<<

. 43
( 55 .)



>>

MSHAB, 70 (1993), 65±87.
‚ ‚
E.g. A. de la Borderie, Essai sur la geographie feodale de la Bretagne, Rennes, 1889, p. 66 (on the
27

creation of the barony of Rohan, see note 30).

188
Appendix 1
practice whereby a landholder, during his own lifetime, severs part of his lands to
make provision for his own younger brother or younger son, who would otherwise
be excluded from any share in the patrimony by the operation of primogeniture.
There is no evidence that partible inheritance was customary among baronial
families, whereas there is ample evidence for the division of baronies in favour of
cadets in twelfth-century Brittany. The evidence for these divisions, however,
indicates that they were exceptional and not customary.
`Divisions' is the operative word; these were not grants of small parcels of land
to provide cadets with the necessities of life, but of estates constituting up to half of
Á
the patrimony. A striking example is the division of Penthievre between the eldest
Á
and youngest sons of Stephen, lord of Penthievre and Richmond (1093±1138).
Stephen originally intended only to divide his Breton and his English lands
Á
between his two elder sons, giving Penthievre to the eldest, Geoffrey Boterel, and
the English lands to the next son, Alan. It may be signi®cant in this regard that the
English lands, the honour of Richmond, were not Stephen's patrimony. Richmond
was acquired by one of Stephen's elder brothers before 1086, and only passed to
Stephen when all his elder brothers died without legitimate issue. Stephen probably
made this disposition some years before his death, since Alan was already acting as
lord of Richmond in 1123. At this stage, Stephen's youngest son, Henry, received a
relatively modest provision of lands in England, the soke of Waltham, Lincs. Later,
Á
Stephen changed his mind and divided Penthievre equally between Geoffrey and
Á
Henry. Thus, from Stephen's death in 1138, Geoffrey was lord of Penthievre (also
known as Lamballe), and Henry was lord of Treguier (also known as Guingamp).28

Geoffrey I de Dinan (1080±1123) divided the barony of Dinan and his English
lands between his two elder sons, Oliver and Alan. The circumstances are more
obscure because direct evidence, such as that provided by the `Inquisitio . . . de
Á
Avaugour' for Penthievre, is lacking for Dinan. The following account is pieced
together from charters, dating from around 1124 to the end of the twelfth century.
Alan's share of the Breton lands comprised about one-third of the territory of the
barony. It included the southern half of the town of Dinan and lands extending
south from there to the south-eastern limits of the barony (where Alan made the
castle of Becherel his caput), and south-west as far as the castellany of Jugon
(retained by the senior branch). The additional grant to Alan of important manors
in England may, however, have been intended to make his share equal to Oliver's.
The senior branch remained the lords of the barony of Dinan, while Alan's estate
was the castellany of Becherel (although Alan and his successors retained the
toponym `de Dinan').29
Similarly, in the ®rst quarter of the twelfth century, the barony of Porhoet was
È
divided when Geoffrey de Porhoet granted to his younger brother Alan the north-
È
western half of the Porhoet estates. This was the origin of the barony of Rohan.30
È

The principal source for this division is the `Inquisitio . . . de Avaugour', paras. 9, 23, 27. See
28

also EYC, iv, 89; BM mss Lansdowne 229, fol. 114r, 259, fol. 70r; H. Guillotel, `Les origines de
‚ ‚
Guingamp: Sa place dans la geographie feodale de Bretagne', MSHAB 56 (1979), 81±100.
See AE, IV, `Saint-Malo de Dinan', nos ix and vi, no. iv, pp. 126, 130; Preuves, cols. 520, 660,
29

678, 731; La Comtesse de la Motte-Rouge, Les Dinan et leur juveigneurs, Nantes, 1892, pp.
29±30, 125±130; M. Jones, The family of Dinan in England in the Middle Ages, Dinan, 1987, p.
26; P. Meazey, Dinan au temps des seigneurs, Guingamp, 1997, pp. 39±46.

È
Cart. Morb., nos. 197, 204, 209; H. du Halgouet, Essai sur le Porhoet, Paris, 1096; idem., La vicomte
30 È

189
The `Assize of Count Geoffrey'
Rays, the largest barony in the county of Nantes south of the Loire, was divided
between Ralph I (1152±c.1170) and his younger brother, Garsire (c.1155±c.1170).
In this case, the cadet branch actually received the greater share of the territory of
the barony, and assumed the toponym `de Rays', while the senior branch retained
only the family's ancient caput, Machecoul, and its surrounding territory, and
changed its toponym to `de Machecoul'.31 In respect of another important barony
in the county of Nantes, Arthur de la Borderie asserts that Donges, on the north
bank of the Loire, was divided at this time to create the barony of Saint-Nazaire,
but I have not found any evidence for this. In fact, the history of this family
indicates succession to the barony of Donges by strict primogeniture, with a break
in the record for the ®rst quarter of the twelfth century, when documentary
evidence is lacking.32
Finally, between 1152 and 1180, the castellany of Montauban, representing around one-
third of the barony of Montfort, was created as an apanage for Oliver, the younger
brother of William I de Montfort. Oliver retained the toponym `de Montfort', but his
son Ralph began to use the toponym `de Montauban' and Oliver's descendants were
lords of Montauban. N.-Y. Tonnerre argues, to the contrary, that the lordship of Gael
È
was created from the barony of Montfort in 1187, and Montauban some years later,
both in contravention of the `Assize of Count Geoffrey'. There is no evidence that
Montfort was divided between the two eldest sons of Geoffrey de Montfort (who died
in 1180, not 1187, as asserted by Tonnerre). Probably the eldest, Ralph, died without
legitimate issue before 1189 and was succeeded by his next brother, William
(c.1189±c.1225). The creation of Montauban clearly predates this in any event.33
These divisions all occurred between about 1120 and 1160, none are known
from the eleventh century. The eleventh century was the period when these
baronies were being created and consolidated, and the baronial lineages established,
all by means of strict male primogeniture. At the same time, after 1066,
opportunities existed for cadets to acquire lands in England, while the unreformed
Breton church meant that cadets could be placed in churches under the control of
their families. By 1120 the options were more limited, and it may be that baronies
began to be divided for this reason.
In my opinion, in making the divisions set out above, the barons were motivated
more by the interests of their patrimonial estates than by a desire to provide for
cadets. There was, for instance, no division of the frontier-baronies, Combour,
Á ‚ Ã
Fougeres, Vitre, La Guerche, Chateaubriant and Ancenis. In the division of the
barony of Rays, it may be signi®cant that the senior branch retained the portion
which marched with Poitou. The power and in¯uence of the frontier-barons


de Rohan et ses seigneurs, 2 vols., Paris, 1921; M. Duval, `Rohan et Porhoet: autour du partage du
È

rachat et de la garde du comte de Porhoet', Bulletin de l'Association bretonne (1986), 135±42.
È
Blanchard (ed.), Cartulaire des sires de Rays, pp. lxix±lxxi.
31

‚ ‚
A. de la Borderie, Histoire de Bretagne, iii, p. 282; idem., Essai sur la geographie feodale, p. 67. See
32

H. Guillotel, `Les origines du bourg de Donges: Une Etape de la redistribution des pouvoirs
‚ Á
ecclesiastiques et laµques aux XIe-XIIe siecles', AB 84 (1977), 541±52.
È

A. de la Borderie, `Essais d'histoire feodale: La seigneurie de Montauban et ses premiers
33


seigneurs', BSAIV 24 (1895), 267±93; Preuves, cols. 821±2, 830, 866, 930); A. Chedeville and
‚ Á
N.-Y. Tonnerre, La Bretagne feodale, XIe-XIIIe siecles, Rennes, 1987, p. 157.

190
Appendix 1
depended on the extent of frontier under their control, enabling them to play off
against each other the rival lords on either side.34
A full account of the rationale of the each division would require more space
than this Appendix permits, and in the absence of full documentary records, one
can only speculate in any event. My impression is that all the baronies that were
divided between c.1120 and c.1160 were very extensive territorially, but contained
large amounts of land that was economically undeveloped. More speci®cally, these
lands had not enjoyed the rapid economic development occurring in more
accessible parts of the duchy in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. The
Á
hinterland of Dinan, Penthievre and Porhoet, and much of the landlocked
È
Montfort, consisted of rugged, inaccessible land which was consequently heavily
wooded, thinly populated and economically undeveloped. The barony of Rays had
a similar problem with a wasteland of marshes, both on the sea-coast and along the
lower reaches of the Loire.35 The solution which recommended itself at this time
was to divide the barony, giving the undeveloped portion to an able cadet.36
In the case of the Dinan family, at least, the cadet branch proved more successful
than the senior branch and this may be attributed to the personal qualities of
individuals. Alan de Dinan, as a young man, had won the favour of Henry I by his
military exploits and been well-rewarded with English lands. His son, Rolland,
occupied a prominent position at the court of Duke Conan IV. He led a rebellion
against Henry II, being identi®ed by the Norman composer of the `Draco
Normannicus' as a spokesman for the Breton cause. From a position of defeat by
Henry II in 1168, Rolland then rose so high in the king's favour that he was Henry
II's principal agent in Brittany from 1175 to 1181. Rolland's heir, his nephew, Alan

de Vitre-Dinan, was just as able and was himself seneschal of Brittany. In contrast,
the senior branch in this period did not distinguish themselves in any way.37
Whether or not the cadet branch had personal qualities superior to the senior,
division of these over-large baronies provided opportunities for economic develop-
ment. Each portion could be developed and exploited more intensively and more
pro®tably. Ironically, the cadet had the greater opportunity for pro®t, in receiving
the portion of the barony which was waste and therefore had the greater potential
for reclamation and economic development. When this development was delegated
to ecclesiastical institutions, it is illustrated by written records. In the case of Dinan,
Geoffrey I de Dinan during his own lifetime put his eldest son, Oliver, into
possession of the strategic castellany of Jugon, at the extreme south-west of Dinan,
Á
where the barony marched with Penthievre. There Oliver founded a priory of
Marmoutier to develop the burgum of Jugon. At the same time, Oliver's younger
brother, Alan, founded a priory of Marmoutier at his new caput of Becherel to the
south-east of Dinan.38 Evidence for lay-initiative is less forthcoming, but a
preliminary study of place-names indicative of land-clearance has suggested that the
cadet branch of the Dinan family oversaw more land-clearance at an earlier date


J.-C. Meuret, `Le poids des familles seigneuriales aux con®ns de l'Anjou et de la Bretagne:
34

‚ ‚
Martigne-Pouance-La Guerche', MSHAB 70 (1993), 89±129.
Tonnerre, Naissance de Bretagne, pp. 417±25.
35

Tonnerre, Naissance de Bretagne, p. 313.
36

Jones, Family of Dinan in England, p. 26; Meazey, Dinan, p. 66.
37

AE, iv, `Notre-Dame de Jugon', no. I; Preuves, cols. 520±1; BN ms latin 5441(3), p. 339.
38


191
The `Assize of Count Geoffrey'
than did the senior branch.39 This certainly requires further research, but it may be
that in the new barony of Becherel there was more scope for reclamation, with
more of the lands retained by the senior branch being already in cultivation by the
mid-twelfth century.
The division of Porhoet certainly stimulated the economic development of the
È
hinterland, the future barony of Rohan. Upon receiving the north-western half of
Porhoet, Alan immediately made a grant to Redon to establish a priory and burgum
È

at his new castle of Lanouee, with an emphasis on economic development. When
that site proved unsuitable and Alan moved his caput to Rohan, he promptly
founded another priory there for the same purpose. According to Arthur de la
Borderie, it was only after the creation of the lordship of Rohan that the `desert'
region around the river Oust was cultivated and populated.40
In Rays, to render the marshes productive required a concerted effort of
reclamation. The dukes of Brittany had turned this effort over to the Cistercians, in
founding the abbey of Buzay on the south bank of the Loire. Meanwhile, Bernard
de Machecoul, the ®rst head of the senior branch after the division, and hence the
®rst who could devote all his energies to developing Machecoul and its environs,
encouraged the priory of Marmoutier at Machecoul to develop a burgum there.41
Consequently, two points emerge which are relevant to my interpretation of the
Assize. First, the divisions which occurred between about 1120 and 1160 did not
necessarily lead to the `detriment' of the lands concerned, in fact they positively
improved them. Second, these divisions were isolated events; they were not
intended to set a precedent for future generations, and generally they did not. The
new baronies created by cadets in the mid-twelfth century passed, undivided, to
their eldest sons, while the senior branch also maintained strict primogeniture. Had
the process of division gone further, however, it was foreseeable that it would have
been detrimental; there would have been no economic advantage to further
divisions. This was perhaps true of the creation of the barony of Montauban, the
latest of the divisions before 1185.
Not all divisions of baronies before 1185 were made voluntarily. Another
example cited in support of the argument that primogeniture was an innovation in
‚ ‚
Brittany is that of the division of Leon in 1179. In fact, lordship of Leon had
descended according to the principle of primogeniture from the eleventh
century.42 This is particularly signi®cant because Leon, situated in the extreme west

of Brittany and with its independently minded lords, ought to have been least
in¯uenced by Anglo-Norman and Angevin customs. If any region of Brittany had
preserved distinctive succession customs, it would have been this. In fact, the
fragmentation of the barony in 1179 was an autocratic act of the Angevins designed

to subjugate the rebellious lords of Leon. Duke Geoffrey defeated Guihomar de

Leon and took the whole barony into his own hand. Guihomar died soon
afterwards, whereupon Geoffrey allowed his eldest son and heir, Guihomar,
possession of only eleven parishes of his patrimony, retaining the rest under ducal

Meazey, Dinan, pp. 66±8.
39


Cart. Morb., nos. 197, 204, 205; Cart. Redon, no. cccxci; de la Borderie, Essai sur la geographie
40

<<

. 43
( 55 .)



>>