Forsyths of the Castle of Fronsac
Clan Forsyth Society
When Charlemagne was fighting the Saxons near Padderburn about 780, Roland and Forsyth were with him, and rendered valuable service. In 786 Charlemagne built a castle on the hill of Fronsac, twenty miles northeast of Bordeaux. He called it Forsyth in honor of his adopted nephew and of their common ancestor, the ancient King Forsite. He made it the capital of the district and appointed Forsyth as its defender. He gave Forsyth the herald lordship of the castle, the first Vicomte de Fronsac. Forsyth’s descendants became the lords of the castle, the imperial Vicomtes of Fronsac. Possession of the title in the eldest male line continued down to the eleventh century. The castle was one of the most powerful of Western France. The Emperor and the Franks had conquered the Saxons, and the castle was built as a restraining influence against them.
Fronsac was an ancient district in Aquitaine. It bordered on the river Dordogne. Its history reaches back to the Roman period. Hagaman Forsyth de Fronsac, a great grandson of the first Forsyth of the castle, was chief of stall of the Emperor, Charles the Simple, and his last legal adviser. He defeated all the enemies of the empire when Charles was betrayed by them, but later in 924, when they succeeded in defeating Charles, Hagaman was deprived of his rank, after which he retired to Forsyth castle. Because of his influence, Aquitaine refused to recognize the change of dynasty.
Grimwald Forsyth, the great grandson of Hagaman, was the last of the Forsyth name to hold the castle. He married Marie de Montenac about 1010, and they had four daughters and one son.
Before the eleventh century the Forsyths of Fronsac and the Tailefer families, who were counts of Angoulene, had intermarried. In 1030, Guillanone de Tailefer married the eldest daughter of Grimwald Forsyth and claimed one-third of the Fronsac estates as his wife’s dowry. Party feuds to get possession followed between the daughters as claimants of the castle and estates. One of them occupied the castle against the wishes of the king, who was the arbitrator of their disputes. The young son of Grimwald was deprived of his right of succession, and the castle passed into the female line. In the eleventh century, during the contention for possession between the claimants, the castle was partially destroyed.