Notes for Dangereuse#* De L'Isle-Bouchard: Dangereuse de l’Isle-Bouchard was not a conventional woman: concubine of the powerful William IX the Troubadour, Duke of Aquitaine, a member herself of that special cadre of female musicians known to sing the songs of unearthly love, the band of renegade ladies known simply as trobairitz.
The year was 1100, and la Dangerosa of scandal sat in her solitary tower at Poitiers, composing verse, or, at least attempting such a feat. William would be arriving soon for his ministrations and the woman who had abandoned status, home and husband to live in sin with one of a like inclination as herself, wished to present him with a new song, should his own prove worthy the reciprocation.
Because both William and his father had traveled to the land of the Kaliph during the First Crusade, their castle was filled with Barbary women, tropies of war, but also treasured maidens who in the Aquitaine were treated with honor and respect. Dangerosa learned from those foreigners of her own sex many wise and wonderful mysteries: the language of the birds, the counting of stars in the night sky to form hidden verses of cosmic chant, the knowledge of the Magoi. The dark-skinned, lynx-eyed ladies became as her kin, according her the rank of Sultana, reciting hymns to the goddess Isis in her presence, filling what might have become a lonely life with pleasure and hours of enchanted days bathed with the resonance of their exotic timbres.
These sisters of the Levant also schooled their mistress in magic, facilitating visions, creating a secret world within Dangerosa’s tower. A space William would enter into on each visit with amazement, a place where he shed ducal trapping and became lowly serf. At each audience he would play for her a tribute, beseeching the woman he had supposedly kidnapped from her husband, but who in fact had mad him her captive, with words such as:
Good lady, I ask for nothing, But please take me as your servant, For I shall serve you as great Goddess, Whatever fate you send my way.
Even on the jousting field, proud William humbled himself before the Lady Dangerosa, displaying her image on his shield, engraved with the motto: Over me in Battle, Likewise in Bed. The other nobles scoffed at such blatant chivalry, the bishops scowled, but Dangerosa stayed in her tower with her ladies and paid no heed to what silly people might say.
A knock at the bedchamber door informed Dangereuse that her ardent William had arrived. Breathing deeply of jasmine scent burning from a silver censer the noble woman stood, shaking out the skirt of a midnight blue gown. Roses picked earlier by her companions cascaded from the lady’s lap, gracing the plain floor with a floral array. She thought of the proposal she must put to the duke that eve - that her daughter, Aelinore, marry his son and namesake, future leader of Aquitaine - and her mind began to spin, dancing to a sarabande of possibility.
A red-haired, imposing figure dropped down to wooden plank, gathering sweet-smelling flowers to his bosom, drinking in the perfumes of the tower. Lady Dangerosa stared placidly at the subjugation, awaiting her cue.
My heart gladly breaks, For her again and again; Accept here poor William, Most servile of men.
No stranger to such outpourings, Dangerosa was stunned to recognize the power of a mystical transport descending over her person, and without hesitating, the jewel of the House of the Isle-Bouchard replied: Within every woman there is a queen. Speak to that sovereign beauty and the queen will answer.
Inspired by the phrase, the troubadour was quick to answer:
Lady, I am yours and yours I shall stay, Pledged to thy service, come what may. This oath I give is full and free, The type of vow sworn on bended knee. Of all my joys, you are the first, And of them all you will be the last, As long as life endures, Future, present and past.
And while the Companions of Purity began a desert wail in the garden, their oracular service passed through the eyes, and the person and tripped over the tongue of la Dangerosa:
Our houses unite and a queen will be born, A founder of dynasties, bright Rose and dark Thorn. Her name will be Eleanor, her signet the whip, The lords of two lands feel the sting of her lip. The troubadours flock to her court of fine Love, Where women are spotless, respected above Dukes, earls, even kings Become Eleanor’s playthings.
A saint named Bernard of the brethren Clairvaux, Will beseech our granddaughter with vassals to go, On a crusade abroad, to meet Saracen horde, To Vezalay she comes amidst tumultuous roars. She rides a white steed, dressed as Amazon queen And her cry of To Arms! creates quite a scene. With ladies attendant they ride to the East Fitted in armor with lances, a visual feast. And her sons will be kings and they bow at her foot, For Eleanor is dame of the golden, bright boot.
The prophecy completed, the barbary chant finished, Dangerosa allowed William to kiss her foot, then reached backwards towards the table to collect that instrument of clairvoyance, a perfect red rose.
Dangereuse married Almeric I de Chastellerault, son of Boso II - Viscomte de Turenne and Aleanor de Thouars. (Almeric I de Chastellerault was born about 1077 in Châtellerault, Poitou-Charentes, France, died on 7 Nov 1151 in Noyers and was buried in Nov 1151.)
William IX was excommunicated twice, the first time in 1114 for some unknown offense. His response to this was to demand absolution from the Bishop of Poitiers at swordpoint. He was excommunicated a second time for abducting Dangereuse (Dangerosa in Occitan), the wife of his vassal Aimery I de Rochefoucauld, Viscount of Châtellerault. He installed her in the Maubergeonne tower of his castle, and, as related by William of Malmesbury, even painted a picture of her on his shield.
This greatly offended both his wife and his son, William. According to Orderic Vitalis, Philippa protested against her treatment in October 1119 at the Council of Reims, claiming to have been abandoned by the duke in favor of Dangereuse. She later retired to the convent of Fontevrault. Relations with his son were only repaired when the younger William married Aenor of Châtellerault, Dangereuse's daughter by her husband.
An anonymous 13th century biography of William, forming part of the collection Biographies des Troubadours, remembers him thus:
"The Count of Poitiers was 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 travelled much through the world, seducing women."
Dangereuse next married Guillaume VII de Poitou - Duc d' Aquitaine, son of Guillaume VIII - Duc d' Aquitaine and Hildegarde Capet de Bourgogne. (Guillaume VII de Poitou - Duc d' Aquitaine was born on 22 Oct 1071 in Aquitaine, France, died on 10 Feb 1127 in France and was buried in France.)
Children of Dangereuse#* De L'Isle-Bouchard and Aimery#* I de Rochefoucauld are: