Alix, Duchess of Brittany

Last updated
Alix de Thouars.jpg
Alix represented on a window
in Chartres Cathedral
Duchess of Brittany
ReignApril 1203 – 21 October 1221
Predecessor Arthur I
Successor John I
Co-ruler Peter I
Died21 October 1221(1221-10-21) (aged 20–21)
Burial24 November 1225
Spouse Peter I
Issue John I, Duke of Brittany
Yolande, Countess of Penthièvre
House Thouars
Father Guy of Thouars
Mother Constance, Duchess of Brittany
Religion Roman Catholicism

Alix of Thouars [lower-alpha 1] (1200 21 October 1221) (in Breton Alis) ruled as Duchess of Brittany from 1203 until her death. She was also Countess of Richmond in the peerage of England. [lower-alpha 2] [1] [2]



Alix was born in 1200. She was the daughter of Constance, Duchess of Brittany and Guy of Thouars. [3] According to several French historians, Constance died after giving birth to Alix's sisters Catherine and Margaret. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] Alix's older half-brother was Arthur I, Duke of Brittany and her half-sisters were Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany and Matilda of Brittany, the children of Constance and Geoffrey Plantagenet. Upon the death of Richard I of England, a power struggle commenced between her half-brother Arthur and John, King of England. At the Battle of Mirebeau in 1202, Arthur and Eleanor were captured. Arthur was imprisoned at the Château de Falaise and in 1203 disappeared. Eleanor was imprisoned at Corfe Castle.

The Breton barons recognized Alix as Duchess of Brittany after the presumed death of Arthur, instead of Eleanor. This was due to fears that John might claim to rule Brittany as regent for the imprisoned Eleanor. Alix's father Guy became regent for Alix until 1206, when Philip II of France made himself the regent of the duchy in Alix's name. King Philip II broke off the betrothal of Alix and the Breton prince Henry of Penthièvre, [lower-alpha 3] and turned to his French cousin Peter of Dreux, as Alix's husband. [11] [12] Pierre married Alix on 27 January 1213, and paid homage to the French king for Brittany.

In 1218 Pierre and Alix were recognized by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke regent of England as Earl and Countess of Richmond in place of Eleanor, who would never be released from imprisonment.

Alix died on 21 October 1221, without having exercised much control over her own inheritance. She was succeeded in the duchy by her son John I, but Peter remained the de facto ruler of Brittany as John I's regent until 1237.


  1. John I, Duke of Brittany (c.1217–1286), [13] married Blanche of Navarre, daughter of the king of Navarre, Theobald I of Navarre.
  2. Yolande of Brittany, (1218–1272), married Hugh XI of Lusignan, Count of Angoulême and Count of Marche
  3. Arthur of Brittany (1220–1224), betrothed to Jeanne de Craon, daughter of Amaury I de Craon and Jeanne des Roches

Portrayals in literature

Alix of Thouars is the heroine of the novel Le Poids d’une couronne (légende bretonne) (1867-1868) by Gabrielle d’Étampes and is mentioned in the novel Dans l’Ombre du Passé (2020) by Léa Chaillou, where it is revealed that the heroine is named after her.


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Guy of Thouars

Guy of Thouars was the third husband of Constance, Duchess of Brittany, whom he married in Angers, County of Anjou between August and October 1199 after her son Arthur of Brittany entered Angers to be recognized as count of the three countships of Anjou, Maine and Touraine. He was an Occitan noble, a member of the House of Thouars. He is counted as a duke of Brittany, jure uxoris, from 1199 to 1201.

John I, Duke of Brittany

John I, known as John the Red due to the colour of his beard, was Duke of Brittany from 1221 to his death and 2nd Earl of Richmond in 1268.

Earl of Richmond

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Countess of Richmond is a title that was given to the wife of the Earl of Richmond. Women who have held the title include:

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Yolande of Brittany was the ruler of the counties of Penthièvre and Porhoet in the Duchy of Brittany. Yolande had been betrothed to King Henry III of England in 1226 at the age of seven years, but married Hugh XI of Lusignan, the half-brother of Henry III. Through Hugh, she became Countess of La Marche and of Angoulême. She was the mother of seven children. From 1250 to 1256, she acted as Regent of La Marche and Angoulême for her son, Hugh XII of Lusignan.

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Catherine of Thouars was the daughter of Constance, suo jure Duchess of Brittany and Countess of Richmond, and her third husband Guy of Thouars. She was the first wife of Andrew III, Baron of Vitré.

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  1. Chronicon Britannicum
  2. Judith Everard and Michael Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance of Brittany and her Family (1171-1221)
  3. John W. Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus: Foundations of French Royal Power in the Middle Ages, (University of California Press, 1986), 239.
  4. According to historians Dom Morice, Dom Charles Taillandiers, Prudence-Guillaume de Roujoux and Arthur Le Moyne de La Borderie, Constance and Guy had a third daughter, Margaret.
  5. Pierre-Hyacinthe Morice, Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne, Tome premier, p. 129 and 150
  6. Charles Taillandier, Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne, Tome second, p. IX
  7. Prudence Guillaume de Roujoux, Histoire des rois et des ducs de Bretagne, Tome second, p. 231
  8. According to historians Pierre Daru and François Manet, Constance and Guy had three daughters.
  9. Pierre Daru, Histoire de Bretagne, Tome premier, p. 407
  10. François Manet, Histoire de la Petite-Bretagne, ou Bretagne Armorique, depuis ses premiers habitans connus, Tome second, p. 308
  11. Chronique de Guillaume de Nangis
  12. Brittany, Julia M.H. Smith, Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, Ed. William W. Kibler, (Garland Publishing Inc., 1995 ), 148.
  13. Chronicon Ruyensis Cœnobii


  1. Her name is sometimes spelt Alice (See Everard and Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance of Brittany and her Family (1171-1221))
  2. Although Eleanor of Brittany was styled Countess of Richmond as well as titular Duchess of Brittany from 1203 to 1219 by her uncle John, this was only a titular title, as Alix herself was styled Countess of Richmond and even made charters about this estate (See Everard and Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance of Brittany and her Family (1171-1221), p 169).
  3. Henry and his family would later become dispossessed of the Countship of Penthièvre by Pierre Mauclerc, who would then bestow the title on Alix's daughter Yolande of Brittany

See also

Alix, Duchess of Brittany
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Arthur I
Duchess of Brittany
with Peter (1213-1221)
Succeeded by
John I
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Arthur I
Countess of Richmond
with Peter (1213–1221)
Succeeded by
John I