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their possession.7
From the thirteenth century, the customary right of wreck was replaced
by the system of ducal brefs. Henceforth, it was possible to purchase at the
port of departure letters issued under the ducal seal, which, in their simplest
form, represented the duke's warranty of indemnity against loss in the event
of shipwreck on the coasts of Brittany. The dif®culty lies in determining
when this system was ®rst introduced. This Appendix has been included to
consider the theory that it formed part of the Angevin governmental reforms
in Brittany and speci®cally that it was the work of Henry II.8 The king
certainly had an interest in the security of shipping between his territories;
shortly after acquiring the county of Nantes in 1158 he was having wine
shipped to England from Brittany.9
Apart from a general bias in favour of Henry II when discussing advances
in twelfth-century government, the case rests largely upon a royal ordinance
abolishing the right of wreck on the coasts of England, Poitou and Gascony
dated `26 May 1174'. This would seem to provide ®rm evidence that Henry
II took an active interest in wreck and its reform. However, the ordinance is
in fact an act of Henry III which was erroneously attributed to Henry II in
Rymer's Fúdera.10
With this, in any event circumstantial, evidence removed from the
equation, the earliest evidence for the ducal brefs dates from the reign of
Duchess Constance. In 1379, the abbey of Begard sought ducal con®rmation
of a grant by Duchess Constance. According to the 1379 con®rmation,
which is the earliest extant record of Constance's act, the grant was of, `la
disme de sa rente des Nefs, laquelle rente Semimarc est appelee, en quelques
lieux, que ladite rente fust prinse en la Rochelle ou ailleurs'. In a subsequent
con®rmation of Duke Francis II (1459), this is rendered as; `le dixiesme du
revenu des Briefz qui sappelloient demi marc en quelque lieu quil fust prins

`Communes petitiones Britonum', pp. 97±102.

`Communes petitiones Britonum', p. 99, para. 4. On the general principle of ducal

rights on coastlines, see J. Quaghebeur, `Puissance publique, puissances privees sur les
cotes du Comte de Vannes (IXe±XIIe siecles)' in G. Le Bouedec and F. Chappe, Pouvoirs
à ‚ Á ‚
et littoraux du XV e au XX e siecle, Rennes, 1999, 11±28.
‚ ‚
B.A. Pocquet du Haut-Jusse, `L'origine des Brefs de sauvete', AB 46 (1959), 255±62 at

‚ Á

262; A. Chedeville and N.-Y. Tonnerre, La Bretagne feodale, XIe-XIIIe siecle, Rennes,
1987, p. 379; J. Gillingham, Richard the Lionheart, 2nd ed, London, 1989, pp. 70±1.
Pipe Roll 6 Henry II, 1159±1160, p. 23.

T. Rymer (ed.), Fúdera . . . , 3rd ed., 1745, i, p. 12.

The right of wreck and ducal brefs de mer
tant a la Rochelle quen en autres parties'.11 Since there is no other evidence
for ducal brefs before the second quarter of the thirteenth century, indeed the
degree of specialisation of the system which produced different categories of
brefs (one of which was the demi-marc) did not occur until the mid-thirteenth
century, and in view of the considerable evidence that seignorial exercise of
the right of wreck continued after 1200, the grant claimed by the monks of
Begard must be anachronistic.12
Nevertheless, Begard's claim was based upon a genuine grant to the abbey
by Duchess Constance. The diplomatic of Constance's purported grant
indicates that whatever evidence was produced by the monks to the ducal
curia in 1379, 1399 and 1459 was derived from an original charter of Duchess
Constance, given with the assent of her son Arthur (and therefore probably
dated 1199 x 1201). I would speculate that Constance's original charter
con®rmed the grant of a tithe of her revenues from the right of wreck,

perhaps speci®cally from the coasts of the barony of Treguier since Begard
had been founded and patronised by Constance's ancestors as lords of this
‚ ‚
barony. As noted above, while Leon and Treguier were in the hands of
Duke Geoffrey and Duchess Constance, they had exercised the seignorial
right of wreck. Within a few decades, though, the right of wreck was
abolished and Begard's charter was not worth the parchment it was written
on. The proceedings in 1499 describe the dif®culties the monks had
experienced in obtaining any bene®t from this act of ducal patronage. It
would be quite understandable if, seeing how the dukes had commuted their
revenues from wreck into revenues from the issue of brefs de mer, the monks
had sought to adapt their entitlement to a share in these revenues accord-
In summary, I would agree with the conclusion of H. Touchard that the
customary right of wreck exercised by the Breton dukes, barons and
ecclesiastical institutions on the coastlines of their lands did not begin to give
way to the ducal system of brefs de mer until the reign of Peter de Dreux.13 It
follows that the Angevin regime, whether under Henry II or Duchess
Constance, was not responsible for this reform. Henry II no doubt was
concerned about the problem of wreck on the Breton coast, especially in

Leon, but his solution was the old-fashioned one of attempting to keep the
barons under control and ultimately securing the proceeds of wreck for the
crown, a policy continued by Duke Geoffrey and his immediate successors.

Charters, C44.

Touchard, `Brefs de Bretagne', pp. 121±2, 125±6.

Touchard, `Brefs de Bretagne', pp. 125±6.



London, British Library

Egerton ms 2802 (cartulary of the abbey of Sainte-Croix de Quimperle)
Egerton ms 2827 (cartulary of the abbey of Easby)
Harley charter 43 C. 35 (original charter of Geoffrey duke of Brittany)
Lansdowne ms 229 (`Miscellanea ex variis scriptoribus collecta', 1573), fol.114r, and ms
259, fol.70r (copies of charter of Henry II for Henry of Penthievre)
Additional mss 8876, `Coutume de Bretagne', fols. 157 and 159 (the `Assize of Count

Oxford, Bodleian Library
Rawlinson ms B142, `Collections of Sir R. St George', fols. 15±26, copies of
documents from Sawtry abbey
Rawlinson ms 283B, history and genealogies of dukes of Brittany

Archives nationale

`Tresor des Chartes', JJ 8 (`Registre C.' of Philip Augustus), no. 297 (the `Assize of
Count Geoffrey')
L967±978, original charters of the abbey of Savigny, including possessions in Brittany
1002A, `Dioceses P-R', xviic, copies of charters from the dioceses of Quimper (abbey
of Bonrepos) and Rennes (extracts from cartularies of the abbeys of Saint-Georges,
Saint-Melaine, Saint-Sulpice)

Bibliotheque nationale
ms Baluze 41, fol.23, copy of the `Assize of Count Geoffrey', `ex codice ms Alexandri

ms latin 2708, `Recueil des pieces tirees des archives des ducs de Bretagne, ii Fondations
de plusieurs abbayes et bene®ces de Bretagne'
ms latin 5430A, Gaignieres' extracts from the cartularies of Mont Saint-Michel

ms latin 5441(3), `Chartul. Majoris Monasterii Turonensis' (including Breton priories of
ms latin 5443, copies of charters regarding the priory of Saint-Cyr de Rennes
ms latin 5476, Gaignieres' copies from the archives of La Vieuville
ms latin 5480, Gaignieres, `Chartul. monasterii Fontis-ebraldi'
ms latin 9071, fol.1, pancart containing charters of Duke Conan IV, King Henry II and
Duke Geoffrey for Robert de Bazouges and his brother Alan Rufus
mss latin 9890, 9891 and 9892, cartularies of the cathedral chapter of Quimper (xiii±xiv
ms latin 10072, copies from the archives of Mont Saint-Michel by Lechaude d'Anisy
ms latin 12879, `Dom Martene, Histoire de l'abbaye de Marmoutiers, part ii, tome ii'
ms latin 17092, Gaignieres, materials from various Breton abbeys
ms latin 17723, `Titres' of various Breton abbeys in facsimile
ms nouv. acq. latin 429, pp. 1±130, martyrology of the abbey of Saint-Jacques de
Montfort (xii±xiii C.)
ms nouv. acq. latin 1022, copy of the cartulary of Savigny by Leopold Delisle
ms nouv. acq. latin 1244, transcripts of charters of Richard I by A. Deville
ms fr.16817, `Dom Lobineau-Bretagne-extraits et pieces'
ms fr. 22309, materials for RHF, including copies of xii C letters and chronicles
ms fr. 22316, `Blancs manteaux 30 ± Droit de Bretagne, ex libris monasterii S Melanii
ms fr. 22319, `Blancs manteaux 36', pieces from various Breton archives
ms fr. 22322, `Ex libris monasterii Sancti Melanii Rhedonensis ± Blancs manteaux 39 ±
Varia ad historiam Britannie spectantia'
ms fr. 22325, `Ex libris monasterii Sti Melanii Rhedonensis ± Blancs manteaux 41'
ms fr. 22329, `Extraits des cartulaires relatifs a la Bretagne ± Blancs manteaux 45'
Á ces diverses sur la Bretagne ± ex libris monasterii
ms fr. 22330, `Blancs manteaux 46 ± Pie
Sancti Melanii Rhedonensis'
ms fr. 22331, pp. 232±53 ± material on the lords of Chateaubriant
ms fr. 22337, `Pieces diverses sur la Bretagne et la maison de Rohan, I, -1299'
ms fr. 22353, N. Travers, `Concilia Provincie Turonensis, vol.II' (various papal and
episcopal documents and `fondations' of abbeys)
ms fr. 22357, `Blancs manteaux 86B' (possessions of Mont Saint-Michel in Brittany)

ms fr. 22358, `Blancs manteaux 86C ± Diverses abbes de Bretagne'
ms fr. 22362, Gaignieres, `Recueil des copies de pieces sur l'histoire de Bretagne'

Avranches, Bibl. mun.
ms 210, cartulary of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel (on micro®lm)


AD de Loire-Atlantique

Series E, `Tresor des Chartes' (xv C. copies of ducal acta)
E78 (abbeys of Buzai and Villeneuve), E79 (letter of Duchess Constance for Sainte-

Croix de Quimperle), E80 (Buzay, 1187±1405), E81 (seven pieces regarding
abbeys in western Brittany, 1151±1349), E86 (ten pieces regarding gifts to churches

outside Brittany, 1030±1473), E113 (eighty-six pieces, 1220±1451, concerning
ducal rights and privileges), E116 (register of English domainal lands of the dukes,
including copies of forty-four ducal acta), E132 (`Livre des Ostz', original ms, 1294)
Series H, abbeys
La Blanche-Couronne, H1 (1167±1282)
Buzay, H19, H20, H23, H44, H47, H56, H59, H61, H71
Melleray, H75 (copies from `fonds Blancs-manteaux')
Villeneuve, H80 (copies from `fonds Blancs-manteaux')
Saint-Serge d'Angers, H206
Ronceray, H351
Knights Templar, H460 (pancart of ducal charters (1141±1217) for the Knights Templar
in vidimus form, 1473)

‚ Á
Nantes, Mediatheque
Collection Dugast-Matifeux
ms 158, original charter of Maurice de Montaigu (1201) and four pieces (early xiii C.)
regarding the Knights Templars' commandery of Clisson
ms 199, copy in translation of charter of Maurice de Montaigu, 1174
ms 229, xix C. copies of documents 1050±1798, including spurious charter of Duke


AD du Finistere
Series G
Cathedral chapter of Quimper, 1G356, 357 (copies of xi±xv C. documents)

Series H, abbeys
Saint-Maurice de Carnoet, 7H1 (1486 vidimus of ducal charters, xii±xiii C.)
Loc-Michel in Elliant (priory of Mont Saint-Michel), 9H1 (xviii C. copies of charters,
L'Ile Tristan (priory of Marmoutier), 12H2 (1710 vidimus of 1126 charter)
Notre-Dame de Daoulas, 1H79 (copies of xii±xiii C. documents)
Locmaria, 27H1 (original notice of con®rmation by Henry II (1172))


AD d'Ille-et-Vilaine
Series C
C3277, printed edition of the Inquest of Dol (1181), 1732
Series F
Fonds Hevin 1F65 (cathedral chapter of Rennes, 1514 vidimus of charter of Conan III,
1141), 1F69 (chaplaincy of Saint-Meloir-des-Ondes), 1F70 (priory of Notre-Dame
‚ ‚‚
de Vitre, copies of xii±xiii C. documents), 1F72 (priory of Bere, copies of acta of
à ‚
lords of Chateaubriant, xi±xiii C.), 1F73 (Saint-Pierre de Rille, 1431 vidimus of



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