William was born in northern France in the mid-8th century. He spent his youth in the court of Charlemagne.
In 788, Chorso, Count of Toulouse, was captured by the Basque Adalric, and made to swear an oath of allegiance to the Duke of Gascony, Lupus II. Upon his release Charlemagne replaced him with his Frankish cousin William in 790. William first met the forces of Hisham I in 793 and defeated them. He met the forces again near the river Orbieu at Villedaigne but was defeated, though his resistance weakened the Muslim forces so much that they retreated to Spain.
In 801, William commanded along with Louis, King of Aquitaine a large expedition of Franks, Burgundians, Provençals, Aquitanians, Gascons (Basques) and Goths that captured Barcelona from the Ummayads.
In 804, he founded an abbey in in the diocese of Maguelonne. In 806, William became a monk at Gellone and eventually died there on 28 May 812 (or 814). When he died, it was said the bells at Orange rang on their own accord. And in the Chansons, he is nicknamed Fièrebrace on account of his strength.
Image: William of Gellone painted by Guercino
In the early years of his life he married the beautiful Cunegonde with whom he had numerous children. She died young.
Later in life he married the muslim princess Guibourc who it is said captured his heart. They married and Guibourc converted to Christianity.
She also died young and this left William broken hearted.
He built a monastery in France ( St. Guilhem le Desert) and part of it was re-located to the Cloisters Museum in New York city. Here is a picture I took of it:
About the story on the Coffret.
It tells of the adventures of William and how he went to recapture the city of Orange from Muslim control. He dressed as one of them, to deliver a message. While in the city he fell in love with the muslim princess, was discovered to be a spy, and thrown in prison.
The Franks came to rescue him and pitched their tents outside the city then discovered a secret entrance which allowed them to enter and rescue William. In 804 William renounced his military past and became a monk.
There is also a battle with a two headed beast. Maybe a dragon? But, there is no reference to it. Might just be a fun addition to the box.
Citations and references:
The Testament of Guillaume
- In the name of Christ, I, John, by the grace of God, reflecting weakness comes human my case, because my actions or the parents minuanda eyes that are dead, that is my father Teuderico; And my mother Aldana, and my brothers Teudoino and Adalelmo;
- And my sisters Abbano and Bertani, my daughters and sons Barrett
- balsam, Guitcario, Gotcelmo, Helmbruc and my wives Gunegunde and Guitburgi and nephew Bertrannus.
- On behalf of us all, above named, as a gift to the monastery, which was di- ment Gellon located in the village Lutovense by the river Araus, construction as well as in honor of the Lord, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, and the Holy One of Michael is an archangel, that is, the glorious apostles, Peter, and Paul, and St. Andrew, as well as, and of all of the apostles, that am I, said count, Wilhelm, to build in the cause of dom- were not the of my lord, of Charlemagne, and were condemned, and by the teaching of the venerable Father Benedict, the monks and the abbot, I have made, so that there is at the service of the Lord, to God continually, a present of it, constantly proclaimed in the I want you to be, that is my business, which reside in the village just described Lutovense in first of all the churches of St John and the St Genesius, that is to say, when the Imperial treasury liten, for under the whole in- integrity and villages and farm, vineyards and fields cultivated and uncultivated lands, trees fruit and infructiferis, pastures, meadows, mills, fishing, water and flowings of waters, however they may be the same treasury to be the same, and to the colonicas looks back to the right or to look back, it seems, the gift of all things, therefore I will restore to its proper perhaben-
- So that by all the time. It has, however, has conlaterationes, and infrontaciones from the ho- devolved as a running river plowed by noon as a stream Licata dimergi still in the water, is from the west, in the very infrontat grandparents, who had run to and fro through the the hollow of the mountains, in the Boden ancient city, which is in the top of a hill, from the aqui- Jones until terminio monastery.
- Similarly, giving in Marcomitis villa, regardless Deodatus Priest place, given the price compararavit or is a property in the name of me, as much as in the same place. I give the same country saturated, , when the Church of the Holy Saturninus, with all their integrity, with the cottages, for casaliciis, cam-
- pls, vineyards, meadows, forests, Garrice, orchards, mills, water, water outlets, far appeared to have a place to take knives and inculta to the house of the gift to the person. Similarly, giving in Canneto villa far appeared to have a place or ownership; in the village of Magdalonense in the village Soreg, I seem to have a far place or fixed.
- In the neighborhood of the truth of the Albigensian or Quiciacum Noviciacum the gift of his farm, he and all his integrity, even with all of its adjacency. Giving in the same village Rutenicum in the village Bracoialo, mansos two vineyards, cultivated and incul- the mind, as much as it is incumbent on mansi of looks at it, and gazing on them should be made.
- But above all a renown, William, I have already said count, on my behalf, and on behalf of the aforesaid persons, as a gift, therefore I will restore, has already been said, and to transform into a monastery of Gellone, and the altar?
- place offering, and the monks and abbots of both present and future, instead fills remuneration, so that in all things we may be able to have a merciful God, the Almighty, so that the same, and the monks, they have the ability to constantly to praise the God, to live there. Indeed, if anyone,
- which I do not believe it, or I am the same, or of some one of my heirs, that is,
- or in opposition to this gift of mine with which I have a willing mind, each person shall ple-
- sellor will, come, either break or something to break temp-
- a pinpoint, it shall not be allowed to do the same. If presume I pray to the almighty; so that he may take vengeance on him, because he let it be known to all men, this onorem I seized, as well as the horiginali part of the acquisition, without any person complaint. This donation was made on December 19, almost
- 34 years, while our departed Charolo king of the Franks and Langobarbreakers patrician Romans and 4 years at Christ's help, his government. Sign
- William - N. Barnard - St. Gotcelmi - St. Dom Teuderici - St.
- Gamardi - St. Fulcoald - St. Rangavis - St. Nictardi - St. Mauringus - St.
- Sibaldi - S. Giraldo