John of Montfort

Last updated

John of Montfort
Jan z Montfortu.gif
Citizens of Nantes paying homage to John
Duke of Brittany
Reign1341–1345
Predecessor John III
Successor John IV
Born1295 (1295)
Hennebont
Died26 September 1345(1345-09-26) (aged 49–50)
Hennebont
Spouse Joanna of Flanders
Issue
House Dreux
Father Arthur II, Duke of Brittany
Mother Yolande de Dreux

John of Montfort (Middle Breton : Yann Moñforzh, French : Jean de Montfort) (1295 – 26 September 1345, [1] Château d'Hennebont), sometimes known as John IV of Brittany, [lower-alpha 1] and 6th Earl of Richmond from 1341 to his death. He was the son of Arthur II, Duke of Brittany and his second wife, Yolande de Dreux. He contested the inheritance of the Duchy of Brittany by his niece, Joan of Penthièvre, which led to the War of the Breton Succession, which in turn evolved into being part of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. John's patron in his quest was King Edward III of England. [2] He died in 1345, 19 years before the end of the war, and the victory of his son John IV over Joan of Penthièvre and her husband, Charles of Blois.

Contents

Biography

Arms of John (de Montfort, otherwise de Bretagne), Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond. (From his seal.) Complete Guide to Heraldry Fig033.png
Arms of John (de Montfort, otherwise de Bretagne), Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond. (From his seal.)

John of Montfort was born in 1295, the only son to Arthur II of Brittany and his second wife Yolande of Dreux. [3] In 1322 he inherited from his mother the title of count of Montfort-l'Amaury, [4] and in 1329 he married Joanna of Flanders in Chartres. [3] Joanna was the daughter of Louis I, Count of Nevers, [3] and Joan, Countess of Rethel. They had:

Succession to Duke John III

On 30 April 1341, John III, Duke of Brittany, died without a male heir. His half-brother, John of Montfort, was a candidate for the succession, which was also claimed by Joan of Penthièvre, niece of John III and wife of Charles of Blois, himself a nephew of the Philip VI, King of France. The King was, of course, favourable to his nephew.

The Duchy of Brittany historically had a "semi-Salic" mode of inheritance; male primogeniture was followed unless no direct male descendants remained. At that point the closest female descendant inherited as Duchess, with her husband serving as Duke by "right of representation". The position of John of Montfort was legally founded on the belief that a brother (even a half-brother) was a closer heir than a beneficiary niece, and that the Salic form of inheritance adopted by the Kingdom of France should be followed. This argument was based on the fact that since 1297 Brittany had been a Duché-pairie ("member and part of the crown"), and that the legislation of the suzerain kingdom should therefore be applied. [7] Challenges to the Salic law of the Franks had historically been rejected for the Kingdom of France, allowing Philip V to gain the throne in 1316, and Philip VI most recently. This made Edward III's support of John of Montfort quite ironic, in that the argument for Edward III to inherit the Kingdom of France was based on the opposing philosophy that the crown should be able to descend through a female line.

A civil war, termed the War of the Breton Succession, then began and lasted 23 years. This conflict was also called La guerre de deux Jeanne, after the French names of the two duchesses in competition: Jeanne de Penthièvre and Jeanne de Flanders, wife of John of Montfort.

Early stages of the War (1341)

After the funeral of John III, Charles of Blois returned to the Court of France and John of Montfort returned to his Breton estate in Guérande. Then, incited by his wife (according to tradition), he went with a small army to Nantes where he was well received by the inhabitants who swore their loyalty. John then went to Limoges where he managed to obtain the ducal treasury. John returned to Nantes and was recognised as Duke in May 1341 by an assembly composed of members of the towns and minor nobles, but shunned by the major vassals with the exception of Hervé VII, Count of Léon. Thanks to the ducal treasury, he recruited mercenaries which allowed him to perform in June and July a 'great ride in Brittany' (as described by Arthur de la Borderie) and take control of the duchy. John first gained Rennes, then Vannes and the places surrounding the Château de Suscinio, Auray, Hennebont, and then Quimperlé. Having failed to take the domains of Rohan, he submitted Quimper and Brest before descending to Carhaix, and then went back northward and captured Saint-Brieuc, Lamballe, Jugon, Dinan, Dol-de-Bretagne, and returned to Nantes via Ploërmel.

Always accompanied by Hervé VII of Léon, John obtained the submission, if not the support, of some of the major nobles who possessed several of these strongholds and had been loyal to Charles of Blois. However it would probably require getting Josselin, or the support of the high secular clergy and great lords, or more, to control the domains of the Penthièvres and the House of Rohan, which represented about two-thirds of Brittany. [8] John also went to England and met with Edward III of England in Windsor, who promised him military assistance and invested him with the Honour of Richmond. [9]

Charles of Blois then made an appeal to Philip VI, who summoned John of Montfort to a Court of Peers session in Conflans in September 1341. In this context by the judgment of Conflans, the Duchy of Brittany was attributed to Charles of Blois. Philip VI agreed to receive l'hommage lige of Charles of Blois on behalf of his wife, and confiscated from John of Montfort the French lands of the County of Montfort-l'Amaury, as well as the Viscounty of Limoges that he held more unduly. [10]

In October 1341, Charles of Blois and John II, Duke of Normandy (later King of France), put together an army and penetrated into Brittany. They managed to retrieve a number of strongholds which had been lost, including Nantes, which relented on 21 November 1341 after three weeks of siege. John of Montfort was captured and imprisoned in the Louvre in Paris. Despite the change of camp of Hervé VII de Leon (due to criticisms from John regarding his handling of the siege of Nantes), Joanna, the wife of John of Montfort, continued the armed struggle supported by his allies. [11]

Subsequent stages of the War (1342–1345)

After a winter break that ended on 15 April 1342, Charles of Blois resumed the fight and regained a large part of Brittany between May and September 1342. King Edward III of England decided to intervene on behalf of the House of Montfort. Charles de Blois failed to take Hennebont, which was defended by Joanna of Flanders, while Robert III of Artois was mortally wounded besieging Vannes in vain leading an English contingent. In January 1343, through Pope Clement VI, a truce was signed at Malestroit to bring peace and the liberation of John of Montfort. The latter was released in September 1343 and retired to England 27 March 1345. His return to the struggle with reinforcements provided by King Edward III of England put an end to the truce. John of Montfort unsuccessfully laid siege to Quimper, then fell ill and died in Hennebont on 26 September 1345.

Tomb of John of Monfort

He was buried in the convent of the Dominicans of Quimperlé [lower-alpha 2] where his tomb, which had already been desecrated, was found again in December 1883. [12] His remains are now in the Church of Sainte-Croix de Quimperlé.

See also

Notes

  1. Until recently, most English historians designated him as John IV, since the English king recognised his claim. However, French historians have never recognised him as Duke of Brittany, but rather as a pretender, a position that most historians now accept.
  2. Founded around 1254 by the Duchess Blanche of Champagne, and known in Breton as the Abbaty Guen.

Related Research Articles

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.

John III, Duke of Brittany

John III the Good was duke of Brittany, from 1312 to his death and 5th Earl of Richmond from 1334 to his death. He was the son of Duke Arthur II and Mary of Limoges, his first wife. John was strongly opposed to his father's second marriage to Yolande of Dreux, Queen of Scotland and attempted to contest its legality.

Joan, Duchess of Brittany Duchess regnant of Brittany during the War of the Breton Succession

Joan of Penthièvre or Joan the Lame reigned as Duchess of Brittany together with her husband, Charles of Blois, between 1341 and 1364. Her ducal claims were contested by the House of Montfort, which prevailed only after an extensive civil war, the War of the Breton Succession. After the war, Joan remained titular Duchess of Brittany to her death. She was Countess of Penthièvre in her own right throughout her life.

War of the Breton Succession Conflict between the Counts of Blois and the Montforts of Brittany

The War of the Breton Succession was a conflict between the Counts of Blois and the Montforts of Brittany for control of the Sovereign Duchy of Brittany, then a fief of the Kingdom of France. It was fought between 1341 and 12 April 1365.

Charles, Duke of Brittany

Charles of Blois-Châtillon "the Saint", was the legalist Duke of Brittany from 1341 to his death via his marriage to Joan of Penthiève, holding the title against the claims of John of Montfort. The cause of his possible canonization was the subject of a good deal political maneuvering on the part of his cousin, Charles V of France who endorsed it, and his rival, Montfort, who opposed it. The cause fell dormant after Pope Gregory XI left Avignon in 1376, but was revived in 1894. Charles of Blois was beatified in 1904.

John IV, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

John IV the Conqueror KG was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort from 1345 until his death and 7th Earl of Richmond from 1372 until his death.

John V, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

John V, sometimes numbered as VI, bynamed John the Wise, was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort from 1399 to his death. His rule coincided with the height of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. John's reversals in that conflict, as well as in other internal struggles in France, served to strengthen his duchy and to maintain its independence.

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.

Joanna of Flanders Duchess consort of Brittany

Joanna of Flanders was Duchess of Brittany by her marriage to John of Montfort. Much of her life was taken up in defence of the rights of her husband and, later, son to the dukedom, which was challenged by the House of Blois during the War of the Breton Succession. Known for her fiery personality, Joanna led the Montfortist cause after her husband had been captured, and began the fight-back, showing considerable skill as a military leader.

Olivier de Clisson 14th and 15th-century Breton general

Olivier Le Vieux de Clisson, dit Olivier V de Clisson, nicknamed "The Butcher", was a Breton soldier, the son of Olivier IV de Clisson. His father had been put to death by the French in 1343 on the suspicion of having willingly given up the city of Vannes to the English.

Counts and dukes of Penthièvre

In the 11th and 12th centuries the Countship of Penthièvre in Brittany belonged to a branch of the sovereign House of Brittany. It initially belonged to the House of Rennes. Alan III, Duke of Brittany, gave it to his brother Eudes in 1035, and his descendants formed a cadet branch of the ducal house.

Montfort of Brittany

The House of Montfort was a Breton-French noble family, which reigned in the Duchy of Brittany from 1365 to 1514. It was a cadet branch of the House of Dreux; it was thus ultimately part of the Capetian dynasty. It should not be confused with the older House of Montfort which ruled as Counts of Montfort-l'Amaury.

House of Dreux

The House of Dreux was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. It was founded by Robert I, Count of Dreux, a son of Louis VI of France, who was given the County of Dreux as his appanage.

Michael Christopher Emlyn Jones is a British historian.

The Battle of Champtoceaux, often called the Battle of l'Humeau, was the opening action of the 23-year-long War of the Breton Succession, a dynastic conflict in Brittany which became inevitably embroiled in the Hundred Years War between England and France. This battle should have decided the war at a stroke, as John of Montfort, the leader of one faction, was made prisoner. However his wife, Joanna of Flanders, and young son John escaped imprisonment. Their escape and continued support from his ally, England, allowed continued resistance to flourish and eventually turn the tide.

Jeanne de Clisson Breton privateer

Jeanne de Clisson (1300–1359), also known as Jeanne de Belleville and the Lioness of Brittany, was a Breton former noblewoman who became a privateer to avenge her husband after he was executed for treason by the French king. She plied the English Channel and targeted French ships, often slaughtering the crew. It was her practice to leave at least one sailor alive to carry her messages to the King of France.

French–Breton War

The French–Breton War lasted from 1487 to 1491. The cause of this war was the approaching death of the Breton Duke Francis II of Brittany, who had no clear successor. If not resolved, this meant a resumption of issues from a previous War of the Breton Succession (1341–1364), which had rival claimants allying with England or France, resulting in an ambiguous peace treaty that failed to prevent future succession disputes.

Sieges of Vannes (1342)

The sieges of Vannes of 1342 were a series of four sieges of the town of Vannes that occurred throughout 1342. Two rival claimants to the Duchy of Brittany, John of Montfort and Charles of Blois, competed for Vannes throughout this civil war from 1341 to 1365. The successive sieges ruined Vannes and its surrounding countryside. Vannes was eventually sold off in a truce between England and France, signed in January 1343 in Malestroit. Saved by an appeal of Pope Clement VI, Vannes remained in the hands of its own rulers, but ultimately resided under English control from September 1343 till the end of the war in 1365.

Harvey VII of Léon was a Breton lord, son of Harvey VI, Lord of Léon and his wife Joanna of Montmorency. He succeeded his father as Lord of Léon in 1337. He was also Lord of Noyon-sur-Andelle. The Lords of Léon were a junior branch of the Viscounts of Léon which was founded by Harvey I, second son of Guihomar IV, Viscount of Léon. Harvey VII won fame during the War of the Breton Succession.

John I, Count of Penthièvre (b. 1345, d. 1404)

John I, was Count of Penthièvre and Viscount of Limoges from 1364 to 1404, and the Penthièvre claimant to the Duchy of Brittany.

References

  1. Etienne de Jouy. Œuvres complètes d'Etienne Jouy . J. Didot Ainé. p. 373.
  2. Previté-Orton 1978, p. 877.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 George 1875, p. table XXVI.
  4. Morvan 2009, p. table 2.
  5. Jones 1988, p. 123.
  6. Chibnall 1965, p. 130.
  7. Leguay & Martin 1982, p. 99.
  8. de la Borderie 1975, pp. 425–429.
  9. Leguay & Martin 1982, p. 100.
  10. de la Borderie 1975, pp. 430–432.
  11. de la Borderie 1975, pp. 441–449.
  12. de la Villemarqué 1884, pp. 278–297.

Sources

John of Montfort
Born: 1295 Died: 1345
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Yolande
Count of Montfort
1322–1345
Succeeded by
John IV
Preceded by
John III
Duke of Brittany
1341–1345
with Joanna and Charles as rivals