The Full Wiki

Duchy of Brittany: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coat of arms of the Dukes of Brittany from 1312; described by one of the few known one-word blazons in existence, simply Ermine.

The Duchy of Brittany (Breton: Dugelezh Vreizh, French: Duché de Bretagne) was a medieval tribal and feudal state covering the Armorican peninsula west of Mont-Saint-Michel and north of Nantes/Naoned, including Rennes/Roazhon and Vannes/Gwened. It largely corresponded to the French region called Bretagne, historic Brittany, a region with strong traditions of independence, including a distinctive culture and the Breton language.

The incorporation of Brittany into the Carolingian empire ensured that the political and social institutions were similar to those prevailing elsewhere in western Francia. Until the 10th century, Brittany was severely affected by Viking attacks and ducal authority was weak.

Contents

Origin

Nominoe Triumphant: Tad ar Vro, image of Nominoe placed against the territory of Brittany secured by his victory in 845

In the declining years of the Roman Empire, the earliest Breton rulers in Gaul were styled "kings" of the small realms of Cornouaille and Domnonia, established by Romano-British migrants in the Armorican peninsula. There were some individuals who may have established hegemony over all Brythonic populations in the whole area, notably Riothamus, who is described as King of the Britons by the chronicler Jordanes. However there are no clear rulers of Brittany as a whole, which was divided between fiefdoms dominated by local Counts. Conomor claimed overall leadership as representative of the Frankish empire, but was ousted when abandoned by Chlothar I.

Local rulers claimed authority over the Bretons as a whole from the early 9th century. After the death of Charlemagne, Morman rebelled against Frankish domination, and was followed by Wihomarc. However the first Breton overlord to successfully confront the Franks was Nominoe, who defeated Charles the Bald at the Battle of Ballon in 845. After the victory of his son Erispoe in the Battle of Jengland (851), the territory of Brittany was legally defined to include the towns of Rennes and Nantes, along with the Pays de Retz south of the Loire. This became the official territory of the Duchy of Brittany. The rulers who succeeded Erispoe were styled kings of Brittany, but were later redefined as dukes. In the 9th and 10th centuries they fought against the attempted expansion of the Vikings and Normans.

11th century

Dynastic alliance with Normandy

Duke Geoffrey I of Brittany entered into a dynastic alliance with Duke Richard II of Normandy in a diplomatic double marriage between the two houses by 1003. The church-sanctioned marriage ceremonies were held at Mont St-Michel on the Breton-Norman border; with Geoffrey I marrying Hawise, Richard II's sister; and Richard II marrying Judith, Geoffrey I's sister.[1] However, the death of Geoffrey I in 1008 allowed for Richard II to intervene directly in Brittany during the minority of his nephew, Alan III, Duke of Brittany, against rebellious counts who would take advantage of a youthful duke.[1] The guardianship would be recipicated later when Alan III was named as one of the primary guardians of William of Normandy, when William's father Robert I, Duke of Normandy went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and died while returning in 1035. By designating Alan III as a guardian of William, Robert I was "involving a close family member who would not compete with his heir".[1]

In his guardianship of Duke William, Duke Alan III was allied with Count Gilbert and Robert, Archbisop of Normandy, William's uncles.[1] However, when Archbishop Robert died in 1037 instability surfaced. Alan III countered the instability by reinforcing the power of the Norman ducal house by providing Robert I's two youngest brothers with land and title.[1] However, by October 1, 1040, Alan III was poisoned to death while besieging a rebel castle in Vimoutiers. Tension increased in Normandy following Alan III's death, with Count Gilbert dying shortly thereafter.[1] A rival faction in the guardianship emerged, one that would intervene in Brittany, suppressing Alan III's heir from claiming his inheritance.

At around eight years of age, Conan II succeeded his father as Duke of Brittany, with the ducal regency entrusted to Alan's brother Eudes, Count of Penthièvre.[2] However, by the time Conan reached his majority at age sixteen, around 1048, Eudes of Penthièvre refused to relinquish his power. During the dynastic conflict between uncle and nephew, Count Hoèl V of Cornwall and Nantes supported Eudes in suppressing Conan's inheritance. Eudas was Hoèl's brother-in-law as he was married to Hoel's sister Agnes of Cornwall. By 1057 Conan captured and imprisoned Eudes of Penthièvre, with Conan coming to terms with Hoèl of Cornwall later that year.[2]

Advertisements

Breton and Norman rivalry

Conan faced numerous threats posed by the pro-Norman faction in Brittany, including revolts sponsored by William, Duke of Normandy.[3] William supported challengers to Conan's authority, encouraging them to rebel against the Breton duke, his cousin. William continued courting the family of Eudes of Penthièvre, who was imprisoned. In response, Conan promoted his own legitimate claim as Duke of Normandy, as the Catholic Church began preferring legitimate heirs born in church-sanctioned marriage over out-of-wedlock issue.[4]

The 1064–1065 War between Brittany and Normandy was sparked after Duke William supported Rivallon I of Dol's rebellion against Conan II.[2] In 1065, Before his invasion of Anglo-Saxon England, William of Normandy warned his rivals in Brittany and Anjou to abstain from any attacks on his duchy, on the grounds that his mission bore the papal banner.[3] However, Conan II rebuffed the warning and declared that he would press any advantage against William.[4]

While William plotted to take the English crown, Conan consolidated his authority in Brittany and planned to take advantage of William's absence and invade Normandy.[4] First, however, he needed to neutralize Anjou, another historic rival. Once Anjou was pacified he would advance into Maine and then into Normandy.[4] However, during his 1066 siege of Angers, Conan was found dead after donning poisoned riding gloves. Duke William was widely suspected of the assassination.[3][4]

Hawise succeeded her brother as hereditary Duchess of Brittany in 1066, and her marriage that year to Hoèl of Cornwall was designed to bring stability by consolidating authority in upper and lower Brittany.

With a nominal pro-Norman faction, represented by the duke-consort Hoèl of Cornwall and the count Eudes of Penthièvre among others, now in control of Brittany, Duke William of Normandy was able to attract Bretons into his expeditionary army for the upcoming campaign to claim the English crown.[1] Most Breton commanders in Duke William's army were the second-sons of Breton lords, such as Alain Le Roux (son of Eudas of Penthièvre). As much as a third of William's non-Norman soldiers were of Breton extraction.

However, the historic rivalry between Brittany and Normandy resurfaced at the close of the 11th century. By 1075 Hoèl returned to the traditional Breton policy of opposing Norman expansion with an alliance with the young king Philip I of France.[1] Ralph de Gael, in exile in Brittany after the unsuccessful 1075 rebellion in England, led incursions into Normandy from his base in Dol.[1] By 1076 King William of England retaliated by leading an army into Brittany to eject Ralph, but was met with a rare defeat by an allied army of Bretons and French forces.[1] In the peace negotiations which followed William offered Hoèl his second daughter Constance in marriage to the Breton heir Alan, though nothing came of the betrothal at the time.

By 1086 Alan IV was forced to abandon his duchy after an invasion launched by William I of England.

However, a peace settlement was reached that same year and in the negotiations that followed Alan IV was forced into marriage with King William I's second daughter Constance of England.[2] The marriage ceremonies may have taken place in Bayeux in Normandy. William of Malmesbury wrote that Constance was unpopular at the Breton court because of her 'sever and conservative' manner.[2] William of Malmesbury also alleged that Alan VI had Constance poisoned to death, but this remained unverified[2] However, Orderic Vitalis wrote that as duchess Constance did all she could to further the welfare of the Bretons, who grieved deeply at her death in 1090.[2]

In 1092 Alan IV donated property to the abbey of Redon by charter, and by 1093 married Ermengarde of Anjou as a political alliance with Fulk IV of Anjou to counter Anglo-Norman influence.[2] With Ermengarde he had a son Geoffrey, who died young, Conan III, and a daughter Hawise (married to count Baldwin VII of Flanders), possibly named after his mother Hawise, Duchess of Brittany.[2]

In 1098 Alan IV joined the First Crusade, leaving Brittany under the regency of his wife Ermegarde of Anjou. Ermengarde ruled from Nantes, rather than Rennes, as it was closer to her home county of Anjou. Alan IV returned from Crusade in 1101.

12th century

Conan inherited Brittany on the abdication of his father Alan IV, who retired to the monastery of Redon in 1112. By 1113 Conan III married Maude, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry I of England. With Maude he had three children, Hoel, Bertha, and Constance (married Alan la Zouche). During his reign he strengthened the rule of the duchy.

In the dynastic struggle between Stephen of England and the dispossessed Empress Matilda, Conan III allied himself with Stephen de Blois. Empress Matilda's forced and unpopular marriage with Geoffrey V of Anjou by her father Henry I, represented the historic rivalry between Brittany, Normandy, and Anjou. Conan III was countering Angevin influence and preserving Breton independence. In his alliance with Stephen, Conan III looked for greater influence with Stephen, who needed allies on the continent to out-flank Matilda. Matilda was able to consolidate power in Normandy and Anjou. Brittany's position to the west of Angevin controlled territory exposed a wide frontier for Stephan to exploit against Matilda. In 1138 Bertha was married to Alan of Penthièvre, a supporter of Stephen de Blois. For his support, Stephan created Conan's son-in-law Alan as 1st Earl of Richmond in the second creation, a title previously held by Alan's uncle Alain Le Roux.

Later, when Alan, Earl of Richmond, died in 1146, Conan's daughter Bertha returned home from England. On his death-bed in 1148, Conan III disinherited Hoel from succession to the duchy, stating that he was illegitimage and no son of his.[2] With this surprise move Bertha became his heiress and successor as hereditary Duchess of Brittany.[2] However, Hoel was to retain the county of Nantes.[2]

Duchess Bertha, as dowager countess of Richmond, continued to represent Brittany's alliance with Stephen's England against the Angevins. However this strategy became untenable after 1153, when Stephen's son Eustace died suddenly. Eustace's death provided an opportunity for Henry FitzEmpress to land an invasion army in England and press for his mother's claims. In the Treaty of Wallingford, Stephen was forced to recognize Henry FitzEmpress as his heir with Matilda abdicating her claim in her son's favour. The treaty exposed Brittany to retaliatory incursions from Henry FitzEmpress and his brother Geoffery FitzEmpress with impunity.

With the death of his mother Bertha, Duchess of Brittany, in early 1156, Conan IV expected to inherit the ducal throne.[2] However, he was denied his inheritance by his stepfather Viscount Eudas, who refused to relinquish his authority in Brittany.[2] To consolidate his hold on power, Eudas entered into a pact with dispossessed Hoel, Count of Nantes, to divide Brittany between them. But Hoel was under threat of rebellion in Nantes, sponsored by Geoffrey FitzEmpress of Anjou, and he could not send Eudas any aid. Conan IV landed in Brittany and took Rennes, while his ally Raoul de Fougères captured and imprisoned Eudas.[2] Conan IV was formally crowned Duke of Brittany in a ceremony held in Rennes.

Interference from abroad

While Conan IV was consolidating his inheritance in 1156, Geoffrey FitzEmpress successfully took Nantes from Hoel, and on his death in 1158 Conan IV seized Nantes, reuniting the Duchy once again. However, Henry II of England, now King of England, seized the Earldom of Richmond, Conan's paternal inheritance. Henry demanded the return of Nantes.

Henry II continued to stoke revolts and rebellions in Brittany against Conan IV. In response, Conan IV took the Breton counties of Tréguier and Guingamp from his uncle Count Henri, a supporter of Henry II.[2] Richmond was returned to Conan IV later that year in an agreement reached with Henry II.[2]

By 1160 Conan was forced to yield to Henry. In the peace negotiations which followed Conan was obliged to marry Henry's cousin, Margaret of Scotland, in 1160.[2] Margaret was daughter of Henry of Scotland, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon and Ada de Warenne, a daughter of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey and Elizabeth de Vermandois.

Satellite of England

Later, Conan IV was faced with additional revolts form barons, possibly sponsored by Henry II. Conan appealed to Henry II for aid to end the revolts. For his aid Henry II insisted on the betrothal of Conan’s only daughter and heiress Constance to Henry's son Geoffrey Plantagenet, continuing the policy of interweaving the Breton succession with the Plantagenet succession. It was this move and succeeding intermarriages that invited more interference in Brittany, with direct influence over succeeding Breton dukes.

Constance succeeded her father as Duchess in 1171, however from the start Geoffrey, as duke-consort, excluded Constance from exercising authority in government. However, by 1186, in a riding accident in Paris Geoffrey was stamped to death during a tournament. Constance thereafter became the effective ruler of Brittany.

Henry II of England arranged for Constance to marry Ranulph de Meschines, 4th Earl of Chester on 3 February 1188. In 1191 King Richard I of England officially proclaimed his nephew, Constance's son Arthur of Brittany, as his heir in a treaty signed with Philip II of France. To promote her son's position and inheritance, Constance abdicated in his favour in 1194.

Constance's marriage with Ranulph deteriorated, with Ranulph imprisoning Constance in 1196. Her imprisonment sparked rebellion across Brittany on her behalf. Ranulph bowed to growing pressure and had the Duchess released in 1198.

Back in Brittany, Constance had her marriage annulled. Later in 1198 at Angers, Constance took Guy of Thouars as her 'second' husband. Through-out these years, Constance advised her son towards a French alliance, pursuing the policy of her late husband Geoffrey II.

Vassal of France

When Richard I died in 1199, Phillip II agreed to recognize Arthur as count of Anjou, Maine, and Poitou, in exchange for Arthur swearing fealty to Phillip II, becoming a direct vassal of France. However 13-year-old Arthur was captured while besieging Mirabeau.

In 1201, at age 40, Constance bore her third husband twin daughters. First Alix of Thouars, and Katherine of Thouars (1201-c. 1240). Constance died due to complications during the delivery.

By 1202 the imprisoned Arthur of Brittany was transferred to Rouen, under the charge of William de Braose, and then vanished mysteriously in April 1203. Scandal surrounding Arthur's disappearance led many to believe that he was murdered on John of England's orders.

With Arthur's death, the succession of Brittany remained in question. Arthur's legal successor was Eleanor of Brittany. However John of England had Eleanor captured and imprisoned at Corfe Castle in Dorset.

Recognizing that John of England could have Eleanor married to a vassal loyal to England, who would rule Brittany through her, Philip II of France formally recognized Constance's infant daughter Alix as hereditary Duchess of Brittany. Initially Alix's father Guy of Thouars acted as regent. Phillip II of France was maneuvering to keep Brittany within his sphere of influence.

13th–16th centuries

France in 1477

The marriage of the infant Alice to Capetian cadet Peter of Dreux in 1213 began the new House of Dreux. This allowed Brittany a measure of autonomy again, although continuing to give lip service to Capetian sovereignty. After the Breton War of Succession, Brittany still had links with the English Crown through the Earldom of Richmond, until the Wars of the Roses. A disoriented and isolated Brittany became royally subsumed into France, during a tapering reign of the Montfort house. In 1465 Duke Francis II took Penthievre from its Blois-descended countess, Nicole de Bretagne-Blois - thus undermining the Penthievre family's position in the country.

In 1488, at the death of the last male duke Francis II, the head of the Penthievre family was Jean de Brosse (died 1502), grandson of the aforementioned Nicole de Blois, and he asserted their claim to the duchy. His claim failed, however, and Francis' daughter Anne succeeded. Duchess Anne of Brittany first attempted to marry into the Habsburg family, in order to avoid French central government's yoke, but she found herself instead married in turn to two kings of France. Her daughter Claude, duchess from 1514, was married to king Francis, and was not able to maintain an independent government. Claude's son Francis III was invested as duke, but this meant next to nothing to Breton independence. Some members of the Brosse family were appointed as royal governors of Brittany by the French.

Francis III's death made his brother Henri the last titular duke of Brittany, despite his not being crowned. When Henri ascended the French throne, Brittany was regarded as having merged into the French crown. This view did not enjoy universal support, as many Bretons would have liked higher autonomy and other European royal houses would have liked to see France weaken her own borders. When Henry III of France, the last male-line descendant of Claude died in 1589, his heirs in Brittany and Auvergne were Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, the later Spanish ruler of Low Countries, and Henry I, Duke of Lorraine.

While technically Henry's heirs, there were problems with both claimants. Infanta Isabella was the eldest daughter of the late eldest sister of Henry III but being female weakened her status. Henry, Duke of Lorraine was at least male, but as son of a younger sister, his claim was also weakened. Brittany had a tradition of giving some -but not all- precedence to male heirs even in cases where the male heir was descended through the female line.

Philip II of Spain, France' main foe at the time, challenged either heir to divide as much of France between them as could be taken. Brittany did not figure in this challenge and remained the property of the King of France. Philippe Emmanuel, Duke of Mercoeur, a leader of Catholic League, whom king Henry III had in 1582 made royal governor of Brittany, ruled Brittany in the name of his own underage son Philippe Louis de Lorraine-Mercoeur who through maternal ancestry was the direct primogenitural heir of Duchess Joanna the Lame, of the Penthievre branch, wife of Charles the Lame of Blois. Mercoeur organized a government at Nantes, supported by the Spaniards. It took several years until in 1598 the Mercoeur government surrendered in 1598 to Henry IV of France who had one of his own bastards marry the young daughter of the Mercoeurs, and confirmed the direct French control of the province.

Richmondshire

The region of Richmondshire in England was often held by Breton dukes themselves or their secundogeniture during the Middle Ages. Further complicating the political landscape were the competing ambitions played out in both Brittany and Richmondshire; Plantagenet Richmondshire under John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford supported English claims to the French throne, whilst Capet Brittany opposed this. During the Wars of the Roses, Richmond allied itself with the House of Lancaster under the Tudor earls, themselves supported by the Duke of Brittany.

Control of Richmondshire reflected the shifting of power between Britain and Brittany. Arthur III (in Breton Arzhur III) (August 24, 1393 – December 26, 1458), known as the Justicier and as Arthur de Richemont, was Lord of Parthenay and titular Count (Earl) of Richmond in England and, for eleven months at the very end of his life, Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort after inheriting those titles upon the death of his nephew. Brittany's tenure in Richmond passed to Britain through Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset (15 June 1519–18 June 1536) the only illegitimate offspring that Henry VIII acknowledged. FitzRoy was created Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset on 16 June 1525. Henry FitzRoy advertised his royal connection with quartered ermine in his coat of arms. Upon his death without children in 1536 it became extinct. The British title to Richmond was next gifted to Ludovic Stewart, 2nd Duke of Lennox, 1st Earl of Richmond (September 29, 1574 – February 16, 1624) a Scottish nobleman and politician.

Richmond became a dukedom in its own right; the Duchy of Brittany and Kingdom of Navarre were united in France in the same time frame as the Principality of Wales and Kingdom of Scotland were formed in Britain. Ties with Scotland and France, forged in the 16th century further influenced the pedigree of the Dukedom of Richmond.

The Dukes of Richmond owe the honorific title Duke of Aubigny (after Aubigny-sur-Nère in Berry), to the Breton Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. This relationship connected Richmond to the Auld Alliance, through Breton roots in the House of Stuart. Richmond, with its French and Scottish connections was identified as a region where reactionary recusancy flourished, finding sympathies in the Lennox district near Glasgow. Catholic connections further distinguished Richmond during England's Civil War and the English Reformation. The Dukes of Richmond were also associated with the Jacobite Clan Gordon which has property in the Scottish Highlands. The present Duke of Richmond is also Duke of Gordon.

Traditional vassals

This is an incomplete list of traditional vassals of the Duke of Brittany. Some titles were promoted to duchy rank after the Duke of Brittany title merged with the French crown.

Titles as rendered into the Breton language:

  • duke, duchess: dug, dugez
  • count, countess: kont, kontez
Counts
Viscounts
Bishops

Kings and Dukes of Brittany

Princes of the Bretons

The succession was interrupted by the Norman occupation (907937)

Nantes / Naoned

  • Alan II Wrybeard (reigned as a duke from 937 to 952)
  • Drogo, son (reigned from 952 to 958)
  • Hoel I, brother (reigned from 960–981 as a duke, but controlled only the county of Nantes/Naoned)
  • Guerech, brother (reigned from 981–988 as a duke, but controlled only the county of Nantes/Naoned)

Rennes / Roazhon (Vannes II)

Cornouaille / Kerne

Penthievre / Penteur

Plantagenet / Plantajened

Thouars

Dreux

Breton War of Succession (1341–1364)

Montfort / Moñforzh

The cadet branch of the House of Dreux

Penthièvre / Bleaz-Pentevr

The annexation of Brittany was not uncontested by the subsequent Counts and dukes of Penthièvre:

  • the senior claim, that of Joan of Penthievre and of the Mercoeur, went through Bourbon-Vendôme (the illegitimate branch started by Cesar, bastard of Henry IV, and his Briton wife) to Marie-Jeanne de Savoie-Nemours, the mother of Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia and after her death in 1724, the Savoy kings of Sardinia, until Victor Emmanuel I was inherited by Dukes of Modena, and then subsequently inherited by Dukes of Bavaria, whose heir now is Franz, Duke of Bavaria
  • the junior or Montfort claim and of Isabella Clara Eugenia (who died in 1633), went to her nephew the duke of Savoy, whose descendant Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia inherited it from his father in 1675. Since Victor Amadeus subsequently in 1724 succeeded in his mother's rights too, the succession thus continued as explained above together with the senior claim all way down to Franz, Duke of Bavaria.

Bourbon

None of those claims had any effect on the political and dynastic situation of Brittany, which put the province squarely into the hands of the royal family. Some of the younger sons of French-Navarrese and Spanish kings were titled "Duke of Brittany", unlike the claimants described above. These included Louis, Dauphin of France (1707-1712) and his elder brother Louis, who only survived one year (1704-1705). Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz's heir François de Bourbon held "Duke of Brittany" as a courtesy title (19731984).

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j [The Normans; The History of the Dynasty by David Crouch page 36]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Brittany Genealogy extracted February 1, 2008
  3. ^ a b c [Howarth, 1066: The Year of the Conquest]
  4. ^ a b c d e [Harold and William; The Battle for England, A.D. 1064-1066, Patterson]

See also

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message