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£16 per annum from the manor of Maldon, Essex, by a gift of Henry II made in 1173 (Pipe Roll
19 Henry II, p. 12). He held it until mid-1183, when his interest was transferred to Eudo,
presumably as Oliver's heir, for the fourth quarter of the year Michaelmas 1182±Michaelmas
1183 (Pipe Roll 29 Henry II, p. 19). See L. Landon (ed.), The Cart± Antiqu± Rolls 1±10, Pipe Roll
Society, New Series, 17, p. 3.
RH, ii, p. 277; Gesta, p. 299.
54


135
Brittany and the Angevins
between Geoffrey and these two knights, it is possible that the ill-
treatment of Oliver, at least, was aimed at his brother, the king's
seneschal of Nantes.55
Gerald of Wales asserts that Geoffrey was the prime mover of the
1183 rebellion.56 The chronicles of Roger of Howden contain a similar
assertion, but it is put into the direct speech of the Young King Henry,
on seeking a reconciliation with his father.57 In the circumstances, even
if this were an accurate report of the Young King's words, his sincerity
would be highly suspect, since it was in his interest to cast the blame for
the rebellion on Geoffrey. Neither writer, however, attempts to explain
why Geoffrey should have led his elder brother into a rebellion in
Aquitaine. Howden simply characterises Geoffrey as evil and treach-
erous. This is not a satisfactory explanation; Geoffrey must have had
good reasons for undertaking this dangerous strategy. The best source
for the military action around Limoges, the chronicle of Geoffrey de
Vigeois, hardly mentions Geoffrey, being far more concerned with local
politics and the role of the Aquitanian barons.58
The Young King nevertheless relied heavily upon Geoffrey for both
advice and material support. Afterwards, Geoffrey sought his father's
forgiveness for the aid which he had given his brother but not for
having inspired the rebellion.59 Ultimately, the Young King Henry was
the focus of the rebellion, as is indicated by its total collapse upon his
death. In 1182 Geoffrey judged that the Young King was in the
ascendant, and decided to give him active support in the hope of future
bene®t. If the Young King chose to raise rebellion in Aquitaine,
Geoffrey would assist him. Even if they failed to oust Richard from
Aquitaine, the show of strength would have the effect of putting
pressure on Henry II to yield to Geoffrey's own demands.
The Young King's death changed everything. The division of Henry
II's lands between Henry, Richard and Geoffrey, settled since 1169, was
redundant. By Michaelmas 1183, Henry II was considering a new
settlement. Richard was to give up his direct lordship of Aquitaine and
become the heir to England, Normandy and Anjou, and John was to
receive Aquitaine from Richard. Geoffrey seems to have accepted this
settlement, no doubt molli®ed by Henry II's concession to him of the
honour of Richmond.
After their reconciliation in 1183, Geoffrey remained loyal to his

This presupposes that Eudo ®tzErneis had succeeded Peter son of Guy as seneschal of Nantes by
55

this time. Peter son of Guy is last recorded in the of®ce in 1183, Eudo ®rst recorded in 1185.
Werner (ed.), `De principis instructione', p. 172.
56

RH, ii, p. 276; Gesta, p. 297. 58 RHF, xviii, p. 213.
57

` . . . de auxilio quod regi fratri suo contra eum fecerat' (Gesta, p. 304).
59


136
Duke Geoffrey, Henry II and the Angevin empire
father, rather than transferring his allegiance to Richard in the place of
the Young King. Being second in line of succession was substantially
different from being third. Until 1183, Geoffrey had had no prospects of
advancement except by the favour of the young Henry when he
became king. Now he stood immediately behind Richard, who being
bellicose and still unmarried, might die without legitimate issue. It was
in Geoffrey's interest to retain Henry II's favour, and events following
the Young King's death gave Geoffrey the opportunity to bene®t from
Richard's contumacy.
When, at Michaelmas 1183, Henry II asked Richard to give
Aquitaine to John, Richard refused and withdrew from the king's
court. At this, Henry II told John he should take Aquitaine from
Richard by force. Whether or not this was meant to be taken seriously
and acted upon, in the summer of 1184, Geoffrey and John attacked
Poitou.60 Like the Young King in 1183, John `Lackland' could not have
undertaken this campaign without Geoffrey's material support.
There is no evidence, however, that this was a serious attempt to
invade Poitou. Rather it seems to have consisted of border raids,
burning and looting, which Richard readily reciprocated against Breton
territory. Geoffrey's purpose may have been to demonstrate his loyalty
to Henry II and his hostility to the disobedient Richard. Henry II must
have at least sanctioned this action by Geoffrey and John. The only
common border between Brittany and Aquitaine was the southern
border of the county of Nantes. Roger of Howden's assertion that
Richard attacked Geoffrey's land can only mean the county of Nantes,
unless the attacks were seaborne, between the coast of Poitou and the
coast of the Armorican peninsula, which is highly improbable. The
county of Nantes remained in Henry II's hands at this time; Geoffrey
could only have launched raids from there, and defended it against
Richard's attacks, if he had been given royal licence to do so. One is
reminded of Geoffrey's campaigns in Brittany, under Henry II's orders,
during the 1170s.
The situation was unsatisfactory and, in the autumn of 1184, Henry II
summoned the three brothers to England for a family conference. That
Geoffrey remained in his father's favour is indicated by the fact that
Geoffrey and John were entrusted with a royal mission to the monks of
Canterbury regarding the disputed election of the archbishop, which
they undertook between 3 and 15 December 1184.61 Shortly before
Christmas, Henry II made peace between his sons in a public show of
family unity.62 It is unfortunate that there is no evidence as to the terms

Gesta, p. 319. GC, p. 322. Gesta, p. 320.
60 61 62


137
Brittany and the Angevins
of any settlement made at this time, since this period marks the zenith of
Geoffrey's political success.
Immediately after the family gathering at London, Henry II des-
patched Geoffrey to Normandy in some sort of viceregal capacity (as
`custos').63 Richard and John were detained at the royal court. With
Richard in extreme disfavour over his refusal to comply with Henry II's
wishes regarding Aquitaine, the possibility arose that Henry II might
pass over Richard and make Geoffrey his heir for England, Normandy
and Greater Anjou. Geoffrey's appointment in Normandy must have
seemed only one step away from Henry II acknowledging him as future
duke of Normandy. The threat this posed to Richard is indicated by the
fact that he left Henry II's court and resumed hostilities against Geoffrey
in the early months of 1185.64
Unfortunately, nothing is known of Geoffrey's activities in Nor-
mandy,65 and within four months he had returned to Brittany.66 It is
unclear whether this marked the end of his mission in Normandy, or
whether Geoffrey was merely visiting Brittany, leaving deputies in
Normandy.
During 1185 Henry II must have decided that his interests would be
suf®ciently protected if he acceded to Geoffrey's demands and gave him
lordship of the county of Nantes. The king was ageing and was
depending on Geoffrey to control Richard. Witnesses to ducal charters
made in Nantes suggest that Geoffrey attracted to his court barons
whose lands were situated at the borders of Nantes with the counties of
Anjou and Poitou.67
Geoffrey's ®nal act of rebellion, his alliance with Philip Augustus, did
not occur until several years after the death of the Young King Henry,
when the long-standing tripartite division of the Angevin empire was a
thing of the past. By the end of 1185, Geoffrey had achieved his lifelong
goals; he was now duke of Brittany, including the county of Nantes,
Gesta, pp. 320±1. 64 Gesta, p. 337.
63

The only reference to Geoffrey in the extant Norman Exchequer rolls of this period is to a loan
65

of £30 he received before Michaelmas 1184 (T. Stapleton (ed.), Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normannie
sub regibus Anglie, 2 vols., London, 1840, i, p. 111), possibly connected with ®nancing the 1183
revolt.
Geoffrey made several charters at Rennes in 1185, one on 19 April (Charters, nos. Ge 18,
66

21±23).

Charters, nos. Ge 28, 29, attested by the lords of Vritz, Varades, Maulevrier, Lire, Clisson and
67

Montaigu. The lords of Machecoul also probably recognised Geoffrey's authority (from the

presence of Maurice de Lire, Geoffrey's seneschal of Nantes, and William de Clisson, as
witnesses to several charters of Bernard de Machecoul, c.1185 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 1F536)), and
a younger son of the lord of Goulaine was a courtier from before 1185. But see below
(pp. 141±2), both the work on the forti®cations, and the patronage of frontier barons, may have
occurred in 1186 in the context of Geoffrey's alliance with Philip Augustus against Henry II and
Richard.

138
Duke Geoffrey, Henry II and the Angevin empire
and earl of Richmond. What had been generous provision for an infant
third son, though, must by now have seemed meagre for the second in
line of succession to Henry II. Geoffrey was a proven administrator and
military leader, and furthermore the only one of Henry II's sons to have
produced any legitimate children.68 Finally, the acquisition of Nantes
improved the balance of power considerably in Geoffrey's favour. Apart
from the ®nancial bene®ts, possession of the county gave Geoffrey
direct access by land to all of Henry II's continental territories;
Normandy and Maine (from the county of Rennes), Anjou and Poitou
(from the county of Nantes), as well as control of the lower reaches of
the Loire.
It was only in these circumstances that Geoffrey sought to increase
his share of the Angevin domains beyond that which had been
allocated to him in infancy. According to William of Newburgh,
Geoffrey hoped his father would give him the county of Anjou.69
Within the ®rst half of 1185, any ambitions Geoffrey may have
nurtured of succeeding Henry II to part or all of the Angevin
patrimony were quashed. Henry II thought better of disinheriting
Richard. In mid-1185, Richard ®nally surrendered Aquitaine to
Eleanor in return for recognition as heir-apparent to England, Nor-
mandy and Anjou. In March 1186, Henry II implicitly acknowledged
Richard as his heir.70 Tempting as it may have been to disinherit
Richard in favour of Geoffrey, after Henry II's death, Geoffrey would
have been placed in the untenable position of defending England,
Normandy, Anjou and Brittany against Richard, who would inevitably
have sought the aid of Philip Augustus to overthrow him. As an elder
son overlooked in favour of a cadet, Richard would have been in a
morally justi®able position.
With no further prospect of advancement by Henry II, in late 1185
or early 1186, Geoffrey transferred his allegiance to Philip Augustus. In
a sense, this was the continuation of a relationship which dated back to
Philip's coronation in 1179, when Geoffrey is said to have rendered
homage for Brittany, and which was reinforced when Geoffrey joined
his brothers in aiding Philip in 1181.71
The details of Geoffrey's relations with Philip Augustus are obscure,
as one would expect of a secret alliance which had yet to reach fruition
when Geoffrey met his untimely death in August 1186. Geoffrey must
have visited the French court at least once in the months before his ®nal
By 1186, Geoffrey and Constance had two daughters, Eleanor and Matilda (M. Craig, `A second
68

daughter of Geoffrey of Brittany', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 50 (1977), 112±5).
WN, p. 235. 70 Warren, Henry II, p. 598; Gillingham, Richard I, p. 103.
69

RHF, xiii, p. 683; RD, ii, pp. 9±10.
71


139
Brittany and the Angevins
visit.72 According to Gerald of Wales, Geoffrey had stayed at the French
court long enough to win everyone's hearts and minds, to be made
`seneschal of France' and to persuade the king and his counsellors to
undertake military action against Henry II and Richard. After this,
preparations for this military undertaking had begun.73 All this cannot
have occurred within the space of Geoffrey's ®nal visit in August 1186.
The presence at Geoffrey's court of the Frenchman, Gerard de
Fournival, is also indicative of this alliance. Gerard attested ducal
charters, apparently as a courtier, at Angers in 1181 and at Winchester in
late 1184, and was given land in England by Geoffrey. Gerard also
attested Geoffrey's only known charter made at Paris.74 Without more,
this would merely be evidence that he had accompanied Geoffrey to
Paris as a courtier. However, the charter is also attested by Gerard's
brother, who had never before appeared in Geoffrey's ducal acts, and in
the same year, 1186, Gerard was serving Philip Augustus, as one of the
`milites medie manus homines' sent by the French king to Henry II.75
While one interpretation of these facts is that, ®nding himself in Paris at
Geoffrey's death, Gerard transferred his allegiance to his `natural' lord,
Philip Augustus, another is that Gerard had been serving both for some
time before.
The witnesses to Geoffrey's `Paris' charter provide further circum-
stantial evidence for the conspiracy. In addition to members of
Geoffrey's own entourage (Peter de Dinan, the ducal almoner and a
ducal clerk), the charter is attested by several witnesses who are not
identi®able as the usual witnesses to Geoffrey's ducal acts or even having
any connection with the duchy of Brittany. In fact, some can be
identi®ed as members of the Capetian court: Hugo, chaplain of the
Paris Temple, William des Barres and possibly even Gerard de Four-
nival's brother, if he is to be identi®ed with Roger de Fournival, Philip
Augustus' physician.76 These attestations suggest that Geoffrey was not
in Paris in a mood of caution and suspicion, surrounding himself with
his own men. On the contrary, Geoffrey's presence was open to his
hosts. The presence of William des Barres is especially signi®cant. As


Y. Hillion states that Geoffrey visited Paris in February 1186, without citing a source for this
72

‚ ‚ Ã
(`La Bretagne et la rivalite Capetiens-Plantagenets, un exemple: La duchesse Constance
(1186±1202)', AB 92 (1985), 111±44, at 112).
Werner (ed.), `De principis instructione', p. 176.
73

Charters, no. Ge 30.
74

RD, ii, 43. Gerard must still have been on the Capetian side in 1187 when he attested a charter
75

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