Conan IV, Duke of Brittany

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Conan IV
Conan IV de Bretagne.jpg
Duke of Brittany
Reign1156–1166
Predecessor Odo II & Bertha
Successor Constance
Earl of Richmond
Reign1146–1166
Predecessor Alan
Successor Constance
Bornc. 1138
Died20 February 1171
Burial
Bégard Monastery
Spouse Margaret of Huntingdon
Issue Constance, Duchess of Brittany, William
House House of Penthièvre
Father Alan, 1st Earl of Richmond
Mother Bertha, Duchess of Brittany
Religion Roman Catholicism
Banner of Conan IV of the House of Penthievre Banniere Maison Penthievre.svg
Banner of Conan IV of the House of Penthievre

Conan IV (1138 – February 20, 1171), called the Young, was the Duke of Brittany from 1156 to 1166. He was the son of Bertha, Duchess of Brittany, and her first husband, Alan, Earl of Richmond. Conan IV was his father's heir as Earl of Richmond and his mother's heir as Duke of Brittany. [lower-alpha 1] Conan and his daughter Constance would be the only representatives of the House of Penthièvre to rule Brittany.

Bertha of Cornouaille, also known as Bertha of Brittany, was hereditary Duchess of Brittany between 1148 until her death and Dowager Countess of Richmond. Bertha was the eldest daughter of Conan III of Brittany by Maude, the illegitimate daughter of King Henry I of England. She was the last member of the Breton House of Cornouaille to reign over Brittany.

Alan, 1st Earl of Richmond Breton noble

Alan, 1st Earl of Richmond, Breton Alan Penteur, also known as "Alan the Black", was a Breton noble who fought for Stephen, King of England. Alan was the third son of Stephen, Count of Tréguier, and Hawise de Guingamp.

Earl of Richmond title in the Peerage of England; now forfeited to the Crown

The now-extinct title of Earl of Richmond was created many times in the Peerage of England. The earldom of Richmond was initially held by various Breton nobles associated with the Ducal crown of Brittany; sometimes the holder was the Breton Duke himself, including one member of the cadet branch of the French Capetian dynasty. The historical ties between the Ducal crown of Brittany and this English Earldom were maintained ceremonially by the Breton dukes even after England ceased to recognize the Breton Dukes as Earls of England and those dukes rendered homage to the King of France, rather than the English crown. It was then held either by members of the English royal families of Plantagenet and Tudor, or English nobles closely associated with the English crown. It was eventually merged into the English crown during the reign of Henry VII and has been recreated as a Dukedom.

Contents

Accession

Conan was the son of Duchess Bertha by her first husband, Alan, 1st Earl of Richmond. With the death of his mother in early 1156, Conan IV expected to inherit the ducal throne. However, he was denied his inheritance by his stepfather, Odo II, Viscount of Porhoët, who refused to relinquish authority. Odo may have entered into a pact with Conan's maternal uncle, Hoel, Count of Nantes, with the goal of dividing Brittany between them. Being under threat of rebellion in Nantes, sponsored by Geoffrey VI, Count of Anjou, Hoel could not send Odo any aid. Within the year Conan IV was able to capture and imprison Odo and claim his inheritance.

Odo II, Count of Porhoet was the son of Geoffroy, Viscount de Porhoët, and his wife Hawise. He became Duke of Brittany in 1148 upon his marriage to Bertha, Duchess of Brittany.

Conan also inherited the title Earl of Richmond from his father Alan, which made him subject to both the King of England and the King of France.

Plantagenet ambitions

Henry II of England, the Count of Anjou, attempted to obtain control of the Duchy of Brittany, which neighboured his lands and had traditionally been largely independent from the rest of France, with its own language and culture. [1] The Breton dukes held little power across most of the duchy, which was mostly controlled by local lords. [2] In 1148, Duke Conan III died and civil war broke out. [3] Henry claimed to be the overlord of Brittany, on the basis that the duchy had owed loyalty to Henry I, and saw controlling the duchy both as a way of securing his other French territories and as a potential inheritance for one of his sons. [4] [lower-alpha 2] Initially Henry's strategy was to rule indirectly through proxies, and accordingly Henry supported Conan IV's claims over most of the duchy, partly because Conan had strong English ties and could be easily influenced. [6] Conan's uncle, Hoel, continued to control the county of Nantes in the east until he was deposed in 1156 by Henry's brother, Geoffrey, possibly with Henry's support. [7]

Henry II of England King of England

Henry II, also known as Henry Curtmantle, Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, Maine, and Nantes; at various times, he also partially controlled Scotland, Wales and the Duchy of Brittany. Before he was 40 he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and the western half of France—an area that would later come to be called the Angevin Empire.

Duchy of Brittany Medieval duchy in northwestern France

The Duchy of Brittany was a medieval feudal state that existed between approximately 939 and 1547. Its territory covered the northwestern peninsula of Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the English Channel to the north. It was less definitively bordered by the Loire River to the south, and Normandy and other French provinces to the east. The Duchy was established after the expulsion of Viking armies from the region around 939. The Duchy, in the 10th and 11th centuries, was politically unstable, with the dukes holding only limited power outside their own personal lands. The Duchy had mixed relationships with the neighbouring Duchy of Normandy, sometimes allying itself with Normandy, and at other times, such as the Breton-Norman War, entering into open conflict.

Breton language Celtic language

Breton is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language family spoken in Brittany.

When Geoffrey of Anjou died in 1158, Conan attempted to reclaim Nantes but was opposed by Henry who annexed it for himself. [8] Louis took no action to intervene as Henry steadily increased his power in Brittany. [9] Conan's control of Nantes had the effect of reuniting Brittany. Henry II, responded by seizing the Earldom of Richmond, Conan's paternal inheritance, and demanded the return of Nantes. Conan and Henry made peace, and in 1160 Conan married Henry's cousin Margaret, sister of the Scottish king William the Lion. Conan and Margaret had at least one daughter, Constance. [10] [lower-alpha 3] A son of Conan's named William appears to have still been alive towards 1200. [11] [lower-alpha 4] [lower-alpha 5]

Margaret of Huntingdon (1145–1201) was a Scottish princess and Duchess of Brittany. She was the sister of Scottish kings Malcolm IV and William I, wife of Conan IV, Duke of Brittany, and the mother of Constance, Duchess of Brittany. Her second husband was Humphrey de Bohun, hereditary Constable of England. Following her second marriage, Margaret styled herself as the Countess of Hereford.

William the Lion King of Scotland

William the Lion, sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of Scotland from 1165 to 1214. He had the second-longest reign in Scottish history before the Act of Union with England in 1707. James VI would have the longest.

Constance was Duchess of Brittany from 1166 to her death in 1201 and Countess of Richmond from 1171 to 1201. Constance was the daughter of Duke Conan IV by his wife, Margaret of Huntingdon, a sister of the Scottish kings Malcolm IV and William I.

Unrest and abdication

Conan faced several revolts from his own nobles, rebellions possibly covertly supported by England. To put down the unrest, the Duke appealed for help to Henry II, who, in return, demanded the betrothal of Constance to Henry's younger son Geoffrey. [12]

Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany 12th-century Duke of Brittany and son of King Henry II of England

Geoffrey II was Duke of Brittany and 3rd Earl of Richmond between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth of five sons of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.

While local Breton nobles began to rebel against Conan IV, Henry had begun to alter his policy of indirect rule in Brittany and started to exert more direct control. [13] In 1164 Henry intervened to seize lands along the border of Brittany and Normandy, and in 1166 invaded Brittany to punish the local barons. [14] Henry then forced Conan to abdicate as duke and to give Brittany to his daughter Constance [lower-alpha 6] ; Conan also betrothed Constance to Henry's son Geoffrey. [14] This arrangement was quite unusual in terms of medieval law, as Conan might have had sons who could have legitimately inherited the duchy. [lower-alpha 7] [15]

According to the histories that record the abdication of Conan IV, he died in 1171 sometime after his abdication.

Henry II had claimed to be Overlord of Brittany, as would his son Richard the Lionheart. Henry never claimed the Dukedom of Brittany. After Conan IV abdicated, Henry II held guardianship over Brittany for Conan's daughter Constance, until such time as Henry II's fourth legitimate son, Geoffrey Plantagenet, could marry her.

See also

Notes

  1. Conan IV's mother was the daughter of Duke Conan III.
  2. Historian Judith Everard's research into Brittany has shifted academic discussion of this period, stressing the indirect way that Henry expanded his power; earlier works had tended to describe Henry as conquering Brittany through a sequence of invasions; see, for example, John Gillingham's description of the period. [5]
  3. Margaret of Huntingdon made a donation for the souls of "herself, Duke Conan IV, and 'our boys', or 'our children' (pro salute anime... puerorum... nostrorum). This would seem to be a reference to at least one son of the marriage who did not survive infancy, leaving Constance as heiress in 1166." (Everard and Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance and Her Family (1171-1221), The Boydell Press, 1999, p 94).
  4. Two charters made by Constance and her son Arthur towards 1200 mention a brother of Constance, William. As a boy, William should have inherited the duchy after Conan. According to Everard, Henry II’s forcing Constance’s father into abdicating in 1166 was meant to prevent any son of the Duke from inheriting the duchy. According to her, the fact that Constance’s brother was called William seems to indicate that he was not an illegitimate son of Conan IV, as William was the name of Margaret's brother, the King of Scots.(Everard, Judith (2000). Brittany and the Angevins: Province and Empire, 1158-1203. Cambridge University Press, 2000, p 43).
  5. Margaret's charter might then be a reference to Constance and William.
  6. The English Heritage Website's history of Richmond Castle and the Earldom of Richmond describes the abdication as Conan's "wise surrender [of] the duchy to Henry II."
  7. Henry never formally became Duke of Brittany as he was only holding the duchy on behalf of Geoffrey and Constance. According to the English Heritage Website history of Richmond Castle and the Earldom of Richmond, Henry "kept the Honour of Richmond until it could be inherited by Geoffrey on his marriage to Constance."

Related Research Articles

Alan IV, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

Alan IV was Duke of Brittany from 1084 until his abdication in 1112. He was also Count of Nantes and Count of Rennes. His parents were Duchess Hawise and Duke Hoel II. He is also known as Alan Fergant. Through his father, he was of the Breton House of Cornouaille dynasty. He was the last Breton-speaking Duke of Brittany.

Conan III, also known as Conan of Cornouaille and Conan the Fat was duke of Brittany, from 1112 to his death. He was the son of Duke Alan IV and Ermengarde of Anjou.

Hoèl of Cornwall was count of Nantes, from 1148 to his death. He was raised the son of Duke Conan III and Maud FitzRoy, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry I of England. However, he was disinherited by his father when on his death-bed, as Conan III claimed that Hoèl was illegitimate and no son of his. Bertha then became heiress to Duke Conan's lands in Brittany, while Hoèl was allowed to remain in the Count of Nantes. He was accused by St. Bernard of Clairvaux of having an incestuous affair with his sister Bertha.

Guy of Thouars French nobleman, Duke of Brittany jure uxoris

Guy of Thouars was the third husband of Constance, Duchess of Brittany, whom he married in 1199 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.

Alix of Thouars ruled as Duchess of Brittany from 1203 until her death. She was also Countess of Richmond in the peerage of England.

Angevin Empire Medieval dynastic union of states in present-day UK and France

The Angevin Empire describes the possessions of the Angevin kings of England who held lands in England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its rulers were Henry II, Richard I, and John. The Angevin Empire is an early example of a composite state.

The Counts of Nantes were originally the Frankish rulers of the Nantais under the Carolingians and eventually a capital city of the Duchy of Brittany. Their county served as a march against the Bretons of the Vannetais. Carologinian rulers would sometimes attack Brittany through the region of the Vannetais, making Nantes a strategic asset. In the mid-ninth century, the county finally fell to the Bretons and the title became a subsidiary title of the Breton rulers. The control of the title by the Breton Dukes figured prominently in the history of the Duchy. The title Count of Nantes was given to Hoel, a disinherited son of a Duke. He lost the Countship due to a popular uprising. That uprising presented an opportunity for King Henry II of England to attack the Breton Duke. In the treaty ending their conflicts, the Breton Duke awarded the Countship of Nantes to Henry II.

The noble Breton family line of Porhoët is represented in modern times by the Franco-Breton House of Rohan.

Viscounty of Léon former country in Brittany

The Viscounty or County of Léon was a feudal state in extreme western Brittany in the High Middle Ages. Though nominally a vassal of the sovereign Duke of Brittany, Léon was functionally independent of any external controls until the viscounts came under attack by Henry II of England. It thus became the focus of revolts and wars when Brittany was drawn into the Angevin empire.

Guihomar, Guidomar, or Guyomar IV was the Viscount of Léon from 1168 until his death. He was the son and successor of Harvey II. His reign was spent in constant rebellion against his nominal lords in an effort to preserve his historical independence.

The Honour of Richmond in north-west Yorkshire was granted to Count Alan Rufus by King William the Conqueror sometime during 1069 to 1071, although the date is uncertain. It was gifted as thanks for his services at the Conquest. The extensive district was previously held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia who died in 1071. The district is probably mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but its limits are uncertain.

Constance of Penthièvre was a Breton princess, daughter of Alan of Penthièvre, 1st Earl of Richmond, and Bertha of Cornouaille, suo jure Duchess of Brittany.

Andrew III of Vitré was Baron de Vitré from 1173 to 1210/11.

References

  1. Hallam and Everard, p.65.
  2. Hallam and Everard, pp.65–66; Everard (2000), p.17.
  3. Hallam and Everard, pp.65–66.
  4. Everard (2000), p.35.
  5. Everard (2000), p.35; Gillingham (1984), p.23.
  6. Everard (2000), pp.32, 34.
  7. Everard (2000), p.38.
  8. Everard (2000), p.39.
  9. Hallam and Everard, p.161.
  10. Judith Everard and Michael Jones, The Charters of Duchess Constance of Brittany and Her Family (1171-1221), The Boydell Press, 1999, pp 93-94
  11. Everard, Judith (2000). Brittany and the Angevins: Province and Empire, 1158-1203. Cambridge University Press, 2000, p 43
  12. Judith Everard, Brittany and the Angevins: province and empire, 1158-1203, (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 42.
  13. Everard (2000), pp.41–42.
  14. 1 2 Everard (2000), p.42.
  15. Everard, p. 43-44.

References

Conan IV, Duke of Brittany
Born: 1138 Died: 20 February 1171
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Bertha
Duke of Brittany
Count of Rennes

1156–1166
Succeeded by
Constance
Preceded by
Geoffrey I
Count of Nantes
1158
Succeeded by
Henry
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Alan the Black
Earl of Richmond
1146–1166
Succeeded by
Constance