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Antioch ; and, amidst the peaceful luxury of Turbessel, in Syria”?, Joscelin neglected the defence of the Christain frontier beyond the Euphrates. In his absence, Zenghi, the first of the Atabeks, besieged and stormed his capital, Edessa, which was feebly defended by a timorous and disloyal crowd of Orientals: the Franks were oppressed in a bold attempt for its recovery, and Courtenay ended his days in the prison of Aleppo. He still left a fair and ample patrimony. But the victorious Turks oppressed on all sides the weakness of a widow and orphan; and, for the equivalent of an annual pension, they resigned to the Greek emperor the charge of defending, and the shame of losing, the last relics of the Latin conquest. The countess-dowager of Edessa retired to Jerusalem with her two children; the daughter, Agnes, became the wife and mother of a king; the son, Joscelin the Third, accepted the office of seneschal, the first of the kingdom, and held his new estates in Palestine by the service of fifty knights. His name appears with honour in all the transactions of peace and war; but he finally vanishes in the fall of Jerusalem ; and the name of Courtenay, in this branch of Edessa, was lost by the marriage of his two daughters with a French and a German baron.73
II. While Joscelin reigned beyond the Euphrates, his elder brother Milo, the son of Joscelin, the son of Atho,
continued, near the Seine, to possess the castle of their fathers, which was at length inherited by Rainaud, or Reginald, the youngest of his three sons. Examples of genius or virtue must be rare in the annals of the oldest families; and, in a remote age, their pride will embrace a deed of rapine and violence; such, however, as could not be perpetrated without some superiority of courage, or, at least, of power. A descendant of Reginald of Courtenay may blush for the public robber, who stripped and imprisoned several merchants, after they had satisfied the king's duties at Sens and Orleans. He will glory in the offence, since the bold offender could not be compelled to obedience and restitution, till the regent and the count of Champagne prepared to march against him at the head of an army.74 Reginald bestowed his estates on
72 Turbessel, or, as it is now styled, Telbesher, is fixed by D'Anville four-and-lwenty miles from the great passage over the Euphrates at Zeugma.
73 His possessions are distinguished in the Assises of Jerusalem (c. 326.) among the feudal tenures of the kingdom, which must therefore have been collected between the years 1153 and 1187. His pedigree may be found in the Lignages d'Outremer, c. 16.
74 The rapine and satisfaction of Reginald de Courtenay, are preposterously arranged in the Epistles of the abbot and regent Suger (cxiv. cxvi. ), the best memorials of the age (Duchesne, Scriptores Hist. Franc. tom. iv. p. 530.).
his eldest daughter, and his daughter on the seventh son Their alliof king Louis the Fat; and their marriage was crowned the royal with a numerous offspring. We might expect that a A. D. 1150. private should have merged in a royal name; and that the descendants of Peter of France and Elizabeth of Courtenay would have enjoyed the title and honours of princes of the blood. But this legitimate claim was long neglected, and finally denied ; and the causes of their disgrace will represent the story of this second branch. 1. Of all the families now extant, the most ancient, doubtless, and the most illustrious, is the house of France, which has occupied the same throne above eight hundred years, and descends, in a clear and lineal series of males, from the middle of the ninth century.75 In the age of the crusades, it was already revered both in the East and West. But from Hugh Capet to the marriage of Peter, no more than five reigns or generations had elapsed; and so precarious was their title, that the eldest sons, as a necessary precaution, were previously crowned during the lifetime of their fathers. The peers of France have long maintained their precedency before the younger branches of the royal line, nor had the princes of the blood, in the twelfth century, acquired that hereditary lustre which is now diffused over the most remote candidates for the succession. 2. The barons of Courtenay must have stood high in their own estimation, and in that of the world, since they could impose on the son of a king the obligation of adopting for himself and all his descendants the name and arms of their daughter and his wife. In the marriage of an heiress with her inferior or her equal, such exchange was often required and allowed: but as they continued to diverge from the regal stem, the sons of Louis the Fat were insensibly confounded with their maternal ancestors; and the new Courtenays might deserve to forfeit the honours of their birth, which a motive of interest had tempted them to renounce. 3. The shame was far more permanent than the reward, and a momentary blaze was followed by a long darkness. The eldest son of these nuptials, Peter of Courtenay, had married, as I have already mentioned, the sister of the counts of Flanders, the two first emperors of Constantinople : he rashly accepted the invitation of the barons of Romania; his two sons, Robert and Baldwin, successively held and lost the remains of the Latin empire in the East, and the grand-daughter of Baldwin the Second again mingled her blood with the blood of France and of Valois. To support the expenses of a troubled and transitory reign, their patrimonial estates were mortgaged or sold ; and the last emperors of Constantinople depended on the annual charity of Rome and Naples.
75 In the beginning of the with century, after naming the father and grandfather of Hugh Capet, the monk Glaber is obliged to add, cujus genus valde in-ante reperitur obscurum. Yet we are assured that the great grandfather of Hugh Capet was Robert the Strong, count of Anjou (A. D. 863—873), a noble Frank of Neustria, Neustricus ... generosæ stirpis, who was slain in the defence of his country against the Normans, dum patriæ fines tuebatur. Beyond Robert, all is conjecture or fable. It is a probable conjecture, that the third race descended from the second by Childebrand, the brother of Charles Martel. It is an absurd fable, that the second was allied to the first by the marriage of Ansbert, a Roman senator and the ancestor of St. Arnoul, with Blitilde, a daughter of Clotaire I. The Saxon origin of the house of France is an ancient but incredible opinion, See a judicious memoir of M. de Foncemagne (Mémoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xx. p. 548—579.). He had promised to declare his own opinion in a second memoir, which has never appeared.
While the elder brothers dissipated their wealth in romantic adventures, and the castle of Courtenay was profaned by a plebeian owner, the younger branches of that adopted name were propagated and multiplied. But their splendour was clouded by poverty and time: after the decease of Robert, great butler of France, they descended from princes to barons; the next generations were confounded with the simple gentry; the descendants of Hugh Capet could no longer be visible in the rural lords of Tanlay and of Champignelles. The more adventurous embraced without dishonour the profession of a soldier: the least active and opulent might sink, like their cousins of the branch of Dreux, into the condition of peasants. Their royal descent in a dark period of four hundred years, became each day more obsolete and ambiguous; and their pedigree, instead of being enrolled in the annals of the kingdom, must be painfully searched by the minute diligence of heralds and genealogists. It was not till the end of the sixteenth century, on the accession of a family almost as remote as their own, that the princely spirit of the Courtenays again revived ; and the question of the nobility, provoked them to assert the royalty, of their blood. They appealed to the justice and compassion of Henry the Fourth ; obtained a favourable opinion from twenty lawyers of Italy and Germany, and modestly compared themselves to the descendants of king David, whose prerogatives were not impaired by the lapse of ages or the trade of a carpenter.76 But every ear was deaf, and every circumstance was adverse, to their lawful claims. The Bourbon kings were justified by the neglect
76 Of the various petitions, apologies, &c. published by the princes of Courtenay, I have seen the three following, all in octavo: 1. De Stirpe et Origine Domus de Cour. tenay: addita sunt Responsa celeberrimorum Europæ Jurisconsultorum; Paris, 1607. 2. Representation du Procedé tenù a l'instance faicte devant le Roi, par Messicurs de Courtenay, pour la conservation de l’Honneur et Dignité de leur Maison, branche de la royalle Maison de France; à Paris, 1613. 3. Representation du subject qui a porté Messieurs de Salles et de Fraville, de la Maison de Courtenay, à se retirer hors du Royaume, 1614. It was an homicide, for which the Courtenays expected to be pardoned, or tried, as princes of the blood.
of the Valois ; the princes of the blood, more recent and lofty, disdained the alliance of this humble kindred: the parliament, without denying their proofs, eluded a dangerous precedent by an arbitrary distinction, and established St. Louis as the first father of the royal line.77 A repetition of complaints and protests was repeatedly disregarded; and the hopeless pursuit was terminated in the present century by the death of the last male of the family.78 Their painful and anxious situation was alleviated by the pride of conscious virtue : they sternly rejected the temptations of fortune and favour; and a dying Courtenay would have sacrificed his son, if the youth could have renounced, for any temporal interest, the right and title of a legitimate prince of the blood of France.79
III. According to the old register of Ford Abbey, the 111. The Courtenays of Devonshire are descended from prince of England. Florus, the second son of Peter, and the grandson of Louis the Fat.60 This fable of the grateful or venal monks was too respectfully entertained by our antiquaries, Cambden 81 and Dugdale 82 : but it is so clearly repugnant to truth and time, that the rational pride of the family now refuses to accept this imaginary founder. Their most faithful historians believe, that after giving his daughter to the king's son, Reginald of Courtenay abandoned his possessions in France, and obtained from the English monarch a second wife and a new inheritance. It is certain, at least, that Henry the Second distinguished in his camps and councils, a Reginald, of the name and arms, and, as it may be fairly presumed, of the genuine race,
77 The sense of the parliaments is thus expressed by Thuanus: Principis nomen nusquam in Galliâ tributum, nisi iis qui per mares e regibus nostris originem repetunt; qui nunc tantum a Ludovico nono beatæ memoriæ numerantur; nam Cortinai et Drocenses, a Ludovico crasso genus ducentes, hodie inter eos minime recensentur. A distinction of expediency rather than justice. The sanctity of Louis IX. could not invest him with any special prerogative, and all the descendants of Hugh Capet must be included in his original compact with the French nation.
78 The last male of the Courtenays was Charles Roger, who died in the year 1730, without leaving any sons. The last female was Helene de Courtenay, who married Louis de Beaufremont. Her title of Princesse du Sang Royal de France was suppressed (February 7th, 1737) by an arrêt of the parliament of Paris.
79 The singular anecdote to which I allude is related the Recueil des Pieces interessantes et peu connues (Maestricht, 1786, in 4 vols. 12mo.); and the unknown editor quotes his author, who had received it from Helene de Courtenay, marquise de Beaufremont.
$Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, vol. i. p. 786. Yet this fable must have been invented before the reign of Edward III. The profuse devotion of the three first generations to Ford Abbey, was followed by oppression on one side and ingratitude on the other; and in the sixth generation, the monks ceased to register the births, actions, and deaths of their patrons.
81 In his Britannia, in the list of the earls of Devonshire. His expression, e regio sanguine ortos credunt, betrays, however, some doubt or suspicion.
82 In his Baronage, P. i. p. 634. he refers to his own Monasticon. Should he not have corrected the register of Ford Abbey, and annihilated the phantom Florus, by the unquestionable evidence of the French historians ?
The earls of Devonshire.
of the Courtenays of France. The right of wardship enabled a feudal lord to reward his vassal with the marriage and estate of a noble heiress; and Reginald of Courtenay acquired a fair establishment in Devonshire, where his posterity has been seated above six hundred years.83 From a Norman baron, Baldwin de Brioniis, who had been invested by the Conqueror, Hawise, the wife of Reginald, derived the honour of Okehampton, which was held by the service of ninety-three knights; and a female might claim the manly offices of hereditary viscount or sheriff, and of captain of the royal castle of Exeter. Their son Robert married the sister of the earl of Devon : at the end of a century, on the failure of the family of Rivers $4, his great-grandson, Hugh the Second, succeeded to a title which was still considered as a territorial dignity; and twelve
earls of Devonshire, of the name of Courtenay, haye
flourished in a period of two hundred and twenty years. They were ranked among the chief of the barons of the realm ; nor was it till after a strenuous dispute, that they yielded to the fief of Arundel, the first place in the parliament of England: their alliances were contracted with the noblest families, the Veres, Despensers, St. Johns, Talbots, Bohuns, and even the Plantagenets themselves; and in a contest with John of Lancaster, a Courtenay, bishop of London, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, might be accused of profane confidence in the strength and number of his kindred. In peace, the earls of Devon resided in their numerous castles and manors of the west: their ample revenue was appropriated to devotion and hospitality : and the epitaph of Edward, surnamed from his misfortune, the blind, from his virtues, the good, earl, inculcates with much ingenuity a moral sentence, which may however be abused by thoughtless generosity. After a grateful commemoration of the fifty-five years of union and happiness which he enjoyed with Mabel his wife, the good earl thus speaks from the tomb:
What we gave, we have ;
What we left, we lost.85
83 Besides the third and most valuable book of Cleaveland's History, I have consulted Dugdale, the father of our genealogical science (Baronage, P. i. p. 634 --643.).
** This great family, de Ripuariis, de Redvers, de Rivers, ended, in Edward the Fifth's time, in Isabella de Fortibus, a famous and potent dowager, who long survived her brother and husband (Dugdale, Baronage, P. i. p. 254-257.).
85 Cleaveland, p. 142. By some it is assigned to a Rivers earl of Devon; but the English denotes the xvth, rather than the xiiith, century.