<<

. 11
( 55 .)



>>

for the ®rst time gave the king of England an unprecedented opportu-
nity to intervene in Breton affairs. This was especially the case since
Conan was a minor who was exiled in England while his stepfather
Eudo de Porhoet ruled Brittany, refusing to hand the duchy over to
È
him. The young Conan needed Henry II's support to pursue his claim
to his maternal inheritance. At this stage, the king was satis®ed to see
Conan installed as duke of Brittany, knowing that his loyalty would be
assured by the king's power to dispossess him of the honour of
Richmond.
In the summer of 1156, Conan crossed to northern Brittany, under-
took a short but effective campaign against Eudo de Porhoet, and was
È
12
recognised as duke by most of the Bretons. Neither Eudo nor Conan
ever exercised direct authority over the county of Nantes, however. As
noted in the previous chapter, since the death of Duke Conan III in
1148, his son Hoel had ruled Nantes more or less independently of the
È
rest of Brittany. In 1156, Hoel was deposed and replaced, not by Conan
È
IV, but by Henry II's younger brother, Geoffrey. There is no evidence
that Henry II had any involvement in this, but it would certainly have
been in his interests. Since Henry II had allegedly disinherited his
younger brother of a share of the Angevin patrimony, the county of


Le Patourel, `Henri II', pp. 100±1.
11

RT, i, p. 302; WB, p. 177; Preuves, col. 615 (after BN ms fr. 22325, p. 420).
12


38
Henry II and Brittany
Nantes represented some recompense, but did not give Geoffrey
suf®cient means to challenge Henry II in the future.
The situation changed dramatically with Geoffrey's premature death
in July 1158.13 At ®rst, Conan IV asserted his right to the county of
Nantes as duke of Brittany and actually took possession of the city of
Nantes for a few days. Henry II challenged him, according to William
of Newburgh, on the ground that the king was the heir of his deceased
younger brother. Henry II then simply seized the county of Nantes by
means of his superior force, both military and diplomatic, playing the
trump-card of his control of Conan's English estates.14
At Michaelmas 1158, Conan IV met the king at Avranches and
surrendered to him the city of Nantes and the `comitatus Medie'.15
`Media' was a region of the county of Nantes north of the Loire. Place-
name evidence locates it at the north of the county, where it marched
with the county of Rennes. `Media' may also have comprised the
marches of Nantes with the county of Anjou to the east and the Broerec
È
16
to the west.
Upon Conan's submission, Henry II's next action was to hurry
south. He formally took possession of the city of Nantes, staying there
only a few days before setting out to besiege Thouars. He took the
castle within three days, and thence retained it in his own hands.17
Henry II's sense of urgency may be explained on the basis that Conan
had only yielded parts of the county of Nantes north of the Loire; the
city of Nantes and the `Media'. The barons holding lands south of the
Loire may not have recognised Conan's authority during the brief
period when he occupied Nantes; consequently, they would not regard
themselves as bound by his submission to Henry II. The immediate
purpose of Henry II's decisive action against Thouars, therefore, was to
prevent these barons from uniting with their Poitevin neighbours.
Henry II's itinerary in September/October 1158 emphasised, for the
bene®t of the Bretons, the fact of Angevin control of all the lands
adjacent to Brittany, from north to south. The seizure of the county of
Nantes does not, however, represent the ®rst stage of an Angevin
Geoffrey died on 26 or 28 July 1158 (RT, ii, p. 166; BN ms fr. 22329 p. 604). He was born in
13

1134 (Ann. ang., p. 9) and was thus only twenty-four years of age at his death.
RT, i, p. 311±12, and ii, p. 169; GC, p. 166; Preuves, cols. 103±4; Ann. ang., pp. 14±5; WN,
14

p. 114; RW, p. 17.
RT, i, p. 312.
15

‚‚ ‚ ‚ ‚
A. Bourdeaut, `La Mee: Etude de geographie feodale et ecclesiastique nantaise', BSAN 71(bis)
16


(1933), 5±26; N.-Y. Tonnerre, Naissance de la Bretagne: Geographie historique et structures sociales de
‚ Á Á
la Bretagne meridionale (Nantais et Vannetais) de la ®n du VIIIe a la ®n du XIIe siecle, Angers, 1994,
pp. 449±50.
RT, i, p. 313 and ii, p. 169; Ann. ang., p. 14; Richard of Poitiers (RHF, xii, p. 411); Boussard,
17

Anjou sous Henri II, pp. 72±3.

39
Brittany and the Angevins
invasion of Brittany, since the county continued to be politically
independent of the rest of Brittany. It appears that Henry II's authority
was accepted in the county of Nantes.18 There is no record of resistance
or rebellion there until the revolt of 1173, and even then the revolt was
limited to the Angevin frontier.
Although Henry II's policy at this stage was to allow Conan IV to
remain in power as duke of Brittany, it made good sense to diminish the
resources available to him by depriving him of the county of Nantes.
Robert de Torigni conveys this in the otherwise rather anomalous
statement, made in the context of Conan IV yielding to Henry II in
September 1158, that the city of Nantes and the `comitatus Medie'
combined were worth 60,000 Angevin solidi.19
Meanwhile, Henry II undertook a policy of securing the marches of
Brittany with Normandy and Maine. On the Norman side, the king
ordered the castle of Pontorson to be rebuilt.20 On the Breton side, he
made or renewed alliances with two of the greatest marcher-barons, the
‚ Á
lords of Vitre and Combour. The barony of Fougeres represented a
signi®cant presence between the two, but at this stage, Henry II may
have had no reason to doubt the loyalty of the ageing Henry de
Á
Fougeres and his son and heir Ralph, especially because they also held
land in Normandy and England.
Conan IV continued to exercise ducal authority throughout most of
Á
Brittany. A charter of Ralph de Fougeres is dated 2 April 1157 or 1158,
`dominatus vero Conani comitis Britannie et Richemontis anno II,
regnante in Anglia Henrico rege . . .', another is dated 29 March 1158
or 1159, `dominatus vero Conani ducis Britannie et comitis Riche-
Á
mondie'. Ralph de Fougeres was decidedly partisan, but a charter of

Robert de Vitre is dated 24 July 1157, `tempore . . . Conani comitis
21
Britannie IIII'. Conan IV made ducal acta at Quimper (1162) and
Rennes (1162±3).22 In 1163, he led a military campaign to the extreme
west of the duchy in aid of Harvey de Leon.23 The young duke also

maintained his position at Henry II's court. In 1160 he married
Margaret, sister of Malcolm IV, king of Scotland, almost certainly with

RT, i, p. 313. For instance, a charter of Bernard, bishop of Nantes, for the abbey of Pontron is
18

dated 1160, `Henrico rege presidente Nannetis' (BN ms fr. 22329, p. 644). A notice from the
cartulary of the abbey of Ronceray of the same year styles Henry II, `comes Andegavensium et
Nannetensium' (Actes d'Henri II, no. cxxxvi).
RT, i, p. 312. 20 RT, i, p. 313 and ii, p. 169.
19

Preuves, col. 631; BN ms fr. 22325, pp. 238±9; AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 1F83 f. 8r; AD Ille-et-
21

Vilaine, 1F70.

Hist. Quimperle, p. 600; EYC, iv, pp. 65, 71.
22

‚ Á
WB, p. 178; H. Guillotel, `Les vicomtes de Leon aux XIe et XIIe siecles', MSHAB 51 (1971),
23

29±51 at 31.

40
Henry II and Brittany
Henry II's consent.24 In January 1164, Conan attested the `Constitutions
of Clarendon', styled `comes Britannie'.25
Henry II meanwhile kept himself informed of developments in
Brittany. As early as 1156 the king had attached his own curiales to the
ducal household, and sent others on missions to Conan's court. These
included Hamo Boterel, Josce de Dinan and William ®tzHamo. All

three attested a charter of Henry II made at Vitre between 1158 and
early 1162 which seems, from the other witnesses named, to have been
made on an occasion when the political future of Brittany was being
discussed. These three may have been assembled as those most able to
advise the king on Breton matters.26
By the 1160s, the king's policy towards Brittany had started to
change. A turning-point was the death of John de Dol in July 1162.
Á
John left an infant heiress, Isolde, having appointed Ralph de Fougeres
27
to act as guardian. The union of the neighbouring baronies of
Á
Combour and Fougeres greatly enhanced Ralph's position. The crea-
tion of such a strategic barony, occupying the entire common border of
Brittany and Normandy, was a threat both to ducal authority and to the
security of Normandy, and John de Dol must have realised that the king
would not approve of this arrangement. Since Henry II had taken over
John's regalian right in appointing his own candidate as archbishop of
Dol in March 1161,28 it is surprising that the king did not also dictate
the choice of custodian of the honour of Combour.
It is perhaps a measure of reasonably good relations between Henry II
Á
and Ralph de Fougeres that, initially, the king allowed Ralph to take up
his charge as guardian. He merely ensured, no doubt with the aid of his
loyal archbishop, that Ralph surrendered the castle of the lords of
Combour in the town of Dol.29 But two years later, in August 1164,
Henry II's constable Richard du Hommet, with a force of Norman and
Breton knights, seized the castle of Combour and took the barony into
the king's hand.30 Henry II gave custody of the heiress and her lands to

RH, i, 217; Le Patourel, `Henri II', p. 101. Malcolm IV joined the Toulouse campaign in 1159
24

and was then knighted by Henry II (Warren, Henry II, p. 179). The marriage was surely
intended to strengthen this alliance. Since the `exercitum Britonum' also joined the campaign
(RT, i, p. 310 and ii, p. 192), it is possible Conan IV was present.
GC, i, 178±80; D. C. Douglas and G. W. Greenaway (eds.), English Historical Documents, ii,
25

(1042±1189), London, 1953, 718±22.
BM mss Lansdowne 229, f. 114r and 259, f. 70r. See below, p. 54 and Appendix 3.
26

RT, i, p. 340. A disposition by John de Dol, perhaps on his deathbed, was made with the
27

Á
consent of Ralph de Fougeres `qui meum heredem et terram meam in custodia accepit' (BN ms
fr. 22319, p. 103).
RT, i, p. 332±3. 29 RT, i, p. 340.
28

RT, i, p. 353. It may be signi®cant that Conan IV attended Henry II's court in England in
30

January 1164. Perhaps the situation in the honour of Combour was discussed (Warren, Henry II,

41
Brittany and the Angevins
a Norman of the Avranchin, John de Subligny. John was answerable
directly to Henry II in his administration of Combour, which necessa-
rily implies that Conan IV had no authority in the barony.31 Thus from
August 1164, Henry II possessed an enclave in the duchy of Brittany
which was of the greatest strategic importance as it formed part of the
frontier with Normandy.
In the summer of 1165, Henry II campaigned in Wales, having left
Eleanor of Aquitaine in France to act as viceroy of his continental
dominions. There is no record of Eleanor visiting Brittany or having
any part in its administration. Indeed, there is no reason why she should
have, since Brittany was still ruled by Conan IV. Robert de Torigni,
however, records that, in Henry's absence, certain barons of the county
of Maine and of Brittany had refused to obey Eleanor's orders and had
conspired together to revolt. Whatever the truth of this, for Robert de
Torigni, it was the justi®cation for Henry II to enter the marches of
Brittany and Maine and undertake a punitive campaign which involved
the destruction of the castle of Fougeres in July 1166.32 The king thus
Á
demonstrated that he had abandoned his policy of supporting Conan IV
as duke of Brittany.
William of Newburgh places Conan's demise in the context that
Henry II had already made two substantial inroads into Brittany,
`civitatem scilicet Namnetensem et castrum Dolense'.33 There is no
record of Conan IV having attempted to resist Henry II's intervention
in the barony of Combour as he had in the case of Nantes. Similarly,
there is no evidence that Conan was involved in the defence of the
Á
castle of Fougeres. Conan had no excuse for any failure to aid his cousin
Á
and most loyal supporter, Ralph de Fougeres, and the fact that he
lacked either the will or the means to do so almost certainly precipitated
his abdication, if it had not already been negotiated, since Conan was
with Henry II at Angers on 31 July 1166.34
Á
In 1166, probably soon after the siege of Fougeres, Henry II and
Conan IV announced a new settlement of the duchy's affairs, which
involved Conan's abdication. Henry's young son Geoffrey was to marry
Conan's only child, Constance, and, under a collateral agreement,
Conan `granted' to Henry II the duchy of Brittany, except the barony
p. 101, note 4). Professor Warren suggests that Henry II had summoned him for this reason, but

<<

. 11
( 55 .)



>>