Women's Biography: Ermengarde of Anjou, countess of Brittany
There are letters written to and by Ermengarde of Anjou, countess of Brittany.
Ermengard was the daughter of Fulk le Réchin, count of Anjou, and of Lancelotte de Beaugenci. She was betrothed first to Guillaume VII, count of Poitiers, but the marriage was cancelled because of consanguinity, probably before it was consummated. She married Alain Fergent count of Brittany in about 1092 and gave birth to two sons and a daughter, Conan III, Geoffroy, and Hedvige/Hedwig. Life in Brittany seems to have been rather rough compared to the elegance of the court she had known in Anjou but Ermengard took an active part in the government of Brittany for four decades. She served as regent while Alain was on crusade, 1096-1101, and participated in her son's rule through much of her life.
Ermengard's husband retired to the abbey of Redon in 1112 after a serious illness, perhaps with some persuasion from her, and she retired to Fontevrault at the same time, but he stayed until he died in 1119, while Ermengard left Fontevrult after the death of its founder, Robert of Abrissel. She returned to the court of her son, Conan who had married an illegitimate daughter of Henry I of England, and played an active role in the government. Her name appears regularly in charters and she was present at political and religious assemblies.
Ermengard visited Fontevrault again in 1129, where her widowed niece was, Matilda of Anjou who had been married to prince William, son of Henry I. Shortly thereafter she followed St. Bernard to Dijon, and received the veil from his hands in 1130, but she left the cloister again, perhaps in 1132, to visit her brother Fulk after he became king of Jerusalem by his marriage to Melisende. While she was there, she worked to restore the church of the Holy Saviour in Nablus. She left in 1135 and returned to the court of Brittany, where she died in June, 1147.