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The Counts of Toulouse: ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about occitan.  Coms de Toloza):  Alphonse-Jordan (1103 - 1148)

Arms of the Counts of Toulouse. Click for a larger image in a new window. Alphonse I was the son of Count Raymond IV by his third wife, Elvira of Castile. He was born in the castle of Mont-Pelerin, Tripoli, in modern Lebanon. He was surnamed Jourdan because he was baptised in the Jordan River.

His father died when he was two years old and he remained under the guardianship of his cousin, Guillaume Jourdain, Count of Cerdagne (d. 1109), until he was five. He was then taken to Europe and his brother Bertrand, Count of Toulouse and of Tripoli, gave him the County of Rouergue. Aged nine years he succeeded to the County of Toulouse and Marquisate of Provence on Bertrand's death in 1112. Toulouse was taken from him by William IX, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers, two years later in 1114. William claimed it by right through his wife Phillipa of Toulouse, daughter of William IV of Toulouse. He recovered a part of his County in 1119, but continued to fight for the rest of his possessions until about 1123. Finally successful, he was excommunicated by Pope Callixtus II for having expelled the monks of Saint-Gilles, who had allied themselves with his enemies.

He next fought for the sovereignty of Provence against Raymond Berenger III. The war end in an amicable agreement in September 1125. Under it Alfonse-Jourdan became absolute master of the regions lying between the the Pyrenees and the Alps, from the Auvergne and the sea. His ascendancy is acknowledge to to have been good for the country. During a period of fourteen years art and industry flourished.

About 1134 he seized the County of Narbonne, restoring it to the Viscountess Ermengarde (d. 1197) only in 1143. The claim of the now deceased Phillipa of Toulouse was pressed again by Louis VII, when he besieged Toulouse in 1141, claiming it by right of his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, the grandaughter of Phillipa, but without result.

Next year Alfonse-Jourdan again incurred the displeasure of the Church, this time by siding with the rebels of Montpellier against their Lord. Again he was excommunicated.

In 1145 he was the recipient of a letter from Bernard of Claivaux (St Bernard) advising him that he needed to take action against a priest from France called Henry, who was spreading heresy - not apparently the Cathar heresy, but a form of proto-Protestantism three centuries before the Reformation. The letter is interesting for the light it throws on widespread attitudes to the Catholic Church in the twelfth century Languedoc.

In 1146 Alfonse-Jourdan took the cross at the meeting of Vezelay, called by Louis VII, and in August 1147 embarked for the East in the Second Crusade. He lingered on the way in Italy and probably also in Constantinople.

In 1148 he arrived at Acre. He had made enemies among his companions and he was destined to take no share in the Crusade he had joined. He was poisoned at Caesarea, either Eleanor of Aquitaine., the wife of Louis, or Melisende, the mother of Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem responsible for the fatal draught. He was succeeded by his son Raymond V of Toulouse.

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Cross of Toulouse.
Alphonse-Jordan
Count of Toulouse