. 40
( 55 .)


Eudo de Pontchateau agreed to serve John in return for £100 angevin
per annum. In July 1201, John restored Alan de Rohan's English
lands. In July 1202, the castle of Monterevault, which had been in
the king's hand, was restored to Geoffrey de Chateaubriant, who
claimed it in right of his wife.
Arthur declined John's summons to render homage in Normandy at
Easter 1202 because by that time con¯ict between John and Philip
Augustus had overturned the treaty of Le Goulet and revived Arthur's
ambitions. The events of 1202±3 have been minutely examined
previously, and do not require reiterating.122 From the Breton point-
of-view, Arthur was restored as heir to the Angevin dominions. He was
knighted by Philip Augustus at Gournay in April and betrothed to the
king's daughter Marie. In July, Arthur set off on campaign to win his
The English records of government indicate that Arthur received
enthusiastic support from the Breton barons in 1202, and not just the
frontier-barons. Even William de Fougeres, who had remained loyal to
John throughout 1199, now rebelled. In the rout at Mirebeau on 1

August, Arthur's loyal courtier, Robert de Vitre, was taken prisoner,
along with Conan, son of Guihomar de Leon, and Robert d'Apigne.124
‚ ‚
Alan de Rohan and William de Fougeres suffered con®scation of their
English lands, for having been `contra nos cum inimicis nostris', as did
several lesser landholders such as Reginald Boterel, William de Mon-
bourcher and Aleman d'Aubigny.125 Leading Breton magnates obtained
letters of safe-conduct to treat with John: the bishops of Nantes and
Saint-Brieuc, Alan of Penthievre, Geoffrey de Chateaubriant, William
de Fougeres, Eudo son of Eudo de Porhoet, Pagan de Malestroit and
Alan de Rohan.

Le Baud, Chroniques de Vitre, p. 35. 117 Rot. Norm., p. 40.

Rot. Chart., pp. 34, 75; Rot. Litt. Pat., p. 2. 119 Rot. Norm. p. 28.

Rot. Liberate, p. 18, see also pp. 19, 22.

Rot. Norm., p. 55. Geoffrey's wife was Beatrix, viscountess of Monterevault, and, according to

‚ ‚
an unsubstantiated tradition, the sister or daughter of Robert III de Sable (G. Menage, Histoire
‚ Á
de Sable, premiere partie, Paris, 1683, pp. 171±2.
Recently, M. D. Legge, `William Marshall and Arthur of Brittany' Bulletin of the Institute of

Historical Research 55 (1982), 18±24; J. C. Holt, `King John and Arthur of Brittany', Nottingham
Medieval Studies (forthcoming).
See pp. 168±9. 124 Rot. Litt. Pat., pp. 15, 17, 20±1, 33.

Rot. Liberate, pp. 36, 37, 44±6, 63; Pipe Roll, 2 John, p. 91.

The end of Angevin Brittany, 1186±1203
The months after August 1202 saw a number of visits by Breton
barons and courtiers to John's court, treating with the king over the
release either of Arthur or of their own kin who were being held to
ransom.127 As time passed, though, it became apparent that John would
not release Arthur or his sister Eleanor, and rumours spread that Arthur
had died in captivity. Arthur died around Easter 1203, but contempor-
aries, with few exceptions, never knew the details. In the absence of
reliable evidence, it is impossible to determine the circumstances in
which the Breton magnates decided to transfer their allegiance whole-
sale to Philip Augustus, with the infant Alice, eldest daughter of
Duchess Constance and Guy de Thouars, as Arthur's heir and Guy as
regent. However it came about, this decision, taken between August
1202 and August 1203,128 ®nally ended Angevin rule in Brittany.
Rot. Litt. Pat., pp. 16, 17.

Rot. Litt. Pat., pp. 16, 17, 20, 21, 33b.

Guy's English lands escheated in September 1203 (Rot. Liberate, pp. 63±5, 67).


If only Henry II had included `dux Britannie', or even `comes
Nannetensis', in his formal title, Brittany might have received more
attention from students of Anglo-Norman and Angevin history. The
omission may have been justi®ed, in terms of Henry II's relations with
Conan IV and his successors as dukes of Brittany, but it disguises the fact
that Brittany was as much a province of the `Angevin empire', one of
the continental dominions of the Angevin kings of England, as were
Normandy, Greater Anjou and Aquitaine. It has been the subject of this
book to examine the means by which Henry II acquired lordship of
Brittany, and how the duchy was governed by Henry II and his
successors until 1203.
One of the principal themes of the book is that Brittany was not an
isolated society prior to the advent of Henry II in 1158. The signi®cance
of this for my thesis is that the Angevin regime did not involve the
introduction of new and alien institutions to Brittany. Since it is often
assumed that this was the case, clearly the historiography of Angevin
Brittany requires revision.
The historiography on Brittany at the end of the twelfth century
involves a consensus that the signi®cance of the Angevin regime was in
the establishment of centralised ducal administration, and the extension
of ducal authority over the Breton baronage. The Angevins have been
credited with no less an achievement than the creation of a united
duchy of Brittany, so that, in 1203, Philip Augustus acquired a uni®ed
and well-organised province.1 The consensus, however, is based on
certain assumptions as to the nature of Breton institutions and society

‚ Ã
B.-A. Pocquet du Haute-Jusse, `Les Plantagenets et la Bretagne', AB 53 (1946), 2±27 at 27;

‚ Á
A. Chedeville and N.-Y. Tonnerre, La Bretagne feodale xie±xiiie siecle, Rennes, 1987, p. 111; N.-

‚ographie historique et structures sociales de la Bretagne
Y. Tonnerre, Naissance de la Bretagne: Ge
‚ Á
meridionale (Nantais et Vannetais) de la ®n du viiie a la ®n du xiie siecle, Angers, 1994, pp. 392, 545,

before the advent of Henry II, and, ¯owing from this, as to the
originality of developments in ducal government under the Angevins. A
good example is the theory that the `Assize of Count Geoffrey'
represented a sovereign act of ducal authority introducing the Anglo-
Norman/Angevin principle of succession by primogeniture into
Brittany. Another is the theory that Henry II created a network of
regional seneschals ab initio. Similarly, there is a tendency to regard the
Angevin regime as a monolithic phenomenon under the sovereignty of
Henry II. For instance, it is believed that Henry II created the of®ce of
seneschal of Brittany largely because this of®cial title ®rst appears in the
documentary sources in the 1180s, during Henry II's reign.
It has been the aim of this study to examine in detail the nature of the
Angevin administration of Brittany. This examination has demonstrated
that the assumptions just mentioned are ill-founded.
I have argued that Brittany was integrated into the politics and
culture of western France and the Anglo-Norman realm. Consequently,
Brittany shared the legal and administrative institutions of neighbouring
regions. Speci®cally, the administrative of®ces of seneschal (`senes-
callus'/`dapifer'), prepositus and vicarius were present in Brittany, and
were developing along similar lines to the same of®ces elsewhere in
western France, before the mid-twelfth century.
The development of legal and administrative institutions in Brittany
was a continuing process in which the period of Angevin rule
represented merely another phase (or rather phases, see below). The
Angevin contribution has been thrown into high relief by the fact that,
immediately before Henry II's intervention in Brittany, the ducal
administration was less effective than it had been a generation earlier,
under Duke Conan III. A similar state of civil war in England around
the same time is conventionally referred to as `the Anarchy', and there is
no reason to think that the institutions of ducal government survived
any better in Brittany between 1148 and 1156. In assessing the Angevin
contribution to the development of ducal government and ducal
authority, it would be more accurate to compare Henry II's regime
with that of Duke Conan III, rather than contrasting it with the
situation prevailing under the rival regimes of Eudo de Porhoet and È
Hoel, count of Nantes. Such an exercise would produce a more regular
and consistent pattern of development.
In reality, in the 1150s and 1160s, Brittany was a territorial princi-
pality with relatively weak ducal government and powerful barons
enjoying virtual autonomy. Without the extraordinary resources avail-
able to Henry II the reassertion of ducal authority in Brittany in the
second half of the twelfth century would have been a slow and painful
process, as is indicated by the short career of Duke Conan IV. Henry II
could easily command suf®cient resources to override baronial resistance
to ducal authority, by punishment or by reward. He ensured that royal/
ducal government was in the hands of professional ministers whose
loyalty was to him alone, and whose authority was reinforced by
Angevin military power, demonstrated in a series of brief but effective
military campaigns. It is also important to keep in mind that resistance
to Angevin authority was far from universal. In fact, resistance was
limited to those powerful barons who were aggrieved about Henry II's
treatment of Duke Conan IV and (probably their dominant motivation)
feared for their own autonomy. The majority of the population may
well have welcomed the peace and prosperity of the Angevin regime,
while the clergy appreciated political unity with neighbouring regions
such as Anjou, with whose churches they already had close ecclesiastical
The effect of the Angevins on the development of ducal authority in
Brittany was, therefore, considerable. I would argue, however, that
rather than fundamentally altering the nature of ducal government, the
effect of their regime was to compensate for the losses suffered after the
death of Conan III and to accelerate the process of development which
had been underway since the eleventh century.3
As mentioned above, the historiography on this period also tends to
assume that, during the entire period of around forty years from 1158 or
1166 to 1203, Brittany was subject to a single, uniform `Angevin
regime'. The work of Professor Le Patourel represents the high-water
mark of this view, with its emphasis on the dominance of Henry II in
Brittany and the subordinate role of Geoffrey and Constance.4 The
present study has shown this to be an oversimpli®cation. Henry II
enjoyed the direct lordship of the county of Nantes from 1158 to 1185
and of the whole of Brittany from 1166 until 1181. In that period, the
Angevin administration of Brittany was to some extent integrated with
that of the other Angevin domains. This is evidenced by the issue of
royal writs in England addressed to of®cers in Brittany, and the
appointment of royal curiales originating from other provinces (but
mostly being Breton or `Anglo-Breton') to administrative of®ces in
Brittany. Henry II's lordship was remote and relied upon institutions
employed in his other continental dominions (although these were also

WN, pp. 146±7; Tonnerre, Naissance de la Bretagne, p. 392.

J. Le Patourel, `Henri II Plantagenet et la Bretagne', MSHAB 58 (1981), 99±116 at 110;

Tonnerre, Naissance de la Bretagne, p. 392.
Le Patourel, `Henri II Plantagenet et la Bretagne'.

familiar in Brittany and were merely adapted for the purposes of Henry
II's administration).
Once Geoffrey acceded to lordship of Brittany (without Nantes) in
1181, `Angevin' rule took on a different character. Henry II no longer
had any role in the internal administration of the duchy, but was
content for it to be held in fee of himself or the Young King Henry as
Duke of Normandy and to retain only the seignorial rights this tenure
entailed. Geoffrey was a resident duke, married to the native heiress,
and to a great extent their regime marked a return to the days of
Dukes Conan III and Conan IV. Their courtiers and administrative
of®cers were predominantly natives, either of Brittany or of their
English lands, the honour of Richmond, and barons from all parts of
Brittany attended the ducal curia. A chancery attached to the ducal
household issued documents in the names of Duke Geoffrey and
Duchess Constance.
Geoffrey envisaged that the future for himself and his heirs lay in
Brittany, and his policies, in both internal and external affairs, were
devoted to consolidating his own ducal authority there. To this end,
Geoffrey was prepared to acknowledge Breton interests in return for
the support of his Breton subjects, a policy exempli®ed by the `Assize
of Count Geoffrey'. Rather than imposing Angevin (or even Anglo-
Norman) law, the Assize represents an assurance that Breton cus-
tomary law would be preserved by Duke Geoffrey and his heirs for
The third and ®nal phase of the Angevin regime began after
Geoffrey's death in 1186. This marked a return to the political situation


. 40
( 55 .)