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‚ ‚
Actes inedits, no. xxiii; Guillotel, `Actes', no. 96. Cart. Quimperle, nos. iii, liv, and lxxxii.

See, for instance: A. de la Borderie, Histoire de Bretagne, Rennes, 1899, iii, pp. 105±15;

‚‚ Á
A. Oheix, Essai sur les senechaux de Bretagne des origines au XIVe siecle, Paris, 1913; R. Delaporte,
‚Ã ‚‚ Á
`Les Sergents, Prevots et Voyers feodes en Bretagne des origines au debut du XVe siecle'
‚ ‚
Universite de Rennes, Faculte de Droit, doctoral thesis, 1938; J.-L. Montigny, Essai sur les
‚ Á
institutions du duche de Bretagne a l'epoque de Pierre Mauclerc et sur la politique de ce prince (1213±1237),
Paris, 1961.

E.g., Actes inedits, no. xv; Guillotel, `Actes', no. 79; Preuves, col. 455; `. . . nec prepositi nec

vicarii aliquam habeant in ea potestatem . . .' (grant by Conan III to the Knights Templar, 1141;
Preuves, cols. 583±4; Guillotel, `Actes' no. 152).

Ducal Brittany, 1066±1166
was the superior of the vicarius and had a range of important functions,
principally judicial.39 Although Boussard's evidence is from other
regions of western France, there are examples of prepositi administering

justice in Brittany. The ducal prefectus at Quimperle sat in judgment

there with the abbot of Sainte-Croix de Quimperle. The prepositus of
the abbey of Saint-Georges de Rennes at Pleubihan was designated the
`defensor et protector' of this plebs, `latronum etiam malefactor, justissi-
musque malefactorum persecutor, universorumque placitorum rectis-
simus judicator'.41
The of®ce of vicarius is more problematical because of the potential
for confusion with the Carolingian administrative of®ce.42 Most of the
evidence for vicarii in Brittany in the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
however, indicates that these of®cers were much more lowly than
Carolingian vicarii. As Boussard has argued, the term vicaria had survived
from the Carolingian administration, but with a changed meaning. It
had come to describe certain rights once pertaining to the public
administration, but since usurped by private individuals.43 Speci®cally,
by the eleventh century, vicaria had come to describe the right of the
lord or his agent to enter land and there seize property or arrest persons
accused of various offences (sometimes only the four serious offences of
theft, murder, arson and rape) and to keep them in custody until they
were tried or until a ®nancial settlement was agreed. For instance, the

`villici' of both the abbey of Sainte-Croix de Quimperle and of the

count of Cornouaille at Quimperle had responsibilities in the execution
of distraints (`Ad preceptum abbatis et cellerarii, invasionem vulgari
vocabulo saisiam dictam, propria manu facere, deinde villico comitis
indilate tradendam').44 The agent employed by the lord to exercise this
right acquired the title vicarius. Thus the relative importance of a vicarius
depended upon the extent of his lord's right of vicaria. The hereditary

vicarii of the ducal domain of Guerande, for instance, seem to have been
important and wealthy men, no doubt due to the commercial value of
this domain. In contrast, in baronial charters, there often seems nothing
to distinguish a witness styled vicarius from the other tenants attesting
with him. Some of the duties of the `villicus' of the abbey of Sainte-

J. Boussard, Le gouvernement d'Henri II Plantagenet, Paris, 1956, pp. 311±29.

Cart. Quimperle, no. lxx.

Preuves, col. 409, from the cartulary of Saint-Georges de Rennes.

J. Dunbabin, France in the making, 843±1180, Oxford, 1985, p. 41; Oheix, Senechaux, pp. 133,

and 146.
Boussard, Gouvernement, pp. 312±9; e.g., a grant of land to Marmoutier by some `alodiarii' (sic)

with the consent of their two lords, exempt from `omni consuetudine exactionis vel vicarie seu
ceterorum vectigalium' (Preuves, cols. 452±3).

Cart. Quimperle, no. xxxiii, cf. note c., pp. 170±1.

Brittany and the Angevins
Croix indicate a rather humble status.45 Lords with extensive lands,
such as the dukes with their widespread domainal estates, no doubt
employed numerous vicarii, each with responsibility for a particular
As far as the exercise of jurisdiction was concerned, vicarii were the
equivalent of modern police and bailiffs, while prepositi actually adminis-
tered justice in the name of the duke or baron (or church). The
functions of both prepositi and vicarii were not, however, limited to the
exercise of jurisdiction.46 In their other administrative functions, it is
not possible to draw a distinction between the two of®ces. Boussard
concluded, `Dans l'ensemble, le prevot, comme le voyer . . . est un

agent d'administration domaniale charge de percevoir les revenus et de
veiller sur tous les droits qui appartiennent a son maµtre: paiement des
‚ ‚
redevances, droits de monneyage, droits sur les tresors trouves, droits de
passage, etc.'
I have left discussion of the of®ce of seneschal until last, because this
of®ce appeared late in the history of domainal administration. Although
the of®ce appears in charters in Brittany in the early eleventh century, at
that time, the seneschal was a household of®cer. The of®ce was not
restricted to comital households. In the ®rst half of the twelfth century
the lords of Porhoet were served by a seneschal (or perhaps a succession
of seneschals) named Philip. Seneschals were employed in ecclesiastical
establishments in the eleventh century. The hereditary seneschals of the
archbishops of Dol are particularly well recorded, starting with Alan,
who held the of®ce between about 1075 and 1095. Seneschals of the
bishops of Rennes and Nantes are attested around the same time.48 The
of®ce of household seneschal of the count of Rennes was certainly
established by the middle of the eleventh century.49 The evidence is less
clear for the other counties, although the of®ce also appears in Nantes at
this time.50
During the reign of Duke Conan III (1112±48), a signi®cant

Cart. Quimperle, no. xxxiii.

E.g., the villicus of Sainte-Croix de Quimperle was charged with rendering the `communem

pastum' owed to the abbey each January (Cart. Quimperle, no. xxxiii).
Boussard, Gouvernement, p. 321.

Cart. Morb., nos. cxciii, ccxiii, ccxxiv; Enquete, pp. 66±7; `Cart. St-Georges', no. lviii; Cart.

Quimperle, no. lxxvi.
See Appendix 2.

In 1075, Geoffrey son of Aldroen `dapifer' attested a charter of the dowager-duchess Bertha at

Nantes (Cart. Quimperle, no. lxxv). It is not clear whether he was the household seneschal of
Bertha or of the count of Nantes (Bertha's son-in-law, Hoel I). Warin `dapifer' attested a charter

of Duke Alan IV, made at Nantes, between 1084 and 1103 (Cart. Quimperle, no. xxxv). Listed
among the `Nannetenses', he may have been the seneschal of the count of Nantes, at this time
Alan's younger brother Matthew. See Oheix, Senechaux, p. 32, note 10.

Ducal Brittany, 1066±1166
development occurred in the of®ce of ducal seneschal. The then
seneschal, William, was detached from the household and became the
duke's representative in the county of Rennes. There is no obvious
reason for this development, but it may have occurred because Conan
III spent more of his time in the county of Nantes than in other parts of
the duchy. Two later acts of Conan III, dated 1136 and 1141, are
attested by William, styled `dapifer meus Redonensis', with the 1136 act
describing William performing the administrative function of perambu-
lating the bounds of the land the subject of the ducal grant.51 As the
duke's representative in Rennes, the seneschal probably began to
exercise ducal jurisdiction on a regular basis, but there is no documen-
tary evidence for his functions in Rennes beyond the 1136 charter.
Since the dukes did not exercise authority beyond their own
domains, the responsibilities of the seneschal of Rennes must have been
limited to enforcing ducal authority in respect of the ducal domains in
the county of Rennes. These, as discussed above, were already staffed
with prepositi, vicarii and other of®cers such as foresters. The relationship
between these of®cers and the seneschal is obscure, but it is most
probable that Conan III simply superimposed a new level of administra-
tion onto the existing system.
This brief discussion of the ducal household and regional administra-
tion of the ducal domains demonstrates the similarity between ducal
government in Brittany and that in neighbouring parts of Francia. The
similarity is so close that the identical process of the comital/ducal
seneschal leaving the household to become a superior administrative
of®cer can be detected at about the same time in the counties of Anjou
and Poitou.52

the county of nantes and the succession crisis of
1148 ± 1156
At the beginning of this chapter, the political situation in Brittany was
described in terms of unity under a single ducal dynasty from the mid-
eleventh century. Nevertheless, the county of Nantes had a somewhat
anomalous position in the Breton polity. Since this had important
consequences in terms of the Angevin domination of Brittany, it is
worth more detailed consideration at this point.

Preuves, col. 574; AE, VI, pp. 121±2; Guillotel, `Actes', nos. 145, 146.

‚ Á ‚
L. Halphen, Le comte d'Anjou au XIe siecle, Paris, 1906, p. 192; J. Boussard, Le comte d'Anjou sous

Ãt et ses ®ls (1151±1204), Paris, 1938, pp. 113±27; J. Boussard, Gouvernement,
Henri II Plantagene
p. 354. For Poitou ± A. Richard, Les comtes de Poitou, 2 vols., Paris, 1903, i, pp. 414, and 420, ii,
pp. 48, 66, 71, 83, 87±88.

Brittany and the Angevins
Although Nantes was the capital of the duchy of Brittany in the later
Middle Ages, this union was not inevitable or permanent. `Brittany' is
generally de®ned by the Armorican peninsula. The limits of Brittany
only become de®ned by politics, rather than by geography, at the
eastern border, where the peninsula meets the mainland. The county of
Nantes is the only part of the historical duchy of Brittany which is not
on the peninsula, and its eastern and southern borders, marching with
Maine, Anjou and Poitou, lack any geographical de®nition and there-
fore have shifted over the centuries according to political circum-
The county of Nantes has always been involved in the politics of the
regions to its south and east. Instead of being physically separated from
neighbouring provinces by ocean, river or forest like other parts of
Brittany, Nantes was connected to Anjou by the great thoroughfare of
the Loire. The population was Frankish, with only the most north-
westerly parts of the county experiencing Breton immigration and
settlement.54 It follows, then, that Nantes was culturally more akin to
Anjou and Poitou than to Armorican Brittany. This is recognised in the

modern administrative arrangement whereby the departement of Loire-
Atlantique, coterminous with the old county of Nantes, is not included
in the region of Bretagne, but in the Pays de Loire.
Until the late twelfth century, Nantes was regarded as separate or
severable from the rest of the duchy. Duke Hoel I (1066±84) inherited
the county of Nantes from his mother, Judith. He had two sons; the
elder was the future Duke Alan IV, and the younger, Matthew, was
given the county of Nantes as his portion.55 When Matthew died
without issue, Alan IV succeeded him and the county of Nantes was
reunited with the parts of Brittany under ducal authority. We do not
know the terms on which Matthew held Nantes, or whether, if he had
left issue, they would have inherited the county. It is signi®cant,
though, that the name Matthew came from the family of the counts of
Nantes. The last count of that line was Matthew, who died in 1050, the
comital title passing in default of male heirs to his aunt Judith, the
mother of Hoel I.56 Hoel therefore named his younger son after his
®rst-cousin, who had been the hereditary count of Nantes.
N.-Y. Tonnerre has argued that Duke Alan IV himself gave Nantes

‚ ‚
See E. Chenon, `Les marches separantes d'Anjou, Bretagne et Poitou', RHD 16 (1892), 18±62,

and 165±211, and 21 (1897), 62±80; J.-C. Meuret, Peuplement, pouvoir et paysage sur la marche
Anjou-Bretagne (des origines au Moyen-Age), Laval, 1993.
Tonnerre, Naissance de Bretagne, pp. 62±8.


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