchy was strong feudalized. That is, the Duke were great land -owning subject vassals, who took every opportunity to curtail the ducal violence. In 1052 Gascony in personal union with Aquitaine was reunited.

In the mid-12th century the Duchy was incorporated into the Territorial conglomerate of Plantagenet dynasty through the marriage of Duchess Eleanor with Henry Plantagenet, known today as the " Angevin Empire ". Due to its abundance of power, the Plantagenets were caught in a conflict with the kings of France, who were the Oberlehnsherren their possessions in France.

The Duchy of Guyenne

Already in 1204 King Philip II of France had declared the Plantagenets through a parliamentary judgment of all their possessions in France forfeited. In 1224, his son King Louis VIII of France led an expedition to Aquitaine after which the rule of the Plantagenets ended there. The Poitou and Saintonge were immediate Crown land, the Count of La Marche, Périgord, Angoulême and Auvergne were direct royal vassals. Thus, the territorial integrity of Aquitaine was destroyed. King Henry III. of England recognized this loss of the Treaty of Paris in 1259. In return, he received the Saintonge back a Aquitanian province, on which the Duchy limited since then. With the southern Gascony this territory was known by the name " Guyenne ". The country remained a fief of France, for which the Plantagenets were included in the ranks of his pairs.

Through the campaigns of the " Black Prince " during the Hundred Years War, the Plantagenets in the Treaty of Brétigny could once again unite in 1360 most of the old Aquitaine among themselves. The French crown renounced it even sovereignty over the Guyenne in favor of England. The country therefore was constitutionally English territory. The subsequent campaigns of the French Marshal Bertrand du Guesclin, however, led to a revision of the treaty to 1375. At the end of the Hundred Years War, after the Battle of Castillon in 1453, the Plantagenets had to give up entirely their possessions in France. The country was united with the royal domain and set up to manage in several Sénéchaussées. At the beginning of the modern era have been replaced by Généralités, which provinces were superior. These in turn were replaced in 1789 by the department.

Other Uses of the ducal title

By the end of the French monarchy of the Aquitanian ducal title was still awarded to two royal princes:

In 1972, the Bourbon pretender Jaime de Borbón his second son, Gonzalo de Borbón had († 2000), awarded the title of Duke of Aquitaine.


  • Duchy
  • History (Aquitaine )
  • Historical territory (France)
  • Duke (Aquitaine )