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The Counts of Toulouse and the Kings of Aragon (Aragón)

Arms of the Kingdom of AragonThe Counts of Toulouse and Kings of Aragón were both natural rivals and natural allies. Their way of life was similar. They spoke mutually intelligible languages. The same troubadours found the same welcome at both of their courts.

The Counts of Toulouse were expert at playing off surrounding regional powers one against the other. For centuries they maintained their independence, successively making friends with the Kings of Aragon, France and England. To complicate matters, much the same game was played by the neighbouring dukes of Aquitaine, Counts of Foix and by the Trencavel family. The Trencavels managed to keep their de facto independence by nominally sacrificing it. Under pressure from other powers they sold their Counties (Carcassonne, Bezièrs, Razès) to the King of Aragon and then received back the same lands as Viscounts. By tying themselves so closely to Aragón, they warded off other claims, and in practice were able to carry on much as before.

The Aragonese spirit of independence is well summed up by the famous 12th-century oath of allegiance to the king made by the nobles of the realm. As in England and other sovereign states the King did not rule by right of inheritance. The nobles needed to accept him as king. Noblemen were "peers" - not just the equals of each other, but equals of the king. And they made sure that he understood this:

"We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than we, to accept you as our king ... provided you observe all our liberties and laws; but if not, not".

The Counts of Toulouse and Kings of Aragon were rival claimants for Provence, but when the French threatened Raymond VI ofToulouse tried a similar ploy, paying hommage to the King of Aragon for his lands, thus affirming feudal ties. As events turned out, neither the actions of the Trencavels nor those of the Counts of Toulouse ultimately succeeded. The Feudal rights of the King of Aragon were simply ignored by the papacy in a calculated precedent that attempted to establish the Pope as ultimate suzerain of everyone in Christendom.

Towards the end of the Saint-Gilles Dynasty, the Counts of Toulouse grew ever closer to Aragon, fighting together against the French Crusaders. Raymond VI ofToulouse and his son Raymond VII both married daughters of King Alphonse II of Aragon: Eleanor and Sanchia repectively. King Peter II, Alphonse's son was therefore brother-in-law to both Raymonds, as well as their suzerain. In a tradegedy that shook western Christendom, Peter II was killed at the Battle of Muret in 1213 fighting on the side of the Counts of Toulouse against the French.

Click on the following link for more about Aragon and Catalonia Next.
Click on the following link for more about King Peter II of Aragon Next.
Click on the following link for more about the arms of Aragon Next.

Click on the following link for more about the arms of fighters in the Cathar Wars Next.

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The modern flag of the Languedoc-roussillon, combining the Cross of Toulouse and the Arms of Aragon.

The Counts of Toulouse
and
the Kings of Aragón