Geoffrey I of Villehardouin

Geoffrey I of Villehardouin

Geoffrey I Villehardouin (Geoffroi) was nephew to Geoffrey of Villehardouin, and a knight and crusader who went to Palestine and later came to help William of Champlitte to conquer Morea and became Prince of Achaea after William's death.

Geoffrey came from Champagne, France, like his uncle Geoffrey of Villehardouin, Marshal of Champagne and historian. In the "Chronicle of the Fourth Crusade and the conquest of Constantinople", written by his uncle, he is referred to as Geoffrey the nephew.

While the other knights of the Fourth Crusade deviated from their course and conquered Constantinople, Geoffrey I went to Palestine. On his way back in 1204, his ship took harbour at Methoni (Modon), a port in Peloponnesus (Morea), he helped Boniface of Montferrat and he teamed with William of Champlitte to conquer Morea. Along with William, they fought and won the only serious resistance in Peloponnesus, the army of Michael I Ducas in the battle of the olive grove of Koundouros and then they conquered most of Morea. For his services, William gave him Koroni and Kalamata. When William left for France in 1209, he managed to take the place of William’s replacement, his nephew Hugo, and he was recognized as Prince of Achaia. He won over Leo Sgouros resistance in Argos and Nafplion and by 1212 he had conquered the whole of Peloponnesus. His policy versus Orthodox inhabitants of Moreas was supportive and he gained their support. He died in 1218 and he was succeeded by his son Geoffrey II Villehardouin.

ee also

*The Villehardouins
*Chronicle of Morea

Text from the Chronicle of the Crusade

The book "De la Conquête de Constantinople" (On the Conquest of Constantinople), written by Geoffrey of Villehardouin, describing the Fourth crusade and the creation of the Latin Empire, has some paragraphs about Geoffrey I Villehardouin, the nephew of the author, which are copied here:

"BONIFACE ATTACKS LEON SGURE; HE IS JOINED BY GEOFFRY OF VILLEHARDOUIN, THE NEPHEWNow let us leave speaking further (for the nonce), of those at Constantinople, and return to the Marquis Boniface of Montferrat. The marquis had gone, as you have heard, towards Salonika, and then ridden forth against Leon Sgure, who held Napoli and Corinth, two of the strongest cities in the world. Boniface besieged both cities at once. James of Avesnes, with many other good men, remained before Corinth, and the rest encamped before Napoli, and laid siege to it. Then befell a certain adventure in the land. For Geoffry of Villehardouin, who was nephew to Geoffry of Villehardouin, Marshal of Roumania and Champagne, being his brother's son, was moved to leave Syria with the company that came to Constantinople. But wind and chance carried him to the port of Modon, and there his ship was injured, so that, of necessity, it behoved him to winter in that country. And a Greek, who was a great lord of the land, knew of it, and came to him, and did him much honour, and said: " Fair Sir, the Franks have conquered Constantinople, and elected an emperor. If thou wilt make alliance with me, I will deal with thee in all good faith, and we together Will conquer much land."So they made alliance on oath, the Greek and Geoffry of Villehardouin, and conquered together a great part of the country, and Geoffry of Villehardouin found much good faith in the Greek. But adventures happen as God wills, and sickness laid hold of the Greek, and he made an end and died. And the Greek's son rebelled against Geoffry of Villehardouin, and betrayed him, and the castles in which Geoffry had set a garrison turned against him. Now he heard tell that the marquis was besieging Napoli, so he went towards him with as many men as he could collect, and rode through the land for some six days in very great peril, and thus came to the camp, where he was received right willingly, and much honoured by the marquis and all who were there. And this was but right, seeing he was very honourable and valiant, and a good knight.

EXPLOITS OF WILLIAM OF CHAMPLITTE AND GEOFFRY OF VILLEHARDOUIN, THE NEPHEW, IN MOREAThe marquis would have given him land and possessions so that he might remain with him, but he would not, and spoke to William of Champlitte, who was his friend, and said: " Sir, I come from a land that is very rich, and is called Morea. Take as many men as you can collect, and leave this host, and let us go and conquer that land by the help of God. And that which you will give me out of our conquests, I will hold from you, and I will be your liegeman." And William of Champlitte, who greatly trusted and loved him, went to the marquis, and told him of the matter, and the marquis allowed of their going. So William of Champlitte and Geoffry of Villehardouin (the nephew) departed from the host, and took with them about a hundred knights, and a great number ofmounted sergeants, and entered into the land of Morea, and rode onwards till they came to the city of Modon. Michael heard that they were in the land with so few people, and he collected together a great number of people, a number that was marvellous, and he rode after them as one thinking they were all no better than prisoners, and in his hand. And when they heard'tell that he was coming, they refortified Modon, where the defences had long since been pulled down, and there left their baggage, and the lesser folk. Then they rode out a day's march, and ordered their array with as many people as they had. But the odds seemed too great, for they had no more than five hundred men mounted, whereas on the other part there were well over five thousand. But events happen as God pleases; for our people fought with the Greeks ' and discomfited and conquered them. And the Greeks lost very heavily, while those on our side gained horses and arms enough, and other goods in very great plenty, and so returned very happy, and very joyously, to the city of Modon. Afterwards they rode to a city called Coron, on the sea, and besieged it. And they had not besieged it long before it surrendered, and William gave it to Geoffry of Villehardouin (the nephew) and he became his liegeman, and set therein a garrison of his men. Next they went to a castle called Chalemate which was very strong and fair, and besieged it. This castle troubled them for a very long space, but they remained before it till it was taken. Then did more of the Greeks of that land surrender than had done aforetime."

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