Walter V, Count of Brienne

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Walter V of Brienne.jpg
Walter's seal
Duke of Athens
Reign1308 – 1311
Predecessor Guy II
Successor Manfred
Died15 March 1311 (aged 3536)
Battle of Halmyros, Duchy of Athens
Spouse Joanna of Châtillon
Issue Walter VI of Brienne
House Brienne
Father Hugh of Brienne
Mother Isabella de la Roche
Religion Roman Catholic

Walter V of Brienne (French : Gautier V de Brienne; c.1275 15 March 1311) was Duke of Athens from 1308 until his death. Being the only son of Hugh of Brienne and Isabella de la Roche, Walter was the sole heir to large estates in France, the Kingdom of Naples and the Peloponnese. He was held in custody in the Sicilian castle of Augusta between 1287 and 1296 or 1297 to secure the payment of his father's ransom to the Aragonese admiral, Roger of Lauria. When his father died fighting against Lauria in 1296, Walter inherited the County of Brienne in France, and the Counties of Lecce and Conversano in southern Italy. He was released, but he was captured during a Neapolitan invasion of Sicily in 1299. His second captivity lasted until the Treaty of Caltabellotta in 1302.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Hugh, Count of Brienne Count of Brienne

Hugh, Count of Brienne and Lecce was the second surviving son of Count Walter IV of Brienne and Marie de Lusignan of Cyprus.

Isabella de la Roche was a daughter of Guy I de la Roche. She was married twice, firstly to Geoffrey of Briel, Lord of Karytaina and then secondly to Hugh, Count of Brienne, having children only with her second husband.


Walter settled in France and married Joanna of Châtillon. After his cousin, Guy II, Duke of Athens, died childless in 1308, Walter laid claim to his inheritance. Their cousin, Eschiva of Ibelin, also claimed the duchy, but the High Court of Achaea passed a judgement in Walter's favor. Walter came to Athens in 1309. John II Doukas, the Greek Lord of Thessaly, made an alliance against him with the Byzantine Empire and the Despotate of Epirus. Walter hired the Catalan Company, a group of mercenaries, to invade Thessaly. The Catalans defeated John II, but Walter refused to pay their wages. After the Catalans rose up in open rebellion, Walter assembled a large army from Frankish Greece, but the Catalans inflicted a crushing defeat on the Franks in the Battle of Halmyros. Walter died in the battlefield and the Catalans occupied the Duchy of Athens.

Joanna of Châtillon or Joan, French: Jeanne; was the wife of Walter V of Brienne (1305). She was Duchess of Athens by marriage (1308–1311). She was the daughter of Gaucher V de Châtillon, Constable of France and Isabelle de Dreux. Her paternal grandparents were Gaucher IV de Châtillon and Isabelle de Villehardouin. Her maternal grandparents were Robert de Dreux, Viscount of Chateaudun and Isabelle de Villebéon.

Guy II de la Roche Duke of Athens

Guy II de la Roche, also known as Guyot or Guidotto, was the Duke of Athens from 1287, the last duke of his family. He succeeded as a minor on the death of his father, William I, at a time when the duchy of Athens had exceeded the Principality of Achaea in wealth, power, and importance.

Eschive d'Ibelin (1253–1312) was sovereign Lady of Beirut in 1282-1312. She was the daughter of Jean d'Ibelin, lord of Beirut, and of Alice de la Roche sur l'Ognon, and a member of the influential Ibelin family.

Early life

Born around 1275, Walter was the only son of Hugh of Brienne and Isabella de la Roche. [1] [2] Hugh held important fiefs both in France (the County of Brienne), and in southern Italy (the Counties of Lecce and Conversano). [3] He had also claimed Cyprus, but the Cypriots elected his cousin, Hugh of Antioch-Lusignan. [4] Isabella de la Rochethe younger daughter of Guy I, Duke of Athens brought Peloponnese estates into the marriage. [5] She died in 1279. [6]

Hugh III of Cyprus, born Hugues de Poitiers, later Hugues de Lusignan, called the Great, was the King of Cyprus from 1267 and King of Jerusalem from 1268. He was the son of Henry of Antioch and Isabelle de Lusignan, the daughter of king Hugh I of Cyprus. He was a grandson of Bohemund IV of Antioch and thus a descendant of Robert Guiscard.

Guy I de la Roche (1205–1263) was the Duke of Athens, the son and successor of the first duke Othon. After the conquest of Thebes, Othon gave half the city in lordship to Guy.

Historian Guy Perry describes Walter as a "veritable child" of the War of the Sicilian Vespers. [7] His father who was a military commander of King Charles II of Naples fell into captivity in the Battle of the Counts on 23 June 1287. [8] Hugh was released only after he ceded Walter as a hostage to the Aragonese admiral, Roger of Lauria to guarantee the payment of his ransom. [9] Walter was kept in the fortress at Augusta for years. [9] He most probably learnt Catalan and became familiar with the Aragonese customs during the years of his captivity. [7]

War of the Sicilian Vespers

The War of the Sicilian Vespers or just War of the Vespers was a conflict that started with the insurrection of the Sicilian Vespers against Charles of Anjou in 1282 and ended in 1302 with the Peace of Caltabellotta. It was fought in Sicily, Catalonia and elsewhere in the western Mediterranean between, on one side, the Angevin Charles of Anjou, his son Charles II, the kings of France, and the Papacy, and on the other side, the kings of Aragon. The war resulted in the division of the old Kingdom of Sicily; at Caltabellotta, Charles II was confirmed as king of the peninsular territories of Sicily, while Frederick III was confirmed as king of the island territories.

Charles II of Naples King of Naples

Charles II, also known as Charles the Lame, was King of Naples, Count of Provence and Forcalquier (1285–1309), Prince of Achaea (1285–1289), and Count of Anjou and Maine (1285–1290); he also styled himself King of Albania and claimed the Kingdom of Jerusalem from 1285. He was the son of Charles I of Anjou—one of the most powerful European monarchs in the second half of the 13th century—and Beatrice of Provence. His father granted Charles the Principality of Salerno in the Kingdom of Sicily in 1272 and made him regent in Provence and Forcalquier in 1279.

The naval Battle of the Counts took place on 23 June 1287 at Naples, Italy, when an Aragonese-Sicilian galley fleet commanded by Roger of Lauria defeated a large combined Angevin galley fleet commanded respectively by Reynald III Quarrel of Avella and Narjot de Toucy.

Walter was still held in custody when his father died fighting against Lauria at Brindisi in the summer of 1296. [7] King Charles II ordered Hugh's southern Italian vassals to swear fealty to Walter on 27 August. [10] After being released, Walter went to France and took possession of his father's French domains. [11] He was invested with the County of Brienne before May 1297. [11]

Brindisi Comune in Apulia, Italy

Brindisi is a city in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Historically, the city has played an important role in trade and culture, due to its strategic position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city remains a major port for trade with Greece and the Middle East. Its industries include agriculture, chemical works, and the generation of electricity.

Warlike aristocrat

Seeking revenge for his father's death, Walter made an alliance with two French noblemen whose fathers had also been murdered in Italy. [11] They hired 300 horsemen, who were known as the "Knights of Death", and joined the army that Charles II's heir, Robert, Duke of Calabria, had mustered to invade Sicily. [11] Robert and his troops landed at Catania and occupied the town. [11] Before long, rumours reached the Neapolitan camp, hinting that the castellan of Gagliano Castelferrato was willing to capitulate without resistance. [12] Robert dispatched Walter and his retainers to the fortress to start negotiations with the castellan. [12] The rumours proved false, deliberately spread to trap Neapolitan troops. [12] After realizing the situation, Walter refused to flee and did battle against the Aragonese troops, but he was soon forced to surrender. [12] Charles II appointed Philip of Toucy to administer Walter's southern Italian domains during his captivity. [12] After the Treaty of Caltabellotta was signed in 1302, Walter was released and he went to France before June 1303. [12] His subsequent marriage to Joanna of Châtillon, who was the daughter of the Constable of France, strengthened his position in France. [12]

Catania Comune in Sicily, Italy

Catania is the second largest city of Sicily after Palermo located on the east coast facing the Ionian Sea. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Catania, one of the ten biggest cities in Italy, and the seventh largest metropolitan area in Italy. The population of the city proper is 320,000 while the population of the city's metropolitan area, Metropolitan City of Catania, stood at 1,116,168 inhabitants.

Gagliano Castelferrato Comune in Sicily, Italy

Gagliano Castelferrato is a comune in Sicily, Italy in the Province of Enna.

Grand Constable of France First Officer of the Crown in France before 1789

The Grand Constable of France, was the First Officer of the Crown, one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the King's army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general to the King, outranked all nobles in the realm, and was second-in-command only to the King of France.

Duke of Athens

Guy II, Duke of Athens died childless on 5 October 1308. [6] [13] His two cousins, Walter and Eschiva of Ibelin, laid claim to the duchy. [6] [13] Eschiva was the daughter of Alice de la Roche, who was the elder sister of Walter's mother, but the High Court of Achaea ruled in Walter's favor, saying that the male claimant was to be preferred against a female if two relatives of equal degree claimed an inheritance. [6] [13] Before departing for Athens, Walter appointed his father-in-law, Gaucher V de Châtillon, to administer the County of Brienne. [13]

Walter landed at Glarentza in Achaea in the summer of 1309. [14] By the time he reached Athens, John II Doukas, Lord of Thessaly, had got rid of Athenian suzerainty. [13] The Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, and the actual ruler of Epirus, Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene, supported John II, forcing Walter to seek external assistance. [13] [14] The Catalan Companya group of unemployed mercenarieshad made regular raids against Thessaly since 1305. [6] Walter hired the Catalans and their Turkish allies to fight against the Greek rulers. [14] [15] The mercenaries invaded Thessaly and occupied important fortresses. [15] [16] After six months, John II was forced to sue for peace. [15]

Walter owed the mercenaries four months' salaries, but he did not want to pay the arrears. [14] He selected 200 horsemen and 300 almogàvers (or foot soldiers) from among the Catalans and promised only to them to pay their wages. [14] He also offered fiefs to them and ordered all other Catalans to leave the duchy. [14] The dismissed mercenaries refused to move and requested Walter to allow them to settle in the newly conquered lands as his vassals. [15] Walter did not trust the Catalans and threatened them with capital punishment if they did not obey his commands. [15] Having nowhere else to go, the disbanded mercenaries rose up in open rebellion. [14] The 500 Catalan mercenaries whom Walter had just hired joined their compatriots, forcing Walter to seek assistance from Achaea and other parts of Frankish Greece. [14]

Walter's army met the Catalans in a marshy plain on the river Cephissus on 15 March 1311. [17] [18] The Catalans were willing to make peace, but Walter was determined to get rid of them. [17] At the ensuing Battle of Halmyros, the Catalans won a devastating victory, killing Walter and almost all of his cavalry. [17] The Catalans occupied the Duchy of Athens, but Walter's son who was taken to Italy after the Catalans' victory made unsuccessful attempts to regain it in the following decades. [19] [20] A Turkish soldier decapitated Walter's corpse and took his head in triumph from the battlefield. [21] His son seized Walter's severed head and buried it in Lecce, most probably in the church of Sant'Oronzo in 1348. [22]


In the year 1306 he married Jeanne de Châtillon and had two children:

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  1. Lock 1995, p. 366.
  2. Perry 2018, pp. 128, 134.
  3. Perry 2018, pp. 99, 119, 129.
  4. Edbury 1994, p. 35.
  5. 1 2 Lock 1995, pp. 364–365.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Lock 1995, p. 104.
  7. 1 2 3 Perry 2018, p. 134.
  8. Perry 2018, pp. 131–132.
  9. 1 2 Perry 2018, p. 131.
  10. Perry 2018, p. 135 (note 163).
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Perry 2018, p. 135.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Perry 2018, p. 136.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Perry 2018, p. 137.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Setton 1976, p. 441.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Perry 2018, p. 138.
  16. Setton 1975, p. 170.
  17. 1 2 3 Perry 2018, p. 139.
  18. Setton 1975, p. 171.
  19. Lock 1995, p. 106.
  20. Perry 2018, p. 142.
  21. Perry 2018, p. 140.
  22. Perry 2018, pp. 177–178.
  23. Perry 2018, pp. xxii–xxiii, xxvi, 37.
  24. Edbury 1994, p. 30.


Walter V, Count of Brienne
Born:c.1278 Died: 15 March 1311
Preceded by
Guy II
Duke of Athens
Succeeded by
Roger Deslaur
disputed by Walter VI of Brienne
French nobility
Preceded by
Count of Brienne
Succeeded by
Walter VI