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which had prevailed under Duke Conan IV, between 1156 and 1166; a
native duke ruling Brittany subject to conditions of loyalty and account-
ability imposed by the Angevin king. Henry II, Richard and John in
turn attempted (unsuccessfully) to regain direct rule at moments of crisis
between 1186 and 1203, but did succeed in effectively exercising
sovereignty over Brittany, for example in the appointment of Maurice
de Craon as seneschal of Brittany around 1187, and in the military
campaigns of Henry II (1187) and Richard (1196). Ducal authority over
Brittany (including the county of Nantes) was exercised by the native
rulers, Duchess Constance and her son, Duke Arthur. In its character
and institutions, their regime seems to have differed little from that of
Duke Geoffrey.
What, then, was the signi®cance of the Angevin regime for Brittany?
There certainly were important developments in ducal government, but
the originality and effectiveness of these are easily overestimated. Henry
II, followed by Geoffrey and Constance, appointed seneschals to
exercise royal/ducal authority in those counties subject to ducal
authority, Nantes, Rennes, Cornouaille and the Broerec. This was a
progression from the seneschal of Rennes employed by Duke Conan
III. The novel feature of these regional seneschals was that their
authority was not limited to the ducal domains within their circum-
scriptions, but extended throughout the whole territory, at least in
theory. The Angevins also appointed baillis to administer baronial lands
of which they had taken possession, for example in the baronies of
‚ ‚
Combour, Treguier and Leon, but by de®nition these arrangements
were temporary. In time, these lands would be restored to the heir or
heiress subject to satisfactory conditions.
The other Angevin innovation of note was the of®ce of seneschal of
Brittany. This certainly was original. As argued in chapter 1, Conan III
and his predecessors simply had no need of one as they were resident
rulers, but Conan III's creation of the seneschal of Rennes indicates that
he was capable of employing a deputy when the need arose. There is no
evidence that Henry II created the seneschal of Brittany, but he set a
precedent in his employment of a series of `principal agents' to represent
royal interests in Brittany and at court. The seneschal of Brittany, as an
of®ce combining prestige and vice-ducal authority, appears to have
been the creation of Duke Geoffrey.
In addition to developing the institutions for the exercise of ducal
authority, the Angevins enhanced the exercise of ducal authority over
the Breton barons. This involved the use of military force during the
Á ‚
1160s and 1170s (Fougeres, Becherel, Porhoet, Leon) and the marriage
of heiresses to Anglo-Normans (Combour, Rieux), but some baronial

families positively welcomed Angevin rule, notably the Vitre and the

lords of Treguier, who had been opposed to the native dukes. While
there was still no question of the dukes exercising compulsory jurisdic-
tion over the barons or their men, the 1180s and 1190s provide
examples of barons attesting ducal acts, submitting their disputes to
ducal jurisdiction (and acknowledging that ducal jurisdiction might
apply to their men when baronial jurisdiction failed), seeking ducal
con®rmation of important transactions, and acknowledging some ob-
ligation to render military service.
Any conclusion about the situation of Brittany at the end of the
Angevin regime raises the spectre of another characteristic of the
historiography of Brittany under the Angevins; the irresistible progress
of the French monarchy. From this perspective, the period of Angevin
rule in Brittany was destined to be ®nite. It could not be seen as
anything more than transitional. The Angevins held Brittany, as if in
trust, for about forty years, before handing over custody of the infant
duchy to its rightful guardian, Philip Augustus.5 This view is anachro-
nistic. Before 1203, contemporaries expected that Geoffrey and his heirs
would be dukes of Brittany inde®nitely, and they would continue to
exercise ducal authority with minimal interference, at least in respect of
internal affairs, irrespective of whether they owed homage for the
duchy to the duke of Normandy or the king of France. The accident of
Geoffrey's early death and Arthur's minority, coinciding with the
power-struggle between the Angevin and Capetian kings over the
formers' continental possessions, thwarted this incipient Angevin-
Breton dynasty. In fact, the dynasty of the native dukes would prove the
most enduring, as the descendants not of Geoffrey but of Constance and
her Breton ancestors ruled Brittany until union with the French crown
in the late ®fteenth century.
‚ Ã
See especially Pocquet du Haut-Jusse, `Les Plantagenets et la Bretagne', p. 27.

Appendix 1


the manuscripts of the assize
The so-called `Assize of Count Geoffrey' was promulgated at a session of the ducal
curia held at Rennes in 1185.1 It was almost certainly promulgated orally in the ®rst
instance, then committed to writing, but the history of the written record of the
Assize is obscure. Although there are numerous medieval manuscripts of the Assize,
no original manuscript has survived, and no two texts are identical.
The written record of the Assize as it now exists consists of seven or eight
distinct texts, each addressed to a different baron. The barons to whom these
written records of the Assize were addressed are Geoffrey de Chateaubriant, James
à ‚
and Alan de Chateaugiron, Rolland de Dinan, Guihomar de Leon, Eudo de

Porhoet, Alan de Rohan and Andrew de Vitre. An eighth text, which lacks an
address clause and does not exactly correspond with the other seven texts, may
represent a copy of the Assize addressed to an eighth baron whose identity is
unknown. It appears that, even in their original manuscript form, these versions all
differed slightly, principally in word-order, while recording the same substantive
It is generally assumed that the documents given to the barons were copies of an
original, of®cial text of the Assize, but this assumption is not supported by the
evidence. As early as 1212, and having access to the ducal records, Philip Augustus'
staff relied upon Alan de Rohan's copy when the French king wanted the text of
the Assize recorded in his register of useful documents.2 The monks of Saint-
Melaine de Rennes, although they would have had access to any `of®cial' ducal
manuscript if it existed, since Abbot Gervase attended Duke Geoffrey's court,
preserved instead a copy of the Assize addressed to Eudo de Porhoet.3 Similarly, the
monks of La Vieuville, although they enjoyed Duke Geoffrey's patronage,
preserved a copy of the Assize addressed to Alan de Rohan.4 One would expect
that the duke, having sworn to uphold the terms of the Assize, would keep a copy
for reference, but if a ducal manuscript existed, it seems to have disappeared at an

The political signi®cance of the Assize is discussed above, pp. 111±115.

J.W. Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus, Berkeley, CA., 1986, p. 262.

`Cart. St-Melaine', fol. 183.

BN ms fr. 22325, pp. 571, 607.

Appendix 1

early date. No copy was preserved, for instance, in the `Tresor des Chartes', the
medieval ducal archives, which were consolidated at Nantes and catalogued in the
®fteenth century.5
Having assumed that there was an `of®cial' ducal text, the goal of editors of the
Assize has been to reconstruct the lost original from the barons' copies. Variations
between the extant copies have been ascribed to corruption of the original text by
later copyists. Although later corruption can certainly be identi®ed in some
manuscripts this cannot explain all the variations. Rather than one original text, we
have evidence of seven (or eight) original texts. Ultimately, each version of the
Assize addressed to a different baron is an original source for the provisions of
How did the baronial texts come into existence? Because no original manu-
scripts have survived, it is impossible to draw any conclusions from the palaeo-
graphy or other physical characteristics of the manuscripts. Diplomatic analysis
suggests that the text was drafted by ducal clerks, since the formal parts are
consistent with other ducal acts. This does not justify the assumption that ducal
clerks wrote and sealed all of the copies of the Assize addressed to different barons
contemporaneously with the assembly at which the Assize was promulgated. One
possibility is that the barons' own clerks referred to a draft prepared by the ducal
clerks and copied it, inserting the name of their own lord as appropriate. It was
then each baron's responsibility to have the ducal seal attached to his copy of the
Assize if he wished. This would explain why only one copy, that addressed to

Andrew de Vitre, is known to have been sealed.
Copies of the Assize were not necessarily made immediately. Barons may have
sought a documentary record of the Assize some time after the 1185 assembly.
Some barons who received copies of the Assize are not named as witnesses:
à ‚ Ã
Geoffrey de Chateaubriant, Guihomar de Leon, James and Alan de Chateaugiron.
Another was Andrew de Vitre, who was in the Holy Land in August 1184.6 These

may not have been present at the assembly but acquired a copy of the Assize
afterwards. This would also explain the disappearance of the original draft, which
would have become worn or damaged and ultimately lost from going through so
many hands. More importantly, it better explains the nature of the variations
between the baronial texts.
Rather than the baronial documents being `of®cial' copies of an original ducal
text, produced and distributed by the ducal chancery, I would argue that each was
an original, created at the behest of the addressee. The text of each will be the text
of the Assize as each particular clerk received it, copied from the ducal draft, but
perhaps modi®ed from the clerk's own notes made when the Assize was
promulgated orally, or from comparing notes with another clerk. It may even be
that one baronial text was created by copying from another baronial text and thus
incorporating any variations it contained. Each baronial manuscript, however
produced, could be authenticated by the attachment of the ducal seal. Obviously,
the contents would be checked by a ducal clerk; the ducal seal would not be
attached to a document whose text deviated in substance from the terms of the

Now AD Loire-Atlantique, series E.

‚ ‚
A. Bertrand de Brousillon (ed.), `La charte d'Andre II de Vitre et le siege de Kerak en 1184',

Bulletin historique et philologique de la Comite des travaux historiques et scienti®ques (1899), 47±53.

The `Assize of Count Geoffrey'
Assize as promulgated in 1185. This, I believe, explains the minor variations in
word order and in the formal parts of the various texts of the Assize, which contrast
with the consistency of the substantive provisions from one text to another.
Comprehensive details of the sources for the Assize, both in manuscript and in
published editions, are given in Marcel Planiol's masterly discussion of the Assize.7
Planiol organised his account of the sources by grouping them according to the
seven known baronial texts, the only logical way to proceed in the absence of any
`of®cial' text of the Assize. There are in fact seven (or eight) known texts, each of
which records the terms of the Assize. Rather than trying to establish the text of the
Assize, my aim has been to establish the best surviving text of each of the seven
original baronial manuscripts, which collectively form our record of the Assize.

1. Chateaubriant
There are no extant manuscripts of the Chateaubriant text earlier than the ®fteenth
century, when it appears in two manuscripts of the `Chronicle of Saint-Brieuc'.8
This text is quite corrupt; it contains not only simple scribal errors (for example,
`Quitto' for `Guethenoc') but also a deliberate alteration and gloss on the text in
substituting for `maritagium' the words, `menagium id est domus vacans'.
Planiol also identi®ed the Chateaubriant copy in three ®fteenth-century manu-
scripts of the `Tres Ancienne Coutume de Bretagne'.9 All three manuscripts are in

French except for the texts of the Assize which are all in Latin, which suggests that
the Assize, in each case, has been copied from an earlier manuscript or manuscripts.

2. Chateaugiron
The existence of the Chateaugiron text is known only from a thirteenth-century
manuscript, giving this text translated into French, which had been preserved in the

archives of Vitre. Planiol, who edited and published this text, did not indicate
whether the manuscript is extant.10

3. Dinan
A thirteenth-century manuscript of the Dinan text exists in the Vatican library,
where it is described as `Assisia Terrarum Britannicarum'.11 This is the text of the
Assize published by Lobineau and, consequently, by Morice.12 Marcel Planiol

M. Planiol, `L' Assise au Comte Geffroi: Etude sur les successions feodales en Bretagne', RHD

11 (1887), 117±62 and 652±708, at 125±129; TAC, pp. 320±1.
BN ms latin 6003, folios 92v-93r. For the date of this manuscript, see G. Le Duc and C. Sterckx

(eds.), Chronicon Briocense: Chronique de Saint-Brieuc, vol. i, Rennes, 1972, pp. 7±8.
Bibl. mun. de Rennes ms 599; BN ms fr. 1938 and BN ms nouvelle acquisitions fr. 4465; TAC,

pp. 27, 33, 40.
TAC, pp. 323±5; BN ms fr. 22325, p. 341 (seventeenth-century copy).

Á ‚
Les manuscrits de la reine de Suede au Vatican: Reedition du catalogue de Montfaucon et cotes actuelles,

Studi e Testi, 238, Vatican City, 1964, ms reginenses latini 520.
G.A. Lobineau, Histoire de Bretagne, II, Paris, 1707, cols. 317±9; Preuves, cols. 705±7. This may


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