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20±51, p. 33.
Hillion, `La duchesse Constance', p. 114.
35


155
Brittany and the Angevins
allowed Constance to continue to govern Brittany in person and to
keep the custody of her two young daughters. He did not even oblige
her to remarry immediately, but merely placed a trusted Angevin
servant in the of®ce of seneschal of Brittany to replace Ralph de
Á
Fougeres. Henry II had secured Brittany's place within the Angevin
empire, at least for the time being.
The end of Angevin Brittany did not in fact occur until 1202 or
1203, commencing with Arthur's homage to Philip Augustus. Given
the turbulent political situation since 1199, this would not have been
conclusive, but it was immediately followed by Philip and Arthur's
joint campaign against John, Arthur's capture at Mirebeau and his
death in April 1203. After Arthur had disappeared, presumed mur-
dered in custody, no Breton magnate, lay or ecclesiastical, would
support Angevin rule, at least in John's lifetime. From the summer of
1203, the Angevins ceased to exercise any authority in Brittany, as is
demonstrated by John's desperate attack on Dol in September 1203.
Brittany was lost to the Angevin empire well before Normandy;
indeed the Breton incursion into southern Normandy was an
important factor in the success of Philip Augustus' invasion of the
duchy in 1204.36
The intensity of the con¯ict between Arthur and John in the
succession dispute of 1199, and its revival in 1202, naturally left its mark
on the documentary sources, which are relatively abundant and detailed
for these events. This in turn has in¯uenced modern historians to
exaggerate the extent of con¯ict between Breton and Angevin interests
in this period. I would argue, though, that apart from the two particular
episodes of Constance's captivity in 1196 and Arthur's reign as count of
Anjou (April to September 1199), in general terms there was no
inherent con¯ict for the Bretons between loyalty to their native rulers
and loyalty to the Angevin kings in the years between 1186 and 1203.
Brittany had been subject to more or less direct Angevin rule for a
generation, since 1158, and the dukes acknowledged they held Brittany
of the Angevin king as duke of Normandy. In the meantime even more
Bretons had acquired lands in Normandy and England, either through
direct royal patronage, or through marriage into the family of the earls
of Richmond/dukes of Brittany, which enhanced relations between the
Bretons and their neighbours.
The chronology of the events of 1186±1202, and especially of the
two episodes just noted, is not at all clear. The remainder of this chapter


Preuves, col. 107; WB, p. 220±1.
36


156
The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
will constitute a narrative account of the period 1186±1202, with a
view to establishing the chronology more precisely.37
The signi®cance for the future of the `Angevin empire' of the birth of
Geoffrey's posthumous son needs no elaboration. Arthur was born at
Nantes on 29 March 1187, the only legitimate son of a legitimate son of
Henry II, and arguably next in line to succeed after Richard. William of
Newburgh records Henry II's wish that the infant should be named
after him. According to Le Baud, Henry II visited Nantes especially to
see his grandson, and there obliged the assembled magnates to swear
fealty to Arthur, with Constance agreeing that, in return for having
custody of her son, she would rule Brittany `par le conseil' of the
king.38 The assembly at Nantes is not recorded elsewhere, but Henry II
visited Brittany in September 1187, and arriving from the south, he
probably passed through Nantes. According to Roger of Howden, the
reason for this visit was a military campaign against the rebellious lords

of Leon. This action in itself provided a concrete demonstration of
Henry II's continued authority in Brittany, the next summer Guihomar
and Harvey de Leon campaigned with him against Philip Augustus.39

As mentioned above, Constance was not remarried for some time
after Geoffrey's death and Arthur's birth. A simple explanation for the
delay is that Henry II had identi®ed Ranulf III, earl of Chester, as the
ideal husband, but Ranulf had not yet attained his majority, having
been born in 1170. The king allowed Ranulf to enter his inheritance at
the end of 1188, and the marriage to Constance occurred a few months
later.40 It is possible, therefore, that Henry II was simply waiting for
Ranulf to attain an age and degree of maturity that would enable him to
assume the responsibility of being stepfather of the potential heir to the
Angevin empire. Ranulf 's suitability derived partially from his land-
holdings. As hereditary viscount of the Avranchin, Ranulf 's lands
marched with the problematical north-eastern border of Brittany. In
England, Ranulf 's lands in Lincolnshire were interspersed with those of
the honour of Richmond.
See also Hillion, `La duchesse Constance', for an account of this period from the point-of-view
37

of Duchess Constance, although marred by some anachronisms.
WN, i, 235; Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne, p. 199.
38

GC, i, p. 382; Eyton, Itinerary, pp. 280±1; RH, p. 318; Gesta, ii, p. 9; `Philippidos', lines
39

223±30.
Annales cestrienses or the chronicle of the abbey of St Werburg at Chester, Lancs. and Cheshire Record
40

Society, xiv, 1887, pp. 25, 29, 41. These annals (p. 41) record that Henry II knighted Ranulf on
1 January, and gave him Constance in marriage on 3 February. This is under the rubric for 1188,
but uncertainty as to the commencement of the year means these events may have taken place
in 1189. See also G. Barraclough (ed. and trans.), `The annals of Dieulacres abbey', The Cheshire
Sheaf, 3rd ser., lii (1957), 17±27 at 20; J. W. Alexander, Ranulf of Chester: A Relic of the Conquest,
Athens, Georgia, 1983, p. 12 and Charters, p. 99.

157
Brittany and the Angevins
Whatever Henry II's intentions, Ranulf seems to have had no
involvement in the government of the duchy of Brittany or the honour
of Richmond. It is often asserted, based no doubt on subsequent events,
that Ranulf and Constance were temperamentally unsuited and even
hostile to each other. No children were born of a marriage which lasted
ten years, although the lack of issue from his second marriage must raise
the question of Ranulf 's fertility. There is simply no evidence of Ranulf
and Constance ever executing ducal business or even being together.41
Any argument about Ranulf and Constance's relationship can only rest
on the evidence of silence.
If Ranulf does not appear actively enforcing Angevin interests at the
Breton court, it may be because Constance continued to toe the
Angevin line. Within months of the marriage Henry II died, and
although Richard pursued the same general policy as his father in
respect of Brittany, he took more concrete steps to assert his sover-
eignty. According to Le Baud, after his coronation in England and
formally taking possession of all his father's lands, Richard went to
Brittany intending to take over the `regime' of the duchy and custody
of Arthur. Constance and some of the Breton barons opposed him and
Richard relented, agreeing that Constance should continue to rule on
the terms she had previously agreed with Henry II in 1186/7. The more
reliable evidence of the English Exchequer records indicates that the
honour of Richmond was in the king's hands in 1189±90, perhaps as a
consequence of the dispute described by Le Baud, and that even before
the end of September 1189 Richard had taken Constance's daughter,
Eleanor, into his custody.42 Richard's custody of Eleanor may have
been the price of Constance continuing to rule Brittany, and in any
event it is evidence for Richard asserting sovereignty more actively than
Henry II had in recent years. Constance was present at Richard's court
at Tours in late June 1190.43
As long as Richard acknowledged Arthur as his heir, or at least held
out the possibility that he might, it was in Constance's interests to
maintain royal favour. The evidence for Richard's policy on the
succession is ambiguous. The only documentary evidence in favour of
Arthur is the agreement for the marriage of Arthur to the daughter of
There is one instance of both making separate charters regarding the same matter, at around the
41

same time, which implies some degree of co-ordination, although this may have come from the

bene®ciary, the canons of Saint-Pierre de Rille (Charters, nos. C25, R6).
Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne, p. 200; Pipe Rolls, 35 Henry II±1 Richard I, p. 197 and 2 Richard
42

I, pp. 2, 5, 73, 90, 116, 137.
Charters, no. C23. The bishops of Rennes and Nantes also attended Richard's court soon after
43

his coronation, (L. Landon (ed.), Itinerary of Richard I, Pipe Roll Society, London, 1935, pp. 24,
30±1).

158
The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
Tancred, king of Sicily, made by Richard at Messina in October 1190,
in which Richard acknowledged Arthur as his heir in default of any
legitimate issue of his own. Around the same time as negotiating the
marriage agreement, Richard also took steps to secure the support of
William, king of Scotland, for Arthur, his great-nephew.44 It remains
possible, though, that the acknowledgement of Arthur as heir in the
marriage agreement was intended for Tancred's bene®t, and that
Richard preferred to keep the rival claimants to the succession in a state
of uncertainty.
Richard's absence on Crusade left Constance with a free hand to
govern Brittany from 1190 to 1194, but in 1195 Richard turned his
attention to Brittany and the succession. According to William of
Newburgh, Richard wished to take Arthur into his own custody in
1196, when Arthur was nearing nine years of age,45 but the king ®rst
took action regarding Brittany sometime earlier, in March 1195.
Constance was at Angers on 15 March, while Richard travelled from
Chinon to Saint-James de Beuvron between the 17th and 23th of the
month, and was actually in Brittany, at Fougeres, on 24 March.46 It is
Á
easy to imagine that a meeting took place between the duchess and the
king at Angers, or on the journey north, with Richard proceeding to
meet Ranulf at Saint-James de Beuvron, then entering Brittany from
Á
the north-east. Ranulf 's letter on behalf of the canons of Fougeres may
have been made at this time, as the place-date is Martilli, possibly
‚‚
Marcille (dep. Ille-et-Vilaine) and the act must pre-date the death of the
addressee, Richard, bishop of London (1189±98).47
According to Le Baud, Richard's policy in 1195 was to reconcile
Constance and Ranulf and to enforce Ranulf 's exercise of ducal
authority. To this end, Richard came to Brittany and was honourably
received by Constance and Arthur at Rennes. During this visit, the
king persuaded Constance, by entreaties and by threats, to marry

W. L. Warren, King John, 2nd ed., New Haven and London, 1997, p. 39; WN, i, p. 335±6. See
44

discussion at Landon (ed.), Itinerary of Richard I, p. 197. Note that another of Arthur's great-
uncles, David, earl of Huntingdon, was also at Richard's court at Tours in June 1190.
WN, ii, p. 463.
45

Charters, no. C31; J. C. Holt and R. Mortimer (eds.), Acta of Henry II and Richard I: Handlist of
46

documents surviving in the original in repositories in the United Kingdom, List and Index Society,
Special Series 21, London, 1986, i, nos. 374, 375; ii, no. 226; Landon (ed.), Itinerary of Richard I,
p. 101, no. 444. Cf. ibid. no. 443, a charter for Montmorel made on 23 March 1195 at `Sanctum
Jacobum', identi®ed by Landon as Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande (canton Rennes Sud-Ouest,
arrond. Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine). Another charter of Richard I, for Notre-Dame du Vúu
(Cherbourg), bears the same place-date (BN nouv. acq. latin 1244, p. 409). The place is,
however, Saint-James de Beuvron, where Montmorel had possessions, and which was equally
Á
within a day's journey of Fougeres.
Charters, R6.
47


159
Brittany and the Angevins
Ranulf and to give him her son and her lands.48 In view of the
diplomatic evidence just cited, and especially the fact that Richard was
Á
as close as Fougeres on 24 March, a visit to the ducal court at Rennes
is not improbable. Although Le Baud is mistaken about the circum-
stances of the marriage, the account is coherent if one substitutes
`reconcile' for `marry'. That is, although Constance and Ranulf
married in 1189, Ranulf had never exercised his rights as duke jure
uxoris, and Richard's intervention in March 1195 was intended to
enable him to do so in the future.
Le Baud continues that the Bretons soon rebelled against Ranulf 's
regime and expelled him from the duchy. Ranulf ¯ed to Normandy and
the Angevin royal court. Allowing for Le Baud's partisanship, this
account at least provides a context for the bizarre episode of Constance's
captivity in 1196, which would be inexplicable if we had only Roger of
Howden's account. As reported by Howden, in 1196 Constance was
summoned by Richard to speak with him in Normandy. At Pontorson
she was met by her husband, Ranulf, earl of Chester, seized and
imprisoned at his castle of Saint-James de Beuvron.49
Le Baud gives a more detailed account of Constance's capture, which
certainly has some elements of veracity. According to Le Baud, Richard
returned to Rennes soon after Easter 1196, to attempt to reconcile
Ranulf with Constance and the barons. Finding that the Bretons had
assembled a strong force and now offered a hostile reception even to the
king, Richard left Rennes for Nantes. He ordered Constance to meet
him there, but this was a ruse. At Richard's behest, Ranulf captured
Constance, en route, at Teillay. Ranulf then handed Constance over to
his ally, Harscoet de Rays.50
È
Le Baud's date (1196) and the capture by Ranulf agree with
Howden.51 The involvement of Harscoet de Rays is mentioned only by
È
Le Baud, but as a baron whose estates were south of the Loire, Harscoet È
may have been in sympathy with Richard. The most glaring incon-
sistency is in the place of capture, Teillay as against Pontorson. Teillay

(cant. Bain-de-Bretagne, arrond. Redon, dep. Ille-et-Vilaine) is located
between Rennes and Nantes, but otherwise it is problematical. In the
Ã
twelfth century, Teillay was a forest pertaining to the lords of Chateau-
Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne, p. 201. 49 RH, iv, 7.
48

Le Baud, Histoire de Bretagne, pp. 201±2. For Harscoet de Rays, see R. Blanchard (ed.), Archives
50 È

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