Herbert I, Count of Vermandois

Herbert I was a great-great-grandson of Charlemagne, and his daughter Beatrix married Robert I, grandfather of Hugh Capet, the namesake of the Capetian dynasty.

Herbert is a vital bridge between the Carolingians and the Capetians. His lineage is known as the Herbertines or House of Vermandois.

Let’s start off with genealogical tables.

GENEALOGICAL TABLES

Here is Michael Idomir Allen’s Table 8, which he put together for his translation of Pierre Riché’s The Carolingians. This table offers an overview of the House of Vermandois and the Herbertines:

Charlemagne’s son Pippin died in 810, while his father died in 814, so Pippin did not get any of the empire, which means his line became collateral or less important than Louis’s line, Charlemagne’s surviving son (see him in Bouchard’s table below).

At first glance, one thing strange about Table 8 is that Herbert II appears to marry his niece, but the truth is that Adela was a daughter of Robert from another alliance (see Bouchard’s table, below).

Who is Beatrix, married to Robert I, a very early founder of the Capetians, and daughter of Herbert?

Genealogist Douglas Richardson in his Royal Ancestry does not name her as a daughter of Herbert I. He doesn’t mention her at all. However, in a private email to me, Prof. Allen says he stands by his research and Beatrix. Good enough for me.

Beatrix is the one who opens up the new line—new because Richardson doesn’t include her.

Richardson also says that Herbert II’s wife is unnamed, but he says she is still a daughter of Robert I, King of France, a Robertine (or Robertian). Richardson’s research does not go back to Robert I.

However, Allen names Herbert’s wife Adela (Adele). Here is Allen’s Table 4:

Note Robert II, the Pious. It is his line that this series tracks down to the Plantagenets.

Let’s insert a genealogical table from historian W. L. Warren’s superb biography of Henry II, the first Plantagenet, to understand where we’re headed in this series:

On the left are the Capetian kings. Henry of Anjou is the same as Henry II.

Let’s return to the main subject of this post (Herbert) and insert Constance C. Bouchard’s table of kings, dukes and counts (T1), some of whom descend from Charlemagne. Her main point in the entire article at the American Historical Review is to show that new noble families emerged in the Medieval Age, who were not necessarily connected to long family lines.

For us, however, we focus on the Counts of Vermandois:

And so Bouchard also shows that Beatrix was a daughter of Heribert (Herbert) I and married Robert I. Here is what she writes about that line:

When Hugh Capet replaced the last French Carolingian, Louis V, all contemporaries agreed that Hugh was not of the blood of Charlemagne; but his grandmother mother Beatrix was the daughter of the count of Vermandois, a descendant in the direct male line from Charlemagne … confirmed by modern scholars.” (p. 525)

In Bouchard’s book Those of My Blood, she cites these primary sources for the Herbert I – Beatrix – Robert I line:

  • Clarius of Sens, Chronicon Sancti Petri Vivi Senonensis, ed. Robert-Henri Bautier and Monique Gilles, p. 72.
  • Chronicon Sithiensis, Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, 9.77.
  • A 931 letter from Hugh the Great, Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, 9.719. (Now that’s a primary source!)

For the marriages of the children of Herbert II, she offers:

  • Odorannus of Sens “Chronica” 956 p. 96.
  • Witger, Genealogia Arnulfi comitis, Monumenta Germaniae Historica 9.303.
  • Flodoard, Historia Remensis ecclesiae 4.33 Monumenta Germaniae Historica SS 13.584.
  • Idem, Annales 951 p. 132.
  • Werner, “Die Nachkommen” in Karl der Grosse, ed. Wolfgang Braunfels, 4:464.

The primary sources, Bouchard’s and modern scholars’ authority are good enough for me.

BASIC FACTS AND STORIES

Unfortunately, Herbert is not as famous as some of his ancestors or descendants, so historians don’t cover his life thoroughly (or I haven’t found one who does).

Here are a few facts at least, which are important to us.

Herbert I was born about 850. He was Count of Vermandois with Saint Quentin and Péronne and lay-abbot of Saint Quentin, about 896-900/906. He was also Count of Soissons and lay-abbot of Saint Crépin before 898 to 900/906.

The County of Vermandois was originally a Roman civitas that was split into two parts, one centered on the towns of Saint Quentin and Péronne. It is this part that is called the region of Vermandois and lies in the northeast of France, south of Flanders. It was crossed by Roman roads and became of great economic and strategic value. As this genealogical tables show, it was ruled by direct descendants of Charlemagne, notably Herbert II (next), so the county had extra luster. However, Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son, settled his three sons so that they controlled the entire empire

Herbert I and his unidentified wife had one son Herbert II, Count of Meaux, Soissons, and Vermandois;

As Allen’s Tables 4 and 8 show, Herbert I had a daughter named Beatrix or Beatrice who married Robert I, King of West Franks.

Herbert I also had an unidentified daughter, who married Udo (Eudes), Count of Wetterau.

In 896 Herbert killed Raul (Ralph), brother of Count Baldwin II. Assassination was done more often in those days.

Herbert was murdered 11 June between 900 and 907. (Riché says it happened in 907 but then he says on another page of his history that it happened in 900.)

CAROLINGIANS

Charlemagne: Interesting Facts and Stories

Pippin, Son of Charlemagne

Bernard, King of Italy

Pippin, Great Grandson of Charlemagne (transition to the House of Vermandois)

HOUSE OF VERMANDOIS

Herbert I, Count of Vermandois

RELATED

Henry II, Plantagenet

King John

Edward I Plantagenet

Eleanor of Aquitaine

William Longsword and His Life in the Medieval Age and His American Descendants

Royal gateway ancestors of the Northeast

Royal gateway ancestors of the Middle Colonies

Royal gateway ancestors of Virginia

SOURCES

Matthias Becher, Charlemagne, trans. David S. Bachrach (New Haven: Yale UP, 1999, 2003). Christian Bonnet and Christine Descatoire, Les Carolingiens (741-987) (Armand Colin / VUEF, 2001).

Constance B. Bouchard, “The Origins of the French Nobility: A Reassessment.” The American Historical Review vol. 86, no. 1, Feb 1981, 501-32.

—, Those of My Blood: Constructing Noble Families in Medieval Francia (U Penn P 2001)

Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France (Continuum, 2007).

Marios Costambeys, Matthew Innes, and Simon MacLean, the Carolingian World (Cambridge UP, 2011).

Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, eds. William W. Kibler and Grover A. Zinn (New York: Garland, 1995).

Pierre Riché, The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idormir Allen (U Penn P, 1993).

Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, 5 volumes (Salt Lake City: Published privately, 2013).

—, Plantagenet Ancestry, 2nd ed., 3 volumes, (Salt Lake City: Published privately, 2011).

W. L. Warren, Henry II (Berkeley: University of California P, 1973).

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