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riage alliances. One conclusion that can be drawn from this is that, at
least in Rennes, Henry II did not introduce `foreign' royal of®cials to
oppress the Bretons and impose `foreign' institutions on them. More
interestingly, insofar as this is evidence for a deliberate policy of Henry
II regarding personnel, it indicates that the king had different policies
towards the counties of Nantes and Rennes. The latter was to be
administered by `natives' who were, nevertheless, royal trustees. The
former was oriented more towards the Angevin heartlands, as is
evidenced by William ®tzHamo acting as seneschal of Nantes and of

Kerherve, L'Etat breton, i, pp. 41±2.

Brittany and the Angevins
Anjou simultaneously, and Peter ®tzGuy's Manceau origins. This
re¯ects the history of Nantes, and also the fact that Henry II perceived
his regime in Nantes to be different and separate from that in Rennes.
Rennes (with the rest of Brittany) was due to pass to the direct rule of
Geoffrey and Constance as soon as they married; Nantes was not held
by Henry II subject to any such condition, so he could rule Nantes
In general terms, by the time Henry II handed over the government
of Brittany to Geoffrey and Constance in 1181, a system of royal
administration was established, at least for the counties of Nantes and
Rennes, and probably also Cornouaille and the Broerec. A royal
seneschal presided over each county and was directly answerable to the
king, on the model of the seneschals of Anjou and Poitou. Increasingly,
these seneschals were recording their of®cial acts in writing. Beneath
them, the old ducal administration continued as before, with subordi-
nate of®cers administering parcels of ducal domain. Additionally, the
king had a permanent representative in the person of Rolland de Dinan,
although how Rolland's of®ce co-ordinated with those of the regional
seneschals, and indeed whether he had any authority in the county of
Nantes, is not clear. Brittany was a province, or group of provinces,
within the Angevin empire, having an administrative system which
operated in the king's absence but which responded to royal orders
whenever they were issued.


1166 ± 1186

The two previous chapters have examined Henry II's acquisition and
government of Brittany. Throughout most of the period discussed, from
1166, Henry II's younger son Geoffrey was universally acknowledged to
be the future duke of Brittany, but he did not assume the government of
the duchy until 1181. There was thus a period of ®fteen years in which
Geoffrey's position in respect of Brittany was somewhat ambiguous.
The conventional wisdom is that Geoffrey never ruled Brittany
independently of Henry II, thus there is no signi®cant distinction
between the periods before and after 1181. On the contrary, 1181 is an
important turning-point in the history of the Angevin regime in
Brittany. This chapter will demonstrate that, although Geoffrey had no
authority in Brittany before 1181, he ruled effectively independently of
Henry II from 1181.

geoffrey `comes britannie', 1166 ± 1181
That Geoffrey did not have any authority in Brittany before 1181,
except in carrying out his father's orders, is indicated by the fact that
there are no known acta of Geoffrey before he became duke of Brittany,
except the writs of Henry II issued in their joint names. Neither is there
any evidence that Geoffrey had a seal of his own before 1181.
Notwithstanding Geoffrey's lack of independent authority, he was
closely involved with Brittany and Breton affairs. There are two aspects
to this involvement. From the point-of-view of Henry II, Geoffrey
played an active role in the Angevin regime, asserting royal authority in
Brittany. From Geoffrey's point-of-view, the period from 1166 to 1181
was spent preparing the way for his accession by gaining experience of
Breton politics and government and forming relationships with the
Breton magnates and courtiers who would serve him as duke of
Brittany and the Angevins
John Le Patourel, emphasising the authority of Henry II, stated that
before 1181, `le role de Geoffroi en Bretagne ne fut que purement

nominal. Il ne se trouva dans le duche que pendant les campagnes
militaires de 1175, 1177 et 1179'. This summary signi®cantly under-
estimates Geoffrey's role in Henry II's regime, especially in political
Henry II exercised a policy of associating Geoffrey in royal adminis-
trative acts concerning Brittany. At least two of the three known writs
issued to royal agents in Brittany after 1166 were issued in the joint
names of Henry II and Geoffrey.2 Assuming that more such writs were
in fact issued between 1166 and 1181, this suggests that it was the
general practice of the royal chancery to issue writs to Brittany in joint
names. Between 1166 and 1181, Geoffrey was usually styled `comes
Britannie'.3 At least two charters made by Henry II concerning lands in
the honour of Richmond were attested by Geoffrey `®lius regis, comes
Henry II took pains to associate Geoffrey with his regime in Brittany.
This policy may have been dictated by Henry II's need to legitimate his
own regime by associating it with his son who was to marry the heiress,
or it may have been for Geoffrey's bene®t, to establish precedents for
government in his name prior to his formal accession, or both.
Geoffrey was present in Brittany before 1181 more often, and for
more extended periods, than Professor Le Patourel would allow.5 He
probably visited Brittany with Henry II as early as the summer of 1166,
when he was not quite eight years of age. In May 1169, he undertook
some sort of investiture ceremony, when he was `received' in Rennes
cathedral by the bishop of Rennes and the abbot of Mont Saint-Michel,
both loyal supporters of Henry II. That Christmas, at Nantes, and in the
®rst weeks of 1170, the Breton barons rendered homage to Geoffrey as
well as to Henry II. Geoffrey probably accompanied his father to
Brittany again in the early months of 1171, after the death of Conan IV.
Up to this time, Geoffrey's role was preeminently symbolic. He was too
young to undertake any practical role in the administration of Brittany,
but, as the betrothed of the heiress, was valuable as a ®gurehead to
encourage Breton support for the Angevin regime.
J. Le Patourel, `Henri II Plantagenet et la Bretagne', MSHAB (1981), 99±116 at 104.

See p. 76.

Eg. J. H. Round (ed.), Calendar of documents preserved in France, i AD 918±1206, London, 1899,

reprinted 1967, nos. 349, and 686; Actes d'Henri II, nos. cccclxx, dv, dxliv, and dxlvii.
Actes d'Henri II, nos. dxliv, and dxlvi; B. A. Lees (ed.), Records of the Templars in England in the

twelfth century, London, 1935, pp. 224±6.
For Geoffrey's movements between 1166 and 1181, as outlined in the next few paragraphs, see

the itinerary at Charters, pp. 7±10.

Duke Geoffrey and Brittany, 1166±1186
After the 1173 revolt and the reconciliation of the king with his sons,
Geoffrey assumed a new role. Having turned sixteen in September
1174, he had attained an age at which he could act without direct
supervision. Henry II now seems to have retired from campaigning in
Brittany. Henceforth, military campaigns to enforce Angevin authority
in the duchy were undertaken by Geoffrey on the king's behalf. Early in
1175, Geoffrey was sent into Brittany to restore the pre-revolt order.
Although Rolland de Dinan was appointed `procurator' of the duchy,
when the king left for England in May 1175, according to Roger of
Howden, he despatched his sons Richard and Geoffrey `ad terras suas
custodiendas'.6 Geoffrey probably remained in Brittany until he and
Richard crossed to England at Easter 1176. They returned to their
respective provinces immediately after Easter, with Geoffrey remaining
abroad for some months.
Again, in August 1177 Geoffrey was sent into Brittany and probably
stayed for almost a year, because he next appears in the contemporary
sources on the occasion of his knighthood by Henry II at Woodstock
on 6 August 1178. If Geoffrey stayed in Brittany over winter in 1175/6
and 1177/8, this would suggest he was not engaged in military
campaigns all the time, and that he had the opportunity to gain
experience in government and knowledge of Breton affairs. Documents
from Nantes dated 1172 and 1177 refer to Geoffrey as `consul Nanne-
tensis',7 and it is possible that Geoffrey acted as Henry II's representative
in Nantes at times in the 1170s.
After his knighthood, Henry II seems to have given his son a holiday,
because Geoffrey spent a few months engaging in tournaments before
returning to court in England in time for Christmas. In April 1179,
Henry II sent Geoffrey to Brittany again, with the chroniclers once
more recording only the military aspect of the visit. Geoffrey inter-

rupted his activities in Leon to join his brothers at the coronation of
Philip Augustus at Reims in November 1179. There is no record of
Geoffrey's movements between this occasion and his accession in 1181,
and it is therefore possible that he spent part of this period in Brittany
In summary, Geoffrey was, or may have been, in Brittany in 1166,
1169 (twice), 1171, 1175/6, 1177/8 and 1179±81. Although the
recorded visits were made at his father's behest, with speci®c royal

Gesta, p.114; RH, ii, p. 72.

` . . . in tempore Roberti episcopi Nannetarum et in tempore Gaufridi consulis Nannetarum ®lii

regis Henrici Anglorum' (BN ms latin 5840, pp. 236±7, dated 1172); `mclxxvii, Henrico
regnante in Anglia et ®lio suo Gaufrido consule Nannetensi et Roberto episcopo apud eandem
urbem . . . ` (BN ms 22319, p. 197).

Brittany and the Angevins
orders, Geoffrey's presence in Brittany must nevertheless have been
conspicuous. Furthermore, as Geoffrey matured and proved himself
competent and reliable, it is reasonable to assume that Henry II allowed
him considerable discretion in the actual execution of his orders, such as
campaigning strategies, the mustering of troops and provisions and so
From Geoffrey's point-of-view, these periods spent in Brittany
enabled him to acquaint himself with the Breton political situation and
with individuals. He may have acquired the followers who would be his
ducal courtiers. Alan and Richard the twins, Reginald Boterel and
Gerard de Fournival were already courtiers at the time of Geoffrey's
®rst-known ducal act in 1181.
Henry II's efforts in associating Geoffrey with his rule of Brittany,
both diplomatically and militarily, were effective in that contemporaries
also attributed lordship in Brittany to Geoffrey before 1181. Indeed,
contemporary sources create some dif®culty because they attribute titles
and even authority to Geoffrey that he did not hold or exercise in
practice. Robert de Torigni, for instance, in addition to the usual
`comes Britannie', sometimes styles Geoffrey `dux Britannie' from as
early as 1171, and describes Geoffrey as `dominus' of William ®tzHamo
`senescallus Britannie'.8
Geoffrey is similarly described in the narrative account of the theft of
the relics of Saint Petroc in 1177. Anticipating demands for the return
of the relics to England, the thief obtained an interview with Rolland
de Dinan, `vicecomes domini Galfridi, ®lii regis Anglie, comitis
Britannie'. He tried to persuade Rolland that the relics should stay in
Brittany because Geoffrey (`dominus suus, comes Britannie') might use
them to rally support in a campaign to be made earl of Cornwall.9
Rolland's reply is not recorded, but he was not placed in a position of
con¯ict of interest because he soon received orders to recover the relics,
issued in the names of both Henry II and Geoffrey.
In short, Geoffrey was acknowledged as heir-apparent to the duchy
from 1166. Although he was titled `comes Britannie', he had no
authority independently of his father. After 1175, however, he was
entrusted with conducting military campaigns, probably with a more or
less free hand, and was named in the king's acta concerning the duchy.
After the lengths to which Henry II had gone to have Geoffrey
recognised as the future duke of Brittany, including betrothal to the
RT, ii, pp. 31, 56, 67, 73 and 81. Torigni uses dux and comes interchangeably with reference to

Geoffrey, before 1181, and also with reference to Duke Conan IV (i, p. 361; ii, pp. 26, 104)
DRF, pp. 178±9. For a discussion of this remarkable assertion, see K. Jankulak, The medieval cult

of Saint Petroc, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2000, ch 6, `Martin and his plot'.

Duke Geoffrey and Brittany, 1166±1186
heiress, he could not easily have removed Geoffrey from his acknowl-
edged position as future duke.
Geoffrey was, nevertheless, kept waiting to enter his estates as duke
of Brittany and earl of Richmond for a remarkably long time. Henry II
has been criticised for delaying Geoffrey's accession for his own ends,
but perhaps unjustly. Constance may have been less than one year old at
the date of the betrothal in 1166, in which case she would not have
been of marriageable age until about 1181. It is unlikely that Geoffrey
would have been accepted as duke of Brittany merely because Henry II
had placed him in that position; marriage to the heiress was a necessary
prerequisite to Geoffrey's accession. The fact that Geoffrey was a
mature twenty-three years of age by the time this became possible was
merely an unfortunate side-effect of Henry II's otherwise well-laid plan
to secure the duchy for him. The delay also no doubt suited Henry II's
desire to enjoy the revenues of Brittany and the honour of Richmond,
less only the amounts allowed to Geoffrey, for as long as he decently
The extent of Henry II's continued involvement in the government
of Brittany after 1181, apart from the county of Nantes, is a matter for
debate.10 In support of the argument that Geoffrey did not govern
Brittany independently, several examples may be cited of Henry II's
apparent interference after 1181. The ®rst is the inquest into the
temporal possessions of the archbishop of Dol, completed by October
1181.11 The return giving the results of the inquest is speci®cally dated
after the marriage of Geoffrey and Constance. It is possible, however,
that the writ ordering the inquest was issued by Henry II and Geoffrey


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