. 35
( 55 .)


domains, and to use another as the site of the new abbey, in exchange
for some ducal land but primarily for large cash revenues from other
ducal properties.16
Perhaps the most signi®cant feature of Constance's patronage of the
Church is that many of her acts involve con®rmations of previous ducal
grants, indicating that Constance's ducal authority was widely acknowl-
edged. This is also demonstrated by attestations to Constance's charters
by barons from all parts of the duchy. Like Duke Geoffrey's, Con-
stance's authority was recognised outside the ducal domains.17
On the other hand, Constance was obliged to sacri®ce the baronies
acquired by Henry II and Geoffrey to maintain her position. At some

point after 1187, Constance restored the barony of Leon to its heir and
formally withdrew ducal claims in respect of the barony of Vitre.18 ‚

These two acts were justi®ed in political terms. Leon was remote from
the centres of ducal administration, and its previously rebellious lords
became enthusiastic supporters of Constance and Arthur thereafter. In

the case of Vitre, the ducal claims had become anachronistic and

impossible to prosecute in any case, and again, the support of the Vitre
family was essential to Constance and Arthur's political survival.
More problematic is the barony of Penthievre, since the 1120s

consisting of the two baronies of Treguier (or Guingamp) and
Penthievre (or Lamballe). As discussed in Chapter 4, Duke Geoffrey
seized the former around 1182. There is also evidence that Geoffrey and
Constance possessed at least portions of the latter; they were able to
dispose of property in the forest of Lanmeur, and Constance at some
stage exercised wardship of the prepositus of Lamballe.19 According to

‚ ‚ Ã
Charters, nos. C15, 20, 45; Y. Hillion, `La Bretagne et la rivalite Capetiens-Plantagenets: Un

exemple ± la duchesse Constance (1186±1202)', AB 92 (1985), 111±44 at 115±6.
A. Du®ef, Les Cisterciens en Bretagne, xiie±xiiie siecles, Rennes, 1997, pp. 130±1.

Cf. Hillion, `La duchesse Constance', 122. 18 Charters, nos. C33 and 46.

Charters, nos. C15, C39, C55, Ae4, Ae6; `Communes petitiones Britonum', p. 101.

Brittany and the Angevins
the 1235 inquest concerning the reunited barony of Penthievre, Con-
stance had controlled the castles of Penthievre (Lamballe), while the
then lords had continued to possess the forests, but this contradicts the
evidence just mentioned regarding the forest of Lanmeur.
According to the same source, when Duke Geoffrey died, the
disinherited Alan, son of Henry of Penthievre, and his brothers rebelled
against Constance and took Cesson, a strategic castle of the lords of
Penthievre near Saint-Brieuc, and many other castles.20 There is no
other evidence for this con¯ict, or how it was resolved. By 1189, Alan

was in possession of the eastern portion of the barony of Treguier, the
Goello, and he had recovered the whole of Treguier by 1203.21

Whenever there was con¯ict between the Angevin king and the
ducal regime before 1203, Alan supported the former, with the excep-
tion of the con¯ict with Richard in 1196, when Alan is recorded as
acting with the other Breton barons. King John may well have
cultivated Alan as an important political in¯uence in Brittany in
opposition to the ducal regime.22 I would suggest, then, that Alan
recovered all of his inheritance through the of®ces of John, as part of
the 1199 settlement between John and the Bretons. In any event,

Constance was unable to maintain possession of Treguier, and in this
instance, the cession of this important barony, claimed by Constance as
her patrimony, did not involve any evident advantage to the ducal
Although Constance lost the lands in the north-west of the duchy
acquired by Duke Geoffrey, ducal authority in other parts of the duchy
was consolidated. Inquests into ducal rights in Rennes, Quimper and

Quimperle suggest that ducal rights were being more effectively
exercised, leading to con¯ict with rival (ecclesiastical) authorities.23
As to administration of those parts of the duchy under ducal
authority, the evidence for this period is discussed in Chapter 4, on the
assumption that there was continuity in institutions, if not in personnel,
after 1186. As noted in Chapter 4, the hereditary seneschal of Rennes,
William, was restored by 1192. Under Duke Geoffrey, the seneschal of
Rennes had been eclipsed by Ralph de Fougeres, seneschal of Brittany,
at least in respect of acts leaving written records. Under Constance, the
of®ce of seneschal of Rennes was restored to the preeminence it had

`Inquisitio . . . de Avaugour', pp. 114±5, 117.

Preuves, i, cols. 732±4, 796, 843±4 and iii, cols. 1768±9; `Inquisitio . . . de Avaugour', p. 120.

Rot. Chart., p. 4; T.D. Hardy (ed.), Rotuli de liberate ac de misis et de praestitis regnante Johanne,

London, 1844, p. 5; T. Hardy (ed.), Rotuli Normanniae in Turri Londinensi asservati, i, London,
1835, p. 31.
Charters, nos. C28 and 50.

The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
enjoyed in the mid-twelfth century, perhaps due to William's personal
qualities, and also the fact that the seneschalcy had been held by his
family for generations. William the seneschal is recorded routinely
exercising ducal jurisdiction over the county of Rennes, but the
extraordinary aspect of his role is demonstrated in the crisis of 1196.
According to Le Baud, after Constance's capture, William was charged
with conveying Constance's orders to the Breton barons, implying that
he was the only Breton permitted to communicate with the duchess at
that stage.24
Another novelty was the creation of the of®ce of `seneschal of
Media', perhaps to avoid confusion with the more routine of®ce of
seneschal of Nantes. The importance of the bearer of this title, Geoffrey
de Chateaubriant, suggests that it was not a position of day-to-day
administration, but rather was analogous to the seneschal of Brittany.
Geoffrey does however appear in one text with this title, apparently
performing some of®cial duties in Nantes in 1206.25
Under Duchess Constance, ducal mints continued to operate and
new coins were issued. The coins of Duke Geoffrey, discussed in
Chapter 4, were replaced by an `anonymous' type. On the obverse,

these bore the legend, `+ DUX BRITANIE', with a cross ancree in the
®eld, on the reverse, the legend `+ NANTIS CIVI' or `+ REDONIS
CIVI', with a simple cross in the ®eld. Thus the name of the duke, as
legend, was replaced by the place of minting, Nantes or Rennes.
Incidentally, these coins provide evidence for minting at Nantes for the
®rst time in two centuries, although it is possible that Duke Geoffrey
minted coins at Nantes in 1185/6. The new coinage, immobilised,
continued to be minted throughout the reigns of Constance, Arthur,
Guy de Thouars (as regent) and Peter de Dreux. The relatively large
number of known specimens of these coins re¯ects the length of this
period, ®fty years, and the growth of the money-economy, but also the
repeated episodes of insecurity which prompted the deposition of coin-
There is much less evidence for the reign of Duke Arthur. The fact
that Arthur ruled Brittany as the legitimate successor of Duchess
Constance, albeit for less than a year, is often overlooked. Arthur is
absent from the records of the end of Constance's reign because he
spent the period from the end of 1199 until Constance's death at the
Capetian court, apparently returning to Brittany only to be invested as
Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne, p. 202. On this source, see above, p. 3.

Charters, C37, C38, C40, C53, C54, C69; Preuves, i, cols. 802±4.

A. Bigot, Essai sur les monnaies du royaume et duche de Bretagne, Paris, 1857, pp. 36, 53±9, plate


Brittany and the Angevins
duke. Since Arthur was still only fourteen years of age, the usual age of
majority must have been waived to avoid a regency. An unusual dating
clause in a charter of the bishop of Nantes made in July 1201, recites
that Arthur was then in his ®fteenth year.27 In view of the above
remarks on the status of an heiress with a male heir, the signi®cance of
this may be that Constance intended to give up her ducal authority in
Arthur's favour when he turned ®fteen.
Arthur's minority may explain the complete lack of acts of con®rma-
tion which were common at the beginning of a new reign, although
this may also be explained by the failure of the recipients of any such
con®rmations to preserve them after Arthur's demise. In fact, there is
only one known act of Arthur pertaining to the duchy of Brittany, the
formal acceptance in December 1201 of the sentence of Pope Innocent
III ending the claims of the bishop of Dol to metropolitan status.28
Since the rival case of the archbishop of Tours had been supported by
Philip Augustus, this act may be seen as the product of Arthur's loyalty
to, or dependence upon, the Capetian king.
Further evidence for Arthur's regime may be furnished by a charter
of Peter de Dinan, styled bishop of Rennes and chancellor of Duke
Arthur. The document records the determination of a dispute between
Hamelin Pinel miles and Marmoutier's priory of Saint-Sauveur-des-

Landes made in Peter's presence at Vitre, and may therefore be an
instance of Peter de Dinan as ducal chancellor deputising for Arthur,
either because of Arthur's age or his absence from Brittany.29
Arthur was only active in Brittany as duke from September 1201 to
April 1202. That month, he returned to the court of Philip Augustus
and only a few months later he was captured while campaigning against
John in Poitou. Arthur lived until April 1203, and there was, therefore,
a period of the same length as Arthur's reign before his capture, about
nine months, while he remained duke (to the Bretons) but could not
govern due to being a prisoner in Normandy. Again, there is no
evidence for the government of Brittany during this period. Le Baud
describes an assembly of the bishops and barons of Brittany at Vannes in
which Peter de Dinan, bishop of Rennes and ducal chancellor, seems to
have a leading role. Although the anachronisms in this account render it
unreliable, the amount of detail given by Le Baud suggests that it is
based upon a documentary source.30
Absence of documentary evidence from this period may be the
result of a tendency for individuals to postpone their business pending

Preuves, col. 793±4. 28 Charters, Ar18. Preuves, col. 771.
27 29

Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne, pp. 209±10.

The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
the outcome of the con¯ict between John and Arthur, and, as
suggested above in the context of Arthur's acts, for documents made
in this period not to have been preserved after the change in political
situation rendered them redundant. It can also be argued that the result
of developments in the second half of the twelfth century culminated
in 1202/3 in a ducal administration that could function in the duke's
absence. It is true that there are no dated documents demonstrating
ducal administration in operation between April 1202 and September
1203, but some undated documents could have been made in this
period, including the act of Peter de Dinan mentioned above, and
several charters of William, seneschal of Rennes.31 The latter certainly
seems to have remained in of®ce throughout this period. Scarce
though the evidence is, it appears that ducal government did not break
down in Arthur's absence, despite the uncertainties of the situation and
the potential for con¯ict between rival factions.

the end of angevin brittany
In view of Duke Geoffrey's alliance with Philip Augustus, at the time of
his sudden death there was a real question as to whether Brittany was
still held of Henry II as duke of Normandy or whether it now pertained
directly to the French crown. Gervase of Canterbury depicts Henry II
as struggling to recover `dominatum' of Brittany. Roger of Howden
implicitly places Henry II in the stronger position, with Philip Augustus
vociferously, but ineffectually, demanding wardship and custody of
Geoffrey's elder daughter and heiress, Eleanor, until she was of marriag-
able age.32
According to Gervase of Canterbury, some of the Bretons preferred
Angevin rule, some Capetian, and others didn't wish to be ruled by
either.33 Among the latter, no doubt, were Guihomar and Harvey de

Leon, who took the opportunity presented by Geoffrey's death to rebel
against ducal authority, seizing the castles of Morlaix and Chateauneuf-
du-Faou from their ducal castellans. Duchess Constance seems to have
decided that the best course was to submit to Henry II.35 Philip
Augustus's apparent policy of treating the duchy of Brittany as in
wardship can hardly have appealed to Constance as the reigning
hereditary duchess, who was still very much alive. Henry II, in contrast,

Preuves, col. 771, `Cart. St-Melaine', fols. 27, 52, 59±60; `Cart. St-Georges', Appendix, no. ix.

GC, i, p. 336; Gesta, i, p. 353. 33 GC, i, p. 336, 346.

‚ Á
Gesta, i, p. 357; Guillotel, `Les vicomtes de Leon aux XIe et XIIe siecles', MSHAB 51 (1971),


. 35
( 55 .)