Period Persona – Fulk III, Count of Anjou


Fulk III (972 – 21 June 1040), called Nerra (that is, le Noir, “the Black”) after his death, was Count of Anjou from 21 July 987 to his death.

Fulk III was the son of Geoffrey Greymantle and Adele of Meaux. He was less than seventeen years old when his father died and Fulk came to power.

Fulk was widely known for a violent but also pious temperament. He was partial to acts of extreme cruelty as well as penitence. In his most notorious act, he allegedly had his first wife, Elisabeth of Vendôme (c.970 – 999), burned at the stake in her wedding dress, after he discovered her in adultery with a farmer in December 999. On the other hand, he made four pilgrimages to the Holy Land in 1002, 1008, and 1038 and, in 1007, built the great abbey at Beaulieu-lès-Loches.

Fulk fought against the claims of the counts of Rennes, defeating and killing Conan I of Rennes at the Battle of Conquereuil on 27 June 992. He then extended his power over the Counties of Maine and Touraine.

Fulk’s enterprises also came up against the no less determined and violent ambitions of Odo II of Blois, against whom he made an alliance with the Capetians. On 6 July 1016, he defeated Odo at the Battle of Pontlevoy. In 1025, after capturing and burning the city of Saumur, Fulk reportedly cried, “Saint Florentius, let yourself be burned. I will build you a better home in Angers.” However, when the transportation of the saint’s relics to proved difficult, Fulk declared that Florentius was a rustic lout unfit for the city, and sent the relics back to Saumur.

Fulk also commissioned many buildings, primarily for defensive purposes. While fighting against the Bretons and Blesevins, he had more than a hundred castles, donjons, and abbeys constructed, including those at Château-Gontier, Loches (a stone keep), and Montbazon. He also had built the donjon at Langeais (990), which is one of the first stone castles.

Fulk died in Metz while returning from his last pilgrimage. He is buried in the chapel of his monastery at Beaulieu.

By his first wife, Elisabeth, he left one daughter:

  • Adela

By his second wife (1001), Hildegard of Sundgau, he had two children:

  • Geoffrey Martel, his successor
  • Ermengarde-Blanche (an ancestress of Geoffrey Plantagenet and the Plantagenet kings of England.)

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