. 34
( 55 .)


The death of Duke Geoffrey brought yet another transformation to the
Angevin regime in Brittany, introducing its ®nal phase. The new
situation was largely a return to that prevailing between 1156 and 1166;
a native ruler was allowed to govern with minimal interference
provided his (now her) loyalty to the Angevin lord was assured. This
chapter is divided into two parts. The ®rst will discuss the government
of Brittany under the last dukes to be subject to Angevin rule, Duchess
Constance and her son, Duke Arthur. The second part will proceed by
way of a narrative account of political relations between the Angevin
kings and the province of Brittany to 1203.
As a general principle, after 1186, the Angevin kings permitted
the dukes to rule Brittany in their own right. Angevin sovereignty
did not extend to direct government, as it had between 1166 and
1181. On the other hand, Angevin sovereignty was vigorously
asserted in speci®c acts of royal intervention. In 1187, Henry II
entered Brittany, led a military campaign in the far western barony

of Leon and, after this show of force, according to one source took
oaths of allegiance from the Breton magnates. In 1196, Richard I
sought the custody of Arthur, the young heir to Brittany, and when
the Bretons refused, invaded the duchy while Constance was held
captive. Apart from these episodes, Henry II and Richard I in turn
were content to allow Duchess Constance to rule Brittany without
King John seems to have followed the same policy after making
peace with Constance and Arthur in September 1199. As his father
had exercised his right to give Constance in marriage, so did John,
marrying her to the loyal Guy de Thouars. From then until 1203,
John allowed ®rst Constance, then Arthur, to rule without inter-
ference. Some change is indicated, though, by the fact that in June
1200 John issued orders directly to vicecomites in Guingamp, Lamballe
The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
and Dinan.1 This may have been justi®ed under the terms of the
peace settlement, which are unfortunately unknown.

the seneschal of brittany
With the exception of Ralph de Fougeres, the seneschal of Brittany
(with or without this title) had been Henry II's deputy in Brittany at
various times since 1158.2 For this reason, I have included this discussion
of the institution in the period after 1186 in the context of the role of
the Angevin kings, rather than of the dukes' internal government.
Roger of Howden's account of the rebellion of Guihomar and

Harvey de Leon in the autumn of 1186 includes the detail that the
custodians of the castles seized had been appointed by Ralph de
Fougeres on the orders of Henry II.3 From this it can be inferred that,
in the immediate aftermath of Geoffrey's death, the king recognised
Ralph's position as `seneschal of Brittany' and issued royal writs to him,
but this state of affairs was not to last.
Two seneschals of Brittany are recorded for the period 1187±1203:
Maurice de Craon and Alan de Dinan, the lord of Becherel, although it
is impossible to determine when each held the of®ce.4 What is
signi®cant is that neither was a `foreigner' to Brittany. Alan de Dinan
was a native, but Maurice de Craon also had strong Breton connections.
Jean-Claude Meuret has demonstrated how, in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, the barons of Craon managed to be politically subject to the
counts of Anjou but still maintain close relations with their neighbours

on the Breton side of the Breton±Angevin march, notably the Vitre and
La Guerche families. Maurice was the nephew of William II de la
Guerche, and seems to have been close to his La Guerche uncle and
cousins. This is the background to Maurice's grant to Saint-Melaine de

Rennes in 1162; the next year he attested a grant by Peter de Loheac for
Saint-Melaine's priory at Montfort. The other connection was through
Maurice's stepson, Juhel de Mayenne, who was married to the daughter
and heiress of Alan de Dinan himself.
Maurice had also been active in the service of Henry II in Brittany.
As a young man, in 1158, Maurice participated in the siege of Thouars,
so he may also have been involved in Henry II's seizure of Nantes in
Rot. Chart., p. 97.

J. Everard, `The ``Justiciarship'' in Brittany and Ireland under Henry II', Anglo-Norman Studies 20

(1998), 87±105.
Gesta, i, 357; Everard, `Justiciarship', p. 104.

Everard, `Justiciarship', pp. 104±5.

J.-C. Meuret, Peuplement, pouvoir et paysage sur la marche Anjou-Bretagne (des origines au Moyen-Age),

Laval, 1993, pp. 297, 325±6, 394±5, 425; Preuves, i, 625, 646±8.

Brittany and the Angevins
the same campaign.6 In 1174, at the height of the rebellion, Henry II
made Maurice custos and dux exercitus of Anjou and Maine. As part of
this charge, Maurice was given custody of the specially rebuilt castle of
Ancenis, at a strategic point at the border of the counties of Nantes and
Anjou.7 After peace was restored, there is no further mention of
Maurice in Henry II's administration of Brittany, but he continued to
act in royal affairs as one of the king's most trusted barons. Maurice was
one of the three laymen named as sureties for Henry II in the `treaty of
Ivry' in 1177, acted as the king's negotiator at the siege of Limoges in
1183, and would prove to be one of the few barons remaining faithful
to Henry II until his death.8 It would be perfectly consistent with
Maurice's place in Henry II's counsels if the king had appointed him
seneschal of Brittany soon after Duke Geoffrey's death in 1186.
This is supported by the sole record of Maurice as `senescallus
Britannie', a charter of Duchess Constance made at Nantes, recording a
donation for the soul of her late husband Geoffrey, but not mentioning
her son Arthur, which suggests a date between Geoffrey's death and
Arthur's posthumous birth, that is before April 1187. Maurice must
have been seneschal of Brittany before June 1191. It was then that,
preparing to join the Third Crusade, Maurice made his testament,
which mentions debts incurred in Brittany, including one in the ducal
domain of Guingamp, and the expectation that Duchess Constance will
discharge some of his debts.9
There is even less evidence for Alan de Dinan. Henry II might have
seen him as the natural successor to his uncle, Rolland de Dinan, the
principal royal agent in Brittany from 1175 to 1181. There is no reason
why Alan should have been seen as other than trustworthy by either
Henry II or Richard, since he held valuable English lands and his heiress
was married to a Manceau baron who was Maurice de Craon's stepson.
Alan's well-recorded hostility towards Richard probably began only
when Richard intervened in Brittany in 1195±6. In the 1170s, the
of®ce of seneschal of Rennes passed from a curialis with Breton
connections, William de Lanvallay, to his kinsman, Reginald Boterel,
who was more closely associated with the ducal regime. The same
process might have occurred here, with Maurice de Craon, an Angevin
with some Breton connections, being succeeded by Alan de Dinan, his

A. Bertrand de Brousillon (ed.), La maison de Craon (1050±1480): Etude historique accompagnee du

cartulaire de Craon, 2 vols., Paris, 1893, i, p. 99, no. 128.
RD, i, 380; Gesta, i, 71; Ann. ang., p. 38.

Gesta, i, 192, 248, 298; P. Meyer (ed.), L'histoire de Guillaume le Marechal, comte de Striguil et de

Á 1219, poeme francaise, 3 vols., Paris, 1891±1901, i, line 9307
Pembroke, regent d'Angleterre de 1216 a Ë
and ii, pp. 117±18.
Charters, C17; D. Bodard de la Jacopiere, Chroniques Craonnaises, Le Mans, 1871, p. 596.

The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
Breton kinsman by marriage. The occasion for this change could have
been the marriage of Constance and Ranulf in February 1189, when the
need for an authoritative Angevin agent in Brittany was diminished. In
any case, Ranulf can hardly have objected to Alan holding this high
of®ce, since in 1199 he would marry Alan's widow, Clemencia de
It appears, then, that the of®ce of seneschal of Brittany was no more
than a short-term expedient, employed by Henry II in the immediate
aftermath of Geoffrey's death and before Constance could be safely
remarried. This is suggested by the scarce records of these seneschals.
Each is recorded with the title `Senescallus Britannie' in only one text,
both being charters of Duchess Constance.10 Neither left documents
issued in their own names, or attested by them, using this title. There are
around 70 known charters of Duchess Constance, but Maurice de Craon
is mentioned in only this one. Alan de Dinan attested ®ve of Duchess
Constance's charters, but is styled `Senescallus Britannie' in only one, and
at least two of the ®ve concerned subject-matter in which Alan had a
seignorial interest.11 It would appear then that the of®ce of seneschal of
Brittany was dispensed with at an early stage of Constance's regime.

the government of brittany, 1186 ± 1203 1 2
The legal status of Duchess Constance for the period 1186±1201 is
problematical. What was the position of an heiress with a son? Arguably,
the heiress ruled as a sort of regent until the heir was of an age to rule in
his own right (probably a matter of judgment in each case), at which
point she would hand over the exercise of government to him. This is
suggested by the precedents of Bertha, the daughter and heiress of Duke
Conan III, who handed on to her son, Conan IV, her claims to the
honour of Richmond and the duchy of Brittany around 1153, and,
more famously, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who saw her son Richard
invested as duke of Aquitaine in 1172. In Anjou in the thirteenth
century, customary law deemed that, `a lady is only the custodian of her
land once she has a male heir'. Yet, as the case of Eleanor of Aquitaine
shows, the heiress did not lose her rights, which would revert to her if
the heir predeceased her.13

Charters, C17, C18. 11 Charters, C15, C18, C24, C36, C39

The remarks in this section are intentionally brief as the evidence for administration 1186±1203,

such as it is, has been discussed in chapter 4, and the relevant documents are published in

`Coutume de Touraine-Anjou', p. 44. See J.C. Holt, `Alienor d'Aquitaine, Jean sans Terre et la

succession de 1199', Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale 29 (1986), 95±100.

Brittany and the Angevins
In Constance's case, there was a further complicating factor, the fact
that her father had `given' her inheritance to Henry II in 1166, and the
king had subsequently regranted it piecemeal to his son Geoffrey as
Constance's husband. The county of Nantes, as previously discussed,
was held on different terms again. Thus Constance's title was not as
straightforward as that of an heiress succeeding to her father's estates
with no more than seignorial licence. After Geoffrey's death, however,
Constance had only her hereditary right to rely upon, and this may
explain her adoption of the style `Conani comitis ®lia' in her acts after
Constance's authority to rule in her own right was compromised not
only by the existence of a son and heir but also by the fact that for most
of the period from 1187 until her death in 1201 Constance was a
married woman. The almost complete absence of Constance's second
husband, Ranulf, earl of Chester, from the documentary evidence, even
in form, let alone in substance, is remarkable considering that he was
duke of Brittany, jure uxoris, for ten years from 1189 to 1199. There is
only one known act of Ranulf 's made in the capacity of duke of
Brittany and earl of Richmond, a letter to the bishop of London
requesting him to enforce grants made by dukes of Brittany to the
‚ Á
abbey of Saint-Pierre de Rille (near Fougeres) in the church of
Cheshunt (Herts.), written between 1190 and 1195. Although Ranulf
seems normally to have used the title, `Dux Britannie, comes Cestrie et
Richemondie', in this document, inexplicably, he is styled simply
`comes Cestrie'. Constance issued a letter in similar terms, without
either document acknowledging the existence of the other.14
In contrast, some of Constance's acts during her brief third marriage
were made in joint-names with Guy de Thouars. The absence of
Arthur is more explicable, in terms of his extreme youth and the fact
that from 1196 to 1199 he was at the Capetian court. Constance's acts
made from early 1199 do record Arthur's assent. It seems reasonable to
analyse the period 1186 to 1201 as the regime of Duchess Constance
herself. The reign of Duke Arthur from 1201 to 1202 will be discussed
separately below.
Like Duke Geoffrey, Constance patronised a wide variety of
churches; old Benedictine abbeys associated with the ducal dynasty,
such as Saint-Melaine and Saint-Georges de Rennes and Saint-Gildas de
Rhuys, as well as the Knights Templar, the fashionable nunnery of
Saint-Sulpice-la-Foret near Rennes, and the hospital of Saint-Jean
d'Angers. Constance especially patronised Cistercian abbeys; Savigny,

Charters, nos. C25 and R6, for Ranulf's title, see ibid., p. 99.

The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
Begard, Boquen, Langonnet, Melleray, Carnoet and Buzay, ®nally
founding Villeneuve as a daughter-house of the latter. Also like
Geoffrey, Constance avoided benefactions that involved alienation of
the ducal patrimony, granting revenues from ducal lands, mills and
customary dues rather than these assets themselves. On at least two
occasions, Constance granted the right to hold a fair, evidence for
economic growth, and also for the exercise of a ducal monopoly in this
regard. Grants of property tended to be small: a hermit's cell, a meadow
or a town-house.15 Even the foundation of an abbey, Villeneuve,
involved the minimum alienation of land. The mother-house, the
abbey of Buzay, agreed to give one of its granges back to the ducal


. 34
( 55 .)