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`Histoire de Bretagne' (1505) and `Chroniques de Vitre' selectively,
citing Le Baud where it is probable that his account is based upon a
documentary source, and adding corroborative evidence as far as
Contemporary literary evidence, therefore, derives solely from
sources written outside Brittany. The limitations of this are obvious; a
writer residing elsewhere and having only a passing interest in Brittany
could not be expected to describe Breton current affairs accurately or in
detail. This is illustrated by the work of William the Breton, who wrote
his Gesta Philippi Augusti around 1214.9 In a brief digression from his
royal subject-matter, William records an important event in the history

E.g. J. Boussard, Le gouvernement d'Henri II Plantegenet, Paris, 1956; A. Oheix, Essai sur les

‚‚ Á
senechaux de Bretagne des origines au XIVe siecle, Paris, 1913.
R. Merlet (ed.), La chronique de Nantes, 570 environ ± 1049, Paris, 1896; F. Duine (ed.), La Bretagne

‚ ‚ Á
et les pays celtiques. xii, La metropole de Bretagne: `Chronique de Dol' composee au XIe siecle et catalogues
des dignitaires jusqu'a la revolution, Paris, 1916. Annals for the twelfth century exist from the abbeys

of Sainte-Croix de Quimperle (Cart. Quimperle, pp. 93±101), Saint-Gildas de Rhuys (Preuves,
cols. 150±2) and Saint-Jacques de Montfort (Preuves, col. 153). Preuves also contains annals from
593 to 1463 under the heading `Chronicon Britannicum' (cols. 101±17), compiled from several
manuscripts, including the annals of the abbey of Melleray.

Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne; M.-L. Auger, G. Jeanneau and B. Guenee (eds.), Alain Bouchard:

Grandes chroniques de Bretaigne, 2 vols., Paris, 1986; Preuves, cols. 7±102 (chronicle of Saint-
‚ Á Á
J. Kerherve, `La naissance de l'histoire en Bretagne (milieu XIVe siecle-®n XIVe siecle)', in

J. Balcou and Y. Le Gallo (eds.), Histoire litteraire et culturelle de la Bretagne, 3 vols., Paris and
Geneva, 1987, i, pp. 245±71 (for Pierre Le Baud, see especially pp. 266±7).
H. F. Delaborde (ed.), êuvres de Rigord et de Guillaume le Breton, historiens de Philippe-Auguste.

`Tome premier. Notice sur Rigord et sur Guillaume le Breton', Paris, 1885, pp. 77±80.

Brittany and the Angevins
of Brittany: the end of the succession contest which followed the death
of Duke Conan III, with Conan IV's triumph over Eudo de Porhoet in È
1156. William relates this in a way which would interest his French
audience, describing Eudo's period of exile at the court of Louis VII.
This chronicle is the only source for some of the matters it records, and
there is no reason to doubt William's veracity. The lack of Breton
chronicle material is illustrated by the fact that this material was included
by William in his chronicle merely as `incidentia'.10 It is ironic that we
are obliged to rely upon `incidentia' in a chronicle written for other
purposes as an important contemporary source for Brittany.
William was writing many years after the events occurred, and from
Paris, but at least he was a native of Brittany, and possibly an eye-
witness to some of the events he describes. The well-known British
chroniclers of Henry II and Richard also make some references to
Breton affairs, but only insofar as they concern the Angevin royal
family, mainly Henry II's and Geoffrey's visits and military campaigns
there. The most detail is provided by Roger of Howden, and it is
unfortunate that his chronicles do not begin until 1169 (coincidentally,
with Henry II's Christmas court at Nantes).
The most valuable chronicle is that of Robert de Torigni, who knew
Henry II personally and enjoyed royal favour. As abbot of Mont Saint-
Michel, Torigni was in an excellent position to record events in north-
eastern Brittany. In contrast, he does not seem to have been well
informed about events in southern Brittany. This is well illustrated in
his account of the 1173 revolt. Torigni gives a detailed account of the
siege of Dol, the cathedral town just across the bay from Mont Saint-
Michel, but as to rebellion around the borders of Nantes and Anjou,
Torigni's account is sketchy and garbled.11
Other literary sources provide evidence of Breton affairs. Henry II's
military campaigns in 1167 and 1168 are mentioned in Stephen of
Rouen's epic poem, `Draco Normannicus', and in the vita of Hamo of
Savigny.12 The siege of Dol in 1173 is described in Jordan Fantosme's
verse `chronicle'.13 An especially valuable source is a narrative account
of the theft and recovery of the relics of Saint Petroc which occurred in

WB, p. 177.

RT, ii, pp. 42±6.

`Stephani Rothomagensis monachi Beccensis poema, cui titulus, `Draco Normannicus',' in

R. Howlett (ed.), Chronicles of the reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I. Rolls Series, London
1885, ii, pp. 695±708; H. Omont (ed.), Le dragon normand et autres poemes d'Etienne de Rouen,
Rouen, 1884, pp. 105±119; E. P. Sauvage (ed.), `Vitae B. Petri Abrincensis et B. Hamonis
monachorum coenobii Saviniacensis in Normannia', Analecta Bollandiana 2 (1883), 475±560 at
R. C. Johnston (ed.), Jordan Fantosme's chronicle, Oxford, 1981.

1177.14 Written soon after the events it describes, this remarkable
narrative contains much material about the workings of Henry II's
chancery, about life in Brittany, and not least about the administration
of Brittany (or at least north-eastern Brittany) under Henry II at this
The literary sources are valuable for the politics of Henry II and
Geoffrey regarding Brittany. Being concerned with events like births,
deaths and marriages, warfare and treaties, they are, however, a poor
source for anything routine and generally contain little evidence for the
administration of Brittany. I have given them so much emphasis,
however, because the diplomatic sources are so limited.
In the use of written records, the government of Brittany resembled
that of the neighbouring counties of Anjou and Poitou much more than
that of England and Normandy. There were no routine records of
®nancial accounting or justice, equivalent to pipe rolls or plea rolls,
created and preserved by an of®ce of royal/ducal government.15 The
principal sources for the administration of Brittany are charters and
notices recording property transactions. Some of these were created by
royal/ducal of®cials in the conduct of their duties; more indicate the
participation of a ducal of®cer, usually as a witness. There are also ducal
acta, including a small number of charters of Henry II and Geoffrey
concerning Brittany.
The common characteristic of all this diplomatic material is that its
subject-matter concerns ecclesiastical institutions, or lands which ulti-
mately came into their possession. The church remained solely respon-
sible for the preservation, if not the creation, of legal documents in
Brittany even in the last quarter of the twelfth century.
Given that all the administrative records which have survived,
whether produced by of®cials or by the ecclesiastical bene®ciaries of
their actions, were preserved by the latter, the survival of episcopal and
monastic archives is of paramount importance to the study of the
administration of Brittany in the twelfth century. Here, unfortunately,
we are not well served. Most of the extant cartularies containing Breton
material were those of the great Benedictine houses: Redon and

Quimperle in Brittany, Mont Saint-Michel, Marmoutier, Saint-Florent
de Saumur and the great abbeys of Angers outside. By the late twelfth
century, patronage of Benedictine monasteries had become unfashion-

DRF. See K. A. Jankulak, The medieval cult of St Petroc, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2000.

There is no evidence to suggest that such documents were created but since destroyed. The

earliest known roll of ducal accounts is from the second-half of the thirteenth century (B. A.
‚ Ã ‚
Pocquet du Haut-Jusse (ed.), `Le plus ancien role des comptes du duche, 1262, document

inedit', MSHAB, 26 (1946), 49±68).

Brittany and the Angevins
able and the Benedictine abbeys and priories of Brittany were in
decline, or at least had ceased to expand. The cartularies of Redon,

Quimperle and Mont Saint-Michel are principally eleventh-century
works. Twelfth-century charters which were not included in the
cartularies have not all survived. There are thus relatively few charters
relevant to this study in Benedictine cartularies.
By the mid-twelfth century, patronage of the new religious orders
was much more fashionable, in Brittany as elsewhere.16 For these,
though, the survival of documents is even less reliable. How much
material is missing or lost is illustrated by comparison with the few
extant twelfth-century cartularies. For instance, the cartulary of Savigny
contained three charters of Duke Geoffrey. The Cistercian abbey of
Buzay did not produce a cartulary but preserved its original charters,
including two of Duke Geoffrey. Another Cistercian abbey, La Vieu-
ville, preserved the written record of a dispute determined on the orders
of Henry II around 1167 (in La Vieuville's favour, of course), and a
con®rmation charter of Duke Geoffrey. The twelfth-century cartularies
or archives which have survived, even if only as copies, contain not
only ducal charters but documents providing valuable evidence for the
administration of Brittany under the Angevins, such as charters for
Buzay and Fontevraud made by Henry II's seneschals of Nantes, or a
charter made for Savigny recording that Ralph de Fougeres, as
`Seneschal of Brittany', presided over the ducal curia at Rennes.
Other Breton monasteries which Henry II and Geoffrey are known,
or are likely, to have patronised, such as Begard, Langonnet, Saint-
Maurice de Carnoet, La Blanche Couronne and Melleray (all Cister-
cian), had all suffered almost total loss of their archives before the
eighteenth century. Cathedral archives have also suffered serious losses,
for instance, the archives of the cathedral of Dol were destroyed when
the cathedral was attacked by King John in 1203.18 The scarcity of
documents from the monasteries, which were in their heyday in the
second half of the twelfth century, and from the cathedrals is particularly
Apart from ducal acta, the only of®cial records of the Angevin
administration are charters of the ducal seneschals recording proceedings
in the ducal curia. Even these were produced ad hoc, at the request of the
parties, and not as a matter of routine.

A. Du®ef, Les Cisterciens en Bretagne aux XIIe et XIIIe siecles, Rennes, 1997, pp. 86±91.

See chapters 3 and 4.

Du®ef, Cisterciens, p. 191; F. Duine (ed.), Inventaire liturgique de l'hagiographie bretonne. La Bretagne

et les pays celtique. xvi, Paris, 1922, p. 125; W. L. Warren, King John, 2nd edn, New Haven and
London, 1997, p. 87.

Transactions between laymen were not customarily recorded in
writing in Brittany before the mid-twelfth century. The extant charters
and notices from before this date were all produced to record transac-
tions in which a religious institution had an interest. The practice of
recording transactions between laymen ®rst appears during the reign of
Duke Conan IV (1156±66).19 It is likely that this material is signi®cantly
under-represented in the historical record, in comparison with written
records of transactions involving churches. The relative rarity of extant
written records of transactions between laymen is probably explained by
failure of preservation. It is signi®cant that some of the earliest
documents made on behalf of laymen pertain to the greatest baronial
Á ‚
families, principally Fougeres and Vitre, who were the leaders, among
the barons, in beginning both to produce and to preserve documents
The main diplomatic sources for this study, then, are the acta of
Henry II and Duke Geoffrey pertaining to Brittany, the acta of royal/
ducal of®cers produced in the exercise of their duties, and documents
produced by religious institutions who were the bene®ciaries of the
exercise of these duties.
The remainder of this introductory chapter will pursue the theme of
Brittany's integration in the wider Frankish and Anglo-Norman world.
This issue would not arise in a study of any of the neighbouring regions,
such as Maine or Anjou, and the reason why it arises in respect of
Brittany is the conventional characterisation of Brittany as a Celtic
region. As a preliminary matter, then, I would emphasise that medieval
Brittany was not culturally homogeneous. The immigrants from the
British Isles who began to colonise Brittany in the ®fth century joined a
population similar to that in other parts of the former Roman Gaul,
combining Gallo-Romans and more recent Germanic arrivals in the
east. The Bretons, naturally, did not colonise Brittany uniformly, rather
they were concentrated in the west, on the Armorican peninsula, and
along the littoral. Although later military success would extend the
hegemony of the peninsular Bretons eastwards beyond even the
boundaries of the medieval duchy of Brittany, this proved ephemeral,

EYC, iv, no. 58. Since Conan made numerous charters, some in Brittany, in respect of grants to

laymen in the honour of Richmond, it is probable that he adopted the practice in England and
introduced it in Brittany after 1156 (EYC, iv, nos. 40, 41, 47, 52, 55, 65, and 79; Charters, Ge6).

J. Auberge (ed.), Le cartulaire de la seigneurie de Fougeres connu sous le nom de Cartulaire d'Alencon,

Rennes, 1913; A. Bertrand de Brousillon (ed.), La maison de Laval (1020±1605): Etude historique
‚ ‚
accompagnee du cartulaire de Laval, i, Paris, 1895. The testament of Andrew II de Vitre, dated 1184,
is the earliest known for Brittany, although it was made in Jerusalem (A. Bertrand de Brousillon,
‚ ‚ Á
`La charte d'Andre II de Vitre et le siege de Kerak en 1184', Bulletin historique et philologique de la


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