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Blois, Counts Of

BLOIS, COUNTS OF. From 865 to about 940 the countship of Blois was one of those which were held in fee by the margrave of Neustria, Robert the Strong, and by his successors, the abbot Hugh, Odo (or Eudes), Robert II. and Hugh the Great. It then passed, about 940 and for nearly three centuries, to a new family of counts, whose chiefs, at first vassals of the dukes of France, Hugh the Great and Hugh Capet, became in 987, by the accession of the Capetian dynasty to the throne of France, the direct vassals of the crown. These new counts were orIginally very powerful. With the countship of Blois they united, from 940 to 1044, that of Touraine, and from about 950 to 1218, and afterwards from 1269 to 1286, the countship of Chartres remained in their possession.

The counts of Blois of the house of the Theobalds (Thibauds) began with Theobald I., the Cheat, who became count about 940. He was succeeded by his son, Odo (Eudes) I., about 975. Theobald II., eldest son of Odo I., became count in 996, and was succeeded by Odo II., younger son of Odo I., about 1005. Odo II. was one of the most warlike barons of his time. With the already considerable domains which he held from his ancestors, he united the heritage of his kinsman, Stephen I., count of Troyes. In 1033 he disputed the crown of Burgundy with the emperor, Conrad the Salic, and perished in 1037 while fighting in Lorraine. He was succeeded in 1037 by his eldest son, Theobald III., who was defeated by the Angevins in 1044, and was forced to give up the town of Tours and its dependencies to the count of Anjou. In 1089 Stephen Henry, eldest son of Theobald III., became count. He took part in the first crusade, fell into the hands of the Saracens, and died in captivity; he married Adela, daughter of William I., king of England. In 1102 Stephen Henry was succeeded by his son, Theobald IV. the Great, who united the countship of Troyes with his domains in 1128. In 1135, on the death of his maternal uncle, Henry I., king of England, he was called to Normandy by the barons of the duchy, but soon renounced his claims on learning that his younger brother, Stephen, had just been proclaimed king of England. In 1152 Theobald V. the Good, second son of Theobald IV., became count; he died in 1191 in Syria, at the siege of Acre. His son Louis succeeded in 1191, took part in the fourth crusade, and after the taking of Constantinople was rewarded with the duchy of Nicaea. He was killed at the battle of Adrianople in 1205, in which year he was succeeded by his son, Theobald VI. the Young, who died childless. In 1218 the countship passed to Margaret, eldest daughter of Theobald V., and to Walter (Gautier) of Avesnes, her third husband.

The Châtillon branch of the counts of Blois began in 1230 with Mary of Avesnes, daughter of Margaret of Blois and her husband, Hugh of Châtillon, count of St Pol. In 1241 her brother, John of Châtillon, became count of Blois, and was succeeded in 1279 by his daughter, Joan of Châtillon, who married Peter, count of Alençon, fifth son of Louis IX., king of France. In 1286 Joan sold the countship of Chartres to the king of France. Hugh of Châtillon, her first-cousin, became count of Blois in 1293, and was succeeded by his son, Guy I., in 1307. In 1342 Louis II., eldest son of Guy I., died at the battle of Crécy, and his brother, Charles of Blois, disputed the duchy of Brittany with John of Montfort. Louis III., eldest son of Louis II., became count in 1346, and was succeeded by John II., second son of Louis II., in 1372. In 1381 Guy II., brother of Louis III. and John II., succeeded in 1381, but died childless. Overwhelmed with debt, he had sold the countship of Blois to Louis I., duke of Orleans, brother of King Charles VI., who took possession of it in 1397.

In 1498 the countship of Blois was united with the crown by the accession of King Louis XII., grandson and second successor of Louis I., duke of Orleans.

See Bernier, Histoire de Blois (1682); La Saussaye, Histoire de la ville de Blois (1846).

(A. Lo.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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