Robert II Of France - Encyclopedia

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ROBERT II. (c. 970-1031), king of France, was a son of Hugh Capet, and was born at Orleans. He was educated at Reims under Gerbert, afterwards Pope Silvester II. As the ideal of medieval Christianity he won his surname of "Pious" by his humility and charity, but he also possessed some of the qualities of a soldier and a statesman. His father associated him with himself in the government of France, and he was crowned in December 987, becoming sole king on Hugh's death in October 996. Robert's reign is chiefly remembered for its dramatic side. In 988 he had married Rosala, or Susanna, widow of Arnold II., count of Flanders. This lady, however, was much older than Robert, who repudiated her in 989, fixing his affections upon Bertha, daughter of Conrad the Peaceful, king of Burgundy, or Arles, and wife of Eudes I., count of Blois; and although the pair were related, and the king had been godfather to one of Bertha's children, they were married in 996, a year after the death of Eudes. Pope Gregory V., whose favour Robert vainly sought to win by allowing Arnulf, the imprisoned archbishop, to return to his see of Reims and forcing Gerbert to flee to the court of the emperor Otto III., excommunicated the king, and a council at Rome imposed a seven years' penance upon him. For five years the king braved all anathemas, but about 1002 he gave up Bertha and married Constance, daughter of a certain Count William, an intriguing and ambitious woman, who made life miserable for her husband, while the court was disturbed by quarrels between the partisans of the two queens. Still attached to Bertha, Robert took this lady with him to Rome in 1010, but the pope refused to recognize their marriage, and the king was forced to return to Constance. By this wife Robert had four sons, and in 1017, the eldest of these, Hugh, (1007-1025), was crowned as his father's colleague and successor. After Hugh's death the king procured the coronation of his second son, Henry, duke of Burgundy, afterwards king of France, a proceeding which. displeased Constance, who wished her third son, Robert (d. 1075), afterwards duke of Burgundy, to receive the crown. Robert's concluding days were troubled by a rising on the part of these two sons, and after a short war, in which he was worsted, the king died at Melun on the 20th of July 1031. The notable gain to France during this reign was the duchy of Burgundy, which Robert claimed on the death of his uncle, Duke Henry, in Io01. The other claimant, however, Otto William, count of upper Burgundy, or Franche Comte, offered so stubborn a resistance that it was not until 1015 that the king secured the duchy, which he gave as an apanage to his son Henry. Nevertheless, Robert himself kept a close oversight over its government, and this was one reason which led to the revolt of his sons in 1030. Owing to family quarrels, he could not prevent the kingdom of Burgundy, or Arles, from passing into the hands of the emperor Conrad II., and no serious results followed his interference in Flanders or in Lorraine. Robert added to the royal domains, and was greatly aided by the support of Richard II. and Richard III., dukes of Normandy, the latter of whom was his son-in-law.

His life was written by his chaplain, Helgaud, and this panegyric, Epitoma vitae Roberti regis, is published by J. P. Migne in the Patrologia Latina, tome cxli. (Paris, 1844). See also C. Pfister, Etudes sur le regne de Robert le Pieux (Paris, 1885); and E. Lavisse, Histoire de France, tome ii. (Paris, 1901).

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