Gaston IV le Croisé, vicomte de Béarn

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Gaston IV 'lo Crozat' de Bearn, vescomte de Bearn

Death: Died in Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Cause of death: killed in battle
Immediate Family:

Son of Centulle V le Jeune, vicomte de Béarn and Gisèle du Moniale
Husband of Talesa d'Aragon, Vescomtesssa consort de Bearn
Father of Guiscarde de Béarn, Vicomtesse de Béarn and N.N. de Béarn
Half brother of Centulle II de Béarn, comte de Bigorre and Bernard III de Béarn, comte de Bigorre

Occupation: III Conde de Bigorre (1112-1130), Visconde de Béarn, Soule, Oloron & Acqs (1090-1130)
Managed by: Lúcia Pilla
Last Updated:

About Gaston IV le Croisé, vicomte de Béarn

Gaston IV of Béarn, said the Crusader, was Viscount of Béarn from 1090 until his death in 1131 . His nickname the Crusader is due to its role during the First Crusade . He was also the nickname of Lord of Zaragoza , after leading the conquest of this city on behalf of Alfonso I of Aragon, lord lieutenant of Barbastro , Lieutenant of Uncastillo , and gentleman of Aragon .

He was the son of Centulle V , Viscount of Bearn and his cousin Gisela , whose union was broken in 1074 following the injunction of Pope Gregory VII because of their ties of consanguinity prohibited by the Church. His brothers demis- Bernard and Centulle counts were from the neighboring province of Bigorre .

This is a crusader who fought in the East for the capture of Jerusalem, but also against the Moors in Spain. This does not prevent him from governing its vicomte, to write the fors of Beam and build more shelters for pilgrims along the road of St. Jacques .

Youth and early years of reign

Date of birth of Gaston IV is not known. We only know that it is prior to 1074, the date of dissolution of the marriage of his father, Centulle V, and his mother Gisela. He married in 1085 with Talese , a young noblewoman related to the royal family of Aragon, who brought him in dowry the Viscount of Montaner. He succeeded his father in 1090, and was soon after to face the assaults of his enemies, the viscounts of Dax and Soule.

It seems to be seized much of the territory of Dax ( Country Mix and Ostabat ), he held until 1102.

The only document of this period to have survived as of October 1094 and Gaston IV shows dedicating a church.

The First Crusade

Responding to the call of Pope Urban II , Gaston enlisted in 1096 with his brother Centulle in the army of the Crusaders commanded by Raymond de Saint Gilles , composed mainly of noble Provençal Occitan and the southern kingdom of France.

The chronicles do not mention the presence of Gaston before Nicaea (May-June 1097), where he took part in the battle against the Turkish army who tried to rescue the besieged. Soon after, July 1, he faced six other knights the chief of the Turks in the parade Dorilea, and won a resounding victory.

During the long and painful siege of Antioch (October 1097 - June 1098), Gaston participated in the construction of catapults , perhaps using techniques learned from the Byzantines during the siege of Nicaea.

June 28, 1098, he received his first important command: he led the nobles of Gascony and Poitou during the battle against the armies of Kerbogha , at his side the papal legate in search of Raymond de Saint-Gilles, ill.

This battle was a complete success for the Crusaders, Gaston attending the devastating charge which decided the victory, and secured control of the Crusaders over the city. It is possible that during the months that followed the capture of Antioch , Gaston has decided to leave Saint-Gilles, because his name was mentioned among the 150 knights who helped Baldwin of Boulogne to seize the city of Edessa . That's why it did not take part in the decision and the massacre of Marra . Later, when the crusaders marched towards Jerusalem , Gaston counted the ranks of the army.

Leading the vanguard of the army, Gaston between June 3, 1099 in Ramallah , while the Norman Tancred goes to Bethlehem . Ramallah, he rides up to Jerusalem, and is the first Crusader to realizing the walls. He suffered an attack of the garrison Fatimid that could have cost him his life without the timely arrival of Tancred.

It was during the siege of Jerusalem that Gaston proved a central figure in the chronicles of the Crusade. He was responsible for the construction of machinery essential to headquarters, the rolling towers. He took advantage of the presence in Haifa of the Genoese fleet that after making reinforcements was blocked by the Fatimid fleet. Gaston received the leaders of the fleet that they shall yield their carpenters and wood for building their ships of war machines.

Gaston with Tancred assumed command of the troops Gascon, facing the door of Goliath, west of Jerusalem. On the morning of July 15, men of Godfrey of Bouillon managed to approach the castle and was breached. Tancred and Gaston (He was said to be the first cross to enter the Holy City ) threw themselves immediately on the attack, went beyond the towers of David and Goliath and headed to the esplanade of the Temple , while the army Cross was engaged in widespread looting and killing. The Temple, they let their standards to a group of civilians fled to the top of a mosque. The next day, an enthusiastic group of crusaders bound for Temple, murdered the civilians, the anger of Tancred and Gaston.

With little interest in personal glory, and not having an important title, Gaston took no part in the intrigues and power struggles which had to face the various commanders of force cross, in the conquest of the holy city. He chose to stay in power of Godfrey of Bouillon when he was appointed protector of Jerusalem, instead of embarking on personal adventures as did Tancred and Raymond of St. Gilles.

The last feat of arms of Gaston in Palestine is the battle of Ascalon (12 August 1099), victory cross, which did not materialize in the capture of the city, failing agreement between the various heads. In September, he sailed for Constantinople at the port of Laodicea with the Count of Flanders, the Duke of Normandy and probably his brother, Centulle de Bigorre, not mentioned in the chronicles.

The Vicomte de Béarn

After returning from the Holy Land , Gaston displayed intense activity. In April 1101, he founded a hospital for pilgrims in Lescar . This will be the first step in a long line to secure the road to Saint Jacques de Compostela which the main road passing by the Béarn and Aragon. In 1104, Talese made ​​a large donation to the Hospital Sainte-Christine Somport, Col most used by pilgrims to cross the Pyrenees (the abbey of Roncesvalles was not yet founded). Gaston and Talese are behind a series of shelters and hospitals in the woods that led to Somport: Mifaget (1114), Lacommande (1118) and Sauvelade (1128).

It was a great promoter of Romanesque art in Béarn, initiating the work of the cathedral of Lescar and the Cathedral of St. Mary Oloron . He also completed the construction of the church of St. Faith Morlaàs . All these buildings have in common the influence of the Cathedral of Jaca , logical thing given the political context at the time of Gaston.

In 1102, he promulgated a privilege for the city of Morlaàs , then capital of the Viscount. This privilege was the nucleus of the future For Morlaàs, which will in turn become one of the constituent documents of Fors Béarn.

As part of its foreign policy, besides its strong alliance with Alfonso I of Aragon , Gaston signed a peace with Bernard , Count of Armagnac (1104).

From 1102, he suffered attacks of viscounts and Dax Soule who managed, after a long and bloody war, to recover virtually all of what they lost in 1090, except small territories of Mixe and Ostabarret , and the town of Orthez who remained permanently under control Bearn.

Beam and Bigorre were respectively part of the territories of the duchy of Aquitaine and the kingdom of France, but in the twelfth century that membership was purely theoretical, as opposed to ties with Aragon. Centulle de Bigorre lent allegiance to Alfonso of Aragon 1 in 1122, out of orbit and formally Aquitaine. However, Gaston was still considered an equal by the Aragonese king, which he never had to swear allegiance. In this we can say that Gaston ruled the Viscount of Béarn as an independent principality.

Campaigns in Spain

In 1110, Gascon knights helped Alfonso I of Aragon to thwart the king's Taifa of Saraqusta (Zaragoza) II Ahmad al-Musta in during the Battle of Valtierra . It is unclear whether Gaston IV participated in this battle but a document dated 1113 mentions his title of Lord of Barbastro indicating that it had to fight in Aragon and be rewarded.

The first battle with Alphonse Gaston which we have some traces is that of 1117, leading to the capture of Morella and control of Maestrazgo , blocking communications between Zaragoza and Valencia . The capital of the Ebro was well isolated from its main support and exposed to an attack the following year.

For the attack on Zaragoza, Alfonso I would receive, in addition to its own forces Aragon and Navarre, the support of many Frankish knights, for the pope Gelasius II stated cross the conquest of Saragossa. Gaston received the Franks in Béarn in May 1118, led them to Zaragoza and took command of the siege.

Taking the suburbs was easy, but the city resisted for months. 20 Gaston built catapults and rolling several castles similar to those used in Jerusalem. The city finally capitulated on December 2 without clear whether the besieged surrendered driven by hunger, or because of a breach that the Crusaders were able to open. There was no looting or killing, contrary to what Gaston had seen and probably condemned in Palestine. The lives and property of inhabitants were respected and who would go could. The victors divided the Almoravid governor of great wealth and control of various parts of the city. Gaston was especially rewarded by Alfonso I the title of Lord of Zaragoza and even the crown of Aragon. In turn distributes Gaston received some land from the nobles who had accompanied Bearn.

The following year (1119), he took part in the successful campaign against Tudela , Borja , Tarazona and Soria , battles in which his role was probably overshadowed by the commitment of the Norman knights. The Almoravids, alarmed by the advance of Christian mobilized a large army that went to Zaragoza in 1120. In response, a large Christian army was formed under the command of Alfonso I and William IX of Aquitaine , which were among the cadets. She cut the road of the Almoravids and inflicted a decisive defeat on Cutanda (June 18, 1120). After that the towns of Calatayud and Daroca easily fell into the hands of the Aragonese.

At the head of an extended Aragonese territory, almost depopulated and difficult to defend, Alphonse Gaston suggested to create a militia, the Knights of Montreal , who would devote themselves to the defense of this border area. In 1122, Alphonse founded a brotherhood equivalent, the Knights of Belchite , where Gaston was represented by the bishop of Lescar, Guy de Lons . In both cases, these were lay fraternities whose members were not vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, unlike the subsequent military orders such as Calatrava or Saint-Jacques.

During winter 1124-1125, Gaston returned to war in Spain, taking part in the expedition against Peña Cadiella . The Crusaders regained la Peña, repelled the attack against Almoravid, but then had to withdraw, unable to maintain a position as remote.

Experience with Alfonso Peña Cadiella gave the idea to organize an expedition with the even more ambitious city of Granada goal. The ride, which naturally Gaston took part, was much commented upon in medieval chronicles and remained in history as the Battalion of Spain. Alphonse, Gaston and troops (estimated from 3000 to 5000 according to chronicles knights) went to Plasencia del Jalon 29 September 1125 and arrived at Valencia on October 20. There, Alphonse told the real purpose of the expedition: Granada, where it seems, the Mozarabs were willing to overthrow the government Almoravid, or at least, starting with Christians until Aragon. Through Alcira (unsuccessfully attacked), Denia and Peña Cadiella they already knew, the battalion went to Murcia , and thence Purchena, Baeza (whose attack also failed) and then Cadiz where he celebrated Christmas.

January 7, 1126, the Christian army arrived before the walls of Granada, which they hoped that the Mozarabs city would open their door, which did not happen. Gaston could not build siege engines as in Jerusalem or in Zaragoza, lack of materials. January 23, Alfonso ordered to lift the siege and launched an operation to destroy the orchards of Granada and Cordoba , hoping to provoke a battle in open field with the Almoravid army. The battle finally took place on March 10 near Lucena , and resulted in a baffling victory of the Christians. Rid of their enemies, Alphonse, Gaston and the rest of the Christians crossed the Alpujarras to contemplate the Mediterranean at Motril. From there, they began the return, laden with booty and accompanied Mozarabs to repopulate the conquered lands of Aragon. However, harassment of the Almoravids and soon declared epidemics that decimated much of the expedition, Gaston remaining survivors among the knights.

Death and Testament

The final joint document to Alphonse and Gaston is dated September 1129, in Tafalla. While Alphonse was heading towards the valley of Aran, Gaston and Esteban Bearn, bishop of Huesca remained in Iberia and continued to fight the Almodavides, losing both life. The circumstances are not clear, lack of sources.

Jerónimo Zurita simply says that Gaston and Esteban were killed by the Moors. The Hispano-Muslim historian Ibn Idhari gives more details:

"That same year (534 of the Hegira ) died governor of Valencia Yidar Mohamad. Yintan bin Ali ruled by the grace of God. He defeated the Christians and the head of their leader, Gaston, was brought to Grenada in the second month of Yumada (May 24, 1131 according to José María Lacarra). She was paraded through the streets, to the point of a spear, accompanied by the beating of drums. This gave back the smile to the emir of the Muslims, 'Ali ibn Yusuf , who was in Marrakech . "

Gaston's body was returned, against payment of a ransom and buried in the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza . The location of the tomb was lost during construction in 1681 or 1717. It retains, in the treasury of the Cathedral del Salvador in Zaragoza , the horn or oliphant War Gaston.

The young son of Gaston de Béarn Centulle VI , succeeded him as head of Béarn, under the regency of Talese. True to his ideal of chivalry, Gaston bequeathed all his lands of Aragon to the Knights Templar , created recently. This was probably the inspiration for Alfonso I of Aragon, who in his will bequeathed also its properties, including his kingdom to the military orders of the Holy Land (hospital, Knights Templar and the Holy Sepulchre), which triggered a huge political crisis in his death (1134), which ended with the surrender of the kingdom of Aragon in the hands of the Count of Barcelona , Ramón Berenguer IV.

Marriage and descendants

He married Talese or Talesa of Aragon , the Vicomtesse de Montaner or Montanerès and cousin of King Alfonso I of Aragon. Dowry, she gives him the Montanerès with the exception of five parishes which now remain in two inclusions of Bigorre in the Béarn , which is why there are always two enclaves in the Hautes-Pyrenees in Pyrenees-Atlantiques .

Gaston and Talese had two daughters and two sons:

Guiscarde of Béarn , the eldest, married Peter II, Viscount of Gabarret.

Another girl, whose name begins with N, was married in 1110 with Bernard Ezi, lord of Albret.

Centulle, born in 1102 and died between 1124 and 1128.

Centulle VI , born shortly after 1128, died in 1134 and Viscount of Béarn from 1131 to 1134.

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Valencia, Valencia, Spain