. 6
( 55 .)


Breton/Angevin relations in terms of Celtic versus Frankish culture.
Rather, the Angevin government of Brittany was another phase in the
long history of close political and cultural relations between Brittany
and its neighbours, especially Normandy and Anjou. To understand the
Angevin regime in Brittany, and in particular the extent to which it was
innovative, it is necessary to consider the politics and government of the
duchy immediately before it came under Angevin rule, and that is the
subject of chapter one.
‚ Á
H. Guillotel, `Les vicomtes de Leon aux XIe et XIIe siecles', MSHAB 51 (1971), 29±51 at

37±41, and 45±6; Preuves, col. 669.
K. R. Potter (ed. and trans.), Willelmi Malmesbiriensis monachi: Historia novella, London, 1955,

p. 31.
V. Brown (ed.), Eye priory cartulary and charters, Part II, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1994, pp. 16±17,

and 26; K. R. Potter and R. H. C. Davis (eds.), Gesta Stephani: The deeds of King Stephen, 2nd
edn., Oxford, 1976, pp. 108±9, and 116±17. In 1141 Harvey suffered an ignominious defeat
and returned to Brittany for good, his English lands forfeit (Gesta Stephani, pp. 71±2, and 77).


DUCAL BRITTANY, 1066 ± 1166

Brittany, as a political unit, was a creation of the Carolingian empire,
but during the tenth and the ®rst half of the eleventh centuries, the
former Carolingian regnum experienced political fragmentation.1
Although individuals vied for the title of `dux Britannie', in fact none
exercised authority over the whole of the Armorican peninsula and its
hinterland. By the mid-eleventh century, the peninsula was divided into
six main political units; the county of Rennes, the lordships of
Á ‚
Penthievre and Leon, the county of Cornouaille, the Broerec (or the
Vannetais) and the county of Nantes (see map 1).
At this point, the process of political fragmentation was halted by a
series of marriages which united the comital families of Rennes, Nantes
and Cornouaille to form a single ducal dynasty.2 Duke Hoel I È
(1066±84) and his descendants now had the potential to consolidate
ducal authority, winning back the exercise of public authority from
those who had usurped it. This chapter will present a brief survey of
political conditions in Brittany for the 100 years from 1066 to the
advent of Henry II from the perspective of ducal authority.
Around 1066, the position of the dukes of Brittany was analogous to
that of the contemporary kings of France, the ®rst among equals, having
prestige and no internal rival for the ducal title, but no real authority
outside their own domains.3 In terms of the exercise of ducal authority,
three different categories of territory may be identi®ed. First, in the
Á ‚
north-west, the lordships of Penthievre and Leon completely escaped
ducal authority. The remainder of the duchy was notionally subject to

J. M. H. Smith, Province and empire: Carolingian Brittany, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 144±5;

H. Guillotel, `Le premier siecle du pouvoir ducal breton (936±1040)', in Actes du 103e congres
national des societes savantes, Paris, 1979, pp. 63±84.
‚ Á

A. Chedeville and N.-Y. Tonnerre, La Bretagne feodale, XIe-XIIIe siecle, Rennes, 1987,

pp. 30±62, and see ®g. 1.
‚ Ã
B. A. Pocquet du Haut-Jusse, `Les Plantagenets et la Bretagne', AB 53 (1946), 1±27 at 3.

Brittany and the Angevins
ducal sovereignty. Here, though, there is a distinction between ducal
domains, which were subject to direct ducal authority and administra-
tion, and the remaining territory, which was divided into numerous
baronies. The duke did not exercise any direct authority within the
baronies, but had some in¯uence by virtue of the personal loyalty of
individual barons and possibly also the physical proximity of ducal
domains. Ducal domain and baronies coexisted in the counties of
Rennes, Cornouaille and Nantes and the Broerec.4

penthièvre and l©on
The absence of ducal authority in these regions is indicated by the fact
that the dukes never went there, and their lords never attested ducal
charters. Fortunately, it is not necessary to argue entirely from silence,
because of the evidence of the `Communes petitiones Britonum'. This
is the record of an inquest, one in a series conducted in 1235 by order of
King Louis ix to investigate complaints about the maladministration of
the then duke, Peter de Dreux (1213±37). The inquest was held at
Saint-Brieuc. The lay-witnesses (so far as they can be identi®ed) were
‚ Á
all vassals and tenants of the lords of Leon and Penthievre; the
ecclesiastical witnesses were all members of churches in the dioceses of
‚ ‚
Leon, Saint-Brieuc and Treguier.
As recorded in the inquest proceedings, the `petitiones' were that,
before the time of Peter de Dreux:

± No duke of Brittany took custody of or relief from lands in Leon and
‚ Á
± The barons of Leon and Penthievre could construct forti®cations without
the permission of the duke;
‚ Á
± The barons of Leon and Penthievre had the right of wreck on the shores of
their lands;
‚ Á
± The barons of Leon and Penthievre were accustomed to make wills
(`testamenta') and to make arrangements freely regarding their debts and
± The duke could not take homage from the barons' men;
‚ Á
± The barons of Leon and Penthievre had jurisdiction in `pleas of the sword'
(`placitum spade').
The `petitiones' thus depict a situation in which ducal authority was
non-existent. The basic elements of public authority (jurisdiction and
‚ ‚
See A. de la Borderie, Essai sur la geographie feodale de la Bretagne, Rennes, 1889, for a survey of

both ducal domain and baronies. For ducal domains, see Map 2.
This was not listed as one of the `petitiones', but see `Communes petitiones britonum',

pp. 100±1.

Ducal Brittany, 1066±1166
control of castle-building) and even feudal lordship (the right to custody
of lands and infant heirs, the right to receive relief and homage) were
exercised by barons rather than by the duke of Brittany.

What circumstances predisposed and enabled the lords of Leon and
Á ‚
Penthievre to resist ducal authority? In the case of Leon, the answer is
probably simply remoteness from the centres of ducal power. There was
also the history of the baronial dynasty, originally vicecomites of the
comites of Cornouaille who had usurped the public authority delegated
to them. By the late eleventh century they were therefore able to
exercise public authority within their lands with a semblance of
The lords of Penthievre held an even stronger position, necessarily
since their lands adjoined the county of Rennes. The barony was
created in the early eleventh century by Eudo, the younger brother of
Duke Alan III (1008±40). Instead of acknowledging that the barony was
in any way subject to the senior, ducal line, Eudo and his descendants
adopted a resolutely autonomous policy, evoking their ducal pedigree
to rule Penthievre under the title comes or even comes Britannorum.7 In
addition to the evidence of the `Communes petitiones Britonum', their
exercise of public authority is exempli®ed by the fact that the lords of
Penthievre minted their own coins, the notorious deniers of Guingamp.8
No other `feudal coinage' is known to have been minted in Brittany
other than the ducal coinage itself.

the baronies
In the absence of such explicit evidence as the `Communes petitiones
Britonum', the exercise of ducal authority within the baronies is less
clear. It would seem that the rights and immunities enjoyed by the lords
‚ Á
of Leon and Penthievre were also enjoyed by the barons of the other
regions of Brittany. There is no evidence that barons (as distinguished
from tenants of ducal domain) regarded themselves as holding their
lands `of the duke'. There is no evidence that they rendered homage to
the duke for their lands, or that the duke in any way regulated
succession to the baronies, and for this reason I have avoided calling
them `tenants-in-chief ' or `vassals' of the duke.
‚ Á
H. Guillotel, `Les vicomtes de Leon aux XIe et XIIe siecles', MSHAB 51 (1971), 29±51;

‚ Ã ‚ Á
P. Kernevez, `Les chateaux du Leon au XIIIe siecle', MSHAB 69 (1992), 95±127.
‚ ‚
H. Guillotel, `Les origines de Guingamp: Sa place dans la geographie feodale bretonne', MSHAB

56 (1979), 81±100; H. Guillotel (ed.), `Les actes des ducs de Bretagne (944±1148)' (these pour le

Doctorat en Droit, Universite de Droit d'Economie et des sciences sociales de Paris (Paris II),
See above, p. 13.

Brittany and the Angevins
The duke could not summon barons to his court, and hence he could
not exercise jurisdiction over them. Barons did however attend the
ducal curia, as can be seen from the lists of witnesses to ducal acta.9 They
seem to have attended voluntarily, when it suited them to associate with
the duke. As might be expected, the more powerful the duke, the more
barons attended his court. As an example of the converse, during the
civil war of 1148±56, the acta of the rival claimants to the duchy, Eudo
de Porhoet and Hoel, count of Nantes, are almost free of baronial
There is also some evidence for the existence of two rights which
would indicate the exercise of ducal authority: the right to summon the
host and the right to levy a general impost (tallia). Some of the barons
were, theoretically at least, liable to the military duty of ost or exercitus.
Examples come from the baronies of Pontchateau and Hennebont in
the ®rst quarter of the twelfth century. Both baronies were relatively
recent creations, however, and had perhaps escaped less completely
from ducal authority than had older baronies.12 Counts/dukes under-
took military campaigns within Brittany in this period, but their armies
could have comprised household knights, the tenants of domainal lands
and any barons who voluntarily lent their support. Hence there is no
evidence that the barons were ever actually obliged to join the ducal
host; neither are the precise military obligations of any baron speci®ed.
There is even less evidence of the dukes levying a general impost, as
distinct from the customary dues payable by the inhabitants of ducal
domains. The only instance I have found of ducal tallia levied on the
inhabitants of a barony is at Pontchateau. There, Jarnogon de Pont-
chateau made a gift of immunity from tallia but not from `talliaca
comitis',13 presumably because it was not within Jarnogon's power to
waive a ducal impost. There is still no evidence that the `tallia comitis'
was actually collected or even levied. This reference may represent no
more than the recognition that `tallia comitis' might be levied, and, as
noted above, Pontchateau was not a typical barony; its proximity to
Nantes and recent creation made it vulnerable to ducal authority.
In general, the exercise of ducal authority depended upon the relative
strength of the duke and of each individual baron from time to time.

E.g. Cart. Redon, no. ccxc; Preuves, cols. 465±6, and 470; Actes inedits, nos. xxxi and xl.

Actes inedits, nos. xlv±xlvii.

‚ Ã
M. de Brehier, `Chartes relatives au prieure de Pontchateau', BSAN 3 (1863), 17±40 at 23, no.

III; Cart. Quimperle, no. lxviii.

N.-Y. Tonnerre, Naissance de la Bretagne: Geographie historique et structures sociales de la Bretagne

‚ridionale (Nantais et Vannetais) de la ®n du VIIIe a la ®n du XIIe siecle, Angers, 1994, pp. 317 and


. 6
( 55 .)