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Conon de Béthune

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Biography

Conon de Béthune (c. 1150 [1] in the former Artois region, today Pas-de-Calais - December 17, 1219 or 1220, in or near Constantinople or perhaps Adrianople) was a crusader and “trouvère” poet.Contents

Born in 1150, he was the 10th son of Robert V, seigneur of Béthune and justice officer (avoué) of the Abbey of Saint-Vaast of Arras (in today’s Pas-de-Calais), who died at the siege of Acre in 1191. Through his grandmother, Conon de Béthune was related to the ruling Hainaut family in Flanders. It is probable (from comments made in one of his poems) that Conon appeared before the French court at the occasion of the marriage of king Philippe Auguste with Isabelle of Hainaut in 1180 and sang his songs before Marie de Champagne (noted for her connection to Chrétien de Troyes).

After having taken part in the Third Crusade, Conon de Béthune went (with his brother Guillaume) on the Fourth Crusade in 1200, accompanying the knights of Baldwin, Count de Flanders and serving as official orator. His eloquence, wisdom and chivalry were praised by Geoffroi de Villehardouin (who said of Conon: “Bon chevalier et sage estoit et bien eloquens”). After the conquest of Constantinople (1204), Conon de Béthune served a number of important positions in Baldwin’s (and later Henry of Flanders and Peter of Courtenay’s) government and played a key role in Baldwin’s reconciliation with Boniface of Montferrat and in the Battle of Adrianople. After the death of Emperess Yolanda of Flanders in 1219, he was chosen by the barons as Regent of the Empire, but died shortly after in 1219 or 1220 in the town of Adrianople (now Edirne, European Turkey).

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