List of rulers of Brittany

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This is a list of rulers of the Duchy of Brittany . In different epochs the sovereigns of Brittany were kings, princes, and dukes. The Breton ruler was sometimes elected, sometimes attained the position by conquest or intrigue, or by hereditary right. Hereditary dukes were sometimes a female ruler, carrying the title duchesse of Brittany. Its principal cities and regions were ruled by counts who often found themselves in conflict with the Breton ruler, or who became the Breton ruler.


During the declining years of the Roman Empire, the earliest Breton rulers in Gaul were styled "kings" of the small realms of Cornouaille and Domnonia. Some such kings may have had a form of hegemony over all of the Brythonic populations in the Armorican peninsula, and Riothamus is called King of the Britons by the chronicler Jordanes. However, there are no certain rulers of the whole of Brittany, which was divided into the fiefdoms of local counts.

The Duchy of Brittany had its origins in the Battle of Trans-la-Forêt of 939, which established the river Couesnon as the boundary between Brittany and Normandy. [1] In 942, Alan II paid homage to Louis IV of France; however, the duchy did not gain royal attention until 1123, when Louis VI of France confirmed the bishop of Nantes. [2] No other Duke of Brittany repeated Alan II's homage until Arthur I recognised Philip II of France as his liege in 1202. [2]

The area was often called a Duchy, and its rulers were considered independent Sovereign Dukes. However, one historical view is that before the middle of the 12th century the Dukes of Brittany were often also called Counts by the Kings of France, as the kingdom of France then saw Brittany as no more than a county.[ citation needed ] In 1297, the peninsula was elevated into a Duchy in the peerage of France. [3] This view is not consistent with the manner in which Charles VIII of France and then Louis XII of France approached the Duchy and the rights of Anne of Brittany who married each in succession.

Early Breton rulers

Dukes of Brittany

Dukes under the Carolingians

The succession was interrupted by the Viking occupation (907–937)

House of Nantes

Alan II
the Fox

(Alan al Louarn)
c. before 919
son of Mathuedoi, Count of Poher, and a daughter of Alan I
(1) Roscille of Anjou
(2) ? of Blois
bef. 949/51
one son
c. 952
aged about 33
c. 949/52
only legitimate son of Alan II
never marriedc. 958
aged 5–9
Hoël I
(Hoel Iañ )
illegitimate son of Alan II and the "noble" Judith
never marriedc. 981
(Guerech Iañ)
illegitimate son of Alan II and the "noble" Judith, younger brother of Hoël I
Aremburga of Ancenis
after 981
one son
c. 988
(Alan Breizh)
after 981
son of Guerech and Aremburga of Ancenis
never marriedc. 990

House of Rennes

Conan I
(Konan Iañ)
c. 927
eldest son of Judicael Berengar, Count of Rennes and Gerberga
Ermengarde-Gerberga of Anjou
five children
27 June 992
aged 64–65
Geoffrey I
(Jafrez Iañ )
c. 980
eldest son of Conan I and Ermengarde-Gerberga of Anjou
Hawise of Normandy
four children
20 November 1008
aged 27–28
Alan III
(Alan III)
with Odo I as regent, then co-ruler (1008–1034)
Alan III of Brittany (icon).jpg c. 997
eldest son of Geoffrey I and Hawise of Normandy
Bertha of Blois
two children
1 October 1040
aged 42–43
Odo I
(Eozen I)
as regent, then co-ruler to Alan III
Eudes.jpg c. 999
second son of Geoffrey I and Hawise of Normandy
Orguen of Cornouaille
six children
c. 1079
aged 79–80
Conan II
(Konan II)
with Odo I as regent (1040–1057)
c. 1033
only son of Alan III and Bertha of Blois
never married11 December 1066
aged 32–33
with Hoël II
c. 1037
only daughter of Alan III and Bertha of Blois
seven children
19 August 1072
aged 34–35
Hoël II
(Hoël II)
with Hawise
c. 1031
eldest son of Alain Canhiart, Count of Cornouaille and Judith of Nantes, descendant of Alan II
13 April 1084
aged 52–53

House of Cornouaille

Alan IV
the Younger

(Alan IV Fergant )
with Hoël II as regent
Sceau Alain Fregent.jpg bef. 1060
eldest son of Hoël II and Hawise
(1) Constance of Normandy
no issue
(2) Ermengarde of Anjou
three children
13 October 1119
Redon Abbey
aged 60s
Conan III
the Fat

(Konan III)
Banniere Maison Cornouaille.svg c. 1093–1096
eldest son of Alan IV and Ermengarde of Anjou
Maud FitzRoy
three children
17 September 1148
aged 54–58
with Odo II
Banniere Maison Cornouaille.svg c. 1114
eldest daughter of Conan III and Maud FitzRoy
(1) Alan, 1st Earl of Richmond
three children
(2) Odo II
three children
c. 1156
aged 41–43
Odo II
(Eozen II)
with Bertha
Banniere Eudes de Porhoet.svg  ?
eldest son of Geoffrey, Viscount of Porhoet and Hawise
(1) Bertha
three children
(2) Joan-Eleanor of Léon
August 1167
two or three children
c. 1170

House of Penthièvre

Conan IV the Black
(Konan IV)
Conan IV de Bretagne.jpg c. 1138
only son of Alan of Penthièvre, 1st Earl of Richmond and Bertha
Margaret of Huntingdon
one daughter
20 February 1171
aged 33
with Geoffrey II
with Arthur I
with Guy
Banniere Maison Penthievre.svg c. 1161
daughter of Conan IV and Margaret of Huntingdon
(1) Geoffrey II
July 1181
three children
(2) Ranulf
3 February 1188
no issue
(3) Guy of Thouars
October 1199
two or three daughters
5 September 1201
aged 40
Geoffrey II
(Jafrez II)
with Constance
Geoffrey2.jpg 23 September 1158
fourth son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine
July 1181
three children
19 August 1186
Paris, France
aged 27
with Constance
with Alix
birth date unknown
second son of Aimery IV of Thouars and Aénor of Lusignan
(1) Constance
October 1199
two or three daughters
(2) Eustachie of Chemillé
two sons
13 April 1213
Chemillé, France

House of Plantagenet

Arthur I
(Arzhur Iañ)
with Constance
Artur of Brittany.jpg 29 March 1187
in Nantes,
only son of Geoffrey II and Constance
never marriedDisappeared in captivity aged 16; fate unknown

Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany, eldest daughter of Geoffrey and Constance and full elder sister of Arthur, also unmarried, was prevented from succession for her imprisonment in England which lasted till her death in 1241, thus was merely a titular duchess until 1214 when John, King of England ceased to support her claim.

House of Thouars

with Guy as regent
with Peter I
Alix de Thouars.jpg 1200
eldest daughter of Guy and Constance
Peter I
three children
21 October 1221
aged 21
Peter I

(Pêr Iañ)
with Alix
Pierre de Dreux.png c. 1190
second son of Robert II of Dreux and Yolanda de Coucy
(1) Alix
three children
(2) Nicole
c. 1230
one son
(3) Marguerite de Commequiers
bef. January 1236
no issue
6 July 1250
sea off Damietta
aged 59–60

House of Dreux

John I
the Red

(Yann Iañ ar Ruz)
with Peter I as regent
Jean le Roux.jpg c. 1217/18
eldest son of Peter I and Alix
Blanche of Navarre
Château-Thierry, Aisne
16 January 1236
eight children
8 October 1286
Château de l'Isle, Férel, Morbihan
aged 67–69
John II
(Yann II)
Jean II de Bretagne (detail).png 3/4 January 1239
eldest son of John I and Blanche of Navarre
Beatrice of England
Westminster Abbey, London
25 December 1260
eight children
16 November 1305
aged 66
Arthur II
(Arzhur II)
Artur Bretan.jpg 2 July 1262
eldest son of John II and Beatrice of England
(1) Marie of Limoges
three children
(2) Yolande of Dreux
May 1292
six children
27 August 1312
Château de l'Isle, Férel, Morbihan
aged 50
John III
the Good

(Yann III)
PohrebJana3Bretan.jpg 8 March 1286
Château de Champtoceaux, Maine-et-Loire
eldest son of Arthur II and Marie of Limoges
(1) Isabella of Valois
18 February 1298
no issue
(2) Isabella of Castile and León
21 June 1310
no issue
(3) Joan of Savoy
21 March 1330
no issue
30 April 1341
aged 55

Breton War of Succession

the Lame

with Charles I
Jeanne de Penthievre - Louvre L.P. 2665 (Room 12).jpg c. 1319
only daughter of Guy of Brittany, Count of Penthièvre and Joan of Avaugour
4 June 1337
five children
10 September 1384
aged 64–65
Charles I
(Charlez Iañ)
with Joan
CarlosIdebritania.jpg c. 1319
second son of Guy I, Count of Blois and Margaret of Valois
29 September 1364
aged 44–45
John (IV) of Montfort
(Yann IV Moñforzh)
May 1341–1345
Jan z Montfortu.gif c. 1293
only son of Arthur II and Yolande de Dreux
Joanna of Flanders
March 1329
two children
26 September 1345
Château d'Hennebon, Hennebont
aged 51–52
John (V) of Montfort
(Yann V Moñforzh)
Jan5Bretan.jpg c. 1339
only son of John of Montfort and Joanna of Flanders
(1) Mary Plantagenet of England
Woodstock Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
summer of 1361
no issue
(2) Joan Holland
May 1366
no issue
(3) Joan of Navarre
2 October 1386
nine children
1/2 November 1399
aged 59–60

House of Montfort

John IV
the Conqueror

(Yann IV)
(Previously John V in pretentious succession from his father.)
Jan5Bretan.jpg c. 1339
only son of John of Montfort and Joanna of Flanders
(1) Mary Plantagenet of England
Woodstock Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
summer of 1361
no issue
(2) Joan Holland
May 1366
no issue
(3) Joan of Navarre
2 October 1386
nine children
1/2 November 1399
aged 59–60
John V
the Wise

(Yann V ar Fur)
Sceau de Jean V - Duc de Bretagne.png 24 December 1389
Château de l'Hermine, Vannes, Morbihan
eldest son of John IV and Joan of Navarre
Joan of France
Hôtel de Saint-Pol, Paris
19 September 1396
seven children
29 August 1442
Manoir de La Touche, Nantes
aged 52
Francis I
the Well-Loved

(Frañsez Iañ)
Franta1.jpg 11 May 1414
eldest son of John V and Joan of France
(1) Yolande of Anjou
20 August 1431
one son
(2) Isabella of Scotland
Château d'Auray
30 October 1442
two daughter
17 July 1450
Château de l'Hermine, Vannes, Morbihan
aged 36
Peter II
the Simple

(Pêr II)
Pierre II de Bretagne (BNF-NB-C-181416).png 7 July 1418
second son of John V and Joan of France
Françoise d'Amboise
c. 1442
no issue
22 September 1457
aged 41
Arthur III
the Justicier

(Arzhur III)
Arthur III de Bretagne.png 24 August 1393
Château de Suscinio, Vannes
second son of John IV and Joan of Navarre
(1) Margaret of Burgundy
10 October 1423
no issue
(2) Jeanne d'Albret
29 August 1442
no issue
(3) Catherine of Saint Pol
2 July 1445
no issue
26 December 1458
aged 65
Francis II
(Frañsez II)
Francois II de Bretagne (BNF-RC-A-86355).png 23 June 1433
Château de Clisson
eldest son of Richard de Dreux, Count of Étampes and Marguerite d'Orléans, Countess of Vertus
(1) Marguerite of Brittany
Château de l'Hermine
16 November 1455
one son
(2) Marguerite of Foix
Château de Clisson
27 June 1474
two daughters
9 September 1488
aged 55
Portrait of Anne of Brittany - Mostaert.jpg 25 January 1477
Château de Nantes
eldest daughter of Francis II and Margaret of Foix
(1) Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
(by proxy) Rennes Cathedral
19 December 1490
no issue
(2) Charles VIII of France
Château de Langeais
19 December 1491
four children
(3) Louis XII of France
Château de Nantes
8 January 1499
four children
9 January 1514
Château de Blois
aged 36

House of Valois

ClaudeFranceEdit.JPG 14 October 1499
eldest daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne
Francis I of France
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
18 May 1514
eight children
20 July 1524
Château de Blois
aged 24
with Claude
Francois 1515.jpg 12 September 1494
Château de Cognac
only son of Charles de Valois, Count of Angoulême and Louise of Savoy
(1) Claude
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
18 May 1514
eight children
(2) Eleanor of Austria
Abbaye de Veien
7 August 1530
no issue
31 March 1547
Château de Rambouillet
aged 52
Francis III
(Frañsez III)
Francois III de Bretagne - Dauphin de France.jpg 28 February 1518
Château d'Amboise
eldest son of Francis I of France and Claude
never married10 August 1536
Chateau de Tournon
aged 18
Henry II, king of France.. F Clouet.jpg 31 March 1519
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
second son of Francis I of France and Claude
Catherine de' Medici
Marseille Cathedral
28 October 1533
ten children
10 July 1559
Place des Vosges
aged 40

As courtesy title

Louis de France
Grand Royal Coat of Arms of France.svg 25 June 1704
Palace of Versailles
eldest son of Louis, Duke of Burgundy and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy
never married13 April 1705
Palace of Versailles
died before first birthday
Louis de France
Louis de bourbon (1707-1712).jpg 8 January 1707
Palace of Versailles
second son of Louis, Duke of Burgundy and Marie Adélaïde of Savoy
never married18 February 1712
Palace of Versailles
aged 5
Francis de Bourbon
Arms of the Duke of Anjou and Cadix.svg 22 November 1972
eldest son of Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz and María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco
never married7 February 1984
aged 11

Family tree


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 to the west, and the English Channel to the north. It was also less definitively bordered by the river Loire 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.

Salomon, King of Brittany

Salomon was Count of Rennes and Nantes from 852 and Duke of Brittany from 857 until his death by assassination. He used the title King of Brittany intermittently after 868. In 867, he was granted the counties of Avranches and Coutances.

Pascweten was the count of Vannes and a claimant to the rule of Brittany. He was a son of Ridoredh of Vannes, a prominent and wealthy aristocrat first associated with the court of Erispoe in the 850s. He owned vast landed estates and salt works in southeastern Brittany and was a patron of Redon Abbey.

Alan I, called the Great, was the Count of Vannes and Duke of Brittany from 876 until his death. He was probably also the only King of Brittany to hold that title by a grant of the Emperor.

Judicael was the Duke of Brittany from 876 to his death. He was a son of a daughter of Erispoe and claimed Brittany after the death of the pretenders Wrhwant and Pascweten in mid 876.

Alan II, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

Alan II, nicknamed Wrybeard or Twistedbeard, Alan Varvek in Breton, was Count of Vannes, Poher and Nantes, and Duke of Brittany from 938 to his death. He was the grandson of King Alan the Great by Alan's daughter and her husband Mathuedoï I, Count of Poher. He expelled the Vikings/Norsemen from Brittany after an occupation that lasted from 907 to about 939.

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.

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 of Brittany 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.

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.


Cornouaille is a historical region on the west coast of Brittany in West France. The name is cognate with Cornwall in neighbouring Great Britain. This can be explained by the settlement of Cornouaille by migrant princes from Cornwall who created an independent principality founded by Rivelen Mor Marthou, and the founding of the Bishopric of Cornouaille by ancient saints from Cornwall. Celtic Britons and the settlers in Brittany spoke a common language, this language would evolve into Breton, Welsh and Cornish.

West Francia State in Western Europe from 843 to 987; predecessor to the Kingdom of France

In medieval history, West Francia or the Kingdom of the West Franks refers to the western part of the Frankish Empire established by Charlemagne. It represents the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting from about 840 until 987. West Francia emerged from the partition of the Carolingian Empire in 843 under the Treaty of Verdun following the death of Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious.

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.

Berengar II was the Count of Bayeux and Rennes and Margrave of the Breton March from 886 until his death a decade later.

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.

Union of Brittany and France 1491 unification of the Kingdom of France and Duchy of Brittany via royal marriage

The union of Brittany and France was a critical step in the formation of modern-day France. Brittany had been a semi-independent component of the Kingdom of France since Clovis I was given authority over the Gallo-Roman domain during the 5th century. It was first recorded as a "duchy" during the rule of Nominoe in 846. Over the centuries, the fealty demonstrated by the Duchy of Brittany toward the French king depended significantly on the individuals holding the two titles, as well as the involvement of the English monarchy at that particular time. The reign of Francis II, Duke of Brittany, was at an especially crucial time, as the nobles struggled to maintain their autonomy against the increasing central authority desired by Louis XI of France. As a result of several wars, treaties, and papal decisions, Brittany was united with France through the eventual marriage of Louis XI's son Charles VIII to the heiress of Brittany, Anne in 1491. However, because of the different systems of inheritance between the two realms, the crown and the duchy were not held by the same hereditary claimant until the reign of Henry II, beginning 1547.

The Count of Rennes was originally the ruler of the Romano-Frankish civitas of Rennes. From the middle of the ninth century these counts were Bretons with close ties to the Duchy of Brittany, which they often vied to rule. From 990 the Counts of Rennes were usually Dukes of Brittany. In 1203 the county was integrated into the ducal demesne. The Count of Rennes was a title held by the House of Rennes.

Count of Vannes was the title held by the rulers of the County of Vannes.

Kingdom of Brittany

The Kingdom of Brittany was a short-lived vassal-state of the Frankish Empire that emerged during the Norse invasions. Its history begins in 851 with Erispoe's claim to kingship. In 856, Erispoe was murdered and succeeded by his cousin Salomon.

Alain Canhiart was the count of Cornouaille from 1020 to 1058. He was the son of Benoît de Cornouaille and the father of Hoël II, Duke of Brittany. His family name, Canhiart, is understood to be derived from the old Breton Kann Yac'h and was translated into the Latin texts of his era as Bellator fortis.


  1. Le Patourel, John (1984). Jones, Michael (ed.). Feudal Empires: Norman and Plantagenet. The Hambledon Press. p. 241.
  2. 1 2 Jones, Michael (1988). The Creation of Brittany. The Hambledon Press. p. 4.
  3. Jones, Michael (1988). The Creation of Brittany. The Hambledon Press. p. 287.
  4. Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A family who forged Europe, Transl. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 195.

See also