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|Montfort of Brittany|
|Parent house||House of Dreux|
|Founder||John of Montfort|
|Final ruler||Anne of Brittany|
|Titles||Duke 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.
It succeeded the Brittany branch of the House of Dreux, invoking already in 1341 a right to succeed John III, Duke of Brittany. A war ensued, ultimately won by Montforts in 1364.
The dynasty was succeeded by Valois family, first Claude, the daughter of Montfortine duchess Anne, and then Claude's sons. Already from the time of Duchess Anne's marriage, however, the duchy was gradually subsumed to the French state, in practice, so it can be said that French central government succeeded the Montforts.
Count John of Montfort (1295–1345) was the sole surviving son of Yolande of Dreux, Countess of Montfort suo jure (and dowager queen of Scotland) from her second marriage to Arthur II, Duke of Brittany. John inherited in 1322 Montfort-l'Amaury from his mother. However, he was only a younger son of the Duke, who had several older sons from his first marriage. John only received some appanage in Brittany, and his maternal inheritance, a countship, was a much more important possession.
However, his eldest half-brother, John III, Duke of Brittany, was childless in spite of his three marriages. Duke John III died in 1341, and his duchy's nobles proclaimed Countess Joan of Dreux reigning duchess. She was the daughter of the late Guy, Count of Penthièvre, Duke John III's younger full brother, and thus John III's full niece.
John of Montfort however invoked both the principle of Salic law (allowing only males to succeed) and the principle of proximity of blood (as used earlier, e.g. by John of England against Arthur I of Brittany), having himself proclaimed Duke. This led to the Breton War of Succession, a part of the Hundred Years' War. His patron in this quest was king Edward III of England. The rivals, Duchess Joanna and her husband Charles of Blois were supported by the Valois kings of France. John of Montfort died without accomplishing his objective of becoming sole ruler of Brittany, but his wife Joanna of Flanders continued the fight in the name of their son John IV, Duke of Brittany (1339/40–99) who ultimately got the upper hand in the strife.
In the midst of the conflict, in 1352, the Estates of Brittany (États de Bretagne) were established. They would develop into the Duchy's parlement.
When the peace was sealed in 1365, it was stipulated that the Montfort branch would succeed in Brittany subject to the restrictions of Salic law and in the case of their male line going extinct, the heirs of Joanna of Penthièvre will succeed the last male Montfortist duke. The Breton ducal house and many Breton noble families had followed a semi-Salic tradition which permitted a daughter to inherit from her father. The Blois-Penthièvre family received more estates in Brittany as partial compensation.
Brittany retained its autonomy, or rather independence, although continuously giving lip service to French sovereignty. After the Breton War of Succession, Brittany still had links with the English through the Earldom of Richmond, until the Wars of the Roses.
John IV, Duke of Brittany was deserted by his nobles in 1373 and left for exile in England. Louis I, Duke of Anjou, brother of Charles V of France, and a son-in-law of the deposed Penthièvre Duchess Joanna, was appointed lieutenant-general of Brittany by the king, who in 1378 sought to annex Brittany to France, which provoked the Bretons to recall John IV from exile.
The second Treaty of Guérande (1381) established Brittany's neutrality in the Anglo-French conflict, although John continued to make homage to King of France.
In 1420, John V, Duke of Brittany was kidnapped by Olivier de Blois, count of Penthièvre, son of Joanna of Penthièvre. John's wife, Joan of France besieged the rebels and set free her husband, who confiscated the Penthièvre's goods.
According to the succession order enacted, in 1457 Duke Peter II was succeeded by his elderly uncle Arthur de Richemont instead of his sister Isabelle de Bretagne-Montfort (who married into the Laval family and from whom the future Chabot branch of the Rohan family descends).
In 1465, Francis II took the county of Penthièvre from its heiress, Nicole de Bretagne-Blois, thus again undermining the rival family's position in Brittany.
However, the last male Montfort, Francis II, Duke of Brittany (died in 1488) prepared for succession by his daughter Anne of Brittany – thus, the first female Montfort rulership abrogated the rights of genealogically more senior Penthièvre family (Catholics) as well as those of Rohan family (future Huguenots) but was consistent with the traditions of semi-Salic Brittany and had the support of the Breton nobles in the Estates of Brittany.
In the last years of Francis II, war with France continued and he was defeated in 1488. This last duke of independent Brittany was forced to submit to a treaty giving the King of France the right to determine the marriage of the Duke's daughter, Anne, a young girl 12 years old, and now the sole heir to the Duchy based on a de facto return to the Duchy's semi-Salic traditions.
The independence of Brittany waned under the French dominion. Anne was forced to marry Charles VIII of France, but their children did not survive. When Charles died, Anne remained unwed for a time during which she returned to Brittany and attempted to restore her independent rule there as Duchess suo jure . The French Crown again acted to preserve its control over Brittany and Anne had to marry Charles VIII's distant cousin and successor, Louis XII of France. Their daughter Claude married the next French king preserving the union of the Duchy in the crown. Their son was the first to unite the Kingdom of France and the Duchy of Brittany into a single person; he attempted to preserve Brittany as a separately ruled sovereignty in a manner similar to the relationship between the crown of England and the Duchy of Cornwall, but his plans did not achieve fruition. This marked the complete union of Brittany to France.
Jean de Brosse (died 1502), grandson of Nicole de Blois the aforementioned, asserted their claim to the duchy when the last male duke Francis II died. Previous Montfortine rulers of Brittany had however by confiscations and exilings much weakened the Penthièvre family's resources in the duchy and Anne succeeded her father in the administration which wanted to protect Brittany's position to external predators.
Anne died in 1514, leaving the duchy to her elder daughter Claude (died 1524), but it was under the tactical dominion of Anne's widower king Louis (Claude's father, died 1515), and afterwards Claude's husband king Francis. The Montfort family continued only in female line, as nominally and titularly first Claude and then her sons François, Dauphin of France and after him the future Henry II of France were proclaimed Dukes of Brittany.
Claude's widower Francis I of France incorporated the duchy into the Kingdom of France in 1532 through the Edict of Union between Brittany and France, which was registered with the Estates of Brittany.
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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.
Alix of Thouars ruled as Duchess of Brittany from 1203 until her death. She was also Countess of Richmond in the peerage of England.
Arthur II, of the House of Dreux, was Duke of Brittany from 1305 to his death. He was the first son of John II and Beatrice, daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.
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 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.
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.
John of Montfort, sometimes known as John IV of Brittany, 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. 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.
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, 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.
Anne of Brittany was Duchess of Brittany from 1488 until her death, and queen consort of France from 1491 to 1498 and from 1499 to her death. She is the only woman to have been queen consort of France twice. During the Italian Wars, Anne also became queen consort of Naples, from 1501 to 1504, and duchess consort of Milan, in 1499–1500 and from 1500 to 1512.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 first treaty of Guérande, signed April 12, 1365 ended the Breton War of Succession.
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.
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.