Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany

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Geoffrey II
Geoffrey2.jpg
Duke of Brittany
ReignJuly 1181 – 19 August 1186
Predecessor Constance
Successor Constance
Born23 September 1158
Died19 August 1186 (aged 27)
Paris, France
Burial
Spouse Constance, Duchess of Brittany
Issue
Detail
Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany
Arthur I, Duke of Brittany
House Plantagenet / Angevin [lower-alpha 1]
Father Henry II, King of England
Mother Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
Religion Roman Catholicism

Geoffrey II (Breton : Jafrez; Latin : Galfridus, Anglo-Norman : Geoffroy; 23 September 1158 – 19 August 1186) 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. [1]

Contents

Life

In the 1160s, Henry II began to alter his policy of indirect rule in Brittany and to exert more direct control. [2] Henry had been at war with Conan IV, Duke of Brittany. Local Breton nobles rebelled against Conan, so Conan sought Henry II's help. In 1164, Henry intervened to seize lands along the border of Brittany and Normandy and, in 1166, he invaded Brittany to punish the local barons. [3] Henry then forced Conan to abdicate as duke and to give Brittany to his five-year-old daughter, Constance, who was handed over and betrothed to Henry's son Geoffrey. [3] This arrangement was quite unusual in terms of medieval law, as Conan might have had sons who could have legitimately inherited the duchy. [4] [lower-alpha 2] Geoffrey and Constance eventually married, in July 1181. [5]

Growing tensions between Henry and Louis VII of France finally spilled over into open war in 1167, triggered by a trivial argument over how money destined for the Crusader states of the Levant should be collected. [6] Louis allied himself with the Welsh, Scots and Bretons and attacked Normandy. [7] Henry responded by attacking Chaumont-sur-Epte, where Louis kept his main military arsenal, burning the town to the ground and forcing Louis to abandon his allies and make a private truce. [8] [9] Henry was then free to move against the rebel barons in Brittany, where feelings about his seizure of the duchy were still running high. [10]

Geoffrey was fifteen years old when he joined the first revolt against his father. He later reconciled to Henry in 1174 when he participated in the truce at Gisors. [lower-alpha 3] [lower-alpha 4] Geoffrey prominently figured in the second revolt of 1183, fighting against Richard, on behalf of Henry the Young King.

Geoffrey was a good friend of Louis VII's son Philip, and the two men were frequently in alliance against King Henry. Geoffrey spent much time at Philip's court in Paris, and Philip made him his seneschal. There is evidence to suggest that Geoffrey was planning another rebellion with Philip's help during his final period in Paris in the summer of 1186. As a participant in so many rebellions against his father, Geoffrey acquired a reputation for treachery. Gerald of Wales wrote the following of him: "He has more aloes than honey in him; his tongue is smoother than oil; his sweet and persuasive eloquence has enabled him to dissolve the firmest alliances and by his powers of language able to corrupt two kingdoms; of tireless endeavour, a hypocrite in everything, a deceiver and a dissembler." [11]

Geoffrey also was known to attack monasteries and churches in order to raise funds for his campaigns. This lack of reverence for religion earned him the displeasure of the Church and, as a consequence, of the majority of chroniclers who wrote about his life.

Family

Geoffrey and Constance had three children, one born after Geoffrey's death:

Death

Geoffrey died on 19 August 1186, at the age of 27, in Paris. There is also evidence that supports a death date of 21 August 1186. [12] There are two alternative accounts of his death. The more common first version holds that he was trampled to death in a jousting tournament. At his funeral, a grief-stricken Philip is said to have tried to jump into the coffin. Roger of Hoveden's chronicle [13] is the source of this version; the detail of Philip's hysterical grief is from Gerald of Wales.

In the second version, in the chronicle of the French royal clerk Rigord, Geoffrey died of sudden acute chest pain, which reportedly struck immediately after his speech to Philip, boasting his intention to lay Normandy to waste. Possibly, this version was an invention of its chronicler, sudden illness being God's judgment of an ungrateful son plotting rebellion against his father, and for his irreligiosity. Alternatively, the tournament story may be an invention of Philip's to prevent Henry II's discovery of a plot; by inventing a social reason, a tournament, for Geoffrey's being in Paris, Philip obscured their meeting's true purpose.

Marie of Champagne, with whom Geoffrey was on good terms, was present at the requiem for her half-brother and established a mass chantry for the repose of his soul. [14]

Geoffrey was buried in the choir of Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, [15] but his tombstone was destroyed in the 18th century before the French revolution. [16] His body was exhumed in 1797 and measured at 5 ft 6.5 in (1.69 m). [17]

Succession

After Geoffrey's death, Henry II arranged for Constance, Geoffrey's widow, to marry Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester. Ranulf would become Duke of Brittany, jure uxoris, for a short time before this marriage was annulled.

Portrayals

In literature

Geoffrey II of Brittany is a major character in the play The Lion in Winter (1966) by James Goldman where his portrayal is reminiscent of that made by Gerald of Wales, and in the novel Devil's Brood (2008) by Sharon Kay Penman. He is also mentioned in the tragedies The Troublesome Reign of King John (anonymous, c.1589), King John (1593–1596) by William Shakespeare and King John by Richard Valpy, the poem Le petit Arthur de Bretagne à la tour de Rouen (1822) by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, the drama Arthur de Bretagne (1885) by Louis Tiercelin and the novels Lionheart (2011) and A King's Ransom (2014) by Sharon Kay Penman, as well as in the second volume of the trilogy Le Château des Poulfenc (2009) by Brigitte Coppin.

In theatre and television

Geoffrey has been portrayed by John Castle in the movie The Lion in Winter (1968) and by John Light in the 2003 made-for-TV remake. He has also been portrayed by Austin Somervell (as a boy) and Martin Neil (as an adult) in the BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown (1978).

Genealogical table

Geoffrey's position within the English royal family [18]
Fulk V of Anjou Eremburga of Maine Matilda of Scotland Henry I of England
Geoffrey V of Anjou Matilda William Adelin Matilda
Henry II of England Eleanor of Aquitaine Geoffrey VI of Anjou William FitzEmpress Bertha of Brittany
Henry the Young King Matilda Richard I of England Eleanor Joan John I of England Conan IV of Brittany
Geoffrey II of Brittany Constance of Brittany
Arthur I of Brittany Eleanor

See also

Notes

  1. Historians are divided in their use of the terms "Plantagenet" and "Angevin" in regards to Henry II and his sons. Some class Henry II to be the first Plantagenet King of England; others refer to Henry, Richard and John as the Angevin dynasty, and consider Henry III to be the first Plantagenet ruler.
  2. Henry never formally became Duke of Brittany as he was only holding the duchy on behalf of Geoffrey and Constance.
  3. The meetings leading to the Truce of Gisors probably occurred at the Château de Gisors which had been built by Henry I of England.
  4. Richard was absent from Gisors and would reconcile with Henry II later at a place between Tours and Amboise.

Related Research Articles

Philip II of France King of France from 1180 to 1223

Philip II, byname Philip Augustus, was King of France from 1180 to 1223. His predecessors had been known as kings of the Franks, but from 1190 onward, Philip became the first French monarch to style himself "King of France". The son of King Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne, he was originally nicknamed Dieudonné (God-given) because he was a first son and born late in his father's life. Philip was given the epithet "Augustus" by the chronicler Rigord for having extended the crown lands of France so remarkably.

Richard I of England 12th-century King of England and crusader

Richard I was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, and Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes, and was overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period. He was the third of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and seemed unlikely to become king, but all his brothers except the youngest, John, predeceased their father. Richard is known as Richard Cœur de Lion or Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. The troubadour Bertran de Born also called him Richard Oc-e-Non, possibly from a reputation for terseness.

Louis VII of France King of France from 1137 to 1180

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Arthur I, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

Arthur I was 4th Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany between 1196 and 1203. He was the posthumous son of Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, and Constance, Duchess of Brittany. His father, Geoffrey, was the son of Henry II, King of England.

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 to the west, and the English Channel to the north. It was also 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.

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.

Conan IV, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

Conan IV, 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. Conan and his daughter Constance would be the only representatives of the House of Penthièvre to rule Brittany.

Earl of Richmond

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.

Angevin Empire Medieval dynastic union of states in present-day England, France and Ireland

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 (r. 1189–1199), and John (r. 1199–1216). The Angevin Empire is an early example of a composite state.

House of Plantagenet English royal dynasty in medieval England

The House of Plantagenet was a royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France. The family held the English throne from 1154 to 1485, when Richard III died in battle.

Joan of England, Queen of Sicily 12th-century queen consort of Sicily

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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. Carolingian 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 County 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 county to Henry II.

Viscounty of Léon

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 King Henry II of England. It thus became the focus of revolts and wars when Brittany was drawn into the Angevin empire.

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 elder 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.

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Henry II of England 12th-century King of England, Duke of Aquitaine, and ruler of other European lands

Henry II, also known as Henry Curtmantle, Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, was King of England from 1154 until his death in 1189. He was the first king of the House of Plantagenet. King Louis VII of France made him Duke of Normandy in 1150. Henry became Count of Anjou and Maine upon the death of his father, Count Geoffrey V, in 1151. His marriage in 1152 to Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to Louis VII had recently been annulled, made him Duke of Aquitaine. He became Count of Nantes by treaty in 1185. 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 was later called the Angevin Empire. At various times, Henry also partially controlled Scotland and the Duchy of Brittany.

Angevin kings of England 12th–13th century English royal house of French origin

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Capetian–Plantagenet rivalry Conflicts between the dynasties of the Capetians and Plantagenets

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References

    1. Britannica Online
    2. Everard (2000), pp. 41–42.
    3. 1 2 Everard (2000), p. 42.
    4. Everard 1999, pp. 43–44.
    5. Warren, Wilfred Lewis, King John, (University of California Press, 1973), 574.
    6. Warren 2000, p. 105.
    7. Dunbabin, p. 59.
    8. Dunbabin, p. 59
    9. Warren 2000, p. 106.
    10. Everard (2000), pp. 45–46.
    11. Dan Jones, "The Plantagenets", p. 102
    12. Marie-Aline de Mascureau, Chronologie, published originally in Aliénor d’Aquitaine. Revue 303, hors-série no 81, pp. 218–223, Nantes 2004, in Edmond-René Labande, Pour une image véridique d’Aliénor d’Aquitaine, edited with a preface by Martin Aurell of la Société des antiquaires de l'Ouest-Geste edition of 2005. ISBN   2-84561-224-9, p. 142
    13. Hoveden on The 1183 Revolt
    14. Kelly, Amy (1950). Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings. p. 226.
    15. Everard, Judith (2000). Brittany and the Angevins: Province and Empire, 1158–1203. p. 144 and 144n87.
    16. Destroyed tombs at Notre-Dame de Paris
    17. As related by Valentine Green in The Gentleman's Magazine, 67, pt 2, 1797
    18. Turner & Heiser 2000, pp. 256–257

    Bibliography

    Regnal titles
    Preceded by
    Duke of Brittany jure uxoris
    1181–1186
    with Constance
    Succeeded by
    Peerage of England
    Preceded by
    Earl of Richmond
    1181–1186
    with Constance
    Succeeded by