Gourville During the 10th Century

Thibaud le Tricheur

Theobald I the Trickster.

In the 10th century, the region is marked by the presence of Theobald 1st, Count of Blois, commonly referred to as Theobald the Trickster. History shows that he wore his name well, and many were those, including the future king of France, Hugh Capet, who let out a sigh of relief at the time of his death in 977.

Initially a vassal to the duke of the Franks, Hugh the Great (the father of Hugh Capet), Theobald 1st provided numerous services to the duke, including keeping King Louis IV in custody for a year. Upon the death of Hugh the Great, and during the time that his son Capet was still a minor, he emancipated himself of his suzerain and proclaimed himself the Count of Chartres “by the grace of God” in 960.  As he was married to Luitgarde of Vermandois in 945 (Leutgarde, or Letgarde) which gave him the counties of Provins and of Champagne, the royal domain was cornered by the lands of Theobald the Trickster, which all became very dangerous for the throne. However, as with many conquerors, he did not know when to stop: having attacked the Normans of Richard the 1st in Evreux and Rouen, they, in retaliation, burnt down Chartres (962).

Theobald then appropriated himself with the lands of the city of Chartres which belonged to the Saint-Père-en-Vallée Abbey, and had a fortified castle built.

After his death in 977, Countess Luitgarde donated many of the county’s estates to the abbey, no doubt to compensate for the petty territorial land grabs of Theobald, and to ensure that she, as well as her husband, would be in good standing with the grace of Heaven (she died in 982 and was interred in the crypt of the Saint-Père Church). The donation in 981 of the Gourville lands (over 500 hectares according to estimates of the abbey’s cartulary) fits into this logic: it was not a pitiful donation, as this land was, and still is, very fertile (we know today that the thickness of the silt on the plateau in the hamlet south of Gourville surpasses one meter). For that matter, giving the ecclesiastics a strip of land located at the limit of the Parisii and of the king’s vassal lords, with whom relations had often been strenuous, seemed to have resulted from a smart political strategy which would ensure to the county relative peace to the East of Chartres.