La Maison de Machecoul et de Rays

First, I must apologise for how long it has taken to resume this series on the ancient pays de Rays (Le Retz). Though this might sound contradictory, it is in part a consequence of finding the research already done—by Rene Blanchard in Cartulaire des sires de Rays published in 1896 by la Société des archives historiques du Poitou and available on Gallica

René Blanchard 1846-1920
Archiviste. – Conservateur-adjoint à la bibliothèque de Nantes. – Fut vice-président de la Société archéologique de Nantes et secrétaire des bibliophiles bretons

However, French not being my first language, I had first to translate his work, and then to take notes. All time consuming. Then when I came to writing the posts I discovered my original intent to feature the key women of la maison de Rays to be impractical: it required me, first, to write of the men. And so these last four posts of this series will feature the family in its entirety, not only the women. But, of course, all this has required more work . . . hence I offer my apologies for the massive delay.

Introduction

Why Machecoul?

Because from C11th Machecoul was the capital of Le Retz, and because as I said in the introduction to the series Le Retz (le pays de Rays or de Rais) is an area much overlooked by English speaking historians, despite its central position in the Plantagenet empire. So this is to rectify.

Machecoul: a brief history

Today Machecoul sits some 35km (21 miles) from the sea, separated by the Marais breton—a major region for saliculture, its 45,000 hectares stretch from Moutiers-en-Retz in the north to Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in the south (see map below). But this was not always Machecoul’s situation.

Machecoul in C11th

Roman Period

During the Roman period there existed close to ‘Portus Seco’ (Gulf of Machecoul) a small town for which we’ve no name. This is assumed to be the forerunner of Machecoul. As with many Roman settlements, it arose around a junction of important routes: north-west to the bay of Bourgneuf-en-Retz; north to Arthon-en-Retz; south to towards Varnes (a ville important in Roman times, now a village north of La Garnache).

Merovingian Period

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire Germanic tribes swarmed the area. The (East Germanic) Visigoths claimed the Machecoulaise region—until 507 when the (West Germanic) Franks under Clovis I (466-511) wrested control at the Battle of Vouillé. The region thereafter formed part of the kingdom of Neustria:

  • 511-524 ruled by King Clodomir (494-524)
  • 524-561 ruled by Clotaire I the Elder
    (both were sons of Clovis I)
  • 635 governed by Dagobert I
  • 639 rules by Clovis II (635-657); from 656 as part of the reunited France

Situated close to a lake, it’s believed the future Machecoul, as yet wood-constructed, was raised on stilts.

Saint Philibert (c.616-684) and the foundation of Sancta Crux

Of a noble family from Aquitaine, Saint Philibert arrived in the area in 677 and proceeded to evangelise the machecoulaise. While the saint himself is credited with the foundation of the parish of Noirmoutier (island of Her previously mentioned in this series of posts), his disciples are credited with the foundation of several other parish priories dating from this time. Amongst these is the parish of Sancta Crux. Two chapels here are known from this period: the chapel of Saint-Jean (late C7th), and a chapel of the Virgin situated on the plain des Chaumes*.

* Google translates the ‘plain des Chaumes’. as ‘the field of stubble’. But since Chaumes translates today as ‘thatch’, and it was situated right against the marshes, ‘rush’ or ‘reed’ is probably the proper translation.

Sancta Crux would later be absorbed into medieval Machecoul.

Carolingian Period

By 814 when Charlemagne died the machecoulaise had been annexed by Poitou as part of the much larger region of Aquitaine.

Viking Period

Situated on the coast—and despite being defended by mudflats and marshes—Santa Crux (the future Machecoul) was particularly vulnerable to Viking attacks. Viking fleets invaded the harbour, plundered, destroyed and killed. The entire region became a battlefield with all piling in: the Vikings v. the Franks v. the soldiers of the Count of Nantes v. the Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou.

Then, as previously seen in this series, in 851 the machecoulaise, as part of Le Retz, was officially passed to the Breton king Nominoë with the Treaty of Angers.

As part of Le Retz, the machecoulaise remained for centuries a buffer zone suffering depredations of every military incursion. Yet it was also a ‘free zone’ for trade between France and Brittany, granted significant tax exemptions which remained in force until the Revolution.

Post Viking Period

Sainte-Croix being trashed by the Vikings, the first act was to rebuild it. This is credited to one ‘Gunterius’ (assumed to be legendary according to fr.wiki).

Be that as it may, it was one ‘Bego’ Count of Poitou who in 840 raised upon the main mound of Sainte-Croix the wooden castle and battlements from which Machecoul took its modern name.

  • BEGO, son of — (killed in battle late 843, bur Durin).
  • The Chronicle of Nantes records that Charles II “le Chauve” King of the West Franks appointed “Bego” as Duke of Aquitaine in 843, that he built “castrum Begonis” near Nantes aiming to expel Lambert Comte de Nantes and his supporters from the region, but was killed in battle and buried “apud Durenum”.
    La chronique de Nantes (Paris) VIII, pp. 22 and 24 (Merlet, R. (ed.) 1896)
    Quoted from FMG (Foundation of Medieval Genealogy)

Machecoul castle (as described by fr.wiki):—

  • founded upon an artificial mound of earth
  • a large wooden tower
  • surrounded by a ditch filled with high fences
  • and several rings of earthen ramparts
  • all topped with fences and hedges
  • everything finally surrounded by a wide moat.

At this time the oppidum Sancte Crucis, or the castle of Machecoul, was still situated close to the sea. And not exactly far across that sea was the Viking settlement on the island of Noirmoiter.

Machecoul—its name

The name ‘Machecoul’ in various forms is attested from C11th:—

  • Machecollum in 1083
  • Machicol in 1100

l’abbé de La Chaume signed a charter for a donation as Glemarhocus abbas Sanctae Mariae Machicol [Glémarhocus, abbot of St. Marie Machecoul].

The word machecollis or machicollis refers to an overhanging gallery found at the top of fortifications whose floor has openings through which might be dropped stones and flaming projectiles and boiling oil on persons unwise enough to attack the castle or town. It means, literally, ‘neck-crusher’.

machicollis = neck-crusher

Taken from the illustration in fr.wiki

By C11th the oppidum Sancte Crucis had become ‘Machecoul’, the fortified seat of the first lords of Le Retz. Indeed, Gestin II de Retz talks about his castrum Machicol.

La Maison de Rays (de Rais, de Retz)

Unless otherwise stated, from herein I shall be drawing upon the work of Rene Blanchard, Cartulaire des sires de Rays (see above). And as with the previous series, where the documents are available online I have included a transcribed copy (see Charter Index though individual links are provided).

The First Seigneur

Fr.wiki assigns the ‘first seigneur de Saint Croix’, Gestin I de Retz, to circa 985. Blanchard is more circumspect.

As potential evidence he cites three charters: two from the cartulary Landévénec, the third from the cartulary of Saint-Florent, dated to c.952-988 (see Morice 345, Morice 345-346, and Morice 346-347). But, as he says, this ‘certain Gestin’ usually taken as the first seigneur de Rays, though titled as vicomte is given no qualifying domain. It is only in the copies left by the historian Travers (now to be found in Concilia provinceia Turonensis t.II, not available online) that that word vicecomes is followed by the qualifier Radesiarum. A late addition, says Blanchard, that more recent authors find acceptable. He does not.

Tthe name Gestin is found amongst the seigneurs de Rays from C11th onwards. But Blanchard considers this ‘acceptance on the grounds of a simple homonym’ to be rash. However, he does note of a charter dated to 1004—which apparently the Breton historians had overlooked (Monuments historiques, published by Jules Tardif, 1866, no 245, available on archive.org—see Monuments historiques 245)

Here Heroicus (aka Herveus), bishop of Nantes, with count Budic, son and heir
of Judicaël, former bishop and count of Nantes, makes various donations to the abbey of Déols, amongst which is a salt-works called Savigne which belongs to ‘Attonis and Gestin, children of Ascuit’—« quae fuit Attonis et Gestin filii Sascuit ».

Gestin, Ascuit and Atton are names found amongst the later seigneurs de Rays, three of whom bore the name Harscoët of which Ascuit is a variant; at least two were named Gestin; and Atton is evidenced as Haton. It was a common practice in the Middle Ages to name a first son for his paternal grandfather, and later sons for various uncles. Thus a core of names remained in the family for successive generations. In this practice the sires de Rays were no exception.

But for Blanchard this is insufficient proof to assign vicomte Gestin as the first seigneur de Rays. To do so would equate Ascuit, father of Gestin and Atton, from the charter of 1004, with Harscoët I sire de Rays—and that would push his existence back to around 975.

However, the source for fr.wiki’s Liste des seigneurs de Machecoul does exactly this.

Early Seigneurs de Machecouk 1Origins of la Maison de Rays

Before moving on, and while delving for truth amongst the errors prolific in wikipedia (fr., en., or any others) there is the matter of the family’s geographical origins. Here the author of fr.wiki article may not have it quite right.

Quote (in translation):
The origin of the first lords of the Sainte-Croix is unknown. Tradition has it that they would have come from Brittany: this is proved by the Harscoët name, sounding Breton. Yet we find Germanic names within the same family: the wife of Harscoët I de Retz was named Ulgarde, her sons are called Gestin, Urwoit, Hilaire and Aldroin; and Harscoët would be a distortion of Harscoïde, which suggests that the first lords of Sainte-Croix then Retz were initially actually Franks and probably noble Carolingian.

But the name of Harscoët is definitely Breton, as is its ‘distortion’, Harscoïde. So too are the names of Urwoit and Aldroin. But if Gestin is taken as a variant of Justin then he, like his brother Hilaire, was named for a Roman saint. As to Ulgarde, though it could be a Frankish name it could equally be Burgundian—and that seems more likely in the light of another frequently used family name, Garsire. The name Garsire was prevalent in Aquitaine and Gascony at this period, being Basque in origin.

On the variants of Harscoët:
C’est encore lui qui, à notre avis, est mentionné sans aucune épithète sous les formes Asscutius, Ascutus et Ascodius dans un titre du prieuré de Corsept, membre de Saint-Aubin d’Angers, et dans trois autres de Ronceray ; l’un de ces derniers est limité par les synchronismes entre 1039 et 1041.
Cartulaire des sires de Rays, R. Blanchard p.lv.

“This is him again who, in our opinion, is mentioned without epithet in the forms Asscutius, Ascutus and Ascodius in a title of the priory of Corsept, a member of Saint-Aubin d’Angers, and in three others of [the abbey of] Ronceray; one of these latter is limited by the synchronisms to between 1039 and 1041.”
My translation

Gestin I (seigneur de Rays— ?)
Vers 1000-1030

Leaving aside the charter of 1004 (above) with its query regarding family connections, the name of Gestin I is known from only one source: the 1055 foundation charter of l’abbaye de la Chaume wherein Gestin is given as the son of Harscoët I, its founder (see Redon CCCXII).

While there is no doubt that Harscoët was enfieffed of the pays de Rays—there are several acts to prove it—was the same true, also, of his father Gestin I? For Gestin could not be seigneur de Rays before such a fief existed and its existence cannot be argued from the ‘la Chaume’ charter wherein Gestin receives but a incidental mention.

Harscoët I
vers 1030-vers 1070

There are several extant documents for Harscoët I, son of Gestin I, but only one dated precisely: that is the aforementioned foundation, made 6 July 1055, of the abbey of la Chaume, situate near Harscoët’s  castle of Sainte-Croix (see Redon CCCXII ). Here he is qualified simply as « nobilissimus vir ». Though in a charter of the same foundation quoted by Du Paz in his Histoire Genealogique published 1619 (available on Google Books), Harscoët is titled « Opidi Sanctæ Crucis dominus. » (See Du Paz 204-206)

Blanchard is of the opinion that this second document was produced with the help of the first more than a century later to a purpose we can only guess at. As he says, it is invested by interpolations and anachronisms.

However, there is another document that gives him the title of seigneur de Sainte-Croix. « Harscoit de Sanctæ Crucis » was witness to a charter of Redon (see Redon CCCIV) dated no later than 1035-1041 by

  1. the mention of Catwallon, abbot of Redon whose abbacy began circa 1026 (Cartulaire de Redon, no 296)
  2. the inclusion of an account of harassments by Count Budic against the abbey: Budic comte de Nantes (1005-1041)
  3. the inclusion of Duke Alain III (1008-1040)
  4. the inclusion of Gautier, bishop of Nantes (1005-1041)

This is probably the earliest text to feature Harscoët as seigneur.

The fact that Du Paz makes of this Harscoët, sire de Sainte-Croix, who founded la Chaume in 1055, the second by that name (i.e. son of Harscoët I) and sandwiches his son Gestin between the two has set up an error to muddle the charts.

There is yet another charter that features Harscoët I (see Redon Appendix LXIII). Although dated by M. de Courson, editor of the Cartulaire de Redon, to between 1092 and 1102, it can only be fixed without argument to after 1062 when Almodius, the featured abbot of Redon, began his abbacy. The donations to which « Harscuido majore nostro » and « Bernardo filio Harscuidi » are witness concern Prigny, « in territorio Pruniacensi », in the pays de Rays.

An undated charter of Saint-Serge d’Angers also relates to Harscoët I—« Arscutus, senior provincie Radesii pagi »—complete with Ulgarde, his wife, and Gestin, his son (see Morice 409 ). This is the first time we find the qualifier ‘de Rais’ applied to the family; after Harscoët I the title of ‘seigneur de Sainte-Croix’ no longer appears.

Harscoët I is again mentioned though without epithet in the forms of Asscutius, Ascutus and Ascodius in an entitlement charter of the priory of Corsept, a member of Saint-Aubin d’Angers, and in three others of Ronceray (Cartulaire de l’Abbaye Notre Dame du Ronceray, 422, 428, & 430, as far as I know, not available online); of these one is dated by synchronisms to between 1039 and 1041.

Then there are three charters dated to 1083 to 1092 where Harscoët I is mentioned as the father of Gestin II. One of these is the foundation charter for Saint-Philbert de Machecoul. But I’ve been unable to find these online too.

Finally, Harscoët I married Ulgarde, who is named in the charter of 1055 for the foundation of la Chaume, and in those of Saint-Serge, with their son Gestin in the charter for the foundation of Sainte-Philbert de Machecoul. Harscoët I and Ulgarde had three other sons: Urwoit, Halarius and Aldroin, as seen in the abovementioned foundation charter for la Chaume. (See Redon CCCXII and Morice 409)

Early Seigneurs de Machecoul 2

 

Gestin II
vers 1070-vers 1093

Eldest son of Harscoët I and Ulgarde, Gestin II’s name appears alongside his father’s in several documents : foundation of la Chaume in 1055; charter for Saint-Serge (already cited) and No. 428 of Ronceray (not found). But mention of Gestin is not only found in these monastic archives.

The most important extant document is that for the priory of Chémeré, a member of Saint-Serge dated at 1083 (see Morice 457). This is rich in details of genealogy plus information on the topography of the pays de Rays. Here for the first time is found the modern name of Machecoul—« Oppido meo Machecollo »—in a docket of ship cargoes loaded at Pornic

« Dimidiam decimam cunctorum ridituum littorus oppidi mei Persniti, id est dimidiam decimam de omnibus navalibus mercimoniis ».

This is the oldest act remaining that shows Gestin as the sire de pays de Rays, a position he had clearly held for some time as seen in the allusion he makes to his ‘many fisheries’, as well as the presence of his two sons Garsire and Raoul, and his nephew Harscoët.

Another text, dated by the editor of the Redon cartulary (M. de Courson) to 1081-1083, qualifies Gestin as ‘de seigneur de Rays’

« Justino Radesii dominatum jure paterno obtinente » and « Justinus, dominus ipsius terre » (see Morice 456)

The charter is a death-bed donation by one « Renaldus de Mortuo estero ». This same Renaud appears as witness in the title-deed of Chémeré 1083, therefore this donation charter must by necessity be the later. Yet it cannot be later than April 1084 when Hoël, Duke of Brittany, whose name heads this deed, died.

In a deed dated 1091 at Nantes, whereby Mathias, count of the city, gave an island in the Loire to the monastery of Quimperlé (see Quimperle LXXVIII),« Jestin filius Harscoidi » is found in the second rank of witnesses between Gaudin de Clisson and Gaifier of Prigny. Though not qualified as sire de Rays, Gestin would not be in such a prominent position amongst the witnesses were he not so. Plus, the date together with his qualifier, ‘son of Harscoët’, tends to establish it.

These are the only three documents featuring Gestin which also provide a means of dating, if only approximately. Of the following, they can be assigned only to within the dates of Gestin’s seigneur-ship:—

The most important of these is that in which « Gestinus, Machicolensis dominus » gives, from his « castrum Machicol, » to Pierre, abbe de Tournus (1066-1105), land to found there an obedience [a cell?]. (see Tournus 322)
This was the foundation of the priory of Saint-Philbert de Machecoul, since called Saint-Blaise; it is many times mentioned in the Cartulaire des sires de Rays. The Tournus charter names the father and the mother of Gestin, his three sons, Garsire, Raoul and Josselin, and his daughter Agnes.

Other documents concerning Gestin:…

  • Gestin is witness to a donation made by Jarnegodius to the priory of Saint-Martin at Machecoul (Bibl. nat., ms. fr. 22322, p.114)
  • A concession of Main, son of Gualon, to the priory of Saint-Opportune-en-Rays made « apud Machicollom ante dominum Gestinum, qui terre illius capitalis dominus habebatur » (see Morice 430b)
  • A donation charter by Bonina to the priory of Corsept, was made « in curia domini Gestini, ipso vidente et filio ejus Garsilio » (see Morice 430a)
  • « Gestinus de Raisio » approved the generous gifts made to the same priory (of Corsept) by Audren when he became a monk. (Bibl. nat., ms. fr. 22329, p.469)
  • Lastly, a charter of Harscoët III recalls the award made by his ancestor Gestin II, father of Garsire I, of a bourg situated near to the castle of Pornic (Titre du prieure de Pornic, membre de Saint-Serge d’Angers, Bibl. nat., mslat. 5446, p.221, & ms.fr.22329, p.571)

Gestin II is also mentioned in several of the acts of Garsire I where Garsire is given as ‘son of Gestin’.

The children of Gestin

Although the wife of Gestin II isn’t named in these documents, they do provide the names of at least three sons and a daughter: Garsire I, Raoul, Josselin, and Agnes. Two nephews are also cited—Harscoët and Geoffroy—though without mention of parentage; in this respect it needs be noted that Latin nepos can also be translated as grandchild or indeed any descendant.

Garsire I
Vers 1093-vers 1141

Garsire I is named in several of the documents with father:

  • the 1083 charter for Chémeré
  • the foundation charter for the priory of St. Philbert de Machecoul
  • the donations made to Saint-Martin of Machecoul
  • and to Corsept by Jarnegodius and Bonins.

As overlord or suzerain he used variously the titles « Garsire de Rays », « Garsire seigneur de Rays », and « Garsire seigneur de Machecoul ».

In a charter of Saint-Aubin d’Angers for the priory of Saint-Brevin he features amongst the witnesses as « Guarzilius, dominus de Razais » (see Morice 389).

M. de la Borderie dates this document to between 1082 and 1106, set by the abbacy of Girard of Saint-Aubin. The inclusion of Robert and Rivallon, two archdeacons of Nantes, amongst the subscribers allows this date to be further narrowed to 1104. A charter for Saint-Florent de Saumur (see Morice 507) issued on 1st March 1104 by Benoit, bishop of Nantes, names the archdeacon Robert. He features on various documents between 1092 and 1104. Since the archdeacon Rivallon is known to be active 1104-1119, it is only in 1104 that Robert and Rivallon could be found together. It follows that the charter of Saint-Brevin underwritten by Garsire de Rays was issued that same year: 1104.

Garsire de rays goes to Spain

To this point we’ve seen the sires de Rays only through their involvement with religious foundations. But with Garsire this changes. There is one long document that shows Garsire in his feudatory role (see Lobineau 241-243). The events recounted in this document can be placed between 1070 and 1104.

It begins with a soldier—« Miles soldearius nomine Taingui »—who makes a donation of the land of Vitreria (Saint-Viaud) to the priory of Donges. The monks enjoy this land for some time « multis annis » ; but then comes a war that desolates the country—« Guerra illa que in Razezio exillium induxit insurgente ». As Blanchard remarks, it must have been a local affair for this war is mentioned nowhere else! The chronicles are silent on it. The account tells how a certain Judicaël Petit, resident of the area, seized first the uncultivated lands, then the cultivated land, and remained there as possessor « multis annis ».

These events are said to be in the time of Fredor, vicomte de Donges, and his son Rouaud, and so can be dated to before 1092 when Fredor, having died, was succeeded by Rouaud’s brother Geoffroy.

Meanwhile, Garsire I, sire de Rays, had gone to Spain—« Sed eo tempore quo Garsias, Gestini filius, in Hispaniam pergebat eum exercitu christuanorum ». The monks, left to deal with the matter of their illegally-seized land, petitioned Judicaël Petit for justice. Represented by Martin, prior of Donges, they addressed Grafion and Guégon, seigneurs of the disputed fief.

Though the judgement gained was favourable to the monks, later the brother of Taingus, the original donor, claimed the land for himself. By then Garsire had returned from his campaign in Spain, and so resort was made to him as their suzerain. He was in Saint-Viaud when he was informed of the facts—« Long postea contigit ut domnus Garsias ad Sanctum Vitalem venit ». By his intervention the ‘ordeal of hot iron’ that should have taken place in Pornic—« apud castrum Porsniti »—was avoided.

All very well, but Blanchard queries the date assigned to Garsire’s expedition to Spain. At the time of his writing the date of this expedition had only recently been fixed to 1087. Although he cites a passage from the chronicle of Maillesais or Saint-Maixent—MLXXXVII. « Ipso anno, Hildefonsus mandavit per omnes partes Franciae ut sibi et suis adjuvarent. Qua de caua multi perrexerunt in Hispaniam » (Chroniques des eglises d’Anjou, Marchegay & Mabille) ; and mentions de Fourmont’s L’Ouest aux croisades, (t.1, p57) published 1864 , and Nicollière’s Gerard Chabot, sire de Rays, in Revue de Bretagne et Vendee, (p.383, n.1) published 1879, he disagrees with their agreed date. As he says, if Garsire went to Spain in 1087 it was not as ‘sire de Rays’ for his father was still alive, even in 1091. And, indeed, where Garsire is mentioned at the beginning of the Taingus-Donges charter (see Lobineau 241-243) it is as « Garsias Gestini filius », with no qualifiers. But neither does this satisfy Blanchard; he offers a different suggestion.

The text places the expedition to Spain and the first petitions of the prior Martin in the same time-frame. Yet Martin wasn’t prior at Donges until 1092. Therefore perhaps that date of departure ought to be brought forward, from 1087, to post 1092. This wouldn’t conflict with the Spanish crusades, for the fight there continued long between Christians and Muslims. (See en.wiki’s article Reconquista)

Blanchard attributes the concluding events in the Taingus-Donges charter to 1104. Martin would still have been head of the priory at Donges while by 1107 he would be replaced by Lambert (see Morice 523-524).

Besides fighting in Spain, there’s the question of whether Garsire also took part in the First Crusade to the Holy Land. We have the names of several of the seigneurs des pays who accompanied Alain Fergant, duke of Brittany,* contained in various charters and historians’ lists.

* In 1098 Alan went on the First Crusade, leaving Ermengarde as his regent, and returned in 1101(en.wiki Alain IV Duke of Brittany).

Blanchard, however, suggests the long list of names produced by some authors should be treated with caution. He cites de Fourmont, L’Ouest aux croisades, 1864, t.1, p.82 & t.II, p.51 (not found online):

Il suffira de dire que cette liste, empruntée à un document où figurent Bertrand de Guesclin et nombre de ses contemporains, est de la deuxième moitié du XIC siècle et n’a aucun rapport avec les croisades.

“Suffice it to say that this list, borrowed from a document that included Bertrand de Guesclin and a number of his contemporaries, is from the second half of C14th and has no connection with the Crusades.”
My translation

A charter that Morice indexed under the year 1106 (see Morice 512-513) names « Garsirius de Radesio » among those barons who attended the confirmation of the priory of Sainte-Croix de Nantes as a member of Marmoutier, made by the duchess Ermengarde and her son Conan. Amongst the witnesses is found Maurice d’Ancenis, and the abbots of Noyers, of Saint-Nicolas d’Angers, and of Marmoutier. The inclusion of this latter, Willelm, helps date the charter, since he was only elected in 1104/1105.

The charter contains this brief but interesting report:

« Conanus rediens a sorore sua quam nuptui tradiderat comiti Flandriae »

Conan had shortly returned from delivering his sister Agnes (Hawise) to be wife to the son of the count of Flanders—she married Baldwin VII* who at this time would have been a child.

* Born 1092/92, Orderic Vitalis says that he was “still a boy” when he succeeded his father in 1111 as Baudouin VII Count of Flanders. Although he married Hawise/Agnes, daughter of Alain IV Fergant, they were separated by Pope Pascal II on grounds of consanguinity in 1110.
Flandria Generosa 25, MGH SS IX, p. 323, which traces the relationship between the couple back to Guillaume II “le Libérateur” Comte de Provence.
(see fmg: foundation for medieval genealogy)

Anselme fixed the date of this union to the year 1105 (Hist. geneal., II,719, et III, 49)

The relevance of all this is that Conan would have been travelling with his companions, and it would have been those same companions who undersigned his and his mother confirmation charter.

Blanchard believes a second charter was made that same day: a confirmation by Maurice d’Ancenis to the monks of Marmoutier for relief of tolls which had already been granted them (see Morice 508). Garsire de Rays was also present for this. Indeed, the witnesses are mostly the same as those who signed for the count. Eight of these are known to be Count Conan’s barons.

However, I have to disagree with Blanchard that the two charters were made the same day, though they were made the same week—« Mauricio de Ancenisio & Guihenoco filio ejus »… who confirmed the gift his father made us … in the same week—« in eadem septimana » (see Morice 508).

Garsire I is mentioned in several documents, either as witness or benefactor of the religious houses. A donation charter for ‘Chevesche’—today, Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef, Loire-Inf.—can be dated between 1102 and 1113 by the abbacy of Walter of Saint-Serge d’Angers (see Morice 458a). While the following charters can be placed between 1100 and 1120:

  • a concession by Garsire of a meadow near to Pornic, ceded to the abbey of Saint-Sergius by Barbotin Rays (see Morice 458b)
  • a donation to the same monastery of the tithe of three ovens situated in Pornic (Arch. Loire-Inf., H 206, nos 23 & 28)
  • donation of Sept-Faux to the abbey of Tiron (Merlet, Cartulaire de Tiron, no.286)
  • remission of customs on the Loire and the sea grated to Fontevraud (Bibl. nat., ms.fr.223239, p.664)
  • grant of one plough-land to the ‘religious fontevristes’ of Lande de Beauchene (Bibl.nat., ms.fr.223239, p.663)

Goscelin and Harscoët, brother and son of Garsire I, are also named in some of these charters.

  • 23 October 1127 Garsire and his son Harscoët attended the abbey of Redon for what Blanchard describes as a ‘reconciliation’. The document (see Redon CCCXLVII 1127) reads like a who’s who of the lords throughout the land. secular and religious.
  • a notice dated to around 1130 (Cartulaire de Coudrie, no 1, in Archiv.hist. du Poitou, t.II, p.154) shows « Garsirius de Macheco » and « Arcot, filius ejus » setting up an income or pension from lands in Pornic and Bouin for the Knights Templars* which they bequeathed in addition to horses and weapons. Beatrix , wife of Garsire, made a few donations to those of her husband.

* Founded in the Holy Land, when they first brought their religious cause to the West in 1127 they were known as the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. It wasn’t until 13th January 1129 that the Council of Troyes convened by Pope Honorius II recognised and confirmed the Order of the Knights Templars, as they’ve since been known (see en.wiki Knights Templars  & fr.wiki Ordre du Temple)
See also infobretagne’s article for background to Knights Templar in Le Retz

  • On 6th December 1138 « Garsilius Dominus de Macecho & frater ejus Goscelinus » witness a concession made by Duke Conan III to the priory of Sainte-Croix de Nantes (see Morice 576-577)
  • Garsire I with Harscoët and two more of his children, Raoul and Garsire—mentioned here for the first time—ratified the gift of ‘la Jaunaie*’ made to the Order of Fontevraud (Cartulaire de Libaud, no 2, in Archiv. hist. du Poitou, t.I, p.57) This is dated to after 1st August 1137 (accession of King Louis VII) but before the end of 1140 (marked by the death of Guillaume Aleelme, bishop of Poitiers).

* I have tried to find la Jaunaie on today’s maps. My best result is la Jaunais, 20 minutes drive south of Nantes on D137, more or less same latitude as Clisson.

  • « Garsilius, dominus de Machecol », again with his brother Goscelin, are amongst the witnesses to a charter by Duke Conan III wherein the duke relieves the priory of Saint-Martin de Machecoul of its usual dues. M. de la Borderie was unable to date the charter closer than 1112-1148 (the governing years of Duke Conan III). However, Blanchard feels confident in narrowing that to between 1135 and 1141 in consideration of the numerous other witnesses—these include Gestin d’Auray and Roland de Lire who appear in a document dated 17 November 1132 (see Morice 565) as well as appearing in the above charter of 6 Dec 1138 (Morice 576-577), and Main de Guerande and Daguenet who are named in two other charters issued by Conan, one being for the Templars of Nantes, dated 1141 (Geslin et de Barthelemy, Anciens eveches de Bretagne, VI, 123), the other for the abbey de Tiron which has a potential date range of 1132-1146 (Merlet, Cartul. de Tiron, no 216, & de la Borderie, Actes inedits no. XXXV).

Wife and Children of Garsire I

As noted above, Garsire’s wife was Beatrix, named in the Coudrie charter, c.1130 as well as a charter for Buzay dated July 1152 (see Raoul I, below).

Garsire had three sons—Harscoët II, Raoul I and Garsire II, each of whom succeeded him—plus two daughters: Agnes, who is titled ‘vicomtess’ in both the charters mentioning her (Buzay, July 1152, & one found in Arch. Loire-Inf., H 135, no. 4); and Beatrix (in a charter of 1153, Arch. Loire-Inf., H 135, no.3)

The confusion of houses de Rays/Rais and de Rieux

Blanchard inserts here of an error commonly made by historians and genealogists, modern and ancient, to confuse these two Breton houses de Rays and de Rieux. Since he has reason to draw the readers’ attention I shall echo his words:

These names—de Rays/Rais and de Rieux—are recorded in various forms, some barely indistinguishable one house from the other; thus attention is needed.
Blanchard provides an example:…

  • the historian Du Paz in his Histoire Genealogique (pp.206-207, available on Google Books) offers two ‘Roland de Rays’, one with floruit 1112, the other floruit 1143. Though later, in his ‘Additions and Corrections’, p.825 he amends this it is only to remove the first. He leaves the second standing.

One « Rollandus de Resis » alias « Rollandus de Reis » is witness to two charters of Conan III dated 1146 and 1148 by which the duke conceded lands with rights of usage in the forest of Rennes to the abbeys of Saint-Florent Saumur and Savigny. In a note to one of these acts, the editor (Dom. Morice) claims this « Rollandus de Resis » belongs to the maison de Rays. Blanchard disagrees.

In his ‘Table des noms propres’ (Pr.I) Dom. Morice makes of Rollandus de Resis a seigneur de Rezé. In this he is following M. de la Nicollière (Anciens sires de Rezay, in Bul. de la Soc. Archeol. de Nantes, 1892, p.92).
The identification might be plausible if the cited act of 1149 was as the author claimed: i.e. that Roland de Rezé was witness to the foundation of les Couëts by Hoël, count of Nantes. But the alleged text (see Morice 603) carries the name of K. de Rezaio which, Blanchard says, hardly resembles Rollandus de Resis of 1146, much less Rollandus de Reis de 1148.

Here I have to point out, this is probably an error in reading: it is easy to mistake R for K in the hand of the day.

However Blanchard goes on to remark that there is nothing in these two charters to suggest the involvement of a sire de Rays. Besides which, Roland is not a name used by the sires de Rays, not even by the younger, cadet family, while it is used by the sires de Rieux. (On that I’ll agree)

« Haculfus of Radiis » [de Rays], « Bernardus de Machequol  » and « Rollandus de Reux »[Rieux] are on the same list of Breton chevaliers who c.1207 gave military service to the king of France. (Historiens de France, XXIII, 684.)

In 1225, « Garsinus de Raies » and « Rollandus de Reus » together ratified the privileges of Saint-Aubun-du-Cormier (Arch. Loire-Inf., E 157)

Thus, as Blanchard maintains, the witness of the 1146 and 1148 charters should be Roland de Rieux, not Roland de Rays as has been erroneously attributed by several historians:

  • Le Baud, Hist. de Bretagne, p.182, & Chroniques de Vitre, p.23
  • d’Argentre, Hist. de Bretagne, edit. de 1668, p.155
  • Du Paz, Hist. geneal., p.207 & 54
  • Lobineau, Hist. de Bretagne, I, 135
  • de la Borderie, Vitre et ses premiers barons, in Revue de Bretagne et Vendee, 2nd se,.1865, p.441)

It would also be Roland de Rieux who on 15 October 1119 attended the funeral rites of Duke Alain Fergent at Redon (Dom Lobineau Histoire de Bretagne. I, 128;  Dom Morice Histoire. Pr. I, 90)

Early Seigneurs de Machecoul 3

 

Harscoët II
vers 1145

Harscoët II, eldest son of Garsire I, succeeded his father yet nowhere is he described as ‘sire de Rays’, and there are no extant acts issued by him. What few documents relating to him are either dated after his death or are those issued during his father’s lifetime.

The oldest of these is the donation of ‘Chevesche’, dated to before 1113:

« Non post multum vero tempus, domino Garsilio defuncto, atque paulo post Arscoido filio sui, pro ut dictavit jus hereditarium, successit Radulfus in patrimonium » (see Morice 458a).

Here Harscoët appears as Garsire’s only named child. He also appears in:

  • the donation of Sept-Faux to Tiron, 1100-1120 (Merlet, Cartulaire de Tiron, no.286)
  • the reconciliation document of Redon dated 23 October 1127 (see Redon CCCXLVII 1127)
  • and the Templars’ legacy circa 1130 (Cartulaire de Coudrie, no 1, in Archiv. hist. du Poitou, t.II, p.154) .

In the concession of la Jaunaie de Fontevraud, 1137-1140, (Cartulaire de Libaud, no 2, in Archiv. hist. du Poitou, t.I, p.57) his name precedes those of his two younger brothers, Garsire and Raoul.

Despite this lack of his own acts it has been established that Harscoët II was, for a time, seigneur de Rays. The proof lies in a charter issued in July 1153 (Arch. Loire-Inf., H 135, no.3) which allowed the priory of Saint-Martin de Machecoul to retain, in perpetuity, the tolls they charged on travelling vendors/peddlers (colporteurs) crossing the Machecoul bridge on the road to La Garnache, the priory* having helped to construct said bridge (see further under Raoul I below). This was later confirmed by Harscoët’s brother Raoul. Harscoët was the eldest, he would have succeeded his father. It is therefore concluded that Harscoët II** died without issue.

* This is not how M. de la Borderi (Bul. de la Soc. arch. de Nantes, 1867, p.126) analysing the charter sees it. He seems to think the peddlers were exempt tolls because they had helped in construction. But then why would the charter be issued in favour of the priory of Saint-Martin de Machecoul unless the priory was to gain from it?

** Du Paz makes this Harscoët II, called by him Harscoët III, the father of Roland and then numbers the next Harscoët IV.

Raoul I
1152-vers 1170

Raoul, second son of Garsire I and Beatrix, finds mention for the first time in the gift of la Jaunaie to Fontevraud, 1137-1140, (see above) alongside his father and his brothers. He succeeded his brother Harscoët II.

On 2 July 1152 Raoul, seigneur de Rays, passed an act at Machecoul in the house of his mother to free the monks of Buzay of the customary dues on all their lands and a grange situated in his fief « in honore suo » (see Morice 612) Among the witnesses are listed Raoul’s mother Beatrix, his brother Garsire and sister Agnes the viscountess. The charter was issued the same year as Raoul was created a knight— «Anno… Radulfi militie promo ». Assuming, as was usual, this occurred at aged twenty-one, it would place his birth in 1130-1131—so clearly he’s the second son. Also in this charter Raoul is given as ‘seigneur de Rays’ while in later acts he is given only as ‘seigneur de Machecoul’.

Moving to the following July (1153) and the charter mentioned above under Harscoët II for the priory of Saint-Martin de Machecoul (Arch. Loire-Inf., H 135, no 3): this proves important for the genealogy of the seigneurs for it relates that Garsire I, « Garsilius de Machecollo, » with the consent of his children Harscoët, Raoul, Garsire and Beatrix, exempted in perpetuity the tolls collected from the colporteurs etc. When Raoul in turn became seigneur he confirmed that exemption:

« Non post multum vero tempus, domino Garsilio defuncto, atque paulo post Arscoido filio sui, pro ut dictavit jus hereditarium, successit Radulfus in patrimonium ».

On 9 August 1161 Raoul de Machecoul, now seigneur, remitted to the monks of Breuil-Herbaud all the rights he has possessed on their land. (It was by this concession that, on 4 June 1275, Girard II Chabot, sire de Rays, aimed to ratify the largesse made to Breuil-Herbaud by Raoul and by his other predecessors . See Cartulaire de Rays CCLIII)

The charters of 1152, 1153 and 1161 are the only ones of Raoul that can be securely dated. But of importance is the charter where Raoul de Machecoul and Guillaume Talevate together witness for “le droit d’hesmage sur la Loire” by Barnard, bishop of Nantes (1147-1163) on behalf of Abbess Adelaide and the nuns of Saint-Georges de Rennes (see Saint-Georges de Rennes pp181-182).

The editor of Cartulaire de Saint-Georges de Rennes, Paul de la Bigne-Villeneuve (1813-1899), dates this charter to 1169, taking the abbess to be Adélaïde de Vitre (1169-1189). Blanchard, however, sees this as too late and would date it to before 24 September 1158 when Duke Conan conferred the same right to the same convent (see Saint-Georges de Rennes pp182-183). By placing Bishop Bernard’s charter before Duke Conan’s the amended date must fall between 1153 (the abbacy of Adélaïde de Mathefelon, 1153-1164) and 1159.

But whatever its date, the relevance of Bishop Bernard’s charter lies in the inclusion as witnesses of Raoul de Machecoul and Guillaume Talevat. Raoul and Guillaume were brothers-in-law, Raoul having married Guillaume’s sister Marie (see more on this below).

Two acts —Cartulaires du Bas-Poitou p.165 ‘de la Roche-sur-Yon’, and p.240 ‘l’abbaye du Bois-Grolland’ (see Marchegay 165 & Marchegay 240)—dated by their editor, M. Marchegay, to around 1190 mention Raoul de Machecoul and Guillaume Talevat as co-seigneurs of La Roche-sur-Yon. Blanchard disagrees with this date saying they predate 1182 as evidenced:

  • by the fact that by 1190 Raoul had been succeeded by his son Bernard
  • and from elements contained within them:

In the first charter, (Marchegay 165) for the priory of la Roche-sur-Yon, there is amongst the witnesses one Pierre Limousin—« Petro Lemovicinensi »— a monk whom Blanchard believes to be the same as became prior of Aizenay in 1166 (Cartulaires du Bas-Poitou p.163)

In the second charter, (Marchegay 240) for the abbey of Bois-Grolland, the name « G… abbe » appears. This is Abbe Giraud whose dates are known: 1161-1166.

Though I’m listing the following charters, note they have no defining dates :

  • remission of the right of ‘repas’ by « Radulfus, Machecolli dominus » in favour of the priory of Saint-Martin de Machecoul : consented by Garsire and Agnes, brother and sister of Raoul (Arch. Loire-Inf., H 135 no 4)
  • dated to the time of Bernard, bishop of Nantes, and Abbot Adam, a concession by Daniel « Soveigni » to the monastery of Buzay underwritten by « Radulfus de Machicollo » (see Morice 637)
  • Raoul was called to judge a dispute—« In curia domini Radulfi de Machico » (Arch. Loire-Inf., H 206, no 2, f. de Chémeré)—between the prior of Chémeré and several notables; he referred the case to the court of the Bishop Bernard
  • donation of a meadow or pasture by « Radulphus, Machicolli dominus » in favour of Jeanne, prioress of Moutiers , his wife’s sister—(« Johanna priorissa, soror uxoris mee » Cartulaire du Ronceray, no 443)
  • the land named ‘la Lande-Roinard’ granted by Raoul to the Abbe de Nieuil-sur -l’Autize (« Radulfus, dominus de Macheco » Cartulaire du Ronceray, no 441)

The Marriage of Raoul to Maria Tavevat

The alliance of Raoul and Maria Talevat is established by three charters of Geneston abbey to whom the sires of Machecoul were benefactors:

  1. Bernard de Machecoul recounts a gift by his parents: « Pater meus et Maria mater mea et Willelmus Talevaz avunculus meus dederunt … » (Bibl. nat., ms. lat. 17092, p.43; et ms.fr.22319, p.243)
  2. dated February 1270, Olivier de Machecoul cites the same donation as Bernard, and « Guillelmus Thalevaz, avunculus ejusdem Bernardi » (Ibid.)
  3. Geneston’s orbituary marks 14 April as the anniversary of « Radulphus pater Bernardi de Machecolio, » and 13 April as that of « Maria mater Bernard de Machecolui » (Bibl. nat., ms. lat. 17092, p.38)

These testimonies establish a point that seemed to escape M. Marchegay in his Anciens seigneurs de la Roche-sur-Yon (Revue des provinces de l’Ouest, t.1st 2nd partie, p.255). Raoul de Machecoul and Guillaume Talevat together qualified as successors of Hugues de la Roche-sur-Yon—yet how could that be when there was no parental relationship between the co-heirs, nor between the co-heirs and their predecessor?

The answer: Raoul de Machecoul held his rights to la Roche-sur-Yon through Marie Talevat. And it seems Guillaume Talevat had no other heir for the title then passed through Raoul’s line only.

Marie Talevat, wife of Raoul I

Marie, has caused confusion, too. Indeed, I’d say the author of the fr.wiki article, List des seigneurs de Machecoul veers into fantasy land. To quote:

Raoul I de Retz dit « Raoul I de Machecoul » (vers 1106-vers 1162)
seigneur de Machecoul, frère du précédent
x Marie Talvas « de Montgomery » (vers 1101-????)
dame de Montgomery et de Bellêmen. [fn.2]

And that footnote?

[fn.] 2:
Fille de Robert Talvas de Bellême (1056-08/05/1131)
comte de Montgomery, de Bellême et de Shrewsbury
et d’Agnès de Ponthieu (????-1116)

But for Raoul’s wife to be Marie Talvas, daughter of Robert Talvas de Montgomery ‘de Bellême’ etc etc, she must have a brother named Guillaume. And, indeed Robert Talvas de Montgomery ‘de Bellême’ etc etc did have a son named Guillaume (see fmg  Comtes de Ponthieu (Bellême – Montgommery). But Guillaume Talvas, Comte de Ponthieu (who in 1129 resigned his title & position in favour of his son Guy) died in 1171. But Guillaume Talevat was co-seigneur of La Roche-sur-Yon in 1190! Though, true, that date is in dispute it doesn’t change the fact that Guillaume Talevat and Guillaume Talvas were not the same person.

Seigneur de Rays : Seigneur de Machecoul

As already said, the only time in a contemporary act that Raoul is qualified as seigneur de Rays is that of July 1152. Elsewhere he is always named as « Raoul de Machecoul » or « Raoul seigneur de Machecoul ».

But what of it? Garsire I took both titles, too; apparently indiscriminately. Moreover, despite the restricted title Raoul seems to have retained dominion over the whole county of Rays (hence he was judge in the dispute concerning the priory of Chémeré and in making a donation to that of Moutiers). It can be assumed, too, that he was also lord of Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, his son Bernard having that title.

Yet if, as Blanchard suggests, Raoul embodied the main power in the pays de Rays then how come his younger brother Garsire II bore the title of seigneur de Rays—and that during Raoul’s own lifetime (i.e. in 1160)?

And why was that title then passed through Garsire’s descendants—from his son Harscoët III onwards? Why did it not come to Bernard, son of Raoul?

How could Harscoët III have suzerainty over the pays de Rays and yet leave Machecoul, the family’s patrimony, to the direct successors of Raoul and Bernard?

Then, again, what of the lands of lesser importance? Which of the brothers inherited them to pass down their line?

As Blanchard concludes, here is an apparent anomaly, and the shortage of documents does not permit sufficient clarity. (Il y a là une anomalie apparent que la pénurie des documents ne permet point d’éclaireir suffisamment.)

However, it appears this anomaly doesn’t exist for those of Blanchard’s colleagues who have studied the history of the early sires de Rays. He cites, as an example, M. de la Nicollière who had published a genealogical table claimed as the summary of unpublished work by M. A. de la Borderie on the first maison de Rays (L’Abbaye de la Chaume, in Bul. de la Soc. archeol. de Nantes, xviii, 1879, p.58).

Here, the three son of Garsire I are in the same order Blanchard assigns them: Harscoët II, Raoul I and Garsire. Only later things go adrift when Nicollière lists Harscoët III, Gestin de Prigny and Bernard de Machecoul as sons of Raoul I. Amongst the progeny of Harscoët III he then adds another (and erroneous) Gestin. And though M. de la Nicollière assigns Bernard to Raoul I as son, it’s as a younger son.

So how does he explain how Bernard, the younger, inherited that greater share from his father when Gestin de Prigny is supposedly the elder? By the rules of primogeniture, Harscoët III (the elder) would normally inherit the greater part of his father’s domain—as he did, being named sire de Rays. Yet ‘little last-born’ Bernard becomes ‘only’ seigneur de Machecoul. Odd.

La Maison de Rays et de Machecoul

 

M. de la Nicollière’s version is at odds with the texts. These show only one child of Raoul, and that is Bernard. Moreover, they show Harscoët—and consequently his brother Gestin—as sons of Garsire. This is seen in the oldest charter in the Cartulaire de Rays (11 October 1160 see Marchegay 253) whereby Harscoët son of Garsire, seigneur de Rays, ratifies a donation by his father. Another text, dated to between 1172 and 1184, describes the concession of a wine-press in Prigny, ceded in favour of the priory of Chémeré by « Harchodius, Garsirii filius » (see Morice 668b). It is thus clearly shown that Harscoët III was not the elder son of Raoul I, but his nephew.

Raoul died sometime between 1161 and 1182; the latter date when his son Bernard appears in a document bearing his father’s former title. Blanchard puts the death around 1170—also the opinion of M. de la Borderie (Inventaire de Marmoutier, in Bul. de la Soc. archeol. de Nantes, VII, 1867, p.127) In 1172 Harscoët III had already replaced his uncle in his possession of Chémeré which had been Raoul’s in his lifetime.

Hereafter, the descendants of Raoul I were no longer sires de Rays; instead they became seigneurs de Machecoul.

At this point there we’re faced with a choice of which line to follow: la maison de Machecoul, or that of the sires of Rays? Blanchard opts for the holders of the principal fief, and I shall do the same. But I shall return to Machecoul in due time.


Next post: La Maison de Rays covering the ‘Chabot’ years.

The Bastards of Le Pellerin (Part 2)

In Feodo de Bastarderia

According to the genealogists who advised la maison de Bastard at some unknown date but probably around 1450, their secondary roots lay with les seigneurs du Pèlerin (their primary root being Hoël, Bastard of Nantes, descended from the Breton royal house of Cornouaille; see The Bastards of Le Pellerin (Part 1).

To quote from ‘Nobiliaire de Guienne et de Gascogne, revue des families d’ancienne chevalerie ou anoblies de ces provinces antérieures à 1789’ by Henri Gabriel Oglivy & Pierre Jules de Bourrousse de Laffore, published 1856 (see on google play):

“The lords of Bastardière-sur-Sevre, de Pelerin-sur-Loire, etc., have for their ancestor a certain Richer or Rahier, knight, lord of the fief of Bastastière-sur-Sèvre (or Bastardière-en-Gorge) near Clisson, Nantes County (Richerius, Raherius, in feudal dominus of Bastardaria, miles), born ca 980, died before 1062.”

I look at this and shake my head in wonder. Richer, or Rahier, knight, lord of the fief of Bastastière-sur-Sèvre, born ca 980, died before 1062. Whence this information? According to info.bretagne, it comes from Dom Morice.

Dom Morice

Dom Morice (1693-1750), or Pierre-Hyacinthe Morice de Beaubois to accord him his full name: a Breton monk initially at the abbey of Saint-Melaine in Rennes where his outstanding reputation for historical study attracted the attention of Cardinal de Rohan who commissioned him to write a genealogy for the house of Rohan. He thus moved to Paris where he was to remain.

I’ll leave it to the writers at info.bretagne (morice) to dish the dirt on what they call “this shaky edifice”, this concocted, doctored, falsified ‘Family History of the House of Rohan’. It remained unpublished.

Morice, however, completed the task to the great satisfaction of the cardinal, and was subsequently asked by the State of Brittany to produce a new edition of the Histoire de Bretagne, as previously published by Dom Lobineau. (Lobineau’s version had been considered too pro-Breton.)

Between 1742 and 1746, Dom Morice published three folio volumes of the supporting documents, most of the material already used by Lobineau, with additional articles of the origins of the Bretons, the coming of the Romans, the Breton laws and customs, the origins of the Breton barons and fiefs, etc, etc. In 1750 he published the first of two intended volumes on the ecclesiastical and civil history of Brittany. He was preparing the second volume when he died. This was later published by Dom Taillandier.

I would like to report that I have found all five volumes on the internet. Miraculously, I have found three: volumes1 & 2 of ‘Memoires pour servir de preuves à l’Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne’, and volume 1 of that ‘Histoire ecclesiastique et civile de Bretagne’ published the year of his death,1750. (These being on Google Play and in my personal account, I’m unable to provide the links. However, all charters mentioned in this post are available via Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index)

Although Volume 2 of the ‘Memoires’ has, in its Preface, an interesting article on the origins of Breton barons and fiefs, I can find no mention of this Richer or Rahier who was the father of Roald du Pelerin, nor of Pellerin itself, by whichever spelling (du Peregrine/du Pellerin/Pontello). Beyond the first few pages of the ‘Preface’ the historical account moves into later centuries; the ‘evidence’ (Memoires) begin at AD 1371.

In Histoire ecclesiastique et civile de Bretagne I found just one passing mention of Roald du Pelerin, given as Rodulphe Seigneur du Pelerin, in relation to his gift of the Isle of Her to the abbey at Redon (see Le Pellerin Charter Index: Autre fatte à Redon par Rouaud du Pelerin, Lobineau col. 176, Morice col. 410).

I had hoped the ‘Memoires’, Volume I, would be more productive, covering as it does, the earlier period. ‘Origine des Surnoms, commencement des familles,’ page xii of the Preface, looked promising but yielded nothing more than : « Il y avoit des Seigneurs particuliers a Rais , a Frossai, au Pèlerin & au Migron , qui portoient le nom de ces lieux. »

The Bastards of Châteauceaux (Champtoceaux)

What I did find was this :

Fondation du Prieuré de Châteauceaux, membre de Marmoutiers.
[pp.250-251 col.384-385]

With relevant text :

Addidi etiam quidquid homines mei eidem Ecclesiæ contulerunt aut conferent ; in primis quæ dedit Raginaldus de Blesia, & in feodo Gaudini de Richon…, in feodo de Bastarderia iv. athomos terræ quos Richerius qui dominus erat quittavit……

And as can be seen in the print-screen below, this charter, Fondation du Prieuré de Châteauceaux follows immediately upon that of the foundation charter for the priory at Le Pellerin. Which once we’ve discovered the charter’s date, you’ll agree is odd.

Pelerin-Chateauceaux charters in Morice

This, the above, is not the only version of the charter available to us online. Lobineau published a version in his Histoire de Bretagne (p.142, col.184-186, see Index). A third version is given in Les Origines Féodales de Chateauceaux, M. l’Abbé Bourdeaut, 1913, scanned and packaged as a downloadable pdf (Histoire Champtoceaux). This will be our main source for this post.

While all three versions are transcribed in full on Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charters Index here we need only the relevant passages. Although given above I shall repeat the excerpt from Morice, the better to compare:

Fondation du Prieuré de Châteauceaux, membre de Marmoutiers.

1: Morice, col.384-385
Hoc autem factum fuit istis videntibus & audientibus [there follows a witness list]
Addidi etiam quidquid homines mei eidem Ecclesiæ contulerunt aut conferent; in primis quæ dedit Raginaldus de Blesia, & in feodo Gaudini de Richon…, in feodo de Bastarderia iv. athomos terræ quos Richerius qui dominus erat quittavit … … Matthæus Barbotini dedit, &c.
[original ellipses]

2: Lobineau, col. 184-185
Hoc autem factum fuit istis videntibus & audientibus. [there follows a witness list]
Addidi etiam quidquid homines mei eidem Ecclesiæ contulerunt aut conferent; In primis quæ dedit Raginaldus de Blesia, & in feodo Gaudini de Clichon…, in feodo de Bastarderia iv. athomos terræ quos Recherius qui dominus erat quittavit … … Matthaeus Barbotini dedit &c.

3 : Histoire Champtoceaux, p.112
Hoc autem factum fuit istis videntibus & audientibus. [there follows a witness list]
Adjeci etiam et sigilli mei auctoriate confirmavi quidquid milites et homines mei eisdem in helemosinam pia devocione contulerunt aut in posterum conferent, et quia expressa jura ea que data sunt, singula singulis exprimere decui novis ; in primis igitur Raginaudus de Blesio dedit eis arpennum vinee sub duobus denariis census qui debebantur Rollando de Lire, sed ipse eos monachis quittavit et iterum dedit eis unum arpennum vinee ad Chaafaut [1] sub quatuor nummis que debebantur Petro de Landemonte et ipse eos similiter quittavit.
Item dedit eisdem arpennem vinee in feodo Gaudini de Clichon [2] pro duobus denariis qui Gaudino debenture in feodo de Bastarderia [3], iv athomos terre liberos et quietos quia Raherius qui dominus erat quittavit vi denarios census quos ibi habebat.
[1] Le Chafaut
[2] Le fief de Clisson au nord du bourg actuel
[3] La Batardière
[footnotes as given]

First, the sharp eye might notice in feodo Gaudini de Richon in Morice, yet in feodo Gaudini de Clichon in Lobineau and Histoire Champtoceaux. But there can be no mistaking the word is Clichon, and Clichon is Clisson, as per the footnotes.

Next, it is obvious that both Morice and Lobineau have edited the original down to what they considered essential:

“In the first place what Reginald de Blois gave, and in the fief of Gaudin de Clisson…, in the fief of the Bastard four portions of the land that Richer who was lord has let quit……”

Compare this with Histoire Champtoceaux in which, in the first place, Reginald de Blois gave to the monks an acre of vineyard assessed at 2 denari, and another acre of vineyard at Chafaut assessed at four ‘coins’. Both these vineyards were leased from, in the first, Rolland de Lire, in the second, Peter de Landemont..

“Moreover he gave to you [monks] an acre of vineyard in the fief of Gaudin de Clisson, against the two denari that Gaudin owed to the fief of the Bastard, four portions of land without let or hindrance, because Raher who was lord in that place has quit the six denari assessment he had.”

Disregarding that the maths—an acre of vineyard leased off Rolland de Lire, another leased off Peter de Landemont, a further acre in the fief of Gaudin de Clisson; that’s only three pieces of land—we see here the ‘fief de la Bastardière’ associated with the name of Richer (Morice), or Recher (Lobineau) or Rahier (Histoire). No matter how else the above passage is read, it does imply that Richer was lord of the ‘fief de la Bastardière’.

If we take it that Richer was lord of the fief, by whom was it held? This calls for a short digression into medieval fiefdom.

Medieval Fiefs of France and Brittany

I have to specify that we’re looking here at French fiefs, as at this period they  differ majorly from those in England. In England, at the Norman Conquest every scrap of land was taken by William ‘le Bastard’—yes, even that of the Church. And those who wanted back what had been taken had not only to swear fealty, but also to pay a fine. Thereafter, every heir had to swear afresh, and pay afresh.

But France and Brittany had no conquering William to take all their lands. In France and Brittany the grant of a fief (whatever the size of the portion of land) was a gift—no fines required. And generally it was granted between nobles of equal rank. In the presence of disparity there was no need of the gift. For this gift of the fief acted to bind he whom received to he who was giving—and that wouldn’t be needed if one could trample at will upon the other. Indeed, often a fief was offered in lieu of, or beside, a peace treaty, the two parties equal, neither able to win.

Yet in one aspect the Franco-Breton fief did resemble the Anglo-Norman: it was granted only for the recipient’s lifetime. Over the coming centuries it would slowly change until, as with the English system, the heirs of the initial grantees could apply for a continuation of ‘gift’.

So, having explained that . . .

Richer, Lord of the ‘fief de La Bastardière’

The fief of Gaudin de Clisson. And the fief of the Bastard. Who held what?

Clearly, Reginald de Blois held the fief of Gaudin de Clisson—i.e. Gaudin de Clisson was the lord who had given, Reginald was the noble who had received. And though it is awkwardly worded I think we’re safe to assume that Richer was lord of the ‘fief de La Bastardière’, which again was held by Reginald de Blois.

So who was Richer—Recher or Rahier, whatever spelling you care to give him? I cannot answer. I doubt anyone can. But I know who he wasn’t. He was not the father of Roald seigneur du Pelerin who, circa 1050, founded a priory there.

How can I be so sure?

This charter for the foundation of the priory of Châteauceaux was issued by Geoffroy Crespin. And Geoffroy Crespin, seigneur de Châteauceaux, lived in the second half of the C12th. Morice boobed.

There was a Geoffroy of Châteauceaux living at the time of Roald du Pellerin. In 1044 he gave to the monks of Marmoutiers the church of Saint-John Baptist at Champtoceaux. Oddly, Morice runs it on from the later charter by Geoffroy Crespin without intervening new header. Amazing.

Morice 1040 Charter

Quoniam, etc, mid-page column one
is the beginning of an earlier Champtoceaux charter.

Lobineau also produces this earlier charter. And again, irrespective of the reversed chronology, it follows the later charter by Geoffroy Crespin. A third source is Telma (university of Lorraine), Charter 3515. It also features in full in Histoire Champtoceaux. See Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index for all four transcriptions on full. It is sufficient here to show those passages that contain the family’s names. As is generally the case with Morice and Lobineau, their versions have been severely edited:

1: Morice, col.385
Quoniam , &c. scripto tradere curavimus quod Dominus de Castro Celso Gaufridus Deo & Ecclesiæ B. Martini Majoris Mon. tempore Domini Alberti Abbatis…
… assensu & auctoritate fratrum suorum Harduini. Odrici, Guiscelini atque Rodulfi concessit…
… Nomina testium qui interfuerunt subscriptimus. De Laïcis signum Gaufridus Comes Andeg. qui hoc donum sub crucis caractere sua auctoritate firmavit. Fulcradus de Rupeforti. Tebaldus frater ejus. Eudo Calvus. Johannes de Aurela. Garinus Panza, de Monachis, &c. de Presbyteris.

2 : Lobineau, col.185
Quoniam, &c. scripto tradere curavimus quod Dominus de Castro Celso Gaufridus Deo & Ecclesiæ B. Martini Majoris Mon. tempore Domini Alberti Abbatis…
… assensu & auctoritate fratrum suorum Harduini. Odrici. Guiscelini atque Rodulfi concessit…
 nomina testium qui inter fuerunt subcripsimus. De Laïcis signum Gaufridus Comes Andeg. qui hoc donum sub crucis caractere sua auctoritate firmavit. Fulcradus de Rupeforti. Tebaldus frater ejus. Eudo Calvus. Johannes de Aurela. Garinus Panza de Monachis, &c. de Presbyteris, &c.

3: Telma Charter 3515
Hac igitur salubri consideratione ego Gauzfridus militiȩ seculari mancipatus…
assensu et auctoritate fratrum meorum, Herduini videlicet, atque Odrici, Guiscelini quoque atque Rodulfi….
Et ut hujus nostrae elemosinȩ donum per cuncta annorum curricula vigorem perpetuitatis obtineat, Gauzfridus Andegavensis comes sub crucis caractere sua auctoritate firmavit, suisque fidelibus corroborandum tradidit. Gauzfridi comitis.
S. Fulchrardi de Rupe Forti. S. Tetbaldi fratris ejusdem Fulchrardi. S. Teudonis Calvi. S. Johannis de Aurela. S. Gorideni Britonis. S. Guarini Panzae. S. Guarnerii presbiteri. S. Ermenfredi monachi. S. Acfredi monachi. S. Johannis monachi et medici. S. Danielis presbiteri.

4: Histoire Champtoceaux p.276
… Hac igitur salubri consideratione, ego Gaufridus milicie seculari mancipatus…
… assensu et auctoritate fratrum meorum Herduini, videlicet, atque Odrici, Guiscelini atque Radulfi…
… Gaufridus Andegavensis Comes, sub crucis caractere, sua auctoritate firmavit, suisque fidelibus corroborandum tradidit. Signum + Gaufridi, comitis ; S. Fulchrardi de Rupforti ; S. Garnerii, presbyteri ; S. Tetbaldi fratris ejusdem Fulchrardi ; S. Ermenfredi, monachi ; S. Teudonis Calvi ; S. Acfredi, monachi ; S. Johannis de Aurelia ; S. Johannis monachi et medici ; S. Gorideni Britonis ; S. Guarini Panzœ ; S. Danielis, presbyteri

Geoffroy gives, with the assent of his brothers Herduin, Odric, Guiscelin and Radulf—and the agreement of Geoffroy count of Anjou (that would Geoffrey II, alias Martel, the Hammer, 1040-1060).

We have met with Geoffroy de Châteauceaux’s young brother Odric before, in Part 1 of this post:

Histoire Champtoceaux, p.278
Donation au prieuré de Saint-Jean de Châteauceaux par le chevalier Jean d’Aurelle, sa femme Barzeloine, ses enfants : 

Nosse debebitis si qui eritis posteri nostri Majoris, scilicet, hujus habitatores Monasterii St Martini Johanem quemdam quem appelabent de Aurella unam tenere bordariam in pago Andegavensi, duobus fere milibus a Castro Celso ad meridianam plagam, loco, videlicet, quem dicunt Landam de Montibus sitam, sancto Martino et nobis, cum medietate consuetudinum terre ipsius, pro amina sua olim dedisse.

Alteram enim medietatam dare non poterat, quia, eam cum tota decima, quidam Odricus Bastardus in cujus terrarum medio hœc terre particula consistit, tenebat.

“The other half could not be given, because together with the whole tithe, a certain Odricus Bastardus who holds lands at the middle of this piece of land, held it.”

So here, at Champtoceaux, we find what could be the origins of La Maison de Bastard. But it raises several questions:

1: Is this Odric Bastard, the same Odric who is brother to Geoffroy de Châteauceaux? No other of the brothers bears this name, so is Odric a half-brother, perhaps child of a concubine?

2: If he isn’t brother to Geoffroy then who is he? Whoever he is he holds land whap-bang in the middle of a piece of the land Jean d’Aurelle would have otherwise given.

3: Does he also hold the land that later would be known as the ‘fief de Bastarderia’: i.e. was it for him it was named?

4: Or is it the other way round, that he took the ‘Bastard’ name from this piece of land?

It’s time to look at the Histoire Champtoceaux. Perhaps the answers lie there.

Histoire Champtoceaux

The Histoire Champtoceauxor to give the publication its correct title, Les Origines Féodales de Chateauceauxwas published by M. l’Abbé Bourdeaut in 1913. In the Foreword he sets the physical scene . . .

A veritable eagle’s nest, the fortress well-built dominating the course of the river … to the east, a river of limpid water …

and says of its place in the long history of conflicts: Angevin-Breton, Franco-Plantagenet, Franco-Breton . . .

… The first and the last act of the long quarrel of the succession of Brittany was passed within these walls …. in that century of trouble it saw successively within its walls Jean de Montfort and Charles de Blois, Jean le Bon and Olivier de Clisson, Jean V and Marguerite de Clisson … one finds its name in most of the chronicles of the Middle Ages …

He concludes with a note that it is pointless to list all his sources but does provide the principals . . .

… The Archives of the priory of Châteauceaux, today’s deposits of the Prefecture of Maine-et-Loire, and the documents kept in the Treasury of Chartres of the Dukes of Brittany …

Yet he doesn’t include in his short list the Chronicon Briocense which supplies much of his preamble. The Chronicon was composed between 1394 and 1416 by an anonymous author, believed by historian Michael Jones to be Hervé Le Grant, secretary to John IV duke of Brittany, who in 1385 was appointed keeper of the ducal archives, and replaced in 1416, the year the Chronicon breaks. Both Lobineau (Vol 2 col.833-891) and Morice (Vol.1 col.7-102) include excerpts from the Chronicon.

Finally M. l’Abbé Bourdeaut gets to the details of Châteauceaux, using now its historical name from C10th to C14th. The question of its Merovingian origin provides an interesting discussion, But we can skip those, and on to the next section.

Les Origines féodales de Châteauceaux

The story that interests us begins in 843 (early during the Viking incursions). Lambert count of Nantes victor at the Battle of Blain over Rainaud, count, variously given, of Poitiers, Nantes and/or Herbauges, divided the spoils between three of his lieutenants: Herbauges to his nephew Gunfroy; Tiffauges to Girard; les Mauges to Rainier; to possess through right of heritage. Thus, from this day, these three pagi existed in the official dependence of the county of Nantes—yet not within its orbit of influence. And Chateauceaux, a town in the north of les Mauges, became part of Nantais.

The action moves on: In 936 Alan Barbetorte returns from England, slashes and hacks his way through the Vikings who now are settling in Brittany. In very short measure Alain rids the county of Nantes of them.

In 942, through an alliance with Guillaume Tete-d’Etoupes (William the Tow Headed), duke of Aquitaine—who wasn’t yet duke of Aquitaine but only count of Poitiers—granted to Alain the three pays of Mauges, Tiffauges and Herbauges which his father, Eble Manzer, count of Poitiers, had ceded to the Vikings who occupied the Loire estuary.

This grant seems to have been more in the nature of a fief, to be held only for the recipient’s lifetime; perhaps renewable by the heirs though each time by a separate treaty. Thus at the death of Alain in 952 the treaty and grant was not renewed by his only legitimate heir, Drogo. For Drogo then was a child, not yet three years old. He was placed in the guardianship of his uncle, Thibaud de Blois, and reputedly killed by his stepfather, Fulk II count of Anjou.

With the death of Drogo, Hoël, bastard son of Alain, inherited his father’s patrimony. But Hoël had his hands full with wresting power from Conan count of Rennes, vassal of Thibaud de Blois, and from Fulk’s son Geoffroy who was now count of Anjou and who, in the guise of protector, had seized Nantes.

Hoël died in 981. Guérech, younger brother of Hoël who that same year had been appointed bishop of Nantes, became heir to Alain’s domain. He resigned his bishopric and took up the reins of secular power.

In 982 Guérech, bastard son of Alain Barbetorte, signed a treaty with Guillaume IV of Poitiers confirming his possessions, as count of Nantes, of the three pagi south of the Loire, Herbauges, Tiffauges and les Mauges—and of course, included in that was both Clisson and Châteauceaux with, set between them, what was or would be the fief de la Bastardière.

So, after a lengthy preamble we’ve come to the grist of the story.

Renaud de Thuringe

In 983, having sealed the treaty with Guillaume IV of Poitiers and gained his ‘three pagi’ inheritance, Guérech went to the court of King Lothair, king of the Franks, to pay tribute there. On the way back he was waylaid by Geoffroy I, Grise-Gonnelle (Greygown), count of Anjou, who would only release Guérech if he first swore homage to Geoffroy for the county of Nantes. Held captive, it was his only way out. Guérech swore.

Freedom regained, Guérech completed his journey through les Mauges. En route he encountered ‘a strong and rich man of the pay’ by name of Renaud de Thuringe (or Renaud Thorench) who was hunting in the forest for bears, wild boar and stags.

Although there has been much discussion over this name, Bourdeaut favours the suggestion put forward by M. Maitre, that it likely derives from the Breton ‘Renaud de la Tour-Blanche’, rather than ‘de Tours’.

Besides his wealth, this Renaud had other qualities that attracted the attention of Guérech. Not only did he possess much land in les Mauges: Chateauceaux, Montrevault, Saint-Remy and probably Rochefort-sur-Loire. But also he was viscount of Anjou. (He was, in fact, father of Renaud, bishop of Angers.)

It must be noted that from late C10th through the C11th what had been positions of authority to be accorded, and removed at will, not only became hereditary but were also accompanied by a top-down wave of usurpation of that very authority: dukes with more power than kings; counts aping the authority of dukes; castellans issuing the jurisdiction previously reserved for the counts; and the lowly seigneurs building castles—or at least fortifications—and applying whatever laws, fines and taxes they could get away with. Thus the position of viscount no longer meant deputy to the count, his administrator, but by now was a power unto itself.

Guérech captured Renaud de Thuringe, viscount of Anjou and took him back to Nantes. There he treated Renaud as Geoffroy Grise-Gonnelle had treated him: he refused to release him until he had sworn solemn homage to Guérech for his property in les Mauges and, in token of his vassalage, to promise Guérech a portion of all the animals he took in the hunt. After all, it was Guérech who had rights of suzerainty over les Mauges, not Geoffroy d’Anjou, and neither Renaud de Thuringe.

In 986 Renaud de Thuringe applied to Guérech for permission to build a castle at Châteauceaux. It would be so placed as to harvest a wealth of tithes and tolls off the traffic that plied the Loire. But Guérech refused him. No reason recorded.

Regardless, the next year, 987, with Geoffroy Grisegonnelle dead, Renaud built for himself a castle on a hill overlooking the Loire ‘with all the means of defence’.

Guérech had no time to react: he died the following year, 988—poisoned, so it’s claimed, by Conan count of Rennes who feared an alliance between Guérech and Fulk Nerra, son and successor to Geoffroy Grisegonnelle of Anjou.

Chateauceaux castle ruins

The castle ruins at Champtoceaux 

Champtoceaux
(as given in fr.wiki )

Anciently an oppidum of 8 hectares Castrum Sellense, mentioned among the top 25 castra of Gaul by Gregory of Tours. The port Portus selus provided transportation of goods.

Châteauceaux, until 942 a dependent of Poitou, then passed into the hands of Alain Barbetorte, Duke of Brittany; at his death, his wife remarried the Count of Anjou and Châteauceaux became the focus of political rivalries. Nevertheless, the parish remained a dependent of the diocese of Nantes. In 988, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou authorised construction of the fortress Châteauceaux and restored the toll.

Covering 30 hectares, entirely surrounded by ramparts, the fortress consists of three parts: the city, in which are still visible the two towers and the priory of Saint-Jean Baptiste; the bailiff containing stables and war material; and the castle with its drawbridge, double doors, two dungeons, the well, the vaulted cellar, the chapel of Saint-Pierre, and a stately home.

Geoffroy et Odéric de Châteauceaux

Having established the association of the pay de Mauges the bastard son of Alain Barbetorte—though NOT Hoël, as La Maison de Bastard claims but his younger son Guérech, we can now begin to construct a gene chart for the lords of Châteauceaux, and eventually come to a date for the relevant, out of place, charter.

Remaining with the narrative provided by M. l’Abbé Bourdeaut . . .

50 years pass without a trace found in the chronicles or the charters of the fortress raised by Renaud de Thuringe. When it does reappear it’s no longer in the domain of the counts of Nantes but has passed into that of the counts of Anjou. There it has become the apanage of a feudal family, that family probably the issue of Renaud de Thuringe. They take their name from this, their principal fief.

It is now that we find the donation charter (dated 1040-1044) by Geoffroy de Châteauceaux and his four brothers, Hardouin, Odéric, Rodulfus and Guiscelin, for the church of Saint-John Baptist to the monks of Marmoutiers. (See Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index)

But are these brothers the descendants of Renaud de Thuringe? Though for our purpose it is not essential. Bourdeaut admits the association rests on presumptions, though these he considers to be the strongest.

Renaud de Thuringe was the father of several children, most notably Renaud, bishop of Angers. This is verified in three different charters, each from a different source.

1: from Saint-Florent. This gives the name of Renaud Thorench, and clearly affirms his paternity of this prelate

2: a diploma of King Robert II, post 1000 AD, as resumé’d by M le canon Durville in his Cartulaire de Saint-Serge.

In a confirmation of the donation made by Renaud, bishop of Angers, to the abbey of Saint-Serge, of a share of the church of Saint-Remy-en-Mauges, King Robert tells us that the said bishop made this donation “pro anima sua et patris sui equivoci et matris suae Richildis, et fratis sui Hugonis”, text which clearly show us that this bishop Renaud had for father another Renaud, ‘equivoci and for mother Richilde’.

3: the signatories to a charter of Saint-Aubin d’Angers

Signum Raynaldi, episcopi Andegavensis
Signum Raynaldi, vicomitis patris ejus
This confirms that Renaud was father of the bishop of Angers and in addition was viscount to the count of Anjou. The title of viscount is attributed to him in the same Cartulaire for the year 960.

This Renaud de Thuringe who married Richilde had another son: Fouquois (Fulk) was successor from 993 to the title of viscount. A contemporary note recorded in the Cartulaire de Saint-Maurice d’Angers designates him as viscount of Rochefort-sur-Loire. This same Fouquois (Fulk) accompanied the bishop Renaud on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was with him when he died (at Embrum on 12 June 1005).

Fmg (Foundation for Medieval Genealogy) gives us the following chart:

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 8

Looking at the donation charter of 1044 we find, immediately after Geoffroy Martel, count of Anjou, Fulk de Rochefort and his brother Theobald, as if to prove the association.

Gauzfridi comitis.
S. Fulchrardi de Rupe Forti.
S. Tetbaldi fratris ejusdem Fulchrardi.
S. Teudonis Calvi.
S. Johannis de Aurela.
S. Gorideni Britonis.
S. Guarini Panzae.

We also see listed Johannis de Aurela. We have encountered that name before—in Part 1 of this post, and above: Donation au prieuré de Saint-Jean de Châteauceaux par le chevalier Jean d’Aurelle … (See Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index: Histoire Champtoceaux, p.278) It was this charter that features the name Odric Bastard who held land in the midst of the land John and his wife would have otherwise given.

I agree with Bourdeaut that the evidence does suggest a continuation of family from the founder Renaud de Thuringe to Geoffroy and Odric de Châteauceaux. That established, we can now quicken the pace.

The Lords of Châteauceaux

Some little time after the foundation of the priory of Saint-Jean de Châteauceaux (Histoire Champtoceaux p. 276; Morice col.385, see Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index)—perhaps the same year, suggests M. l’Abbé Bourdeaut, Geoffroy de Châteauceaux was mortally wounded near Amboise. He booked himself into Marmoutiers, donned the monk’s habit and, having given to the monks all customs and tolls for them to enjoy, without let or hindrance, in the bourg that the monks now possessed at Châteauceaux, he prepared to meet his maker. He was succeeded (1044-1049) by his brother Odric.

In the presence of Geoffroy Martel, count of Anjou, who approved his foundation, Odric gave to the monks of Marmoutiers . . .

for the sake of the souls of his father, of his mother, and of his brothers, Geoffroy, Hardouin, and Thibaud, who had predeceased him, the land of Tronchaie [apparently situated in front of the fortress], the tithe of the lands of Landemont, the canonry of Châteauceaux situated in the walls of the same castle, a third part of the fishery of Drain “tertiam partem piscarie de Drunio”, and the tithe of the port, 1¼ acre of vineyard at Varenne. His brother Guiscelin underwrote this donation.
(See Odéric de Châteauceaux donne au prieuré de Saint-Jean…la terre de la Tranchaie… Histoire Champtoceaux pp.280-281 in Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index)

And here we have two of our questions answered. That Geoffroy’s brother Guiscelin still was alive when Odric inherited strongly suggests Odric wasn’t named ‘Bastard’ for his mother’s lowly lineage—unless, of course, this Guiscelin was of the same ignoble mother. Therefore we may conclude that his tag, ‘Bastard’, in Jean d’Aurelle’s charter, was acquired from the land that he held.

It seems Odric de Châteauceaux enjoyed the favour of his suzerain Geoffroy Martel, receiving from him the same domain and the forest of Herisson where the count of Anjou had his stud farm in the custody of two tenants, in exchange for four prize horses, four ‘hunting parks/chases’ and four dogs. Favoured indeed. And, as M. l’Abbé Bourdeaut remarks, the heirs of Oderic de Châteauceaux never released their right over Herisson. (As an aside, I wonder if this is the same Herisson found on modern maps; if so it must have sat at the southernmost reach of the county of Anjou when at its most extensive for it’s in the Deux-Sèvres region of Poitou-Charente.)

But, as l’Abbé Bourdeaut puts it, the wheel of fortune ceaselessly turns. For reasons unknown, Geoffroy Martel had Odric removed. Circa 1060, the castle raised by Renaud de Thuringe was given to Odric’s son-in-law Thibaud de Jarzé.

The de Jarzé dynasty of Châteauceaux

At this point, wanting to know who this Thibaud de Jarzé might be, and failed in my quest by fr.wiki, I googled the name and came upon L’Intérgration des Mauges à l’Anjou au XIe Siècle by Teddy Veron. One day when I have more time I shall read its entirety, but for now our interest is with page 145 where a Gene Chart is given—here produced ‘in the style of ‘. . .

Le Pellerin Fig 2

 This Gene Chart effectively tells the next part of the Châteauceaux story.
(For charters supporting the de Jarzé dynasty at Châteauceaux
see Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index)

Thibaud, le sire de Jarzé, succeeded as seigneur de Châteauceaux in 1061. Of course, at once he took the name of de Châteauceaux, and he assisted in the principal campaigns of the seigneurs of Anjou and of Mauges i.e. along with the likes of Rouaud de Château-Gontier, Giroire de Beaupréaux, Guillaime de Passavant, Oger de Doué.

Circa 1064 Thibaud de Châteauceaux is named in the foundation charter for the priory of Liré by Archembauld, lord of that domain. Circa 1072-1074 he approves a donation by Budic de Liré made to Marmoutiers. It is then that he enters the monastery as a monk. He died c.1074. He was succeeded to Châteauceaux by his son Geoffroy de Jarzé.

Geoffroy de Jarzé de Châteauceaux also is named on various charters : e.g. he exempted all tollage on the boats of the abbey of Saint-Serge which were used to conduct monastery provisions from Nantes to Angers. With the consent of his wife Annila, of his son Thibaud, yet very young, and with the assent of his men and the principal vassals of Châteauceaux—Haldebert de Landemont, Jean d’Oudon, Geoffroy de Brihéri, Morel de Bouzillé, and of Albert his huntsman—he gave to the monks of Saint-Jean Baptiste, in the time of the prior Guy, rights to the tax on items sold at Châteauceaux. In other words, sufficient charters exist to validate this part of the history.

Geoffroy de Jarzé died around 1090. His only son, Thibaud, being a minor was placed in the guardianship of Daniel-Roger de Montrevault, his uncle through marriage with Agnes de Jarzé, sister of Geoffroy. He left also a daughter. Ermengarde, surnamed Warmaise.

Daniel-Roger of Montrevault accorded the abbot of Marmoutiers a part of toll on the merchants who frequented the Loire.

In the opening years of C12th, Pagan-Roger de Montrevault succeeded Daniel-Roger in his functions as guardian to young Thibaud de Jarzé, and assumed the burden of seigneur of Châteauceaux—until, sometime between 1105 and 1112, Thibaud de Jarzé finally came of age.

Thibaud de Jarzé did not live long as seigneur de Châteauceaux. He was dead by 1112.

Châteauceaux now passed to Ermengarde Warmaise, elder sister of Thibaud de Jarzé. By then she was wife of Geoffroy de Briollay who had given her three daughters: Thiephanie, Petronnille and Milescende. The first of these, Thiephanie, was later to marry Lisiard de Sablé, a powerful lord in Maine.

Ermengarde Warmaise de Jarzé left her husband and two older daughters while she established herself at Châteauceaux with the youngest of her children, Milescende. We find the name of Ermengarde Warmaise, great-granddaughter of Odric de Châteauceaux, on a charter of 1117 when she agreed to release the gift made by Berenger de Molières to the abbey of Saint-Aubin d’Angers which was of the forest of Hérisson, which, as we saw, count Geoffroy Martel had given to Odric.

Les Crespins de Châteauceaux

(For charters supporting the Crespins of Châteauceaux see Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index)

It was around this same date that, now widowed, Ermengarde Warmaise remarried. Her second husband was Amaury Crespin. Whether or not Amaury was son or brother of Guillaume Crespin, spouse of Eve de Montfort, a powerful Norman lord, as l’Abbé Bourdeaut believed, is irrelevant to our story. Though it does seem likely considering the rapport maintained with Normandy and England by the seigneurs de Châteauceaux during the C12th and C13th.

In 1117 Amaury Crespin became the new seigneur de Châteauceaux. Ermengarde Warmaise gave him two sons: Thibaud and Geoffroy Crespin. While Jarzé remained the property of her eldest daughter, Thiephanie (now married to Lisiard de Sablé), Châteauceaux was made the apanage of the children of this second marriage.

As with a number of laity, Amaury Crespin and his wife possessed revenues from several churches. In 1125, this couple with the consent of their two sons, Thibaud and Geoffroy, released to the monks of Marmoutiers three churches: Saint-Maimbœuf d’Angers, Beaufort-en-Vallée and Bessé. There is quite a story to this since Amaury Crespin didn’t possess the churches through personal inheritance, only in the name of his wife Ermengarde-Warmaise. So Ermengarde had to scheme a little to make everything right, for which she made a pilgrimage to Tours.

Amaury Crespin and his wife also gave to the abbey of Ronceray d’Anger—in 1123, in the time of the abbess Mabille, they gave the tithe of their fisheries and their mills. The gift was confirmed by their son Thibaud Crespin with additional exemption on the barges the monks used each year to bring salt from their marshes of Moutiers-en-Rays.

Ermengarde Warmaise de Jarzé died circa 1135. Although she left two sons, Thibaud and Geoffroy, only Thibaud is named in the donation charter of his parents to the monks of Ronceray. In 1144, Thibaud, now seigneur de Châteauceaux, ceded the churches inherited from his parents by archdeacon Normand to Itier, bishop of Nantes. These then were delivered to the monks of Marmoutiers. Circa 1150, Engelbaud, archbishop of Tours, ordered the maintenance of the monks in the possession of these churches. After this date, of 1150, the name of Thibaud Crespin does not appear.

It was, however, during Thibaud’s lordship that the fortress of Châteauceaux suffered its first siege (1141-1142). A number of vassals in Anjou and in Normandy had revolted against Geoffroy Plantagenet, Amaury and Thibaud Crespin amongst them. Geoffroy Plantagenet dealt with those of Anjou before going on to attack his Norman detractors. He besieged and took Châteauceaux, a campaign that the Annals of Saint-Florent designated ‘excidium Castri Celsi’ (the ruin of Châteauceaux) under the date 1141.

Geoffroy Crespin

Robert Crespin is the first seigneur de Châteauceaux known after Thibaud. There is no indication given in the charters as to his relationship with Thibaud. He married the lady Garsie who gave him no children. His inheritance passed into the hands of his nephew, Simon Crespin. Again, we’re left to guess at his father’s name. Simon married Etiennette de Chantocé but died soon after succeeding, with no direct heirs. His brother Geoffroy succeeded to Châteauceaux.

In sorrow Geoffroy Crespin took possession of Châteauceaux and hastened, for the ease of the souls of his uncle Robert, for his father and their predecessors, to confer new generosities upon the monks of Saint-Jean, after gaining the assent of his wife Marguerite, and of his children and his principal vassals.

Following their overlord, the vassals of Châteauceaux—Reginald de Blois, Rolland de Liré, Mathieu Barbotin, Amaury d’Oudon, Rivallon le Vielleur, Pierre de Landemont, Chacé Bourgond, Perdriel, Guy de Clisson, Guillaume de Barbechat, Geoffroy de Brihéri—hastened to bring their offerings, that Geoffroy Crespin ratified.

And so we have arrived at Geoffroy Crespin and the charter that mentions ‘feodo de Bastardaria’ that has caused so much trouble: Fondation du Prieuré de Châteauceaux, given by Morice, col.384-385, Lobineau, col. 184-185 and Histoire Champtoceaux, p.112 (See Le Pellerin Pt 2 Charter Index).

The Antecedents of Geoffroy Crespin

We’re in a position now to construct a gene chart for Geoffroy Crispin, using all the information available to us.

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 9

From Geoffroy and Odric, to Thibaud de Jarzé de Châteauceaux

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 10

Les Crespins de Châteauceaux
And so we see the ‘Bastardaria’ charter dates to c.1185
135 years after that of the foundation of the priory at Le Pellerin

Conclusions—Hasty and Those More Considered

If Odric de Châteauceaux was also known as Odric Bastard—and it was not due to his mother’s lowly birth—it might be fair to assume that his great-grandchildren Norman and Pagan also, occasionally, bore that name. And here it is very tempting to equate Norman with miles Normandus Bastardus who in 1101 made a gift to the abbey of Saint-Sauveur at Redon (because his wife, Odicie, was dying). But Norman Bastard, guardian of the young Thibaud Châteauceaux, was son of Daniel-Roger de Montrevault. He was not son of Guehenoc. It is this kind of facile association that allowed—encouraged?—deceived?—the compiler of la maison de Bastard genealogy to connect two entirely unrelated families. And there really was no need.

The Bastard family has roots equally as deep of those of Le Pellerin. They first appear as the seigneurs de Châteauceaux, named for the Bastard’s fief—which was not the small portion of land mentioned in Geoffroy Crispin’s charter of c.1185 but comprised three pagi, originally a gift from William Tow Head, count of Poitiers, to Alain Barbetorte in 942 and later claimed by Alain’s bastard son, Guérech. Hence its name.

As to the origins of the first seigneur de Châteauceaux, Reginald de Thuringe . . . though we can speculate upon his name, I suspect the truth is lost to the mists of time and ever more shall be. Yet, whoever the family, they were sufficiently well thought of by the counts of Anjou to be given the responsibility of viscounts along the Breton marches. Certainly that was no ignoble beginning.


In the next post we’ll be looking at The Women of Machecoul.

Machecoul was the stronghold of the Lords of Le Retz, including the most notorious, Gilles de Rais, Marshal of France and brother in arms of Joan of Arc—otherwise known as Bluebeard.

The Bastards of Le Pellerin (Part I)

Le Pellerin Map I

Of the families covered in this series of posts, those of Le Pellerin are more ‘Nantais’ than ‘Rais’, Le Pellerin being situated upon the bank of the Loire—that very same place which, as we saw in the previous post, was in the C10th a Viking enclave. For that reason it seemed a good place to start.

Le Pellerin, Its Name and Early History

This one-time fishing village gained its ‘Le Pellerin’ name from its opportune siting at a traditional crossing of the Loire used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages en route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. ‘Le Pelerin’ (it medieval name) is a corruption of the Latin peregrinum, a traveller or pilgrim. Its Breton name has other connotations: Pentello, or ‘Pont-Tellou’, the Bridge of Taxes.

Despite its heathen (Viking) origins by mid-C11th the lord of Le Pellerin had founded a priory, a member of the Abbey of Marmoutier. It is from its foundation charter that we discover the lord’s name. Roald. Or Rodaldus as rendered in Latin.

But it seems this Roald bore another name, a nickname or surname that over the centuries has given rise to the claims of royal descent by la maison de Bastard. To quote:

  • Vicomtes de Fussy, Comtes et Barons d’Estang, Vicomtes de Soulangis, Barons d’Herry, Marquis de Fontenay-Survègre, Marquis de La Cressoniière et Barons du Petit-Château
  • Seigneurs de Bastardière-sur-Sèvre, du Pèlerin-sur-Loire, de La Preuille, La Gohélière, Sainte-Solange, Terland, Maultrot, Le Bosq, Bréchan, Bartère, Las Bouères, Saint-Denis et L’Ile-Chrétienne, La Fitte-Vigordane, Pominet, La Frille, Dobert, La Paragère, Crosses, La Porte-au-Bastard, Kerbiquet, Villeneuve, Les Métairies, Mesmeur, Kerguiffinec, etc., etc., en France
  • et d’Elforde, Gerston, Kitley, Sharpham, etc., en Angleterre.
  • Existants encore à Paris, en Guienne et Gascogne, en Bretagne et en Devonshire.

So let’s look at this Roald du Pèlerin-sur-Loire . . .

The Priory of Le Pellerin, Foundation Charter

This charter is available to us online from several sources. Such multiple versions are an unusual bonus. By allowing a check, one to the other, we come as close as possible to the origin. For each of those sources had to be transcribed, and ultimately that was from the charter found in the Cartulaire de Marmoutiers. Though that, itself, may not have been the original but rather a later transcription. And with each transcription errors may enter.

These sources are (in order of publication):

  1. Dom Lobineau, Histoire de Bretagne, vol 2, Paris, 1707
    col 170-171
  2. Dom Morice, Memoires pour servir de preuves à l’Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne’, vol 1, 1742
    col. 383-384: ‘Fondation du Prieuré du Pèlerin, membre de Marmoutiers’
  3. Le Pellerin, on the info.bretagne site.
    The charter (and it’s translation given in French) can be found halfway down the page.
  4. Telma – a site run by the university of Lorraine, with transcriptions of charters conserved in France and dating to before 1121 (some also include scans of originals).
    However, the relevant charter (No 2869) is taken from the same ‘Fondation du Prieuré du Pèlerin, membre de Marmoutiers’ published by Dom P.H. Morice in his ‘Mémoires pour servir de preuves à l’histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne’, above.

Transcriptions in full of all relevant charters cited are available on ‘Le Pellerin Charter Index’.

Initially, our interest lies with the family details as given in the charter. From those we can construct a Gene Chart.

Lobineau, undated

ego Rualdus seculari militie
Hanc autem donationem à me factam assensu voluntateque Orhuandis uxoris mee, filii quoque mei ac fratris Candelabrii videl. atque Jarnegonis, sororumque mearum Imnoguent, Orvalis, Ceciliæ, necnon & hominum meorum consilio quorum infra continentur scripta vocabula …

Morice, undated

 … ego Rualdus, seculari militie …
Hanc autem donationem à me factam assensu voluntateque Orhuandis uxoris meæ, filii quoque mei ac fratris Candelabri videl. atque Jarnegonis, sororumque mearum Imnoguent, Orvalis, Ceciliæ, nес non & hominum meorum consilio quorum infra continentur scripta vocabula

info.bretagne’s source, dated to 1050

ego Rualdus, seculari milicie
… Hanc autem donationem a me factam, assensu volontateque Orthuandis uxoris meœ, filii quoque mei, ac fratrorum Candelabri atque Iarnegonis, sororum que Immoguent, Orvalis et Cecilea, nec non hominum meorum …

Telma, dated to 1040-1044

… ego videlicet Rualdus seculari militiȩ
… Hanc autem donationem a me factam assensu voluntateque Orhuandis uxoris meȩ filii quoque mei ac fratris, Cadelabrii videlicet atque Jarnegonis, sororumque mearum Imnoguenth, Orvalis, Ceciliȩ, necnon et hominum meorum consilio quorum infra continentur scripta vocabula …

They’re identical, right? Apart from Telma’s omission of the ‘n’ in Candelabrii, and the orthography (Cecilea; Ceciliȩ). But there are other seemingly minor differences.

  • info.bretagne‘s source has Orthuandis where the others have Orhuandis.
  • info.bretagne’s source also subtly alters the punctuation—which anyway is unlikely to be in the original.
    See uxoris meœ, filii quoque mei, ac fratrorum
    compared to Telma’s uxoris meȩ filii quoque mei ac fratris.
  • Then again, Lobineau and Morice have quoque mei ac fratris Candelabrii videl. atque Jarnegonis …
    while info.bretagne’s source omits the videl.
    and Telma gives it in full: Cadelabrii videlicet atque Jarnegonis …

But these are such small discrepancies. What difference can they make? In the matter of the wife’s name the answer is quite a lot, though I’m sure it was unintended.

I’m not conversant with Medieval Breton, but in the past I had a brief flirtation with Gaelic. Thus I know that in the Celtic languages ‘h’ is used grammatically as an aspirant. But to apply the grammatical rules of one (later, and not even closely related) language to another would be foolish. Yet that use of the aspirating ‘h’ at the end of the first syllable loudly shouts Breton, while the ‘th’ could as easily have been a Scandinavian influence. Moreover, while Orthuandis might morph to Orduande, Orhuandis morphs to Orvande/Orvante. A minor detail perhahs, but not when trying to track a family through the charters of the High Middle Ages.

As to the matter of punctuation: that can give a whole new meaning, especially when coupled with fratrorum (info.bretagne’s source) where the other three have fratris.

fratrorum, as given by info.bretagne’s source, is not only wrong (the form used belongs to 2nd declension) but is also the genitive-plural rather than the genitive-single which would be fratris.

Latin declension fratre Fig1

Thus info.bretagne’s:

… filii quoque mei, ac fratrorum Candelabri atque Iarnegonis …

translates to (to give it infull form before condensing)

… of the children, too, of me, and, moreover, of my brothers Candelabri and further of Jarnegon …
i.e.
… and also of my children, as well as those of my brothers Candelabri and further of Jarnegon …

Now set this against that given in the other three sources:

… filii quoque mei ac fratris Candelabrii videlicet atque Jarnegonis 
… and also of my children and of my brother, namely Candelabrii, and (further) of Jarnegon.

But, filii . . .? Should that be translated as ‘children’? Roald is saying he has the agreement of his wife, and that of his children.

Of the children of me : filiorum mei
Of the son of me: filii mei

So let’s reassess that translation.

… filii quoque mei, ac fratrorum Candelabri atque Iarnegonis …
… of the son, too, of me, and, moreover, of my brothers Candelabri and further of Jarnegon …

But that can’t be right either: ‘… of the son, moreover, of my brothers … No. Surely that should read, as the others have it, ‘… of the son of my brother, namely Candelabre, and of course, of Jarnegon …’

This alters how we construct the gene chart:

Le Pellerin GeneChart 1a

Le Pellerin ‘a’ Series will be those verified by charter;
Le Pellerin ‘b’ series, those according to info.bretagne’s source.
See next chart, Ib.

Le Pellerin GeneChart 1b

 A Guide to Le Pellerin’s Genealogy

When seeking the connections within a family it helps to have a guide, even if it does prove unreliable. So, to return to info.bretagne and it’s unnamed source:

Around AD 1000 one ‘Richer’ was lord of the fief de la Bastardière (in the parish of Gorges near Clisson). This Richer had a son Roald who, circa 1040, married Orhuande, dame du Pellerin-sur-Loire (de Peregrino). Dom Morice is cited as source.

Roald died in 1087, aged then 46—which is odd, since he married Orhuande in 1047. The source is not given.

Roald and Orhuande had a son—unnamed at the time of the priory’s foundation, as we saw—“the son, too, of me”—though info-bretagne’s source names him as Robert-Bastard.

Roald and Orhuande then had a second son, Judicaël. Note that Candelabre and Jarnegon are no longer cited as sons. I have therefore arranged them as potentially brother and nephew as per the other sources.

Le Pellerin GeneChart 2b

We have documentary evidence for both Pagan and Judicaël.

Cartulaire de l’Abbaye de Redon (a collection of charters of the abbey of Saint-Sauveur, Redon, in Brittany, with additional material by Aurélien de Courson). Charter CCCCLXXV (p316 Item CCCLXIV) is a donation charter. It seems to be internally dated to 1060:

Hoc factum fuit apud Saviniacum, coram multis nobilibus nomina quorum subter scribentur, anno ab incarnatione Domini millesimo sexagesimo ……Conano comite namneticam urbem gubernante, Erardo illius civitatis episcopo existente et hoc donum annuente

Yet Erard was bishop of Nantes 1049-1052, and Conan dates 1040-1066. info-bretagne gives 1070.

The charter is also given by Lobineau (col.176) and Morice (col.410): Autre fatte à Redon par Rouaud du Pelerin. [For transcription in full see Le Pellerin Charter Index]

Charter CCCCLXXV, Cartul. Roton.

Notum sit tam presentibus quam futuris quod Rodaldus de Peregrino quidam nobilissimus miles ……

...Testes hujus rei Rodaldus ipse qui donum fecit
Paganus, filius ejus, et Judicahel, alter filius, testes;
Harscuidus, Richardi filius, testis;
Lanbertus, Haeni filius, testis;
Jarnogonus, Loripes, cliens ejus, testis ;
Mainus, et Eudo et Evenus, tres Ogerii filii, testes;
Perenesius, abbas, qui donum accepit, testis;
Sausoiarnus, testis;
Merionus, monachus, testis;
Tanoarn, presbyter, testis;
Cadodal, testis, presbyter;
Tutual de Cordemes, testis;
Escomar de Laval, testis.

Lobineau, col. 176

... Testes hujus rei Rodaldus ipse qui donum fecit
Paganus filius ejus & Judicaël alter filius tt.
Harscuidus Ricardi filius t.
Lambertus Haëni filius t.
Jarnogonus Loripes cliens ejus testes
Mainus & Eudo & Evenus tres Ogerii filii testes.
Perenesius Abbas testis.
Tutual de Cordemes t.
Escomar de Laval testis, &c….

Except from the four absent priests there is little difference between the two, Redon’s version and Lobineau’s.

Roald’s gift to the abbey of Saint-Sauveur was a quarter part of the island of Her, better known as the Isle de Hermintier, Noirmoutier—a former Viking stronghold.

It is interesting that Roald’s first-born son, Robert-Bastard, is not cited in this charter—unless he was otherwise known as Pagan. Or dead.

So now with a degree confidence we can update the ‘a’ Series . . .

Le Pellerin GeneChart 2a

Then to return to the narrative . . .

Roald and the Lady Orvene

By 1080 Orhuande had died and Roald remarried, now to a Lady Orvene . . . No. Hold. Wait. Might Orvene and Orhuande be the same? (See above) But I found the charter that names ‘Roald and the Lady Orvene’. It’s in Lobineau, col.164-165, and also Morice col.471-472.

Rodoaldus quidam miles litteratus habens tamen uxorem nomine Orvenem & filium

This does look like our couple. Roald. Orvene. Yet in Morice that charter is headed as ‘Fondation du Prieuré de Ponchâteau’. What is Roald du Pelerin doing, founding a priory at Ponchâteau?

The witness list reveals it all:

… Jarnigonius & Gaufredus & Judicalis filii ipsius Danielis. Agnes etiam uxor ejus …
… Helias filius David, Alanus filius ejus, & Marmita uxor ipsius, & Paganus frater ejus …

Recognise any of these names? Here’s a clue: Jarnogon de Ponte:

Gene Chart: Lords of Pontchateau

Quapropter in Dei nomine ego Helias de Ponte videlicet filius David & uxor mea Marmita nomme & filius noster Alanus & filia nostra Angur damus pro filio nostro Thoma nomine jam monacho apud Majus-Mon. recipiendo
From Lobineau, col 165 Titres de Marmontier
[It immediately follows the charter of Roald and wife Orvene]

Although the charter isn’t dated, we can assign a tentative date of circa 1126 from internal evidence. See ‘GeneChart Lords Pontchateau’ above.

If I read the‘ Roald and Lady Orvene’ charter right (Lobineau, col.164-165; Morice col.471-472.) it dates to shortly after 1079 when Quiriac, son of Alain Caingart de Cornouaille, duke of Brittany, succeeded his brother, Benedict, as Bishop of Nantes. Roald du Pellerin was still alive in 1087, so that’s not a problem. Yet we do need to question what Roald and Orvene (new wife or old) were doing founding a priory in Ponchâteau. That would have been the role of Daniel de Ponte.

According to the charter’s preamble, Roald, a learned knight with wife Orvene and son—one son—Ulric (young yet weaned) was dying. That often was the spur to donation. I feel inclined to jettison this one. Neither Roald nor Orvene were uncommon names.

To move on . . .

Norman son of Roald

Still following the narrative supplied by info.bretagne’s source: From this second marriage a son was born. Not Ulric, as above named, but Norman.

Norman married Odicie. Odicie, believing herself mortally ill, entered a convent. Norman likewise became a monk. But previously Norman and Odicie had produced two children: Guéhénoc and Pierre (called Pierre du Pellerin, which might suggest he became the lord). This ‘Pierre du Pellerin’ is noted in 1099 as being amongst the lords who set out to the Holy Land. Since few returned he may have died there.

A search through the charters verifies the existence of Norman and Odicie, as well as that of Pagan (Lobineau, col.256; Cartul. Redon pp 321-322).

The relevant charter records the gift made to the abbey of Saint-Sauveur (Redon) by miles Normandus Bastardus nomine Guehenoci filius. It is dated to 1101.

From Lobineau Histoire de Bretagne, col.256  [given in full]:

Ad utilitatem tam præsentium quam futurorum, libuit describere qualiter quidam miles Normandus Bastardus nomine Guehenoci filius pro salute animæ suæ nec non pro sospitate atque remedio animæ suæ conjugis Odiciæ scil. quæ ob gravem infirmitatem monialem habitum sumpserat & ipsum supradictum Dominum suum amore summi Regis spontanea voluntate dimiserat (nam parentes proximi erant) dedit S. Salvatori suisque monachis in perpetuum libere & sine calumpnia sicuti ipsi possidebant duas partes decimæ cum omni Presbyterio de Capella quæ vocatur Berle nec non & iv. partem decimæ de Alarac & Bothavalon in Siz.

Acta sunt autem hæc anno ab Incar. Dom. mci. Alano Comite Britanniam gubernante [Alan Fergant]. Morvano Episcopatum in Venetia administrante. Benedicto Namnetensem Ecclesiam laboriosissime regente. Justino Abbate Rotonense coenobium strenue protegente.

Facta est autem hæc donatio coram multis nobilibus viris tam mon. quam Laïcis scil.
Justinus Abb. qui donum suscepit.
Eudon mon.
Moyses mon.
Jarnogonus mon.
Barbotus Laïcus.
Paganus filius Omnes.
Normant qui dedit & spopondit per fidem.
Daniel filius Aldron. Menki frater ejus. Hamon filius Maenki. & Radul. frater ejus.
Heojarndetum.
Thomas fil. Pagani.
Rabin & Gleuden filii Glemarhuc.
Derian fil. Cokelin.
& Justin fil. Blenlivet.
& Judicael & Heoiarn mon. fratres Normandi.
Heoiar Pincerna.
Hervi filius Teuhel.
Cartul. Roton.

From Cartulaire de l’Abbaye de Redon pp 321-322. Item CCCLXVIII. Charter No. CCCCLXXX.

Ad utilitatem tam presentium quam futurorum libuit describere, ut memoriter possit teneri, qualiter quidam miles Normandus, Bastardus nomine, Guehenoci filius, illius amore repletus, qui vocat ea que non sunt tanquam ea que sunt, pro salute sue anime necnon prosospitate atque remedio animæ sue conjugis Odicia, scilicet que ob gravem infirmitatem monialem habitum sumpserat, et ipsum supradictum dominum suum, amore summi regis, spontanea voluntate, dimiserat, nam parentes proximi erant, dedit Sancto Salvatori suisque monachis, libere et sine calumpnia, sicuti ipsi possidebant, duas partes decimæ, cum omni presbyterio de capella que vocatur Berle, quas ipsa hereditario jure possidebat et etiam ab ipsis suis coheredibus .viii. libras emerat, excepto hoc si contigerit quod ipse prefatus miles in ipsa Berle domum alicujus sui meditarii habuerit, pars illius meditarii de decima monachis Sancti Salvatoris erit.

Pars vero Normandi Rabino Glemarhoci fili [sic] erit; necnon quartam partem decime de Alarac , nam aliam quartam a Dereano et ab ejus filio Eveno cum monacho nomine Rotberto jam habebamus, liberam et ab omni inquisitione inmunem dedit; etiam in plebe que vocatur Siz, partem terre que sibi in dominio habebat in villa Bothavalon, et locum molendini in Karnun, sine censu vel calumnia ulli homini nisi Sancto Salvatori ejusque monachis, cum omnibus appendiciis sibi pertinentibus.

Acta sunt autem haec, anno ab incarnatione Domini. M.C.I., Alano comite Britanniam gubernantæ, Morvano episcopatum in Venetia amministrante, Benedicto namnetensem aecclesiam laboriosisime [sic] regente, Justino abbate rotonensem cenobium strenue protegente. Per omnia benedictus Deus.

Facta est autem haec donacio coram multis nobilibus viris tam monachis quam laicis, scilicet :
Justinus, abbas, qui donum recepit;
Eudonus, monachus;
Moyses, monachus;
Jarnogonus, monachus;
Barbotas, laicus;
Paganus filius Omnes.

Testes autem hujus donationis sunt hi :
Normant, qui dedit et spopondit per fidem, testis;
Daniel, filius Aldron, testis; similiter et Menki frater ejus, et Hamon, filius Maenki, testes; et Radulfus, frater ejus, testis;
Heoiarn, decanus, testis;
Tomas, filius Pagani, testis;
Rabin et Gleuden, filii Glemarhuc, testes;
Derian, filius Cokelin, testis;
et Justin, filius Blinliuet, testis;
et Judicalis et Heoiarn monachus, fratres Normandi , testes;
Heoiarn, pincerna, testis;
Hervi, filius Teuhel, testis.

As you can see, they are not quite the same. Lobineau has edited the charter down its minimum, with the 2-parts of the tithes from Berle and the 4-parts from Alarac and Bothavalon in Siz all given in that one paragraph. Yet that same paragraph in the Cartulaire de Redon deals only with the matter of Berle-chapel, while the second paragraph names several other people who will contribute to Norman’s gift of tithes from Alarac and Bothavalon: Rabin son of Glemarhoc; Derean (son of Cokelin in the witness list), and Derean’s son, Evan, with the monk named Robert.

This gift by the learned knight Norman Bastard is witnessed by Thomas son of Pagan.

At first appearance, yes, the charter seems to support the narrative. Except, once again, for a few minor details.

Normandus Bastardus nomine Guehenoci filius
Normand Bastard named son of Guehenoc.

Yet info.bretagne’s source gives it the other way round, as Guehenoc son of Norman (Guehenoc Normandi Bastardi filius ), who is, himself, son of Roald.

Against this it must be said that Roald did have a (verified) son Judicaël, who would have been brother to Norman, and here we see ‘Judicaël & Heoiarn (monks) brothers of Norman’.

Pellerin is not mentioned.

Normandus Bastardus could be any knight bearing that surname. (This is a period when surnames were not only more commonly used but were also increasingly inherited.)

Tomas, filius Pagani, too, has no obvious connection with Le Pellerin.

Moreover, while not a disqualifying factor, Siz is today known as Sixt-sur-Aff, situated to the north of Redon. A goodly distance from Le Pellerin; a fair distance even from Pontchâteau.

None of this inspires confidence to accept a ‘Pellerin’ identification for Norman and his wife. However, here is the Gene Chart produced from this data.

Le Pellerin GeneChart 3b

 Judicaël son of Pagan du Pellerin

That same year, 1101, Judicaël son of Pagan du Pellerin is a named witness to an act published by Alain-Fergent, duke of Brittany (says the narrative).

I’ve been unable to find this charter. However, Lobineau does have a charter by Alain-Fergent from the Cartul blanc de S. Florent dated to 1086, and amongst the laity witnessing are:

Judicalis filius Rotaldi. Judicalis frater ejus …
… Enisanus Bastardus …
(Lobineau col.146)

Judicalis filius Rotaldi looks promising, though not the one sought,. For we have already verified that Roald did have a son Judicaël (fl.1070). But did he also have a brother Judicaël?

According to the narrative, Judicaël son of Pagan du Pellerin also appears twice more in the witness lists of Alain-Fergent, duke of Brittany, first in 1105 where he is named as one of the duke’s baron, and again in 1110. I cannot find them—which is not to say they don’t exist, merely that they are not included in the sources I’ve been able to find online.

What I have found are these:

  • Donations confirmées par Friould Vicomte de Dönges & Arscot de Rais.
    Morice, col 435 & Telma No: 2860, dated 1092

… Tempore Frioldi Vicecomitis Dongiae, qui de dit nobis insulam Tyrinniacum … quam eleemosynam concessit Judicaël de Peregrino de quo ille suam sextam in terra Dongiæ tenebat.
Titre de Marmoutiers,

  • Le Duc donne à Marmoutiers la foret de Puzarles.
    Lobineau, col 264 & Morice, col 523-524

The duke in question is Alain-Fergant (1072-1112) with his wife (married 1093) Ermengarde d’Anjou.

… Huic tam quiete confirmationi interfuerunt hi proceres Nannetenses. Alanus de Maidon. Rivallonius Popardus. Guido de Daona. Freor filius Bugaudi. Paganus fil. Restaneti. Simo Tosardus. Harscoidus de sancto Petro. Judicalis de Peregrino. Freor de Migrone. Evanus Prepositus …

But is this Judicaël son of Pagan, or son of Roald?

In 1112, so the narrative tell us, Judicaël’s brother, Pagan du Pellerin, is named as ‘one of the lords’ who gave counsel to Conan III le Gros in a donation charter to the abbey of Saint-Sauveur, Redon.

  • Donation faite à l’Abbaye de Redon par le Duc Conan III. pour l’entretien de son pere.
    Lobineau col.270 & Morice col 526. both quoting from Cartulaire de Redon.

And true enough, amongst the witnesses is listed :

Paganus filius Rodaldi

But again, no mention of Le Pellerin and, as already said, Roald was not an uncommon name.

And so the narrative continues with dates and the possible charters. Yet each turn out much the same: to be far from conclusive. It, here, seems pointless to continue the search and to construct the gene charts until first we can establish that the name of ‘Bastard’ does, in fact, belong to the family at Pellerin.

The Family Bastard

Despite the story given of Roald du Pellerin/Roaud Bastard on ‘Le Pellerin’ page of info-bretagne, which faithfully follows whatever its source (which we’re shortly to uncover), elsewhere on the same site—bretagne milites—the inclusion of the Bastard surname is questioned.

To quote:

“In the founding charter of the priory of Pelerin-sur-Loire, he is entitled Ego Roaldus, sœculari militiœ deditus. In another charter of 1060 relating to a donation made ​​to the abbey of Saint-Sauveur de Redon, he was named Roaldus of Peregrino, quidam miles nobilissimus. Roald’s descendants retained the name of Pelerin (today Pellerin). We find among them Pierre du Pelerin, who died in 1248; as far as is know, the last of that name. In more recent times, Pierre du Pelerin has been renamed as ‘Pierre Bastard du Pelerin’.”

As we have already seen, the Bastard name has been thoroughly applied to the Pellerin family. But why? Following on from the quote, the above writer suggests it was done for what we might call ‘gaining a pedigree’, particularly a noble pedigree, and perpetrated by John Bastard, sr., of l’Herpinière and la Bastardière, George Bastard’s father, who died 1467. [George Bastard was a Breton nobleman attached to the service of King Charles VI and the Duke of Guyenne then the Dauphin.]

There was a drive in the late Middle Ages to hitch one’s genetic cart to the most noble source possible, preferrably royal. And with a name like ‘Bastard’ they no doubt felt the need. But why adopt Roald du Pelerin as their ancestor? Though he’s described as a ‘very noble knight’, ‘one of the first’ in the area to found a priory. But the early to mid C11th saw a spate of priory foundations, first by the upper ranks of nobility (dukes and counts) then by their juniors eager to ape them (castellans and seigneurs). Roald du Pelerin was hardly the first. So as an explanation that doesn’t hold.

Some Other or Related Bastards of C11th-C12th

As info.bretagne points out, it was already a common surname. These are a small selection of the ‘Bastard’ names found in the charters (No, they are not in the ‘Index’ since it is only the names required).

  • Donation faite a Redon par Judicael Seigneur de Loheас. Dated 1062-1080
    Cartulaire de Redon, Charter CCCL ; p.233 item CCLXXXVI & Morice page 275-276 col. 434-435 :

Haec donatio facta est Philippo regnum Francie obtinente, annuente Raginaldo episcopo, qui tunc temporis episcopium Sancti Maclovii regebat, Hoello Cornubie presidente, Gaufrido notho, filio Alani, urbem Redonum optinente; in qua donatione facienda fuerunt plurimi nobiles testes : in primis ipse Judicaelus, qui istud donum fecit; Herveus, filius ejus, et Guethenocus, alter filius, atque Gualterus, testes; Rodaldus, bastardus; Daniel, bastardus

Here we’re given two names for bastards: notho is from the Greek.

  • Item de Roca dated 1063-1076
    Cartulaire de Redon, Charter CCCCXLI; p.279 item CCCXXVIII

Quae donatio facta est in Rupe, coram Bernardo domino ejusdem Rupis, regnante Hoelo comite Nampnetensium , et Quiria co gubernante episcopatum nampnetense. De hoc dono teste sunt : Guennedat, Guorreden, Bastart

  • Decima Sancti Maioci. ca.1101
    Cartulaire de Redon, p.266 item CCCXXXVIII

Ad utilitatem tam presentium quam futurorum, solliciti fuimus describere, ut memoriter possit teneri, qualiler Gualterius Lohoiacensis, Rotaldi Bastardi filius, cum consensu et voluntate suorum fratrum

  • (continuation of…) Fondation du Prieuré de Beré par Brient Seigneur de Chateaubrient.
    Morice col 401
    [My favourite; it’s like every other witness is named as ‘bastard’]

Nosse debetis nobilem quemdam nomine Briennum possessorem castri cujusdam in pago Namnetensium quod ejus nomine appellatur castrum Briensi, atque ipsius matrem nomine Innoguendem … Testes de dono Rotberti Eudo filius Hervei de Rubiaco. Widdenocus frater ejus bastardus. Moyses de Arbraio. Otelinus Vicarius, Herveus Vicarius. Demercus Telonarius. De dono Gaufredi , Gaufredus frater ipsius bastardus. Gauffredus filius. Maino filius Ansberti. Normannus filius Alenaldi. Maino Brito. Eudo Biturigensis filius bastardus Alani Comitis. Alcarius Burgensis.
Titre de Marmoutiers.

  • Donation faite à l’Abbaye de S. Georges par la Duchesse Berthe.
    Morice col 393

Item post annum xxii. hujus primæ donationis quia voluit nos Deus superstites, ecce roboravimus ego Bertha videlicet & filius meus Conanus, ore confirmamus & manu tetigimus hujus donationis cartam, tangendamque his nostris fidelibus & amicis tradidimus. Silvester testis, Budic filius Vicecomitis t. Poncius filius Aldroni t. Giron filius Ansquetil t. Gauterius de Acciniaco t. Robertus Pirot t. Fulcherius filius Rivalloni Landaurensis t. Gauffridus filius Vicecomitis t. Gauterius filius Harlogoni, Herveus ejusdem Gauterii filius, Guegonus bastardus. Signum t. Bertha, Signum Conani t. Comitis.
Cartul. S. Georgii Reden [Rennes].

  • Donation au prieuré de Saint-Jean de Châteauceaux par le chevalier Jean d’Aurelle, sa femme Barzeloine, ses enfants : Budic, Agnès, Orguen, d’une borderie en Landemont.
    Histoire Champtoceaux
    , pp. 277/78

... Alteram enim medietatam dare non poterat, quia, eam cum tota decima, quidam Odricus Bastardus in cujus terrarum medio hœc terre particula consistit, tenebat...
Cartulaire de Marmoutiers

  • Don du Tiers de l’Eglise de Montreuil a l’Abbaye de Saint Serge.
    Morice col 412

Firmata est autem hac carta in castello Vitreaco ante Domnum Robertum seniorem ejusdem castri coram multis testibus quorum nomina subscriptimus. Domnus Robertus Dominus Vitreaci castri. Rivallonus filius Ratfredi ……. Merillonus filius Hainerii filii Frogerii Maino Bastardus frater ejus……
Cartul. S. Sergii.

Then, of course, there was Geoffroy le Bastard, count of Rennes, illegitimate son of Alain III Duke of Brittany 1008-1040.

“The Historia sancti Florentii Salmurensis records the donation by “comes Brittaniæ Goffredus cognomento Bastardus cum…uxoris suæ Bertæ“, undated.

“His parentage is suggested by the charter dated 1050 relating to the abbey of Saint-Georges de Rennes witnessed by “Comes Eudo et nepos eius Gaufridus, Robertus vicecomes et frater eius Eudo…Guichomarus filius Alani vicecomitis…”
From fmg.

Bastard: the Name, the Meaning, the Use

It was around here that I decided to check out the attitudes and law regarding bastardy in C11th. Why was the name applied? It couldn’t be merely a matter of ‘born out of wedlock’ as it was to become post-Cromwellian England. Though being a flag-waving Saxon-Dane, I do often wonder if the English contemptuous inflection of that word originates post-1066 when the Bastard William trampled all over our land.

The first I found was an article in en.wiki: Bastard, Law of England and Wales.

To quote:

“Bastardy was not a status, like villeinage, but the fact of being a bastard had a number of legal effects on an individual.”

i.e. a bastard could not inherit, although this clearly wasn’t the case with the Bastard William. He inherited his father’s dukedom, though with a bit of a fight, and it helped that there were no other heirs.

“The Provisions of Merton 1235 (20 Hen. 3 c. IX), otherwise known as the Special Bastardy Act 1235, provided that except in the case of real actions the fact of bastardy could be proved by trial by jury, rather than necessitating a bishop’s certificate.”

‘Real actions’? Ah, inheritance.

Fr.wiki proved even less helpful:

« Bâtard » était prononcé au XII e siècle « bastard » dans toutes les langues.”
By C12th “Bastard” was pronounced “bastard” in every language.

And the Oxford Online Dictionary:

“Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin bastardus, probably from bastum ‘packsaddle’
Compare with Old French fils de bast, ‘packsaddle son’ (i.e. the son of a mule driver who uses a packsaddle for a pillow and is gone by morning).”

And then I came upon a gem. Sara McDougall, posting on the Institute for Advanced Study site:

“Today we use the term bastard as an insult, or to describe children born outside lawful marriage. Before the thirteenth century, definitions of illegitimate birth offer more complexity and flexibility. In analyzing the language of illegitimate birth as it appears in medieval sources, we can identify three main concerns, which sometimes overlapped and were, on occasion, quite willfully conflated: social status, paternity, and marital status. Prior to the thirteenth century, the marital status of the parents had far less importance for royal succession than we might expect. Instead, attention largely focused on a child’s mother, her social status, and her sexual morals.

“… This most famous of royal bastards, William I, Duke of Normandy and King of England, we find called bastard in medieval sources, of course, bastardus or bastart, but also called nothus, an ancient Greek term used in Athens to indicate illegitimate birth, birth to anyone other than two Athenian citizens. Other royal bastards might be called mamzer, a Hebrew term for illegitimate, or spurius, an ancient Latin term for a child born to illicit sex, or to an unknown father.

William the Conqueror wasn’t called mamzer or spurius. His mother was known; she was neither promiscuous not a prostitute. William was the son of Duke Robert and his concubine Herleva; their relationship wasn’t even adulterous, since neither were married elsewhere.

So, as Sara McDougall asks, what was it about William’s parentage that so offended? Why call him a bastard?

The C12th chronicler Orderic Vitalis described William as nothus. This has been the subject of much scholarly contention: What did he mean by it? Apparently the problem wasn’t with Herleva’s marital status but rather her lineage—i.e. her low status as the daughter of a tanner or an undertaker (it’s not agreed which). It was those children born of this same type of ‘inequal’ relationship that were anciently termed nothus.

“… Etymological texts produced in the Middle Ages, such as those of Archbishop Isidore of Seville, the Venerable Bede, and Hrabanus Maurus, all define nothus as a child of mixed parentage, of a noble father and an ignoble mother.”

The answer, of course, in the retrospective genealogies was to apply the term nobilissima to the mother. ‘Most noble’. Indeed, most genealogies of the High Middle Ages when recording an heir’s marriage simply omit the mother’s heritage. Methinks there were many an in-equal alliance. (Ironically, it was during the same period that the inequality frequently swung in the other direction with many a higher ranked woman wed to lower ranked man, e.g. the knight marries his lord’s daughter, the count marries the king’s niece etc.)

To return to the Bastards of Le Pellerin . . .

Nobiliaire de Guienne et de Gascogne and the Bastards of Nantes

In 1856 Henri Gabriel Oglivy and Pierre Jules de Bourrousse de Laffore published a book : ‘Nobiliaire de Guienne et de Gascogne, revue des families d’ancienne chevalerie ou anoblies de ces provinces antérieures à 1789′ (available free on google play)

It is the source of info.bretagne’s narrative concerning Roald du Pellerin ; it is also the source that link I gave earlier de la maison de Bastard (indeed, I’d say it’s a straight lift).

I have already quoted from it:

seigneurs de bastardière-sur-sèvre ; du pélerin-sur-loire ; de l’ile de her ; de bethavolon ; coumaillère ; savigné

So to continue:

“The lords of Bastardière-sur-Sevre, de Pelerin-sur-Loire, etc., have for their ancestor a certain Richer or Rahier, knight, lord of the fief of Bastastière-sur-Sèvre (or Bastardière-en-Gorge) near Clisson, Nantes County (Richerius, Raherius, in feudal dominus of Bastarderia, miles), born ca 980, died before 1062.”
[my translation]

The authors, Oglivy & de Laffore, not content with claiming descent from ‘the most noble of knights’, one of many who founded a priory and hardly the first, then seeks to further ennoble the ‘Bastard’ name:

“One presumes him the son of Hoël II Bastard of Nantes, assassinated in 1005, as was Judicaël II Bastard of Nantes, sixth count of Nantes, elder brother of said Hoel II.”
[Original italics]

The author makes much of this, a most credible attempt to provide the most noble source of the Bastard name.

“Breton historians have noted the rank occupied by the house [of Bastard] in the county of Nantes in the eleventh century, making pious foundations in 1040-1049. Some authors from all branches of the family Bastard existing today in France and in England, suspect themselves descended from the counts of Poher and Nantes, who ruled part of Brittany, in C9th to C11th.”

There follows their argument, beginning with Rivallon, Count of Poher fl. 848—Poher, part of Cornouailles, the most south-westerly region of Brittany—who, they say, is said by some to be brother of Nominoë, considered to be first King of Brittany, 826-851.

I do notice the way these authors hedge around—‘said by some’, ‘considered to be’, ‘one presumes’—it’s not going to be their neck on the guillotine-block, so to speak.

Apart from this of ‘brother of Nominoë’, the preamble keeps to known facts. Not so when they reach Alain Barbetorte.

“Alain-Barbe-Torte, known for his exploits against the Vikings, who chased the legacy of his fathers and all of Brittany, was recognized successively as Count of Poher, Count of Nantes, of Vannes and as Duke of Brittany, and died in 952.”

I’ve no argument with that. But then . . .

“He had as his first wife, Judith, a noble lady who left him after she had borne him two sons, called by their enemies the counts of Rennes and Anjou, Bastard, because Judith, their mother, had abandoned them.”

No! See Fmg for supporting documentary evidence:

Note, and note well:

  • Alain and his first wife—named Rochille d’Anjou— had no surviving children.
  • Alain and his second wife—unnamed, except as daughter of Theobald de Blois—had one son: Drogo.
  • Alain and his mistress, Judith—of unknown provenance—had two sons: Hoël and Guerech.
    As per Gene Chart 4 below: ‘Bastards of Nantes’

Hoël and Guerech acquired the sobriquet ‘bastard’ because of their mother’s lesser lineage, NOT because she deserted them, nor yet because they were born out of wedlock.

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 4

The Bastard claim continues:

“With his first wife, Judith, who later remarried the Viscount of Thouars”—for which there is absolutely no evidence— Alain-Barbe-Torte, Count of Nantes, had two sons:

1: Hoel I, whose story follows
2: Guerech Bastard de Nantes, fourth Count of Nantes, after his brother Hoel I. He died in 987 and left a son:–
~ Alain, IIIrd of this name, 5th count of Nantes, died without heirs in 990

And so on to the next generation . . .

The Bastard claim:

“Hoël Ist, called ‘le Bastard de Nantes’, oldest son of Alain-Barbe-Torte and Judith, was made 3rd count of Nantes, after the death of his half-brother Drogo, and was assassinated in 970, leaving 2 sons

The Chronicle of Nantes records that Hoël was killed by “Conano filio Judicael Berengarii Redonensi comite”…

According to Fmg Hoël I was killed in 981, although they know of no firm evidence for that date.

Note well: the Bastard claim does not relate to Alain’s other son, Guerech (the relevance of that will be shown in the second part of this post).

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 5

“Historians do not give progeny for Hoël II, second son of Hoël I and grandson of Alain-Barbe-Torte and Judith.”

Now isn’t that convenient.

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 6

And here is that same generation as found on fmg’s site.

Meanwhile, Oglivy and de Laffore (or their source) continue to hammer it in concerning the Bastard Family’s esteemed ancestors.

“While the descendants of Alain-Barbe-Torte and Hoel I were Counts of Nantes, the family of the lords of Bastardière-sur-Sevre, near Clisson, existing in the same county (Nantes), the birthplace of these prominent families, were received at their courts among other lords and barons of Nantes, their family name, the estates, the services, the social status, presumed to be the same as this Hoel II Bastard de Nantes, youngest son of Hoel I, called Bastard because he was the son of Alain-Barbe-Torte, first Count of Nantes, and Judith, deserted by the later.”

Perhaps the family does have a case. But the next paragraph contains what seems to be a telling error which no one seems to have noticed:

“Mathias, eighth Count of Nantes, and the Countess Ermengarde, his wife, were present at the establishment of the priory of Sainte-Marie of Pelerin-Sur-Loire, around 1049-50, by Roaud Bastard, Lord of Bastardiere-sur-Sevre and of Pelerin, with consent of his wife, and his brothers and his sisters.”

It is true that Mathias count of Nantes and his wife Ermengard head the witness list:

Mathias comes, Ermengardis uxor ejus, Rivallonus avunculus ejus

But if the authors here refer to Mathias son of Budic, son of Judicaël (see Gene Chart 5, above), then they have the wrong man. The Mathias who, with his wife Countess Ermengard, was witness to the foundation charter for the priory at Le Pellerin was, as fmg clearly shows (see Gene Chart 7, below), the grandson of Judith of Nantes. Not her nephew.

Le Pellerin Gene Chart 7

To confirm this identification of Mathias fmg cites that very same foundation charter:

Rualdus” founded “sancte Marie…de Peregrino“, with the consent of “domino meo Matthiæ Namnetico comiti“, by undated charter witnessed by “Matthie com, Ermengardis uxoris eius, Rivalloni avunculi eius…”

Though in somewhat circular fashion, the source for this is ‘Morice (1742) Preuves, Tome I, col. 383.’

But this change in generation from earlier to later Mathias entirely alters the date of the charter. Hoel did not marry Hawise until 1066. By 1072 she was dead. Mathias, count of Nantes, could only have been born during those six short years—the third of three children.

Something here does not fit!

It seems our every source for this charter traces back either to Lobineau’s Histoire de Bretagne published in Paris in 1707, or to Morice’s Memoires pour servir de preuves à l’Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne, published in 1742. Morice, it should be noted, used the same source materials as Lobineau.

I really would like to see the original charter. But Marmoutier Abbey, founded in Saint Martin of Tours in 372, having risen again from its destruction by the Vikings in 853 was again pillaged in 1562, this time by the Protestant Huguenots at the start of the Wars of Religion. It was finally disestablished in 1799 during the French Revolution, its buildings demolished. Which probably explains why the university of Lorraine and fmg must both rely upon Morice and Lobineau. According to Lobineau’s biography, he had piles of such materials.

We have here a tangle of dates:

  • Did Count Mathias, nephew of Judith of Nantes, witness Roald’s charter of ca.1050? If so was his wife ‘Countess Ermengarde’ otherwise unrecorded in the charters of their day?
  • Or did Count Mathias, grandson of Judith of Nantes—who is known to have wife, Countess Ermengarde—witness Roald’s charter, but not until ca.1090s?

An answer of sorts can be found in a charter issued by Quiriac (Guerech, son of Judith of Nantes and Alain Caignart, 1052-1079), and given in Lobineau (col 257); it is internally dated to 1065.

Quiriacus Namnet. Episc. concedo Majori mon. in Razezio quidquid Rodaldus tenuit in Ecclesia S. Petri que est sita juxta sanctam Oportunam excepto presbyteratu : similiter quidquid Rodaldus tenuit in Ecclesia S. Petri de Varesda excepto presbyteratu. Similiter quidquid Rodaldus tenuit in Ecclesia S. Marie de Pontello & presbyteratum ejusdem Ecclesie in vita mea. Ecclesiam quoque S. Salvatoris de Bairiaco & quidquid eis collatum est apud Bairiacum. Et quia Bairiacus & Pontellum quod dicitur Peregrinum de antiquo jure sunt nostre Ecclesie, persolvent singulis annis Ecclesie Nann. pro Pontello unum denarium & pro Bairiaco duos de bono & purissìmo auro in festivitate SS. Apost. Petri & Pauli, &c.

“Signum Donni Quiriaci Nannet. Presulis. t. Willelmus Archidiac. subscripsit. t. Alveus Archid. subscr. t. Steph. Presb. subscripsit. t. Albinus Presb. subs. t. Gaufridus Presb. subs. t. Hubertus Presb. subscr. t. Warinus Diac. SS. t. Magnus Diac. SS. t. Joh. Presb. SS. A & Ώ Simon Subdiac. SS. t. Will. Clericus SS. t. Radulfus Diaconis SS. t. Jarnogonis Presb. SS. Radulfus Cancellarius recognovit.

“Data vii. id Jan. anno ab Inc. Dom. mlxv. anno autem presulatus Domni Quiriaci v. Indict. iii. actum Majori mon. in nomme Dei feliciter.
Titre de Marmontier.”
[Quoted in full]

The churches mentioned above, highlighted in bold, are those also mentioned in Roald’s foundation charter (see Index and map below) as being his to give.

Le Pellerin Map 2

info.bretagne has an interesting story relating to this:

Pope Leo IX had deposed Budic, bishop of Nantes (1047-1049) and appointed Airard in his place. Airard, says info.bretagne’s account, was the most powerful of those who had hitherto been placed on the seat of Nantes and (new broom syndrome) he wanted to apply and uphold the canons set by the Council of Reims in 049. Therefore he obliged those laity who owned churches and other prayer-places and altars through simony to surrender them to the bishop (i.e. to himself). info.bretagne suggests this pricked at Roald’s conscience, and he therefore gave his church (to be a priory), along with all its ecclesiastical revenues and all property he owned in several parishes therein listed, to the monks of Marmoutier.

Airard lasted just three years. If info.bretagne is right in assigning this as a reason for the foundation of the priory, then it does securely date the charter to within those three years, though the Quiriac charter reads like Roald had kept hold of his priory and proceeds until 1065. Could it be that Quiriac’s charter was issued upon Roald’s death—which would make said event somewhat earlier than the 1087 given by Oglivy and de Laffore.

However, fr.wiki’s article on Airard de Nantes gives a different picture.

After deposing Budic, bishop of Nantes, for nepotism and simony the Council of Reims called for a reform of the Nantes diocese. Airard was subsequently dispatched on said mission. He proved unpopular.

He set about exposing the laity’s abuse of the church, in particular in relation to the abbey of Marmoutier, defrauding it of its rightful income. In his zeal to set things right he ran into Simon, seigneur de Sainte-Opportune (Saint-Pere-en-Retz) whom he then threatened with excommunication. His brutal methods and fanatic submission to the archbishop of Tours quickly alienated his flock in the county of Nantes. Yet his methods were effective; the Diocese of Nantes was cleared of its charges.

All may have been well, but for the death of count Mathias of Nantes in 1050/1051. There then erupted a conflict between Conan II and Judith of Nantes, aunt and heiress of said count, supported by her husband Alain Caignart.

In 1054 Alain Caignart succeeded in his nomination of his son Hoël as count of Nantes. Finding himself faced with a hard wall of opposition, Bishop Airard fled and took refuge at Tours, later to return to Rome. Meanwhile, in 1059, Hoël designated his brother Guerech (Quiriac) to the now empty seat of Nantes.[Nepotism? Hmm.]

But to return to the Oglivy-Laffore account . . .

Their claim that the presence of Count Mathieu (of whichever generation) ‘presiding’ at the making of this charter as if at a family affair is no claim at all. Count Mathieu (the younger) would have been Roald’s overlord and as a matter of course would have witnessed the gift—after, first, he had  given permission. In fact the charter says as much—’subject to his lord’s approval’.

The author, having stated his case, of the PRESUMED descent from Hoël, Bastard of Nantes (who died at a time—1005—when surnames were only then taking off as an inheritable marker) now ties the knot, to secure the noble descent of the Bastards of Sevre-Nantes.

To quote Oglivy and de Laffore [page 401] :

“Les seigneurs de Bastardière-sur-Sèvre, du Pèlerin-sur-Loire, etc., ont pour auleur certain Richer ou Rahier, chevalier, seigneur du fief de Bastardière-sur-Sèvre (ou Bastardière-en-Gorges), près Clisson, au comté nantais (Richerius, Raherius, dominus in feodo de Bastarderia, miles), né vers 980, mort avant 1062. (On peut le présumer fils de Hoël II Bastard de Nantes, assassiné en 1005, comme Judicaël II Bastard de Nantes, sixième comte de Nantes, frère aîné dudit Hoël II.)

“Une mesure agricole nommée l’arpent de Bastardière (arpens de Bastarderia) indique quelle était alors l’importance de ce fief, le même que les descendants de Richer, chevalier, possédaient encore au XVII siècle. Richer est rappelé vers 1010 [ ?1050] comme seigneur de Bastardière et bienfaiteur de Châteauceaux dans la charte de fondation de ce prieuré par Geoffroy Crispin, seigneur dudit lieu, contemporain d’Albert, célèbre abbé de Marmoutier (1054-64). Il avait affranchi de six deniers de cens, quatre pièces de terre qu’il possédait dans le fief dont il était seigneur……, in feodo de Bastarderia, quatuor athomos terrœ, liberos et quietos, Richerius (aliàs Raherius), qui dominus erat quittavit……, sex denarios census. Cette donation de Richer est rappelée par Crispin, avec les donations de Gaudin de Clisson et de plusieurs autres chevaliers, milites. Une copie de cette charte, imprimée dans les Mémoires pour servir de preuves à l’Histoire de Bretagne, existe aux archives d’Angers et permet de rétablir le texte incomplet des Bénédictins. Richer était mort lors de la donation faite en 1062 par Roaud, son fils, au monastère de Saint-Cyr de Nantes.
[Original italics]

The author then goes on to give the children of this Richer:

~ Roaud Bastard, aliàs Roaud du Pèlerin, seigneur de Bastardière
~ Candelabre (Candelaber)
~ Imnoguent
~ Orvale (Orvalis)
~ Cécile

We’ve already seen the genealogy which follows upon this: it provided the source for info.bretagne’s narrative.

So, time to hop across country. But not to Gorges, or to Clisson. To Champtoceaux: the subject of the second part of this post.


 

The Vikings Of France

The Ancient County of Retz
in the High Middle Ages
1000-1350

(Part 2)

This series begins at the end of the Viking Age. But just as events in Brittany and Aquitaine (particularly in Poitou) helped to shape the history and nature of Le Retz, so too did the events in the preceding period.

Mostly when we speak of Viking attacks we think of Britain, of the Great Heathen Army of 865-878, and the determination of King Alfred to counter the threat which culminated in the formation of the Danish-ruled region of Danelaw.

If we’ve an interest in medieval history we might also know that Normandy was settled by Norsemen. We might even know the name of the French king (Charles the Simple) who in 911 granted the area around Rouen for settlement by the Viking war-leader Rollo (properly, Hrolfr). We might even know that Rollo was great-great-great-great-grandfather to William the Conqueror.

GeneChart Rolfr to William

But how much do we English-speakers know of the Viking attacks upon the Carolingian Empire, from Eastern Francia, by way of Flanders and Friesland, to Brittany, Aquitaine, and Gascony? Yet the Vikings raided even into the Mediterranean, attacking the Moor-held Iberian peninsula, Provence, and Italy. France, as much as the British Isles, suffered these Viking attacks. But first . . .

Vikings: the name itself has come under attack in recent years. It is anachronistic, coined long after the event. To the monks who compiled the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles they were Danes. Yet they weren’t exclusively from Denmark. Neither is it correct to call them Norsemen for some were indeed Danes. And others were Slavs. And some were Balts.

So to label these loot-and-land hungry men by their homeland clearly won’t do. What defines them, regardless of origin, is their behaviour. And that image is best described in one word. Viking. So unless I specifically mean Dane or Norse (and that will only be when their source is known) I shall use the word ‘Viking’.

An Overview of Viking Activity in France

Opening Gambits
The first recorded Viking raid was in 793 on the monastery at Lindisfarne (Northumbria). As the Western (Christian) world reeled in horror they little realised it was merely the prelude to a century-long reign of Viking terror. For initially the Vikings specialised in hitting monasteries, an inconceivable target to the Christian mind. The following year they plundered the twin monasteries of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow.

These, the first of the Vikings, were probably Norsemen with winter camps already established in the Shetlands or Orkneys. These islands are not so far from Norway. Permanent bases are recorded here in 802. By 820 they also occupied the Isle of Man as well.

Map: Norway & Orkneys

While for the next ten years the Vikings were content to raid and plunder the countless monasteries found on the numerous islands around the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, in 799 they turned their attention southward—along the Atlantic seaboard.

Aquitaine

As the Vikings hit Aquitaine they stayed with their MO, targeting the off-shore monasteries. That of Saint-Philibert on the island of Noirmoutier came under repeated attacks until, in 835, the monks finally took up the relics of St Philibert and trekked inland to safety (though the Vikings would force them to move several times more before they found a safe haven).

Map: Viking Raids on Aquitaine 799-845Coincidentally, in 799 Guy, the Carolingian count of Nantes and Marquis de Bretagne, launched yet another Frankish invasion of Brittany. Successful, he claimed it a conquest.

Back in the relative safety of the Ile de Paris, Charlemagne responded to these Viking attacks with the directive that vessels stationed in the Channel and Atlantic ports must be held on a permanent alert. An expensive precaution, not maintained beyond his death.

In 810 his son, Louis the Pious, then king of Aquitaine, fortified the mouth of the Charente.

In 835 Pepin I (son of Louis the Pious, and king of Aquitaine), ordered evacuation of the Aquitaine Islands of Noirmoutier, Ré, and Oléron.

Neustria

Although as early as 820 Vikings had ‘tested the waters’ of Neustria—particularly the Seine—this northern region of France wasn’t to feel the full lash of a Viking attack until 841 when Asgeirr, a Norseman, led his fleet upriver.

Map: Viking Raids Neustria 841-845And now began the costly error of paying protection money (though they called it tribute). On this occasion six pounds weight of silver was paid to spare the abbey of Saint-Wandrille at Fontenelle, near Rouen. In 845, another 7,000 lb silver was poured into Viking hands—those of Ragnarr Lothbrók’s Vikings. By the end of the century the Carolingian kings had handed over at least 44,250 pounds of gold in their futile attempts to buy off the Vikings. And the Vikings repeatedly falsely played them.

Flanders, Friesland and East Francia

The Vikings of the Rhine, Friesland and Flanders had a different origin. These, probably mixed crews of Danes, Norse, Balts and Slavs, were in the command of Harald Hemming, exiled nephew of the Danish King, Harald Klak.

Map: Viking raids on Flanders Frisia East Francia 831-844

These ‘Danish’ Vikings were acting in alliance with Lothair I with iintent of curtailing the political influence of Lothair’s father, Louis the Pious. In 841, with Louis the Pious dead, Lothair sought to establish a military presence in Friesland to secure it against political rivals (his brothers, Louis the German and Charles the Bald). Harald used the island of Walcheren as his main base of operations; his brother Rorik used the more northerly island of Wieringen. Together they ruled Dorestad.

Loire Valley Vikings 843

Faced with the Franks, the Bretons likewise allied with Vikings. But the Vikings never did play true, and in 843 the same crews massacred the population of Nantes, the bishop, and unnumbered visitors attending the fair of the feast of St. John.

Map: Viking raids on Brittany & Loire 843That same year Vikings took their raids deep into France. One band was defeated at the battle of Chalaux, near Lormes, in Burgundy.

Gascony, Toulouse . . . and Spain

Success for the defenders came in 844 when Vikings plundering la Bigorre (Gascony) were slain. But it wasn’t to last, for other Vikings, allegedly at the call of Pepin II of Aquitaine, lay siege to Toulouse.

Map: Viking raids in Gascony Aquitaine 844-848

Then, in 848, Bordeaux (capital of Aquitaine) fell into Viking hands. Charles the Bald sent a fleet to lift the siege. But despite they destroyed nine Viking ships on the Dordogne they failed to save the city. North of the Dordogne, the Abbey of Saint-Pierre de Brantôme was sacked.

Glorying in their successes along the Garonne, Hastein and his brother Björn Járnsíða, Viking leaders, turned their fleets southward, to attack the ports of Galicia. But there their met unexpected resistance.

Map: Viking Raids on Spain 844

The same year a fleet of 80 Viking ships was seen off Lisbon—and Lisbon was taken. The fleet moved on to Cadiz. Seville was taken and occupied. Abd al-Rahman, emir of Cordoba, later expelled them.

Brittany

Back in Brittany, King Nominoë was three times defeated by Vikings from the Loire; in 847 he followed Charles the Bald’s bad example and bribed them (i.e. paid tribute) to leave.

Neustria

The 850s opened with an intensification of Viking raids along the Seine, Paris repeatedly under attack. Three successive Viking leaders can be identified here. The Norseman Asgeirr kicked off this decade of devastation. Then, within a year a coalition of ‘Sydroc’ (which should probably read Sygtrygg) and Godfred Haraldsson (son of Danish king Harald Klak, and cousin to exiled Danish princes Harald and Rorik who were already active in Friesland and Rhineland) added their havoc.

Map: Viking raids Neustria 847-852

Vikings of the Sygtrygg-Godfred alliance established a base on the island of ‘Oscellus’ (on the Seine). Charles the Bald joined forces with Lothair I to remove them. And failed. And again Charles paid tribute. Sygtrygg soon left the Seine (as the chronicles say, ‘for better loot elsewhere’). But he’d be back.

By now the Neustrians had had enough, what with Bretons raiding from the west and Vikings from the east. The year 853 saw a mass exodus as all who could gathered their belongings and fled (one assumes they headed inland).

Map Viking raids Neustria 855-859Next, Ragnar Lodbrok’s eldest son, Björn Járnsíða (Iron-Coat) combined forces with Sygtrygg (Sydroc) to inflict maximum damage.

At wits end, Charles the Bald, having yet again failed to oust the Vikings from their island encampment on the Seine, enlisted the help of a new Viking leader. Weland. An, ah-ha! Success. By the end of the year the Vikings were gone from the Seine. However, Björn Járnsíða, now with 62 ships in his train, was again in his brother Hastein’s company, and Hastein was to prove one of the longest-campaigning Vikings.

Aquitaine, Gascony and Toulouse

As with the Seine, there was more than one group of Vikings active along the rivers of Aquitaine and Gascony during the decade 847 to 857. There were at least three.

Map: Viking raids Aquitaine Gascony 847-857

After an icy winter on the Seine, Sygtrygg (Sydroc) led his Vikings south in 847 to settle at the mouth of the Charente. There, in the pay of Pepin II, deposed king of Aquitaine, they ravaged the county of Poitou.

In 853 Hastein joined in the action, wrecking devastation around Luçon.

A third group followed the Dordogne to sack Périgueux (causing the monks of the abbey of Saint-Martial of Limoges to take the relics of St. Valerie and found a new monastery in Chambon-sur-Voueize). It was probably the same unnamed group responsible for the attack on Gascony’s capital, Auch.

These raiding, plundering, razing groups of Vikings weren’t entirely unopposed. In 852 the combined forces of Ranulf I, count of Poitiers, and Renold, count of Herbauges, successfully engaged one Viking band at the Battle of Brillac. One. 

Brittany and Loire Valley

Meanwhile back in Brittany . . . in 851 Erispoë had succeeded his father Nominoë. That same year he defeated Charles the Bald at the Battle of Jengland. In consequence, he was granted sovereignty of the counties of Rennes, Nantes, and Retz, legitimised by the Treaty of Angers.

A neat move by Charles the Bald who had thereby transferred the defence of Rennes, Nantes, and Retz to Erispoë. However, Charles the Bald was no more consistent than the Vikings. The following year he granted one third of Brittany to Erispoë’s cousin Salomon. A sure recipe for family tension!

Map: Viking raids Loire 851-857

After their raids on Poitou, Sygtrygg (Sydroc) and his Vikings turned their attention to the Loire valley, raiding and razing along its length. They were joined there by Godfred’s Vikings, come around from the Seine.

In 854, in a bid to protect his new counties, Erispoë did what others had tried. He struck an alliance with Sygtrygg. But while the Viking leader was supposedly attacking Godfred’s camp, Erispoë found himself beaten back with heavy losses. The following day, with no one now defending the rich monastery at Redon, Godfred took his 130 ships into the Vilaine with intent to plunder. But it seems God, this once, was on the monks’ side. Godred’s fleet was stopped, and wrecked, by a storm. What few ships survived later looted along the Breton shore. Meanwhile, having betrayed Erispoë, Sygtrygg returned to the Seine. (Never trust a Viking. Seems it was a lesson hard to learn.)

In 856 Charles the Bald played another neat trick. He ceded the county of Maine to Erispoë—this in return for an alliance against the Vikings. The alliance was sealed by the marriage of Erispoë’s daughter and Charles the Bald’s son Louis (the future Louis II). In the process Louis was given the kingdom of Neustria (from the Seine to Brittany and the Loire). A move more unpopular with the local counts was hard to find. These counts and other various nobles now found their powers much reduced (read here ‘their tax-raising abilities’). Ticked off, they kicked off in revolt against Charles.

The Bretons were no more pleased than the Neustrians: Witness, the assassination of Erispoë that very same year at the hands of his cousin Salomon. Salomon, already granted a third of Brittany by Charles the Bald (as if it were his to grant) then seized it all. Rather graciously, in 857 Charles the Bald acknowledged Salomon as rightful king—only to find him in league with the rebellious Neustrian counts—not to mention a large body of Viking mercenaries. We might imagine Salomon’s grin at Charles the Bald’s chagrin.

Flanders, Friesland, East Francia and Northern Neustria

Meanwhile back at the Rhine . . . Flanders and Rhineland were playing host to a large Viking fleet which occasionally turned its remorseless attention to the Somme.

But these weren’t the only Vikings hitting the lands north of the Seine. Others, by plowing the Oise, hit Beauvais and the abbey of Saint-Germer-de-Fly.

Then, to cap it, in 855 Rorik’s Vikings returned from an unsuccessful bid for power in Denmark to loot Dorestad and Utrecht.

Map: Viking raids Flander, Friesland, Northern Neustra 852-860

Not content with the first attack, in 858 the Seine Vikings repeated their raid of Beauvais. The next year Weland’s Vikings were found on the Somme, a base established at where Abbeville now is.

Charles the Bald had had good dealings with Weland before. He now tried again. He offered the Viking leader 3000 lbs of silver to attack the Seine Vikings. Weland agreed and set a deadline for when he’d perform. To ensure Charles stuck to the agreement, Weland took hostages. He then departed for England.

That same year came yet another Viking attack, this time using the Yser. The monasteries of Saint-Omer and Saint-Bertin were plundered, the countryside surrounding was ravaged.

Galicia, Spain and the Mediterranean

A picture tells a thousand words . . . for this installment, follow the arrows.

Map: Viking raids Mediterranean 859-860

Then in 862 Hastein returned with his Vikings to take up residency on the Loire—which now flowed through Brittany’s newly acquired counties of Nantes and Retz.

 Neustria

Map: Viking raids Neustria 861-862

Back to Neustria, and in 862 it seemed Charles the Bald had finally got to the root of the Viking Curse. Not only did Weland submit his family and himself to the Christian faith (they were baptised) but, miraculously, by the end of March most of the Vikings had left Neustria. The remainder of Weland’s fleet, split from his command, joined Hastein’s Vikings on the Loire.

Charles the Bald, in the hope of preventing further Viking returns, then organised a series of fortifications along the Seine. But the Curse wasn’t lifted and all too soon the new defences proved ineffective.

Brittany and Loire Valley

The Breton March was re-established, effective from March 861. Robert the Strong was appointed the margrave (marquis).

Robert the Strong extended his remit by campaigning against the Breton king Salomon. Thinking to pre-empt the Breton, he hired a combined Seine-Loire fleet for 6000 lbs of silver, ‘before Salomon could ally with them against him’. In return, Salomon enlisted twelve Viking ships in the command of Hastein to raid the county of Maine which, with Anjou, was vulnerably squeezed between Brittany and Neustria.

At first, in a pique, Charles the Bald planned a retaliatory expedition. Then he’d a better idea. He had his hands full with Vikings against him; he couldn’t contend with the Bretons too. He must find peace with Brittany. Thus in 863, with the Treaty of Entrammes, he granted Salomon western Anjou as a part of Brittany. Salomon, of course, commended himself to Charles the Bald, and paid tribute.

Map: Viking raids Brittany and Loire 861-865

Relieved of campaigning against the Breton king, Robert the Strong turned his full attention upon the Vikings (the ones he’d previously hired). Twice in 864 he attacked these Loire Vikings. Successful in the first, in the second he was wounded and forced to withdraw.

865,and the Loire raids intensified. One band, led by ‘Baret’ ravaged the Loiret, burned the abbey of Saint-Benoit, hitting Orléans on their return. Another band of Loire Vikings burned Poitiers; Robert the Strong trashed these on their return. Meanwhile, Hastein’s Vikings attacked Le Mans, departing only after heavy losses.

Flanders, Friesland and East Francia

Back again in Rhineland . . . in 863 Vikings again looted Dorestad. Once a prosperous port on the mouth of the Rhine, it thereafter disappears from the chronicles. Danish Vikings looting along the Rhine, settled an island close by Cologne until driven off by a combined attack of Lothair II and Saxons.

Aquitaine & Gascony

And in the south . . .

Map: Viking raids Aquitaine and Gascony 863-864The count of Angoulême, seeing that the count of Saintonge did nothing to counter the 863 Viking attack, himself tackled their leader Maurus. ‘Maurus’ was killed. His Vikings retreated taking their booty with them.

Meanwhile, Pepin II, the deposed king of Aquitaine, was still making use of Viking mercenaries, this time to lay siege to Toulouse. But, despite they ravaged the surrounding countryside, they were unable to take the city itself. Pepin II was captured on his retreat by Ranulf, count of Poitiers and duke of Aquitaine.

The Charente Vikings, now under command of Sigfred, were finally defeated in 865. Sore from the loss of 400 men, the remainder limped away.

Neustria

Map: Viking raids Neustria 865-866

866 and the Battle of Brissarthe

Robert the Strong (the margrave of Neustria who wore a big bee in his bonnet regarding Salomon) joined forces with Ranulf I, count of Poitou, and together they cornered the Breton king at the river crossing of Brissarthe.

Salomon, remember, was allied to Hastein, and together they’d been raiding into Anjou, Maine, and the Touraine.

Battle ensued. Both Ranulf I and Robert the Strong were killed. Leaderless, the Franks allowed the Vikings to escape.

Abbot Hugh, count of Tours, Angers and Auxerre, son of Conrad I of Burgundy, succeeded Robert the Strong to the office and title of Marquis of Neustria.

The following year (867) Vikings seized Angers. Charles the Bald ordered a canal dug to divert the flow of the Maine. (This same device is given for the occupation of 873.) Fearing their ships would be stranded, the Vikings left. Charles the Bald subsequently ordered the fortification of Tours, Le Mans and Compiègne.

Meanwhile Abbot Hugh (Marquis of Neustria) campaigned against the Vikings at the mouth of the Loire.

Brittany and Loire Valley

The years 866 to 873 saw an escalation of Viking activity in Brittany. One moment in alliance with the Bretons, the next in opposition. Who knew what might happen next. What’s more, Salomon was no longer a vassal of the Carolingian Empire but an ally.

He lost no time in political manoeuvring; with the Treaty of Compiègne in 867 he gained yet more land to add to the now independent Brittany—the Cotentin peninsula and the Avranchin. Brittany had grown huge, bounded now by the Mayenne and Dive rivers.

But, as his predecessors had discovered, these Frankish allies weren’t above double-dealing. In 868 Salomon was supposed to lead a joint campaign against the Loire Vikings. But the Carolingian army failed to show, leaving Salomon to defend south-eastern Brittany unaided. It took aid from levies raised at Poitiers to defeat the Vikings.

And still the Viking activity continued in Brittany into the 870’s. Salomon made noises about a pilgrimage to Rome but his nobles forbade it. He was needed at home to defend Brittany.

Maps: Vikings raid Brittany and Loire 867-873

In 872 Hastein’s Vikings occupied Angers—unopposed. It wasn’t until the following year, and then only with the help of Breton king Salomon, that Charles the Bald was able to relieve city. Hostages were taken against the Vikings’ promise to depart the area. The Vikings sought the king’s authority to live on ‘an isle in the Loire’ (thought to be Noirmoutier) and to trade there till February.

Neustria

Tax raised on free men, clerics and merchants in 869 filled the bottomless pockets of the Vikings. Paid, they quit Neustria. Only to be replaced by another band of Vikings, these led by Rorik. In 872 Charles the Bald was again trying to bribe and negotiate.

Brittany

874: Salomon was murdered by a faction which included his son-in-law Pascweten, and Gurvand, son-in-law of Erispoë. For a few months Pascweten and Gurvand co-ruled. It was not to last. In 875, and again in 876, Pascweten hired Viking mercenaries to eliminate Gurvand who now held Rennes, only to be killed later that year by his own Viking allies. He was succeeded by his brother Alain, count of Vannes and Nantes, future King of Brittany (890-907).

Map: Viking raids Brittany 874-878

With attention turned to internal disputes, the Viking presence multiplied. Bretons began to flee the land, seeking the relative security of King Alfred’s Britain; others preferred to pay the Vikings to depart rather than to fight. It was left to Alain, count of Vannes, later allied with Gurvand’s son Judicaël of Rennes, to organise resistance.

Neustria and Flanders

Maps: Viking raids Neustria and Flanders 876-881

Political Interlude

In 877, while crossing the Alps on his return from Italy, Charles the Bald died (6 October). He was succeeded as King of West Francia by his son, Louis II (the Stammerer), king of Aquitaine (he who in 856 had been betrothed to Erispoë’s daughter).

Louis II was king for less than two years before illness took him—just as he began to campaign in earnest against the Vikings. In 879 his son Louis III succeeded to Neustria and the kingdom of West Francia (though the latter only as co-king with Carloman his brother).

With no Charles the Bald to defend or deal with them, and then no Louis the Stammerer either, the Vikings rubbed hands and made haste to intensify their raids. And they now had a new tactic. Horses. Mounted units. But they soon discovered this new generation of Carolingian kings were less inclined to ‘pay and pray’. At least, not at first.

Back to the Vikings . . . 

In 880 Louis the Younger, king of East Francia, defeated Vikings from England in the leadership of Godfred, Sigfred and Orm at the battle of Thimeon (modern Charleroi). 5000 Vikings were slain.

In August 881, co-kings Louis III and Carloman II joined forces at the battle at Saucourt-en-Vimeu. A further 8000 Vikings were slain.

In 882 Charles the Fat (Carolingian Emperor since 881) caught and besieged at Elsloo a band of Vikings who had ravaged along the Meuse, the Rhine and the Moselle. Defeated, their leader Godfred was baptized, and granted West Frisia in ‘compensation’ of the gold taken from Saint Étienne de Metz. (Not a bad deal. You might think as a tactic it might catch on.)

Map: Viking Defeats 880-882Unfortunately, Charles the Fat then paid the other Viking leaders, Sigfred and Orm, 2800 lbs of silver for their departure. They retired to Condé only to set off again to ravage Laon, Noyon, Soissons and Reims. It took Carloman to stop them—north of Reims, at Avaux. Defeated, they returned to Condé to over-winter.

The following spring, 883, they ravaged Flanders. Again Carloman blocked them, this time at Laviers on the banks of the Somme. Meanwhile, Vikings entering the Rhine were turned back by the archbishop of Mainz and Henry ‘of France’ (margrave of the Northern Marche). They over-wintered at Duisburg.

In 884 Carloman II reverted to the former fall-back of ‘pay & pray’, buying a truce at Amiens while he raised 12,000 lbs of silver for them to depart. The tribute paid, the Vikings left, some to return to England, others to over-winter at Leuven.

Meanwhile, in 882, Louis III had died and his former co-king Carloman II became sole King of West Francia. When, two years later, Carloman also died, he was succeeded by Charles the Fat.

More New Faces

When in 886 Abbot Hugh , Marquis of Neustria, died, Charles the Fat gave the title to Robert the Strong’s son, Odo (Eudes). When Charles died in 888, Odo in turn became King of Western Francia. He appointed his brother Robert as Dux Francorum and marquis of the Breton March. Robert would, in time, become King of Western Francia by election (in opposition to Odo’s successor, Charles the Simple). But not until 922.

Brittany

Away in the west, Brittany was still being hammered by Vikings, these most likely those led by Hastein who, in 882, had left the Loire by agreement with Louis III. Now the Vikings’ attention was less on the Loire and more around the northern shores.

Maps: Viking raids Brittany 880-882

Neustria

In November 885, understandably denied permission to cross the city and settle his men and their families further upriver, Sigfred and his Vikings lay siege to Paris. During the following months Henry of Speyer (margrave of the Northern Marche) attempted to break the siege. His efforts meeting with failure, in April he left to meet up with Charles the Fat. By now the Vikings were settled around Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Bishop Goslin and Odo (Robert the Strong’s son, now Marquis of Neustria), tried to negotiate with Sigfred, but failed. Odo attacked without success. Meanwhile, Sigfred moved out with a small band to attack Bayeux.

In July Charles the Fat left Metz for Paris. Progress being slow, he sent Henry of Speyer ahead for a reccie. Henry was ambushed and killed.

Charles the Fat arrived at Paris in September to negotiate with Sigfred—who had returned with numbers swollen. Tribute promised, Charles gave permission for the Vikings to over-winter in Burgundy. They returned to Paris in May 887 (having ravaged Burgundy) to demand their promised pounds of silver.

Meanwhile, a Viking attempt to take Sens in November 886 proved unsuccessful. So instead they pillaged the abbeys of Auxerre, Beza and Flavigny.

In autumn 887 Sigfred finally left the Seine for one last time. He was later to die in Friesland.

In November that year Charles the Fat (again?) paid the Vikings to depart—and soon after was deposed by his nobles. The Vikings returned to over-winter near Lagny.

Map: Viking raids Neustria 885-889

888 began with the election of Odo (Robert the Strong’s son) as king of Western Francia, while Ranulf II, count of Poitou, proclaimed himself king of Aquitaine.

In June Vikings took Meaux with slaughter of inhabitants and bishop. Odo, now king of Western Francia, defeated the Vikings (at least the one band) in battle at Montfaucon. Yet the following year, 889, despite Odo had blocked the Vikings’ route to Paris, he proved old habits die hard in paying tribute instead of fighting them.

Brittany 

Brittany also came under heavy Viking attack in 886. Alain count of Vannes, better known as Alain the Great, defended as best he could. But by 888 the mounting troubles between him and Judicaël of Rennes left Brittany’s rivers and coasts again vulnerable. In the absence of resistance the Loire Vikings totally occupied western Brittany.

Map: Viking raids Brittany 886-891

It wasn’t until late in 888 that Alain and Judicaël united to meet the Vikings in battle at Questembert. Although Judicaël was killed, it was a notable victory for the Bretons with (reputedly) 15,000 Vikings crushed, some few 400 escaping to their ships. In command, now, of a united Breton force, Alain was able to stem the Viking tide, driving the Vikings back to the Loire. It was then he took the title King of Brittany. In 891 he joined forces with Bérengar of Rennes to win two more victories against the Seine Vikings.

Flanders, Friesland and East Francia

Read the picture . . . .

Map: Flanders Friesland 890-892

Another Interlude

Widespread famine late in the year of 892 forced a mass exodus of Vikings. They sailed to England. For the next 6 years the Brits had the problem.

January 28th, 893, Charles III the Simple was crowned King of Western Francia—though he wasn’t recognised as such by King Odo until 897 when he finally named Charles as his successor in time for him to die the following year.

Across the waves, in Britain, the summer of 896 saw the dispersal of the Great Viking Army some heading north to Northumbria, others to East Anglia—and some to the mouth of the Seine.

Francia, East & West 892-899

Map: Francia, East & West, 892-899

Charles the Simple—so named for his uncomplicated, un-devious ways—must have learned something from his namesake. At Easter 897, when the Oise-Meuse Vikings returned to the Seine, Charles the Simple stood as godfather at the baptism of their leader Huncdée. Unfortunately Huncdée’s followers still were pagan.

Rollo
It was around this time that the Viking leader Hrólfr (aka Rollo) made his first appearance at the mouth of the Seine. But first, Brittany . . .

The Peace of Alain the Great 892-907

It seems the Vikings soon got the measure of Alain the Great—or at least the recorded raids for this period greatly diminish. Though was that because no monks were left to write them? But while Brittany escaped attention, not so Tours; in 903 it was sacked by a band of Loire Vikings.

Alain the Great used this period of peace to rebuild the Breton church, though this soon proved a wasted effort. The peace lasted only until his death in 907. His successor, Gourmaëlon, count of Cornouaille, hadn’t his predecessor’s record of successes. The Viking attacks resumed—a unrelenting pounding surge . And with Gourmaëlon’s incompetence, it fell to each region’s aristocracy to organise a defence.

And then there was Hrólfr, aka Rollo. . .

The Seine, the Somme, and the Settlement of Vikings

After a century of Viking raids along the Seine and the Somme, costly in life, in monasteries and everyone’s wealth, yet endured through the outpouring of tribute and an occasional force of arms, in 907 it all went quiet. Viking activity was here in abeyance.

The reason? The Viking crews were beginning to settle. Perhaps they’d been spurred by the success of their compatriots across the Channel, in Danelaw, the Orkneys, in Ireland. Perhaps overcrowding at home, or the local political situation, was forcing it on them.

There was, however, one major battle, fought at Chartres in 911:

Charles the Simple v. Hrólfr (aka Rollo)
leader of the Seine Vikings, 

The outcome had repercussions for Brittany that would shake them long into the future. For as a result of the battle Hrólfr was granted the pagi of Caux, Talon, Roumois, and parts of the Vexin and Evrecin in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte—or so reported Dudo of Saint-Quentin. However, it has been suggested this treaty was little more than the creation of Dudo’s fertile imagination. Regardless, there exists a charter (dated 918) that confirms a grant of land to the monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, said land claimed to have been granted ‘to the Northmen of the Seine, namely Hrólfr and his followersfor the defence of the kingdom’. (McKitterick 1983, 237; Lauer 1940-49, no. 92; taken from N S Price Vikings in Brittany)

Map: Hrolfr's settlement of 911

Later contentions of land grants apart, with the situation being similar to Salomon’s receipt of the Cotentin, we can accept as fact that Hrólfr (Rollo) was created a count with accompanying responsibility for defence (and judicial administration).

Hrólfr may have been Norse (he’s given as the son of the Norse earl Rǫgnvaldr Mœrajarl) but according to place-name evidence his army comprised men from every part of Scandinavia, as also from Ireland and the Orkneys. Many of these had joined Hrólfr in England rather than to settle in Danelaw. (Danelaw was no longer secure. Despite the agreement between the Danish King Guthrum and the English King Alfred granting Danelaw to the Danes, Alfred’s son and successor, Edward the Elder, and his sister Æthelflæd, the Lady of the Mercians, had other ideas. By 910 they had launched a campaign to oust Danish rule and impose their own.)

But, back on the Seine . . .

The various bands from Hrólfr’s followers split off to settle the valleys of the Orne, the Dives and the Risle. There they followed the usual Viking pattern: they married the local women (in this case having first converted first to Christianity), acquired the local customs and culture—and imposed their own rule on the (here Frankish) population. But Vikings are Vikings and they continued to attack, but low-key and only into neighbouring regions as they grabbed yet more land to settle, a continual pushing of bounds of their new county. Land of the Northmen. Normandy.

Brittany 907-939

While the Franks were taking stock of remaining resources, and offering up prayers, the Bretons were suffering big time. For not all of Hrólfr’s followers wanted to settle. And these, the hard-core Vikings, left the Seine. They sailed around Brittany. They entered the Loire. And from there they turned their ferocious focus on Brittany. Now monasteries weren’t merely attacked and plundered, they were utterly destroyed. Again, the monks fled with their sainted relics.

Where they did go? Some of the relic-bearing clerics, and numerous nobles headed for England where Edward the Elder, son of King Alfred, offered them sanctuary—of note, Mathedoi of Poher and his son Alain Barbetorte (grandson of Alain the Great). Others turned to Bourgogne and Aquitaine. It seemed only Judicael Bérengar remained to organise Breton resistance.

Map: Brittany 907-938

And it wasn’t only the Seine-Vikings-moved-to-the-Loire who caused trouble. Perhaps provided with intelligence from Francia, in 914 a fleet of Danes led by Óttarr and Haraldr left the Severn estuary in England to perpetrate the worst attacks yet. They returned to England and Wales in 919 leaving the morale of church, aristocracy and general populace at its grimmest. Their place was taken by Rögnvaldr, his army merciless and thorough. In 919 Rögnvaldr took Nantes. Despite a five-month siege, it was later ceded him (in 921). By then the Vikings were making a permanent settlement around the mouth of the Loire.

Rögnvaldr now had total control of Brittany. He also had ‘received the faith of Christ’—though that didn’t put him into Viking retirement.

Political Interlude

In 922 the nobles of Western Francia rebelled against Charles the Simple. In his place. they elected Robert, brother of the previous Robertian king, Odo/Eudes—and Count of Poitiers, Count of Paris, Marquis of Neustria and of Orléans. But Robert then died in battle at Soissons in 923 and his son, Hugh (later ‘Hugh the Great’) refused the crown. It went instead to his brother-in-law, Ralph, or Raoul, Duke of Burgundy, Count of Troyes.

Deposed, Charles the Simple sought the help of Herbert II, Count of Vermandois (his cousin) in a bid to regain throne and crown. Herbert, however, wasn’t obliging—instead he imprisoned the former king. He then used this high prestige prisoner as a bargaining tool. Charles died while still a prisoner in 929.

Back to Vikings . . .

In 923 Rögnvaldr and his Vikings joined with Hrólfr’s and his to raid north of the Seine, to Beauvais. Since Hrólfr’s Vikings were thereafter granted the Bessin, Pays d’Auge and l’Hiémois it seems most likely he, at least, was in the pay of Charles the Simple who (as above) was trying to regain his crown.

923 was a busy year for Rögnvaldr and his Vikings, for they were also in Aquitaine and the Auvergne causing yet more devastation.

Then, in late 924/early 925 a major battle against the combined armies of Raoul (King of France), Hugh (not yet the Great) and Herbert de Vermandois (see Political Interlude above) drove Rögnvaldr back to Nantes—though, true, his retreat was oiled by silver.

And that’s the last we hear of this particular Viking—if we discount the sensational folklore surrounding him.

Having succeeded the once in defeating the Vikings, in 927 Hugh (not yet the Great) and Herbert of Vermandois again joined forces against the Loire Vikings This time a truce was agreed. As if in confirmation of the 921 land grant, the city and county of Nantes were again granted, this time in return for ‘promised peace elsewhere in Francia’. Apparently this ‘elsewhere’ didn’t include Limousin which was raided by Loire Vikings in 930.

Brittany: A Viking State

Brittany’s nobles had fled. With no governing body, no organised defence, those parts of Carolingian Brittany previously granted via various treaties (to Nomenoë, Erispoë, Salomon) now were given unto the Vikings. In short, Brittany had become a Viking state. And those Vikings experienced the exact same troubles as their Breton predecessors: Franks who wanted to erode the borders; internal civil strife.

In 931 a great Viking army assembled on the Loire, drawn from all quarters of Brittany, the Franks their intended target.

But this left the subjugated Bretons unattended.

A series of small battles ensued, the Vikings taken by surprise. Amongst these Vikings was one named Felekan, given the title of ‘duke’ (Flodoard Ann. 931; Cartulary of Quimperle 931).

The Breton success didn’t go unchallenged. The Loire army, led by one Incon, counterattacked. Brittany soon was again in Viking hands.

Felekan and Incon . . .  Breton Vikings?

The names Felekan and Incon are not Scandinavian. It has been suggested that Felekan is of Irish origin (O’Brien 1976). However, N S Price in his Vikings in Brittany believes the name more likely Breton/Cornish (Felec, with an added –an diminutive ending), and I agree.

As for Incon, that, without doubt, is a Breton name, a variant of Uuicon ‘warrior’ or Con ‘war hound’ (Breton Patronyms and the British Heroic Age, Gary D. German). One Hinconan serves as frequent witness to Redon charters between 850 and 890 (Cartulaire de l’Abbaye de Redon).

So were Breton chieftains now leading the Loire Vikings? More likely these Breton/Cornish names are the result of intermarriage, as already noted occurred in other Scandinavian colonies. Other colonies also saw the close cooperation of the indigenous population with their new overlords and neighbours—as it seems happened here.

Whatever his origin, Incon became successor to Rögnvaldr as ‘duke’ of Brittany.

Inter-Colonial Relations: Normandy and Brittany

Although Hrólfr didn’t die until 932, his son William Longsword assumed power seven year previously, in 925. So perhaps William added his ‘Longsword’ to those of the Loire Vikings to help quell the rebellion of 931 and the subsequent retaking of Brittany. Certainly the later Norman propagandists claimed it in their retrospective claim to Brittany (de la Borderie 1898,379-80; Fellows-Jensen 1988, 115-16; N S Price Vikings in Brittany). Whatever the truth of that, in 933 William was given ‘the territory of the Bretons at the edge of the sea‘. Although in the past historians have taken this to mean the Frankish-Breton March, it is now generally taken to mean the Cotentin and Avranchin only, territory which had been granted to Salomon.

Map: Hrolfr's Vikings Land Grants to 933

Thus by 935 with William Longsword firmly allied with Hugh the Great, the Viking State of Brittany was on its own, not an ally in sight. It was time for the Bretons to reclaim their own.

Alain Barbetorte . . .  War on Vikings

Alain Barbetorte, grandson of Alain the Great, had been raised at the king’s court in England as Æthelstan’s foster-son. In 936 he landed at Dol, summoned by John, abbot of Landevennec, equipped by Æthelstan, supported by an army of Bretons.

The returning Breton prince smashed his way through the unsuspecting Vikings. First at Dol, then at Saint-Brieuc and along the coast to Plourivo. These weren’t Vikings come to meet him. These were Viking settlements, so thickly were they spread throughout Brittany. Wherever encountered, Alain fought the Vikings, while the Bretons flocked to him, his army growing, them calling him ‘duke’.

By 937 he had driven the Vikings back to Nantes where they made their stand, building a great camp at Saint-Aignan.

Alain led his massive Breton force in a charge against the ramparts. But they were repelled. And so they rested and attacked again.

The battle lasted all day, the Bretons eventually storming the Viking fortress. Inside was turmoil, blood spraying, warriors baying. The Viking survivors wisely retreated—back down the Loire and into what ships remained to them. The Chronicle of Nantes describes the battle (in more detail and in more colour than this).

Map: Brittany 937-939

Alain established Nantes as his capital, rebuilding defences—including a rampart around the cathedral. But it wasn’t yet the end of the Viking incursion. There was yet one more battle to fight.

In 938 a remnant of Nantes Vikings reoccupied Rennes county where they built a fortified camp at Trans-la-Forêt. Despite the tireless opposition of Judicael Bérengar, these Vikings raided around the ancient city of Rennes—until Alain came to Judicael’s aid. And Alain wasn’t alone, but had himself been joined by Hugh the Great. In a combined attack, the last of the Vikings were ejected from Brittany.

Afterword

From the opening years of the 9th century le Retz, by its very location—kissing the Loire—became the favoured stopping-ground of successive bands of power-hungry Vikings while defence of the county was removed from Poitevin hands and given unto the Bretons. It was from here that, by 920 CE, the entire Armorican peninsula was subsequently subjugated by the invading Vikings.

The next post makes a start on uncovering The Noble Families of le Retz. And we ought not be surprised if we find evidence of this Viking occupation. Though doubtless these noble (Breton) families did all in their power to disguise their ancestry. 

Postscript:
Having previously denied the Jernegans of Norfolk & Suffolk the ‘Prince of Denmark’ epithet, I can see by this history of the Viking occupation of Brittany, that there could be some truth in it. Though whence the tag? It seems to have been attached too late in their family history to inspire a belief in its veracity. Though at this point I don’t intend to re-open that discussion, I do acknowledge the possibility.
Crispina Kemp


Sources:
For the earlier accounts I have drawn exclusively on the fr.wiki’s ‘Year’ entries, these taken from contemporary annals.

For the later material on Normandy and Brittany I owe a debt to Neil Price and his Vikings of Brittany. A recommended read—and far more in depth than my account here; available online as a pdf.

Le Retz

The Ancient County of Retz

First, my apologies for taking so long in reaching this point.

Second, I’d like to explain: my attention has been directed here by two of my readers, one with an interest in the region (which tends to escape the notice of historians of the High Middle Ages), the other with an interest in one of the region’s notable families. But how, I wondered, might I satisfy both? It was only when I familiarised myself with Le Retz and its history that I found the answer. By following the histories of Le Retz’s noble families.

But first, where is Le Retz, this ancient county of Rais?

Map: Le Retz in context

As can be seen, at the beginning of the 10th century Le Retz was squeezed between three of the biggest political players of the Middle Ages: the county of Anjou, and the duchies of Brittany and Aquitaine. Sitting guard on the Loire, it was a land that couldn’t be ignored. Its history shows it as at one time part of Poitou in Aquitaine, at another in the hands of Vikings, at another a part Brittany, and finally annexed by France.

Setting The Scene – Origins

The Romans

Rome’s conquest of Gaul did not go unchallenged, the most tenacious resistance offered by the tribes of Armorica, particularly the Venetians, and the Namnètes who supported them. To punish the Namnètes for their involvement Caesar redrew the boundaries. In effect he snipped a chunk off the Namnètes’ land and gave it to the Pictones, extending the Pictones’ territory northward as far as the Loire. This later became Pagus Ratiatensis—Ratiatensis became Ratense which became Radesius, which became Rays. Which became Rais. Which became Raiz. And finally Retz.

But Caesar didn’t stop there. He showed particular favour to the Namnètes’ former town of Ratiate (Rezé) which, being south of the Loire, was now in Gallia Aquitania, in the Pictones’ territory. He caused it to grow and to rival its northern neighbour, Condevincum (Nantes).

Roman ArmoricaA redrawn border: Namnets’ loss; Pictones’ gain.

Throughout the region’s Roman history the Pictones and Ratiate continued to be favoured above the interests of Armorica, and Pagus Ratiatensis was made an administrative district of the Pictones (Le Poitou). When in the 2nd century pirate raids began to ravish the Atlantic shores it was Pagus Ratiatensis which was most effectively garrisoned.

Setting The Scene -The Breton Marches

The Breton Marches

The Breton Marches, set up in the 8th century as a buffer zone to protect Frankish interests, consisted the counties of Rennes, Vannes, Nantes, and part of Maine. Abutting its southern border was Le Retz, the northernmost part of the county of Herbauges in Aquitaine.

To understand the politics of the Marches requires a backtrack of 200 years, to the 6th century and the conflicting aspirations of the burgeoning Bretons and the neighbouring Merovingian (Frankish) dynasty.

The Bretons

The arguments regarding the How, When and Where of the Bretons’ arrival in the Armorican peninsula were explored in the previous post From Rome To The Plantagenets (A Brief History of Brittany). Sufficient here to say that by the 6th century the Bretons, now established in the north and west of the peninsula, were beginning to press east- and south-ward.

Vannes

During the first half of the 6th century Waroch I invaded the Vannetais, but was unable to take control of the city of Vannes. This was left to his son, or grandson, Waroch II who took it as part of his campaign against the Merovingian king, Chilperic I in 578.

The Merovingians

Meanwhile, the expansionist policies of the Merovingians had already gained them the counties of Rennes and Nantes.

Result

The east-pushing Bretons forayed into the Frankish-held (Merovingian) regions while ditto the west-pushing Merovingians into the Breton-held regions. Truces were occasionally called during which the Merovingians, and later the Carolingians, bestowed courtly titles upon one or other war-leader of the capitulating Bretons. At each bending of the Breton knee the currently-ruling Frankish king claimed to rule over the entirety of Brittany (when in fact it was but a small part involved). But the Bretons were notoriously as slippery as eels and many were the Breton princes who paid lip service only while plotting rebellion and future campaigns of violent forays. (For a deeper coverage of this period, with biographies of chief protagonists, again see the previous post: From Rome To The Plantagenets ).

The Carolingians

Pepin the Younger (r.751-768)

In 753 Pepin the Younger (son of Charles Martel, and father of Charlemagne) decided it was time to resolve this situation and created ‘la Marche de Bretagne’, ostensibly to protect his Frankish kingdom from further Breton incursions. Yet this fortress-protected buffer-zone also provided a secure base for further Frankish assaults upon Brittany. In 786 Seneschal Audulf led a raid against the Bretons; in 799 Count Guy, prefect of the march, claimed to have conquered Brittany.

Roland 
One of the earliest prefects of the Breton marches was Roland (d.778), hero of the C11th French epic poem Chanson de Roland; he was Charlemagne’s nephew.

The Bretons

Nominoë, Prince of Vannes
Being trampled upon by Count Guy and his Frankish followers, a swathe cut through them as if corn in the field, the Bretons naturally objected. In 811 the Bretons rebelled and for several years after maintained an unquiet independence.

The Carolingians

Louis the Pious (r.814-840)
Louis the Pious, sole surviving son of Charlemagne, tried to resolve the situation. At first he tried by force of arms. The fighting grew bitter; in 818 the Breton leader Morvan was killed.

It took Louis the Pious through to 831 to hit upon the policy already applied by his predecessors elsewhere in the empire: that is, the appointment of a local noble as his representative.

The Bretons

Nominoë (r.845-851)
This favour fell upon the shoulders of Breton war-leader Nominoë, described in a charter of 834 as ‘prince of Venetians’. Whatever the truth of him, Louis the Pious named him as Missus Imperatoris and entrusted to him extensive administrative powers. Nominoë was governor of Brittany from 845 till his death in 851 and is credited with the unification of Brittany (though the fact of that is still debated).

Enter The Vikings

In 840 Louis the Pious died. He was succeeded by his son Charles the Bald who in 841 conferred the county of Nantes on Renaud d’Herbauges who, within the two-year, launched an attack on Nominoë.

Herbauges

Herbauges was bounded to the north by the Loire, to the east by the Sèvre-Nantes, to the south by the Grand Lay with its estuary just north of La Rochelle, and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. A vast military possession, its capital was at the former Roman town of Ratiatum (now Rezé ). Almost as a repeat of the Roman situation when Pagus Ratiatensis was heavily garrisoned against the Irish and Saxon pirates, Herbauges was detached from Aquitaine and given county-status in response to the increasingly frequent Viking attacks, to enable protection of the island-sited monasteries (which, undefended and packed with riches offered easy pickings); there were also several religious foundations sited inland to tempt the Vikings to venture further. Herbauges also included within its bounds the pagi of Metallicus (Pagus Medalgicus, so called for its iron and lead mines; subsequently Metalicca until C12th when it gained its modern form of Mauges), and Teofalicus (Tiffauges), though these latter were considered of lesser importance.

Map: Herbauges

Renaud d’Herbauges
Renaud, native to Aquitaine, was appointed count of Herbauges in July 835, a position probably gained for his prior involvement in battles against the Vikings.

Then in 841 he was appointed to the recently-available position of count of Nantes. This was a prestige position, since the Count of Nantes was also Margrave of the Breton Marches. Unfortunately, Lambert II, grandson of Count Guy (he who in 799 had caused havoc amongst the Bretons), had convinced himself the position was his. Nursing his disappointment, he broke with Charles the Bald and turned to Nominoë who now was in open rebellion against the Franks. (Nominoë had claimed allegiance to Louis the Pious, not to Charles the Bald, his son.)

Battle of Messac (843)
In fear for their city, the people of Nantes asked Renaud d’Herbauges to step in to counter the danger.

This comes from fr.wiki with no source given and no citation, and the nature of the danger left unclear. However, the account does mention the inclusion of Vikings as part of Nominoë’s army (under the command of Hastein. Hastein is known to have raided along the Loire and later settled in Brittany as an ally of Salomon (Count of Rennes and Nantes from 852 and Duke of Brittany from 857).

Coming from Poitou, Renaud had first to cross the Loire. He then swept northward to meet Nominoë’s advancing Breton and Viking force. It has been suggested that Nominoë here was hit by a debilitating illness, which explains why it was his son Erispoë who is named the victor of the subsequent engagement (Battle of Blain).

Meanwhile, Renaud d’Herbauges, having gained the victory at Messac, continued his way to Nantes. In the belief that the Breton army was now out of action he allowed his men a moment to rest near Blain. No doubt, also, in celebration of their easy victory the wine was following. They would have offered little defence when Erispoë, joined by the new Breton ally, Lambert II, and the remains of Nominoë’s force, swept down upon them. In the ensuing slaughter Lambert claimed his rival Count Renaud as his to kill. But for Lambert it proved an empty victory. The people of Nantes refused to recognize him as count. In revenge (or so it is said) he invited Hastein’s Vikings to sack the city. As part of the raid, Bishop Gohard was killed in Nantes Cathedral.

The Breton victory at Blain was followed by others, notably Nominoë’s victory over Charles the Bald at the Battle of Ballon in 845 which resulted in a treaty granting Breton independence. But the Bretons couldn’t or wouldn’t stay home, and hostilities were resumed in 849 with the taking of Rennes and Nantes, and raids deep into western Francia—until two years later, in 851, Nominoë died far from his Breton home in the countryside around Vendome.

Erispoë
In 851 Erispoë succeeded his father. Erispoë used a new set of tactics: taking the offensive, charging head-on into battle, using light cavalry to break the Frankish lines. By such means he defeated the troops sent by Charles the Bald, culminating in the Battle of Jengland in August 851.

Treaty of Angers 851 
Defeated, Charles the Bald agreed to meet with Erispoë at Angers. According to the Annals of Saint-Bertin, Erispoë, coming to Charles in the city of Angers submitted to him and received as a gift symbols of royalty that gave him sovereignty over the counties of Rennes, Nantes, and Retz.

With this the Breton March was incorporated into the kingdom of Brittany. Then by successive treaties first Erispoë (d.857) then Salomon (d.974), extended the reach of Brittany to include the Cotentin and Avranchin. This eastern push underlies Brittany’s subsequent troubled relations with Normandy who, like the Franks before them, were equally as insistent about pushing back. But that’s not the prime focus of this post.

Map: Southern Fortresses of Breton Marches

Brittany was granted control and occupation of Le Retz as means of controlling the continuing Viking attacks. (See next post)

Breton Marches in the 9th and 10th Centuries

The Marches of Neustria 

In 861 Charles the Bald reacted to the Breton and Norse incursions by creating a double buffer to protect the north-west of his kingdom, i.e. Neustria (see map).

In 911, Robert the Strong was given command of both marches and took the title of Marquis (margrave) of Neustria. His family ruled the whole of Neustria until 987, when Hugh Capet was elected king of the Franks—but that’s another story.

Map: Neustrian MarchesThe Second Breton March, as part of the Neustrian Marches

Le Retz, Poitou and Anjou

While still picking up the pieces after the Viking invasions, two agreements were signed, the first in 943, the other in 973. These fixed the frontier between Brittany and Poitou: Le pays de Retz was confirmed to Brittany while Le Poitou was to keep the southern portion of Herbauges including Tiffauges. However, Fulk III Nerra (fl. 970-1040), comte d’Anjou, in expanding his territory, later conquered and annexed le Mauges.

 Towards the High Middle Ages

Brittany’s southern frontier might have been fixed by the agreements of 943 and 973, but that didn’t stop the Bretons, the Poitevins and Angevins at every turn trying to push beyond what was at best an ill-defined border, only to suffer defeat and have to retreat. Throughout the 10th to 13th centuries alliances were formed, and broken, between the lords of the neighbouring regions. With the endless disputes between Brittany, Poitou and Anjou something had to be done.

The Assises de Bois-de-Céné

It was at the ‘Assises de Bois-de-Céné’ c.1120 that the first step was taken to bring peace to the region. Although as yet this concerned only a small area it was as a direct result of these first negotiations between Bernard de Machecoul and Pierre de la Garnache at Bois-de-Céné that special status was conferred on the parishes and towns of the Breton-Poitou-Anjou Marches, sealed by a series of treaties between the interested parties—the Breton, Poitevin and Angevin lords. This special status included various tax exemptions granted the Dukes of Brittany and the counts of Poitou, a legal and fiscal status that survived until 1789.

Map: Marcher Parishes

Brittany’s southern frontier now fixed—and thus that of Le Retz—towers and other devices were built to mark the border. It seemed peace might now be a reality. For the Retzen this was a time of consolidation, of opening new lands for settlement and farming, and for developing trade.

The Stage Is Set

And so the stage is set. As the High Middle Ages opens Le Retz, far from being a backwater, is the focus of continual discord as first one count, then another, tries to pry from Brittany its most recent acquisition. Against this political climate Le Retz’s noble families formed their alliances. And it’s these alliances that will form the substance of this present series ‘The Ancient County of Le Retz‘.

As a prelude to that, the next post concerns the Viking presence. Look out for it. Next month (November)


My thanks to ‘karrikell.over-blog.com‘ whose several posts helped provide some of the above when fr.wiki failed me. See Les Marches de Bretagne  and Les Marches Séparantes Entre Bretagne, Poitou et Anjou.

A Matter Of Tongues

Language fascinates me—as anyone who’s been following crimsonprose for more than a couple of months can testify. I’m also attracted to mysteries and unsolved puzzles.

So it’s not surprising that I follow the ongoing, and hotly debated, arguments regarding the origin and subsequent spread of the Indo-European languages (which include English and Russian, Hindi and Kurdish to name but few). But while I’m still pondering the possibility of adding my unqualified tuppence worth, this post is more restricted geographically and temporally. It concerns the development of Middle English from its predecessor, Old English, otherwise known as Anglo-Saxon.

The Morphing of Old English into Middle English

Briefly, Old English (a West Germanic language) was spoken in England, and in southern and eastern Scotland, from the middle of fifth century until, at some time after the Norman conquest it developed into Middle English.

And that’s where the mystery or puzzle lies.

It’s not a question of HOW the one developed into the other. The changes are well-documented. Before that fateful autumn day of 1066, Old English was the preferred literary language in England, witness Beowulf, while Middle English was the literary language of Chaucer (c.1343-1400) and John Wycliffe (c.1330-1384).

But with the Conquest and subsequent occupation by the Normans, written English disappeared. When it reappeared (evidenced by 1150 in the Peterborough Chronicleit was much changed. This later, much altered language is what we know as Middle English.

Again briefly, the transition from OE to ME involved major changes in its grammar and pronunciation (not to mention writing customs, but that doesn’t concern us here). In effect, almost all the word-endings found in OE were simplified or simply disappeared.

These word endings (inflections ) provided a host of information:

  • whether singular or plural (he/they)
  • the person (we/you/they)
  • the gender (he/she/it)
  • whether we/you/they are on the giving or the receiving end (nominative/accusative/dative)
  • whether we/you/they are moving to or from a person or place
  • whether there is possession (genitive : his ball)
  • With verbs, the time of action (present, past, future)
  • whether it’s ongoing (imperfect) or complete (historical/perfect)
  • whether it might or ought to happen (conditional).

The use of inflection even negated the use of the exclamation mark, as in You! (vocative).

When Middle English emerges in written form we find these word endings now are much simplified, though not yet to their modern forms where we’re left (for nouns) with the plural –s– and possessive –‘s–; ditto verb endings (e.g I sit, you sit, she sits; I sat, you sat, he sat).

Beowulf Excerpt

Example of OE verb and noun endings in this excerpt from Beowulf.

In addition to the grammatical changes there was a major pronunciation change that affected the vowels and diphthongs, this heralding the great vowel shift of 1350-1700. (This great vowel shift combined with the standardization of English spelling in C15th & C16th is responsible for many of the peculiarities of English spelling.)

Finally the original (Germanic) vocabulary was flooded by a tsunami of Anglo-Norman words, particularly those relating to politics, law, religion, culinary and other arts, and all things courtly.

Anglo-Norman
The langues d’oïl or Oïl dialects (Northern French dialects) were spoken in northern and western France at the time of William and his Norman invaders of 1066. Others of his followers spoke varieties of the Picard language (an allied language, closely related to French). Together these developed into Anglo-Norman French, spoken in England during the Anglo-Norman period.

It was this Anglo-Norman dialect that was used for literary compositions and from C12th to C15th replaced Latin for administrative purposes. It was the spoken language of the higher social strata in medieval England; it was used in law courts, schools, and universities; it was adopted by both the gentry and the growing merchant class. Whether or not it was consistently spoken isn’t known, yet it was used throughout this period for private and commercial correspondence. As the lingo of the ruling classes, it was the language to strive for. Manuscripts remain that contain instructions for the ‘non-native’ speaker. We find this Anglo-Norman vocabulary adopted into Middle English, though it wasn’t responsible for the grammatical changes.

All these changes are well documented; there is no mystery there. Even the vowel shifts are explained to satisfaction by Steven Pinker in his Words and Rules (1999) as (e.g.) preference for raising or lowering a tongue. Moreover, English speakers weren’t alone in simplifying word endings: the same is found in French and German, though to lesser extent. However, this simplification of word-endings often required the insertion of prepositions and conjunctions to clarify what had previously been obvious. This was carried over into Medieval Latin which, one might say, is characterised by the scribe’s overuse of the same.

Language Change: The Hows, Whys and Wherefores

So what is the mystery? And what’s the point of this post? It comes in two parts.

Survival

1: How did English as a language survive the Norman conquest to rise again phoenix-like? To survive the brutal conquest and subsequent invasion (which continued well into the C12th) the remaining Anglo-Saxon nobility—and their servants—had no choice but to adopt the newcomers’ language. As noted above, the lesser gentry and the growing class of merchants also adopted the d’oïl lingo. And we can’t point to the Church as offering a haven for when the Anglo-Saxon bishops, abbots and priors were replaced by French counterparts the local lingo became a no-go.

I can see only one answer. That the English language survived as a living, evolving entity primarily amongst the non-literate (peasant) population. This explains why, when it does make its appearance, it does so in many regional forms whereas by mid C11th the standard form for writing in all dialectal areas had been the West Saxon dialect.

The Norse Component

2: The second part concerns the question of whence the Norse vocabulary evident in the emerging Middle English. E.G.:

anger, awe, awkward, axle, bag, barn (‘child’), bait, billow, birth, blunder, both, bull, cake, call, crawl, creek, die, dirt, egg, equip, fellow, fog, freckle, garth, gawk, get, geyser, give, glitter, haggle, hail, happy, haunt, heathen, Hell, husband, irk, kid, kindle, knife, lad, law, leg, link, loft, mire, muggy, oaf, odd, plough, race, ransack, root, rotten, rugged, same, scale, scant, scrape, shake, skill, skin, skip, skirt, skull, sky, slaughter, sleuth, sly, snub, steak, take, they, their, them, though, thrift, thrust, thwart, trust, ugly, wand, want, weak, whirl, window, wing, wrong . . . (This is a far from exhausted list.)

Unlike the Anglo-Norman borrowings, with specialty use, these are words we use everyday. One wonders how we would write without resort to Old Norse.

Scandinavian Influence in England

Danelaw

The usual explanation for whence these words is that they came from the former Danelaw, that extensive tract of land bargained off King Alfred by the Danish warleader Guthrum after the Danes’ (alleged) defeat at Edington in 878.

In 886 under the terms of the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum Danelaw was set (roughly in modern terms) as: Yorkshire; the Five Boroughs (Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stamford and Lincoln); Essex; East Anglia (Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk); and East Midlands (Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Buckinghamshire).

Map: Danelaw 878

“England 878” by Hel-hama
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

While in the ascendancy the Danes dominated the Anglo-Saxon population, and applied their own laws. But King Alfred’s son and successor Edward the Elder went all-out to regain what had been ceded and by 918 had extended Wessex’s control over Mercia and East Anglia (including Essex), effectively forcing the submission of all Danes south of the Humber.

Map Danelaw 912

“Midland Map – 5 Boroughs 912 AD” by Robin Boulby.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

So, if the Danish supremacy lasted for no more than 40 years in the south and southeast of Danelaw how could it have such an impact on the development of Middle English?

King Cnut The Great

The answer resides in the person of Cnut the Great (c.995-1035).

Cnut, popularly known as King Canute (he who tried to hold back the tide—a misinterpretation of the true story) has been credited as ‘the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history’ (by historian Norman Cantor) despite Cnut himself was not Anglo-Saxon. Cnut was son of Sveyn Forkbeard, king of Denmark and Norway, and briefly king of England (913-914). When Sveyn died Cnut had the presence to swiftly build on his father’s English successes and immediately ploughed in where his father had been, despite he’d been neither named nor accepted as his successor. He fought his way to the English throne, and later added Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden to form an Anglo-Scandinavian North Sea Empire.

It was during his reign that the (North Germanic) Danish language truly took hold, not only in the former Danelaw, but throughout England. There is no doubt that King Harold II (d. 1066 at Hastings) spoke Old Danish, a variant developed in C11th from the former Old Norse. Harold was the son of Godwin, made Earl of Wessex under Cnut, and Gytha Thorkelsdóttir (who some have claimed was sister-in-law to Cnut).

It’s possible, too, that the loss of the inflectional endings in Middle English was due to the Scandinavian influence at this time. The argument runs that (to quote wiki’s article Middle English) ‘although Norse- and English-speakers were somewhat comprehensible to each other, the Norse-speakers’ inability to reproduce the ending sounds of English words’ eventually resulted in their loss.

Peterborough Chronicle Provides The Answers

The truth of this situation can be seen in the Peterborough Chronicle, the only version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to record events through to the middle of C12th (100 years after the Norman Conquest).

In 1116 the abbey at Peterborough suffered a disastrous fire which destroyed their original Chronicle. Yet by 1121 the abbey scribes had borrowed another chronicle and made a replacement copy. All the entries to this date are in the same hand using the West Saxon Old English orthography. Thereafter it appears a new scribe took over, recording current events from 1122 to 1131. A third scribe then took over the work and continued the annals through to 1154.

And, almost unique in England at this time, this continuation of the Peterborough Chronicle was written in English.

These continuation annals show a marked difference in the language used, thought to be a East Midlands dialect. It also shows the Scandinavian influence. And because it no longer uses the traditional Old English spellings but is written as heard it provides the earliest evidence for the changes in inflectional endings and pronunciation.

Excerpt Peterborough Chronicle

But one regional dialect (East Midland) does not an entire English language make, especially when in this period there were five distinct dialects—Southern (formerly West Saxon); Kentish; East Midlands (which included East Anglia); West Midlands (found along the Welsh marches); and Northern (which covered Yorkshire and all points north).

How then did that one dialect cast such influence that it was adopted throughout England, including the influential southern counties?

Standard English—Chancery Style

At first it did not. After 1362, when Middle English replaced Anglo-Norman and Latin for use in the law courts and Parliament, the clerks used whichever was their native dialect; there was no standardised English. This didn’t make for an easy life for government administrators (not to mention the headaches for later translators.) Clearly what was needed was an agreed form of English that could be used by all concerned, at least for the official documents.

The answer was Chancery Standard.

Based on the London and East Midland dialects, the political and demographic centres of English society, Chancery Standard was developed during the reign of King Henry V (1413-1422). By mid fifteenth century it was already in use for almost all official purposes (except that the Church still used Latin). Its uptake around the country followed on the heels of bureaucrats travelling on official business, until it became the English to use (much as the Queen’s English was to become in the 1950s). And since the clerks were also familiar with French and Latin these ‘borrowings’ were admitted and smoothly fitted within the English frame. It is this Chancery Standard that forms the core of Early Modern English.

Conclusion

So that answers my questions of how Old English survived its threatened eradication at the Norman Conquest to emerge so changed it seems barely the same, heavy with King Cnut’s Danish vocabulary, fancified by the adoption of Anglo-Norman additions, and scarcely an inflectional ending in sight. (And having composed in Old English, I have to say Modern English is a whole lot easier to use.)


Additional material taken from From Old English to Standard English, Dennis Freeborn (1992), MacMillian Press

Projects, Postponements, and Apologies

1: The Marriage Alliances of the Families of Retz in the High Middle Ages.

This was my planned project once the Jernagen Series finally ended, in part in answer to requests from two of my readers. And I foolishly thought it would be easily done. I soon discovered otherwise.

First, I needed a more thorough grounding in the relevant history of the region. Not so easily come by when one’s French is abysmal. Still, I persisted—and found the next problem: a lack of books covering that region for that particular period; not only in English but also in French. So, I resorted, perforce, to fr.wikipedia—and soon discovered the hilarious offerings of Google Chrome’s translation service.

Second, I invested in a ‘degree level’ English-French dictionary and set to translating Wikipedia’s offerings. But, despite the tome overflows with terms academic scientific and economic, it’s totally lacking in terms medieval. Answer: I found a wonderfully useful C19th dictionary on Google Books.

I set to translating the wiki-articles on Retz and surrounding counties, on Brittany and the major players. My quest for the relevant history took me into fields at first unexpected (Champagne, and Aquitaine). But I was getting there. I planned to post a notice to offer my apologies and to give a tentative date for completion.

Then . . . distraction.

2: A Local History Project.

I was browsing the books at Norwich Central Library when I bumped (literally) into a former work colleague. Over coffee and chat at the attached cafe, she told me of her husband’s death the previous year, and her plans to move from the house she never had liked, and that she was midway through the process of buying a ‘quaint cottage out in the sticks’.

Oh, where, I said, and almost choked on the coffee when she told me. But that’s where my family lived. I didn’t say when, and she mistook me. Perhaps she could make their acquaintance. Ha, I said, if you visit the churchyard, I’m talking C18th.

Coincidence: the cottage she’s buying was built in 1812. She had had the idea of a local history project, to profile the inhabitants in that same year. She’d even bought membership to one of the genealogy websites only to discover the census she’d intended to use doesn’t go so far back.

It wouldn’t have helped, I said. Without buying the whole kaboodle, you need names to access it. You need the parish registers (note the plural.)

She remarked that I seemed to know my way around. I explained of my quest, now long past and abandoned, to connect the dots between the Kemps of East Harling and the Kemps of Gissing (baronets).

And so I managed to talk my way into completing her project.

3: Postponement and My Apologies

Though Liz, my old colleague, had no appreciation of the work involved in profiling for just the one year, I had. It requires research over at least a 90 year period, and not confined to the one village with the one set of registers but could prove far-ranging. It also requires a knowledge of Medieval Latin, and palaeography, both of which (without blowing my horn) I can boast to some degree.

Thus, for now, with regrets, I’m unable to complete the Breton project—though it’s far from forgotten. I will return to it. I just can’t say when. So . . . I offer here my genuine apologies.

The Montfort Charter

(Part 11 – Final Part – in the series, Gernegan Case Reopened)

In the previous post, Lost in Lobineau, we looked at the evidence for a possible identification of Jarnigon son of Daniel de Ponte, Lord of Pontchateau with Gernegan I, the high-ranking canon at York abbey, grandfather of Gernegan II of Tanfield, Yorkshire. What we found, while suggestive, was far from conclusive.

So what evidence might we find to support the identification of ‘Rivellonus & Jarnogotus filii Hamelini’ and Jarnogot’s son, Radulphus, featured in the Montfort charter of 1151(see Table 3b, C12th Jarnogon Charters), with the Jarnogot and his son Ralph of Paling in Sussex, c 1158?

From Gernegan 7 of Sussex

A. 11537 

“Confirmation by Ralph the second, bishop of Chichester, the king’s chancellor, of a charter whereby Sefrid the second, bishop of Chichester, his predecessor, confirmed to the canons regular of the causeway of Arundel (de Calceto Arundell‘), serving God therein the hostel of the poor of Christ . . .

“ . . . of the gift of Gernagan de Palinges, and by the grant of his son Ralph:—part of their land, as they confirmed it . . . “

Deeds: A.11501 – A.11600′, A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 5  (Dates to 1180 x 1204)

The Rape of Chichester
Rogate’ 

“Gernagod’s holding later became known as the manor of Wenham, described as a member of Harting in 1195, and was held of the Bohuns of Midhurst. Gernagan and his wife Basile gave to the Abbey of Durford Alwin Bulluc and his land. Ralph son of Gernagan gave the abbey the tithes of his mill at Wenham, and on 1195 land of Ralph Gernagan at Wenham was an escheat.”

Geldwin de Bohun’s inheritance

The Gernagods’ holdings are mentioned in the account of Geldwin’s inheritance from his brother Ralph de Bohun (died 1158)

  • the fief of Gernagodus of Paling and Horemere
  • the land of the manor of Burne, which Gernagodus, William de Chesney, Richard Ruffus and Thomas de Aseville then held

From Stapleton’s ‘Observations’ in Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae Sub Regibus Angliae, p 31.

Gernegan and his son Ralph had a substantial holding in Sussex, as gleaned from these sources:

  • The House of Paling and its land in the borough of Arundel
  • The manor of Wenham in Rogate (part of Harting hundred)
  • The fief of Paling and Horemere
  • A third part of the manor of Burne (in Westbourne).

In the Gernegan Timeline we tentatively identified Gernagod of Harting and Paling with Gernag’t of Stonham and Gernegan I of York and Whitby. But there was nothing in the Sussex sources to firmly date Gernagod; there was only a terminus for his son Ralph.

  • Ancient Deed 11537, dated to 1180-1195, is a confirmation of gifts previously made. Ralph son of Gernegan confirms Gernagod’s earlier gift of land. The Deed does not give a date for the father, only for the son.
  • In thne Inheritance of Geldwin de Bohun, dated by his brother’s death to 1158, the reference is to the fief of Gernagodus of Paling and Horemere. This neither implies that Gernegan the father is still alive, nor that he’s still in town.

All we can say with certainty is that Ralph was an adult in 1158, and died in 1195. But that at least  allows us to construct a simple Gene Chart:

~ Gernegan/Gernagod (fl 1158 ?)
~ ~ Ralph b before 1158, d 1195

In Lost in Lobineau I suggested a Date-of-Birth range for Gernegan I of 1080 x 1090, based on his minimum age when attesting Eye Charter 136 (and the several charters at York), and his death at Whitby in 1160 x 1170. The Montfort Charter, dated to 1151, does not conflict with this DoB.

The evidence thus far:

  • Jarnogod and son Ralph in Brittany in 1151.
  • Gernagod and son Ralph in Sussex in 1151.

This certainly warrants investigation.

Montfort Charter, 1151

Titres de Montfort
(Lobineau, p153).

Rivellonus & Jarnogotus filii Hamelini
Radulphus filius Jarnogoti

This data-packed document is a donation charter, a supplement to the Foundation Charter of William de Montfort for his abbey at Montfort-sur-Meu.

This should not be confused with the Norman Montfort-sur-Risle. Nor with the House of Montfort which from 1365 to 1514 supplied the dukes of Brittany (theirs was Montfort de l’Amaury in the Ile de Paris).

Montfort Abbey was founded by William de Gaël-Montfort, of the baronial Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien family that, in C11th, had built Montfort-sur-Meu for its defensive assets – the motte, set on a natural hill, overlooks the rivers Meu and Garun.

Gene-Chart Lords de Gael

Lords de Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien 

We might pause for a moment to consider the roots of William de Gaël-Montfort. He was grandson of Ralf de Gaël, the former earl of Norfolk and Suffolk who was exiled from England in 1075 following his attempted rebellion. Ralf de Gaël was son of Ralf the Staller (steward).

It is thought that Ralf the Staller was amongst the many Bretons and Normans who accompanied the Norman Queen Emma when she came to England as wife of Ætheræd II ‘the Unready’. Ralf remained in England during the turbulent years of Scandinavian rule, and later found favour with Edward the Confessor. In 1066 he supported Duke William of Normandy in his conquest of England – for which he was granted the earldom of East Anglia, made vacant by the death of King Harold’s brother, Earl Gyrth.

Despite Ralf de Gaël inherited his father’s extensive East Anglian estate, with manors in Essex, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, he did not inherit the full extent of his father’s earldom. King William reduced it to Norfolk and Suffolk only. Perhaps this was enough to spark his rebellion in 1075, though his father had died in 1067 and this seems a long time for his resentment to boil. Perhaps it was stirred by another discontented earl who also had not inherited the full extent of his father’s powers: his new brother-in-law, Roger de Breteuil, 2nd Earl of Hereford. (See Revolt of the Earls)

Whatever the cause of rebellion, in King William’s absence it was promptly put down by the warrior bishops, Odo of Bayeux and Geoffrey, bishop of Coutance. Ralf and his followers were forfeit their lands and exiled from England.

Ralf, however, still had his Breton barony of Gaël (see Map below). There he took refuge, out of reach of England’s King William. Yet the following year, 1076, he joined another uprising against the same king, this time in Brittany, led by Duke Hoel.

In retaliation, and concerned for the security of his western border, William besieged the castle of Dol. This was not the first such siege of Dol but almost a repeat of the 1064 siege shown on the Bayeux Tapestry – in which Ralf de Gaël, again, was involved. On that occasion William had had the additional arms of Earl Harold and his men. Now, despite his efforts to take the castle, Dol held. Seeing an opportunity to extend his power, Philippe I king of France intervened on behalf of the Bretons. William raised the siege and fled. It was the Conqueror’s first serious defeat in twenty or more years.

Ralf de Gaël remained a powerful force in Brittany. It was he who built the castle at Montfort before joining the First Crusade where he and his wife Emma and his son Alain died in 1099. He was succeeded by his younger son William. But William died without issue. Thus it was the youngest son Ralf who inherited all – including the Norman honour of Breteuil, inherited from his mother.

1075 did not see an end to Gaël-Montfort’s involvement in England.  Amice, daughter of the exiled earl, sister of the new lord de Gaël, was betrothed to Richard, a son of King Henry I. But Richard died young, before they could marry. Instead, in 1119, Amice married Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and supporter of King Stephen in his battle against the claims of King Henry’s Angevin daughter, Empress Matilda. Although not active engaged in England, in Normandy Robert de Beaumont was fierce in his fight against the Angevin supporters – for which he lost his Normandy estates. He died in 1167 having served Henry II as Chief Justicar of England and Lord High Steward.

In the seventh century Gaël, then the capital of Dumnonia, was the royal residence of Juthaël and his son St Judicaël and, later, of Erispoë. Set at the centre of a vast forest – Poutrecouët (Porhoët) of which the Forest of Brocéliande is but a small remnant – the royal castle was built on the banks of the Meu, close to today’s town. That same castle was the birthplace of the C11th lords Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien.

Map: Honour de Gael-Montfort

The barony of Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien originally included more than 40 parishes, though it has since lost some. (See ‘Liste des seigneurs de Montfort en Bretagne‘ on Wiki Francais). In addition, in 1160 La Gacilly (between Ploërmel and Redon) and its castle belonged to Olivier de Montfort, brother of William de Gaël-Montfort.

The Lands of the Montfort Charter

The full text of the Montfort Charter is given in the Jarnigan Appendix. For our purposes, we need only to know who gave what and where. The charter begins:

“I, William Lord of Montfort, together with others brought to the church of saint Jacob . . .”

William de Montfort’s very long list of gifts begins with what will form a regular annual income. The tithes:

  • the tithe of a new mill in Montfort
  • the tithe of William’s grain, his vineyards and gardens
  • a tenth of his forest at Colum
  • half of the rights of way in Monfort
  • the sale of bread and wine in Montfort

William then lists the lands he has given . . .

From the land around the town of Gaël:

  • the land of Præstebolius
  • the land of Charbonel
  • the land of Foloheel
  • the land of Even and Garner de Noa
  • the land of Dodel (Dodeliensium)
  • the land of the sons of Rivald de Lande
  • the land of the sons of Judicaël son of Moyse

In Faut (which at first I presumed was Illifaut):

  • the land of Guillelm
  • the land of Bodin
  • the land of Albert (Albertensium)
  • the land of Finid
  • the land of Guillelm the presbyter of Borrigath
  • the land of Illis of Bren
  • the land of Daniël Candid
  • the land of Gerbert of Brengelin
  • the land of Helen son of Delese

William also gave to the monks the tithe of both grain and coin from Thalencach and Monterfil towards the cost of feeding guests. Then, too, he gave:

  • the village and land of Guinelmor with its appendages in Talensac
  • the land adjacent to the forest of Tremelin
  • the mill in Romeliac
  • the land of Orene de Curia
  • the land of Gaufrid son of Gorrand
  • and 2 melliferias (honey-farms) that he had bought from Conan Rothaud, son of Guinned

The next groups of lands came from the parish of St Gilles:

  • the land of Joanne son of Mein
  • the land of Reutadrus
  • the land of Guillelm de Mecahc
  • the land of Pascherius
  • the land of Hungunar
  • the land of Urvos
  • the land of Judicaël
  • the land of Hefred
  • the land of Gorrand
  • the land of Gaufrid
  • the land of Trumel,
  • the field (campum) of Even son of Belissent

To all this his wife Amice assented, and his sons and brothers agreed. Although an essential component of any donation, this was also formulaic.

Next, he tells us of the gifts made by his wife and his vassals – to which he had previously agreed (also formulaic).

His wife gave, in addition to the profits from the sale of bread and meat in the town of Gaël:

  • in Talencahc, a mill
  • in Sentelei, land next to the Bourg
  • in Vineis, Gaufrid son of Bino, and his partner
  • in the land of Berner, one quarter of the grain

Of his vassals:

  • Lehsent, with the consent of his children, gave in Talencahc land next to the forest
  • Herve son of Richald, with the consent of his children, gave a field next to the cemetery
  • Mentinit son of Hugo, for the soul of his brother, gave land earmarked for building the miller’s house
  • In the parish of Mauron, Peter son of Urvo gave his hunting rights in the valley, and in the village of Autbert
  • In the bourg of Bretuil, Guillelm the priest gave the same house that William de Montfort had given him
  • In Gevret, Joanne son of Trusell, with the consent of his brothers, gave the tithe/a tenth of the fee of Espergat for the soul of his brother Rafred
  • In Irrodoir, Gaufrid son of Ulric gave the land of Capella
  • In Bedesco, Dualen son of Blanche, with consent of his children and his brother, conceded what rights he had in village of saint-Jacob
  • Cornilellus gave the vinery next to the water Modan
  • Hubert gave a vinery with his children’s consent
  • In Castle Montfort, Daniel Brito gave the houses that were held of the fee of Froald and with everything, offered his own son to the Church.
  • In the parish of Collum, Ralf the priest of Paci gave a vinery, his sister Maria also gave to the Church a vinery.
  • Ralph and Revellon, sons of Rothard, with agreement of their children, gave three ‘little fourths’ (quarts?) of grain
  • Hodia gave her cottage and field with the agreement of her lord and relatives
  • Herve the priest of Capella gave land at Secher in Senteleio
  • Peter son of Trehored gave the prebendary grain in the land of Brother Eudo Rigid.
  • Hugo son of Respet gave whatever hereditary rights he had in Gahelo.
  • Herve son of David gave two cottages with a field.
  • In Helisaut, Clamarius gave a field with cottage with consent of his lord and children.
  • In the parish of Mauron, Guillelm Sellarius (lit. the lecher) gave a field with consent of his children and lord
  • Rivellon & Jarnogot, sons of Hamelin, gave a field next to Musterbio (campum juxta Musterbio)
  • Ralf son of Jarnogot sold a cottage with field in Cihiledre (casamentum in Cihiledre)
  • Trescant son of Tuali with his children gave three cottages with fields in the bourg of saint Laver
  • Jarnogod brother of Demorand gave a cottage and field in Fevrer.
  • In sancta Magaldo, Gaufrid of Fevrer gave a field, with the consent of his children
  • Three sons of Bernard (the monk mentioned in the preface of the charter) gave their tithe
  • And two survivors Gauter & Herve yielded their legal rights worth nine shillings

Some of these places can be immediately recognised (See below, Map: Montfort Charter ): Gaël, Talensac, Monterfil, the Forest of Tremelin, Romeliac, St Gilles, Mauron, Bretuil (Breteil), Irrodoir, Bren (Le Bran).

However, it turned out that Faut wasn’t, as I’d first thought, Illifaut; for the lands of Gerbert of Brengelin, Illis of Bren, and Guillelm the presbyter of Borrigath, all listed as lands in Faut, are found much further south, in the parish of Concoret. (See Map Montfort Charter 2)

Map: Montfort Charter 1

Other places mentioned in the charter required a more thorough search of a detailed map. I’m not sure the Google Map quite qualified. Despite the ability to zoom into detail, the fuller picture then was lost. It took days to crawl at close quarters across the given area.

There was a problem, too. In the intervening 950 years there have been many changes to placenames. This isn’t only a matter of spelling, for example Bedesc had become Bédée; but some places have suffered a complete change of name. An example is the C11th Brécilien which now is Paimpont. This is where infobretagne.com became an essential to discover the old names, and to confirm my own guesses.

Still, the search was not 100% successful. Yet when we consider that some of these places were not even hamlets – mere fields – at the time of the charter and have long since disappeared, I was delighted to find all but a few of the names. But always my mind was on finding the lands of Rivellon and Jarnogot, sons of Hamelin, and Jarnogot’s son Ralph.

The Results
(See Montfort Charter Map 2 below)

Bedesc: As I have already mentioned, Bedesc now is Bédée, a town north of Montfort, though I could find no outlying village of Saint-Jacob.

Gevret: To the northeast of Bédée and Montfort is Gévezé – or Gevriseio as it is attested in a charter of 1136.

Parish and Forest of Colum: Moving southwest of Montfort is the small town of Le Rocher de Coulon; this is the former ‘Colum’. The forest is now longer evident.

Guinelmor & appendages in Talensac: That this is the land of Guilhermont is confirmed in a summary of the Montfort Charter found on the relevant page of infobretagne.com. The farm of Guilhermont in Talensac was still in existence as late as C18th.

Sancta Magaldo is now St Maugan, formerly part of the parish of Iffendic. Here Gaufrid de Fevrer had a field. Apparently this ‘Geffroy Ferrier ou Fevrier’ was proprietor of the château de Vauferrier. It follows that Jarnogod, brother of Demorand, who gave a cottage and field in Fevrer, lived some place near here.

Vineis: the parochia Campo Vineio was the Latinised version of ‘Chavenne’ or ‘Chaveigne’, the C12th forms of today’s Chavagne.

Sentelei, aka Saint Eloi, is now Montauban-de-Bretagne. William de Montfort’s wife gave land next to the Bourg of Sentelei. Herve the priest, too, gave land at Secher in Senteleio. Also in in terram Santeleio were the lands of Orene de Curia, and of Peter son of Trehored. (infobretagne cites “Dom Morice, Evidence of the History of Brittany, I, col 614″)

The water of Modan: I confess this is a guess. Having looked at the name of every creek, pond and river I then found the C12th Latinised name of Médréac: Modoriacum. So perhaps the vinery that Cornilellus gave was here, in Médréac.

Saint Laver: This is St Lery, whose name is also given as Saint Elocan, Saint Laur, and Saint Livry.

Brengelin: (in Faut) was, in 1151, part of the parish of Concoret.

Borrigath: Today is the tiny hamlet of Boriga; it lies north of Brengelin.

Eleven hits, that isn’t bad. And it leaves only:

Terra Bernerius which might refer to Bernéan, now found as the Bois de Bernéant, part of Coëtquidan, and formerly part of the parish of Campénéac. The name is known from as early as C5th when it was Broon-Ewin or Lisbon Broniwin.

Helisaut. Though we confidently convert this to ‘Helisant’ or ‘Heli-saint’, that doesn’t much help.

So, to map what we have so far:

Map 2: Montfort Charter

We are left with ‘the field next to Musterbio’, and ‘a field with cottage at Cihiledre’, i.e. the lands given by Jarnogot and his family. And ‘Gahelo’ in which Hugo son of Respet gave certain rights to the newly-founded abbey, and which I have intentionally left to last.

Gahelo is almost certainly Cahelo. But Cahelo no longer exists (that I can find). However, there is a Rue de Cahelo that runs out of Bellevue. Bellevue lies on eastern the edge of Coëtquidan; it leads directly to l’Abbaye Jarnot.

The Lands of the Sons of Hamelin

Of all the places mentioned in the Montfort charter, Musterbio and Cihiledre, the very places I most want to find, have caused the worst headache. To take Cihiledre first . . .

I found several names that could be today’s version of Cihiledre. The most promising, at first sight, was Lédremeu, in the same area as Champs du Bran, Brangelin and Boriga. This had to be it. But a closer look revealed it wasn’t Lédremeu at all, but L’Édremeuc.

Next favourite was Letra. But some distance southeast of Ploërmel, it was far outside of the Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien lands.

That left Le Lidrio, south of the Forest of Paimpont, on the northwestern rim of Coetquidan, wherein the French military has its training camps. It was the right area. It was close by Bois de Bernéant. But could ‘Lidrio’ possibly evolve from the original Cihiledre?

The other problem with Cihiledre is, in following the Latin ‘in’ it ought to have the ablative ending (generally / -a / -o / -e / -u / depending on which declension). It does end in the ablative / –e /, but it follows the pattern of Latin mater, mother (ablative, matre). And this gives a nominative ‘Cihileder‘. Which would not give us those current placenames that I had found. There is one placename in Brittany remarkably similar: Cléder. But Cléder is way over west, near Roscoff in Finistère.

A different problem existed with Musterbio. It might not look much like the Latin word monasterium but that’s what it is – at least, the Muster- part of it.

In the twelve century Latin was well on its way to becoming French (in this period known as Old French). This involved streamlining the case endings, though not as severely as happened in English in the same period. It also involved the elision of internal consonants. Thus we find, for example, Latin hospitāle becoming Old French (h)ostel. In similar fashion Latin monasterium became Old French muster.

But the placename given for ‘next to Jarnogot’s field’ isn’t just ‘a monastery’; it is a named monastery: Musterbi[o]. But while the spoken Latin was morphing into French, the legal written Church Latin remained unchanged – and juxta (next to) ought to take an accusative ending (-am/-um/-em, depending on declension). In which case the –o ending is wrong. A scribal error, perhaps? A monk who wasn’t so sharp at his Latin declensions (he ought to have had my teacher!). We are left not knowing the correct form for Musterbio.

Today’s Billio was, in earlier times, Moustoir-Billiou. Could this be Jarnogot’s Musterbio? But Billio is 15 miles southwest of Ploërmel, and Ploërmel was part of the county of Porhoët, so we can scrub that suggestion.

Then, while I was map-crawling over the southern extremity of the barony of Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien, I found L’Abbaye Jarnot.

Map 1: L'Abbaye Jarnot

No, it couldn’t be.

Wikipedia, both English and French, were mute on it.

I tried infobretagne.com. On a page titled The Lords of the ancient parish of Guer , with text accredited to Abbé Le Claire, 1915, I found this. (Translation courtesy of Google.)

ABBEY-JARNO 

“Tradition tells us that the Abbey-Jarno was a monastery; Cahello, infirmary monks; the Démanchère, the remains of prior; le Verger  would be the cloister; Finally this land, at an unknown date, would have belonged to a family Jarno, who left his name.”

La tradition nous dit que l’Abbaye-Jarno était un monastère ; Cahello, l’infirmerie des moines; la Démanchère, la demeure du prieur; le Verger aurait été le cloître ; enfin cette terre, à une date inconnue, aurait appartenue à une famille Jarno, qui lui a laissé son nom.

Note: The Abbaye-Jarno is surely monastic foundation. In 1673, according to Mr. Corson Guillotin, the Priory of Maxent was entitled to justice high on some fiefs in Guer, among others that of the Abbaye-Jarno. From this we may believe that this is the donation of 866 who did give the name of the fief Abbey.

Note : L’Abbaye-Jarno est sûrement de fondation monastique. En 1673, d’après M. Guillotin de Corson, le Prieuré de Maxent avait droit de haute justice sur certains fiefs en Guer, entre autres sur celui de l’Abbaye-Jarno. D’après cela on peut croire que c’est la donation de 866 qui a fait donner à ce fief le nom d’Abbaye.

I further discovered that the abbey was founded by Saint Gurvan, a friend/follower of Saint Samson of Dol fame.

Ca. 1450, the abbey lands were acquired  by Jean du Plessis. Today, to quote, again, l’Abbé Le Claire, “the house of the Abbey-Jarno is in ruins, it is a soulless building . . .”

A soulless ruin it might be, but it is also interesting and thought provoking – as was another note I found on the same page:

“In 1588 . . .  Perrine Roblot who died of contagion, was the first person buried in the chapel of Saint-Raoul.”

One wonders how old is the town of Saint-Raoul that its first burial was not until 1588.

Map 2: l'Abbaye Jarnot

Pulling out of the zoom, we see how l’Abbaye Jarnot fits with the other places named in the Montfort charter.

Map 3: l'Abbaye Jarnot

The Forests of Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien Region

Paimpont
Coëtquidan and Tremelin

It should not surprise us that the name ‘Jarn’ is found in this area. The abbey is no isolated example. ‘La Grée Gernigon’ lies between Neant-sur-Yvel and Paimpont. And ‘Le Jarnigon’ is found in the Forest of Lanouee, north of Josselin; possibly part of the baronry of Gaël though more belonging to the lordship of Porhoët. There is even an advert for one ‘Gernigon Gerard’, a livestock breeder of Plelan-le-Grand.

This entire region is rich in iron-ore, the forests supplying the necessary charcoal to fire the furnaces. There is archaeological evidence of its exploitation as early as the Hallstatt and early La Tène periods (750-500 BCE). The industry continued throughout the Roman occupation. But it wasn’t until the Late Middle Ages that the iron-working here became a true industry in the modern sense, Finds of accumulated slag and other ferrous waste date to C13th and C14th, totalling more than a thousand tons. Reduction furnaces then are found – a new technique of ore extraction – and the first blast furnace, at the Holly Pond, which dates to late in this period. It seems by C18th there forges were everywhere throughout these forests.

Jarn: as we saw, the name means iron. And where else would the name originate. We have already seen it is an indigenous Gallic name, predating the Romans. Now we can trace it yet further back, to the Late Hallstatt period.

The Forest of Paimpont – or Brécilien as it once was called – is identified today with the magical forest of Brocéliande, wherein Merlin was locked into a cave by the cunning young Vivian, and Arthur drew his magical sword from a stone. An apt setting. And it would have been Jarn’s ancestors who made that sword, literally pulling it out of stone – in the form of iron ore.


Breton Jarnogot, Sussex Gernegod, Suffolk Gernag’t

For the length of a day I felt certain I had found the ancestral land of Jarnigot of Stonham and Harting, this Jarnogot of the Montfort Charter. And then I asked: Does l’Abbé Le Claire give an indication of when l’Abbaye Jarnot was first called that? He says the lands of l’Abbaye Jarnot were acquired, c. 1450, by Jean du Plessis. That implies the previous owner was of the family Jarnot. But he confesses an unknown date for the tenure of Family Jarnot.

Yet, whether we have a correct identification with l’Abbaye Jarnot, or not, we can say with some certainty that Rivellon and Jarnogot, sons of Hamelin, were descendants of the Hallstatt smiths of lived and worked in this great forested region.

Rivellon and Jarnogot, sons of Hamelin, are listed amongst the vassals of William de Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien, and as such cannot be identified with Jarnogon of Pontchateau.

If Jarnogon of Pontchateau is Gernegan I of York and Whitby, and if Jarnogot, son of Hamelin, is Jarnigot of Stonham and Harting, then the northern family must be pronounced separate from that in the south.

But is a coincidence of names sufficient for us to say, yes, this Breton Jarnogot was also the Sussex Gernegod, who in turn was the Suffolk Gernag’t?

Suffolk

As far as Gernag’t of Stonham is concerned, the fact that Ralph de Gaël was Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk until his exile in 1075 and that Jarnogot, son of Hamelin, was a vassal of the lords of Gaël-Montfort-Brécilien weighs heavily in favour of them being the same man.

I personally see it as a distinct possibility that both Iarnagot of Wattisham and Battisford, who we have not discussed in this current post (see Gernegan 5 and 6 of Suffolk) and Gernag’t of Stonham, owe their presence in England to the earlier lord of Gaël.

Iarnagot held land of Eudo fitzSperiwic who was also a Breton and possibly one of de Gaël’s men. The account of the earl’s rebellion says of his men being exiled along with him. But this refers to those involved in his rebellion, not those busily tending their lands. Being exiled, the lands formerly held by Ralf de Gaël were forfeit. The manors de Gaël held as an integral part of his earldom were given to Alan Rufus, Lord of Richmond, who became, in effect if not in title, the new Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk. Other parts of de Gaël’s lands, including those manors inherited from his father who had served Edward the Confessor, were either taken into the king’s custody to be farmed by Godric the Steward or were given to Roger Bigod.

Only three of de Gaël’s followers are named in the Domesday Book: Wihenoc (whose lands were divided between Roger Bigod and Reginald fitzIvo), Eudo fitzClamahoc (whose lands given to Ralph de Beaufour), and Walter de Dol.

At Caldecot in Suffolk, Walter de Dol had possession of a freewoman, Wulfgifu, and her son; Robert Malet, Lord of Eye, received this freewoman with her land.

Also in Suffolk, at Ashfield, Walter de Dol had possession of Snaring the priest when he forfeited his land. The priest, along with other freemen in the area, were given to Ralph de Savenay, Roger Bigod’s man. In Norfolk, Earl Hugh received Walter de Dol’s lands, though some later were given to Roger Bigod..

Robert Malet, Lord of Eye, received freemen in Gislingham, in Suffolk, who, in the reign of King Edward, had been commended to Alsige, nephew of Ralph the Staller, and a thegn of Queen Edith. Roger de Poitou, too, held freemen formerly commended to Ralph the Staller’s neplew Alsige. One assumes these had been part of the rebel earl’s forfeited lands.

The Domesday Book is not all names, numbers and squabbles – though there are plenty of those. Every so often one encounters an explanatory tale. Reginald fitzIvo received Pickenham in Norfolk. This, in the reign of King Edward, had been held by Ralph de Gaël’s father, Ralph the Staller. But in 1075 it was in the hold of Wihenoc.

“A man of Wihenoc’s loved a certain woman on that land and he took her in marriage and afterwards held the land in Wihenoc’s fief without the king’s grant and without livery to him and his successors.”

After the earl’s rebellion, Pickenham (today existing as two villages, North Pickenham and South Pickenham) was distributed between Count Alan, William de Warenne, Reginald fitzIvo, Ralph de Tosny, Berner the crossbowman, and the farm of Godric the Steward.

These are only a few examples yet they illustrate how a man, having followed his lord – in this case, Ralf de Gaël – might then be left behind in England, a tenant, sub-infeudated, to be reassigned to a new lord; perhaps to Eudo fitzSperiwic or to Roger de Poitou. Uniquely informative though Domesday Book is, not every circumstance is explained. We are given a snapshot only of 1086.

Sussex

When it comes to identifying the Breton Jarnogot with the Sussex Gernegod, the evidence is again only suggestive, yet that suggestion is strong. It centres on a family we’ve already met in Sussex, the Bohuns.

But the Bohun family was rooted in the Cotentin region of Normandy; how could they be a link between Jarnogot, son of Hamelin, and Gernegod of Paling and Harting. The answer lies with de Gaël-Montfort’s northern neighbours, the seigneurs de St Aubin d’Aubigny.

Though these Breton seigneurs share their name with William d’Aubigny who in 1138 became Earl of Arundel when he married Adeliza de Louvain, Henry I’s widow, they were two distinct families. (William d’Aubigny’s family took its name from the village of St Martin d’Aubigny in the Cotentin). To avoid confusion the Breton family is usually named as d’Albini.

Gene-Chart: Aubigny of Arundel

Seigneurs de St Aubin d’Aubigny

We find listed in the Liber Vitæ of Thorney abbey…

“Main pater Willelmi de Albinico, Adelisa, Hunfredus de Buun avunculus eius…”

“Main, father of William de Albini, Adelisa, his uncle Humphrey de Bohun . . .”
From Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, quoted in Keats-Rohan ‘Domesday People’

While no date is given, the compilers of fmg suggest that the said ‘Hunfredus de Buun’ is Humphrey II de Bohun. In which case his sister is the Adela named in the 1130 Pipe Roll, a unique document that survives from this period. So we can now complete a gene-chart that shows the Bohun-Albini connection.

Gene-Chart: Bohun - Albini

It is interesting, and possibly relevant, that William de Albini, son of Main and Adelisa, married Cecily, one of Roger Bigod’s daughter, while William d’Aubigny, father of William 1st Earl of Arundel (and in Sussex, lord to the Bohuns and Gernegods) married Maud, another of Roger Bigod’s daughters. Bigod was, at this time, the newly-made Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk. The d’Aubigny family held extensive lands in Norfolk, with their castle at Old Buckingham. They were founders of Wymondham abbey.

Norman Pillars in Wymondham Abbey

The Norman pillars inside Wymondham Abbey
(founded 1107 by William d’Aubigny)
The church is still in use today.

Main d’Albini held a seigneurial post, which roughly equates to the Norman viscount and Anglo-Saxon (shire-)reeve. As such he held lordship over ‘a dozen parishes’ including ChevaignéMontreuil-sur-Ille, and Saint-Germain-sur-Ille, which in the 1th and 12th centuries was called Saint-Germain-d’Aubigny.

Yet the Seigneurs d’Aubigny were themselves subject to the Lords Germont, a family which gave its name to Montgermont where they had their castle. In 1152, Montgermont was only a treve in the parish of Pace; it didn’t gain parish status until C13th. It is mentioned in the Cartulary of the Abbey of Saint-Melaine of Rennes: “Pace ecclesiam cum capella Montgermont”. It would seem that the Gaël-Montforts had some connection with Pace since its priest, Ralf, gave his vinery in the parish of Collum to the foundation of Montfort abbey.

‘Montgermont’ was not the only way to spell that name. Amongst the witnesses to a charter (dated 1185) by Henry II’s son Geoffrey who, in marrying Constance, duchess of Brittany, became Earl of Richmond, is one

Guillaume de Montegarniot

(From The Charters of Duchess Constance of Brittany and Her Family, 1171-1221, edited by Judith Everard, Michael C. E. Jones (e-book unavailable)

If this was its original spelling, then we have here another Jarn– family: Monte-garn-iot. Could this be the Jarn-family, the one we seek?

Today, Montgermont is in the canton of Betton. Evidence exists of a settlement at Betton from at least the Iron Age, though documentary evidence dates only as far back as 1138, in the cartulary of the abbey of Saint-Melaine at Rennes. As the compiler of infobretagne.com says:

“The name of this parish from 1152, ‘ecclesiam of monasterio Bettonis’ suggests that a monastery was in place before the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Melaine founded a priory [here].”

Although de Courson suggests the name ‘Betton’ is that of a man, not a locality, and may have belonged to the founder of said monastery, it could also be from the Gallic bedo (pit) or betu (birch) as is given on the same website for Bédée (Bedasco, Bidisco).

Could this monasterio Bettonis (or Bitonis) be Jarnogod’s Musterbi?

In 1155 the castle at Betton was in the hands of Guy de Betton; yet by 1222 it was held by Tison Saint-Gilles, lord of both Saint-Gilles and Betton. St Gilles was part of the Gaël-Montfort barony.

In 1180, an aged canon and treasurer of Rennes, on his death-bed bequeathed to the abbey of Saint-Melaine “deux quartiers et une mine de seigle de rente à prendre dans les dîmes de Gévezé” which Google translates as “two neighbourhoods and a wealth of rye annuity”, to be taken from the tithes of Gévezé.

This canon in question is named as Hamelin Bérenger. He had previously been the priest at Gévezé.

Map: Montfort-Aubigny

The case is building. Rivellon and Jarnogod, sons of Hamelin, gave at the founding of Montfort abbey a field next to a monastery that could have been the old monastery at Betton. They could have been sons of the priest at Gévezé. They could have been related, a lesser branch, to the lords of Montgermont. They would have been neighbours of the seigneurial family at St-Aubin d’Aubigny whose son William d’Albini-Brit married Adelisa, daughter of the Bohuns of the Cotentin in Normandy who held various lands in England, including in Sussex.

Vassals of the lords of Gael-Montfort who once had held the earldom of Norfolk and Suffolk, a lesser branch of the lords of Montgermont with their connection to the Bohuns: sufficient explanation of how Hamelin’s son Jarnogot became Gernagod of Paling and Harting, and Gernag’t of Stonham. But it offers no explanation of how the same Jarnogot became Gernagot of York. Perhaps that’s because he did not.

The Gernegans of Yorkshire and Suffolk

The Manor of Wathe or Wade Hall
(North Cove, Suffolk)

“This manor was probably called after Robert Watheby, of Cumberland, who held it in the time of Hen. II. From Robert de Watheby the manor passed to his son and heir Thorpine, whose daughter and coheir Maud married Sir Hugh or Hubert Fitz-Jernegan, of Horham Jernegan, Knt., and carried this manor into that family.”

So says W A Copinger in Volume 7 of his ‘Manors of Suffolk’ (1911). But Copinger was only copying Francis Blomefield’s account of the Jerningham family given in his History of Norfolk and today available at British History Online.

“Hugh, or Hubert, son of Jernegan . . . married Maud, daughter and coheir of Thorpine, son of Rob. de Watheby of Westmorland . . . he is mentioned by the name of Hubert de Jernegan, in the Black Book of the Exchequer, published by Mr. Herne at Oxford, 1728, vol. i. p. 301, as one of the Suffolk knights that held of the honour of Eye.”

Even at the time of Copinger’s writing, doubts had been raised as to the veracity of Blomefield’s claim – because it presented too many problems of inheritance, the manor having to pass out of the Jernegan’s keep to be re-acquired later through the marriage of Sir Walter Jernegan to Isabel Fitz Osbert (See Lady Isabel and the Jernegan Lords)

This, the matter of Wade Hall, is the sole documented evidence of a connection between the Yorkshire and the Suffolk Gernegan-Jernegan families. And it dates only to C18th. For though Blomefield’s ‘History’, as published online at BHOL, is dated to 1805, it was written and first published between 1736 and 1745.

Francis Blomefield

Blomefield (1705-1752) died before his ‘History’ was complete, though this had not been a ‘retirement project’. His ambition was to be an antiquary even from his schooldays when his vacations were taken with visiting Norfolk and Suffolk churches (he lived in Thetford, on the county border) to record the monumental inscriptions. This inevitably led to the collection of genealogical and heraldic notes of local families, indulged when he was at college, with Cambridgeshire now his, too, to explore.

So we can imagine the young Blomefield’s delight when, not long after graduating, he was given access to the huge collection gathered and compiled by Peter Le Neve of materials relating to the history of Norfolk.

But Peter Le Neve (1661-1729), was more than Fellow and first President of the Society of Antiquaries of London and Fellow of the Royal Society; in 1704 he was created Norroy King at Arms, i.e. ‘King of the Heralds beyond the Trent’. As such, Le Neve had been responsible for validating the barons and baronets right to bear ‘arms’, which entailed the inspection of supporting evidence. From 1707 to 1721 he was Richmond Herald of Arms.

But more pertinent yet: Peter Le Neve was the son of a Ringland family – and Ringland abutted the Jerningham’s estate at Costessey, granted to Sir Henry Jerningham in 1553 by Queen Mary. As with myself, who grew up on that former estate, we can guess that Le Neve’s interest in his parent’s neighbour would have been keen. Especially since that neighbour’s genealogy stretched far beyond Tudor times. And when he later found the name repeated in Yorkshire . . .

Le Neve was methodical, as one must be when handling a vast collection. He compiled ‘calendars’ of his records. By 1689 he had already completed a ‘calendar of fines’ for the county of Norfolk, down to the reign of Edward II. His prime interest was the history of Norfolk and its families, and it was this that formed the basis of Blomefield’s History.

At the time of Walter Rye’s article on Peter Le Neve in the ‘Dictionary of National Biography’ (Vol 33, 1885-1900) the collection had been divided: many of Le Neve’s notes now were in the Bodleian Library, others were in the British Museum, some were in the Heralds’ College, some with the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, and the remainder were with a private firm in Norwich. I can find no update on this.

Walter Rye lists the items in the collection as:

  • Calendars of early fines of Norfolk, Richard I to Henry VIII
  • A Dictionary of the Arms of the Gentry of Norwich and Norfolk, with Explanations, Coats, Armours, and Drawings
  • An Ordinary of Arms, containing many hundred arms properly blazoned and finely preserved
  • An Alphabet of Arms, with some hundreds of Arms of the Gentry of Norfolk
  • Le Neve’s Ordinary of Arms: a folio manuscript with some thousand coats of arms
  • Grants of Arms, by Peter Le Neve
  • Notes from the Pipe Rolls relating to Norfolk and Suffolk, from Henry II to Edward III
  • Copies of Norfolk Pipe Rolls
  • Norfolk Patents
  • Placita Coronæ, Quo Warranto, Jurat. et Assis. in Norfolk, temp. Edward I
  • Proofs, Pedigrees, and Names of Families, by Peter Le Neve ‘a very large collection’.
  • An annotated manuscript copy of Bysshe’s ‘Visitation of Norfolk,’ 1664,
  • A volume of ‘Norfolk Pedigrees,’ with arms in colours, and a transcript of a roll of arms, and ascribed to him
  • An annotated manuscript copy of Harvey’s ‘Visitation of Norfolk’ of 1563
  • Le Neve’s catalogue of knights between Charles II’s and Anne’s reigns (Harl. MS. 5801–2)
  • A similar work in 3 vols. on baronets that was still in manuscript at the Heralds’ College.
  • Some of his diary and memoranda on heraldry
  • Three volumes of his letters (Harl. MSS. 4712–13 and 7525)
  • And a great mass of his collections and writings among the Rawlinson MSS. (Oxford).

The young Blomefield must have thought himself in heaven. And perhaps it was amongst this material that he came upon reference to Avice Marmion, daughter of Gernegan of Tanfield, and heir to Robert Watheby of Cumberland who held the manor of Wade. And knowing that the Jernegan family of Somerleyton Hall, Suffolk, also held the manor of Wade . . . How easy to make the wrong connection.

I have looked at the sources cited by Blomefield in his account of the family. I quote the relevant passage in full, as found in ‘Hundred of Forehoe: Cossey’ (History of Norfolk, Vol 2, pp 406-419):

“The first that I meet with of this family was called

1. Hugh, without any other addition, whose son was named

2. Jernegan, and was always called Jernegan Fitz-Hugh, or the son of Hugh; he is mentioned in the Castle-Acre Register, fo. 63. b. as a witness to a deed without date, by which Brian, son of Scolland, confirmed the church of Melsombi to the monks of Castle-Acre. He married Sibill, who, in 1183, paid 100l. of her gift into the Exchequer, after her husband’s death; (fn. 18) his son was called . . .”

(fn. 18) Rot. Pip. 30 H. 2.
Pipe Roll 1184 – to be found in Le Neve’s collection.

“3. Hugh, or Hubert, son of Jernegan, (fn. 19) . . .”

(fn. 19) “He first settled the sirname of Jernegan”

“. . . who gave a large sum of money to King Henry II. and paid it into the treasury in 1182; (fn. 20) . . .”

(fn. 20) Mag. Rot. 29 H. 2. Madex History of the Exchequer, p. 190

The history and antiquities of the Exchequer of the kings of England, in two periods: to wit, from the Norman conquest, to the end of the reign of K. John; and from the end of the reign of K. John, to the end of the reign of K. Edward II, Vol. I’ (1769), by Thomas Madox, 1666-1727 – to give it its full title, is available online at archive.org. See quoted below the relevant passage:

“In the 29th year of K. Henry II, Hugh son of Gernegan was to pay CCCCl. of old money for his donum; He paid CCCxliijl xvs xjd in the New Money, for CCCLxxvl iijs ixd of the Old; and the remainder, to wit, xxiiijxvjs iijd he paid in Black silver.”

Madox’s History of the Exchequer’ would have been a standard textbook for any aspiring antiquary; as, too, would be Sir William Dugdale’s (1605-1686) ‘Baronage Of England Before And After The Norman Conquest’, Camden’s ‘Britannia’, and Weaver’s ‘Discourse on Ancient Funeral Monuments’.

“. . . he [Hugh, or Hubert, son of Jernegan] was witness to a deed in 1195, by which divers lands were granted to Byland abbey in Yorkshire; (fn. 21) . . .”

(fn. 21) Regr. Abbaæ Byland, pen. P.L.N. fo 122
Blomefield probably found notes from this amongst Le Neve’s papers.

“. . . he [Hugh, or Hubert, son of Jernegan] married Maud, daughter and coheir of Thorpine, son of Rob. de Watheby of Westmorland, (fn. 22) . . . “

(fn. 22) “By whom came Wathe manor in North-Cove in Suffolk”.

Blomefield cites no source for this ‘key assertion’, which at first inclined me to assume this was Le Neve’s deduction. Yet Le Neve would have known of the Yorkshire manor..

“. . . he is mentioned by the name of Hubert de Jernegan, in the Black Book of the Exchequer, published by Mr. Herne at Oxford, 1728, vol. i. p. 301, as one of the Suffolk knights that held of the honour of Eye. . . “

Having found the name of Hugh Gernegan in Yorkshire, Blomefield now makes the second part of the connection, equating Hugh Gernegan in Yorkshire with Hubert Jernegan of Eye.

A copy of Hearne’s ‘Black Book of the Exchequer’ exists online – Liber niger Scaccarii : nec non Wilhelmi Worcestrii Annales rerum Anglicarum, cum præfatione et appendice Thomæ Hearnii ad editionem primam Oxoniæ editam – but access is by password only.

“In 1201, he [Hugh Gernegan] paid King John 20l. fine, (fn. 23) for three knights fees and an half, which laid in Yorkshire, and were held of the honour of Brittany . . .

(fn. 23) Rot. Pip. Pasch. 3 Joh. Rot. 16. indorso, in the Tally Court in the Excheuer

Another pipe roll, this dated to Easter 1202. Again, we might expect notes from this to be part of Le Neve’s collection.

“. . . [Hugh Gernegan] died in 1203, and the King granted the wardship of all his large possessions, and the marriage of his wife and children, to Robert de Veteri Ponte, or Vipount, so that he married them without disparagement to their fortunes. (fn. 24).

(fn. 24) Cart. 5 Joh. M. 11 – Charter of King John, 1204.

There is a suggestion that Robert de Vieuxpont was granted wardship of Gernegan’s widow and daughters because he was related to Gernegan’s wife, Maud, daughter of Torphin, through her maternal line (See Northern Roots). Or that he was granted it as High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests. With inclusive control of the royal treasury at Nottingham castle, Robert de Vieuxpont held this extremely sensitive and powerful position from 1203 to 1208. But, in fact, King John granted this wardship as reward for his support in Normandy – he had been present at the relief of Mirebeau, and had received charge of several prisoners.

The previous year (1202) King John had granted to him Appleby and Burgh castles along with the entire bailiwick of Westmorland. This was the stamping ground of Robert de Watheby and his son Thorpine. The widow Maud and her children were now vassals of Robert de Vieuxpont. And so the king . . .

“further . . . sold to him for a hundred marks the custody of the heirs, land, and widow of Hugh Gernegan . . . (Rot. de Liberate, p. 66).”
Dictionary of National Biography,1885-1900, Volume 58: Robert de Vieuxpont by William Hunt.

Blomefield’s account of the early years of the Jernegan family is a tangle from northern and southern sources. We might guess that Peter Le Neve laid the foundation with his notes regarding Gernegan of Tanfield, and his daughter and heir Avice Marmion who had a claim on the manor of Wath – that is, Wath in Yorkshire.

It was a noteworthy claim as we saw in the first of this current series, Gernegan Case Re-Opened. The manor and its church had been granted, before 1156, to the abbey of Mont St. Michel. Yet, in total disregard, Alan III Lord of Richmond had subsequently granted it to Brian of Bedale who in turn had enfeoffed it to Gernegan III, son of Hugh (and father of Avice Marmion). In 1176-77, the monks of Mont St. Michel brought a plea concerning said land before the Pope. Yet in 1239 it was still unresolved. At this point Sir Robert Marmion offered to prove by duel that the manor was his, acquired through marriage to Avis, daughter and heir of Gernegan – and the abbot unwisely accepted.

It is almost certain that it was Blomefield, and not Le Neve who had spent considerable time in Yorkshire, who muddled the Suffolk manor of Wade with the Yorkshire Wath. Added to the fact the first notice of Gernegan was at Castle Acre priory in Norfolk, the connection was made, and stuck fast. Not even English Heritage has been able to untangle it. I specifically asked them whence the story of Robert of Watheby’s connection to Wade Manor at North Cove and they emailed back with a link to Blomefield’s ‘History’ at BHOL.

So, do we still believe that Gernagot of Tanfield, York and Whitby is also Gernagod of Sussex and Suffolk? I believe not. These were two different people – though both were of Breton families, the one a vassal of the lords of Gaël-Montort, the other, if not of the Lords Pontchateau, then at least from that same southern region.

And I’d like to add a note here that the village of Ros, which de Courson gives as in the parish of Bain-sur-l’Oust, was in fact the site of the abbey of Redon. I thank infobretagne.com for that information.

Back To Beginnings

Weaver’s story of Jernegan’s Danish roots

There is still much of the Jernegan story left untold, still acres of research begging attention. What is the story behind John de Pinkeny, son of Hubert Gernegan who in 1246 held land in Charfield in Suffolk? Who was Gernagois who, with his wife Albereda, witnessed a charter by Gilbert Crispin, in-law of William Malet, at Rouen in 1091? Who are the many other Jarnogons who stood as witness to the many Breton charters? Though many were monks, and with only a name given there is no chance of recovering their stories, yet some were priests. Since at this period the Breton priest was still a family function there is some chance of tracing their connections. Then there are the Jarnogons who were sons of . . .: of Trelohen, of Barbot Vicarius, of Rivallon, of Rioc de Port, of Orion, of ‘William’. There was a Jarnogon de Rochefort, and a Jarnogon de Malonide (possibly St Malo) who was a steward, though we’re not told steward of where. But the one that most intrigues me is Brother Gernagon the Almoner of the St John’s Hospitallers.

But my intention, a year ago when I started the first series, was to discover the source of that unlikely story:

“Anno M. xxx. Canute King of Denmarke, and of England after his return from Rome, brought diverse captains and souldiers from Denmark, whereof the greatest part were christened here in England, and began to settle themselves here, of whom, Jernegan, or Jernengham, and Jenhingho, now Jennings, were of the most esteem with Canute, who gave unto the said Jerningham, certain Royalties, and at a Parliament held at Oxford, the said King Canute did give unto the said Jerningham, certaine mannors in Norfolke, and to Jennings, certain manors lying upon the sea side, near Horwich in Suffolke, in regard of their former services done to his father Swenus, King of Denmark.”

So says Weaver in his Funeral Monuments, and Blomefield reluctantly quotes him. Yet the ‘certaine mannors in Norfolke’ in itself gives the lie. For there is no evidence of the Jernegan name in Norfolk before1263, when in the ‘Close Rolls of Henry III (volume 12: 1261-1264, pp. 299-307.) we find:

Alexander Crisping’ venit die Jovis proxima ante festum Sancte Trinitatis et petiit terram Hugonis Gernegan in Stanhan Gernegan, Horham et Hethull eidem Hugoni etc. que capta etc.propter defaltam etc. coram justiciariis de Banco versus R. regem Alemannie.”

“Alexander Crisping, on the Thursday before the feast of the Holy Trinity, claimed the land of Hugh Gernegan in Stanhan Gernegans, Horham and Hethull . . . because of default . . .”

Though it might be of relevance that at the time of the Domesday Survey, though one manor at Hethel was held by Roger Bigod, a second was held by ‘Judicael the Priest’. Judicael, a true Breton name.

But what of this claim of Weaver’s that had even Blomefield blenching?

“Somerly [writes Weaver]:
“The habitation in antient times of FITZ-OSBERT, from whom it is come lineally to the worshipful antient family of the JERNEGANS, knights of high esteem in these parts, saith CAMDEN in this tract … the name [of Jernegan] hath been of exemplary note before the conquest ; if you will believe thus much as followeth, taken out of the pedigree of the JERNINGHAMS, by a judicious gentleman . . .” [There follows the above account of Canute.]
From ‘Weaver’s Discourse on Ancient Funeral Monuments, Page 502, The Diocese of Norwich.

By a clever juxtaposition of names, Weaver implies the story is had from Camden. Yet ll Camden says of the Jernegan family is:

“Within the land, hard by Yare is situate Somerley towne, the habitation in ancient time of Fitz-Osbert, from whom it is come lineally to the worshipfull ancient family of the Jernegans, Knights of high esteeme in these parts.”

And so I shall conclude this series with the words of one of my readers:

“. . . at the time of Weaver’s ‘Ancient Funeral Monuments’ (1631) it was very popular to disassociate yourself with any potential Norman connection to the past.”

I would add that from the time of the Hundred Years War that probably was so. Gernegan might be a Breton name but to the English, if it was across the Channel, it was France.

Lost In Lobineau

Part 10 (penultimate part) in the series, Gernegan Case Reopened

The Jarnogon Charters

We saw in the previous post, Jarn and Hoairn, ‘Iron-Men of Brittany’, there are fifty-nine charters with mention of Jarnogon, or similar name, dated between 1008 and 1218. These are found in the two main sources for the medieval charters of Brittany: Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon En Bretagne, (1863) by Aurelien de Courson, and Histoire de Bretagne, (1707) by Guy Alexis Lobineau. Both are available on Google Books. Our current interest is with the C12th charters, shown in Table 3b below.

Table 3b, C12th Jarn Charters

Guillelmus atque Jarnogonus filii Huguonis

The keen-eyed will pick out from the 29 listed the charter CCCXLIX, numbered by de Courson in his Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon En Bretagne. Guillelmus atque Jarnogonus filii Huguonis were two of the witnesses. It is internally dated to 1136. (Full text is available on Jarnogon Appendix)

In the post Gernegan 2 of York and Whitby we found the definitive dates for Gernegan I, grandfather of Gernegan II, son of Hugh (who may or may not be the same son of Hugh as in Charter 349).

  • 1120 x 1129 Gernagot, also ‘Gernegan’, ‘Jernegan’, first occurs as a canon at York (EYC II no. 874).
  • 1148 x 1153 ‘Garnagotus Eboracensis canonicus’ donates four houses to St Peter’s, York, before retiring as a monk to Whitby (EYC I no. 279).
  • 1150 x 1160 Gernegot is witness to a donation charter to the monks of Whitby (EYC II no. 828)
  • 1160 x 1170 ‘Gernagoto’ again is witness to a donation charter to the monks of Whitby (EYC II no. 832)

Gernegan Genealogy

If, as has been suggested, Gernagot of York is also Gernaget of Stonham – and the association of the name William with Jarnogon in the Breton charter adds weight to that identification (if this Breton Jarnogon is our Gernagot) – then the Eye Charter No 136 brings the first occurrence of his name possibly to as early as 1107 but certainly to 1115.

But why this concern with the dates for Gernegan I when the charter seems to name Gernegan II, son of Hugh?

  • Gernagot of Stonham & York fl 1115 x 1160 (1107 x 1170 extreme)
  • Hugh son of Gernegan 1 fl 1135 x 1154 (1166 extreme)
  • Gernegan II son of Hugh fl 1168 x 1182
  • Redon Charter CCCXLIX 1136

Certain facts of life, biological and societal, cannot be ignored when assigning sons to fathers and both to charters. There were no set laws in C12th for the age of consent, no definitive for the age of majority. Yet a youth is unlikely to father a child before he has reached at least his sixteenth year. And a lad of less than fourteen years is unlikely to be asked to witness a charter – unless he’s the king’s son when he might be as young as one month old. Further, we might expect him to be 18 to 20 before he inherits land from his deceased father. Thus we might set the minimum age for donating land to an abbey at, say, twenty-one. As for a man’s death, although in the medieval period life expectancy at birth was short, those who survived into adulthood, and avoided places of violence, might live to see their eightieth year – especially if they retired to a monastery. With regular meals and in-house medical care, the contemplative life could promote longevity.

Gernagot of Stonham witnessed a charter between 1107 and 1115. He was already lord of a manor. He wasn’t a lad.

Gernagot of York was a canon when his name first appeared on a charter – between 1120 and 1129. He was unlikely in the first blush of youth.

Whether these are one and the same man or not, it is unlikely he fathered Hugh while still in his teens. Unlikely, though not impossible. Destined for the church, he may have been eager to sow a few seeds first.

Hugh, first attested in 1135, was not a red-faced youth when the lord of Richmond took him for his steward.

So now we know the relevance, let’s work through these dates.

Gernegan I

Gernegan I died no later than 1170. He could have been 80, or 90, but older than that is most unlikely. So, apply simple arithmetic:

1170 – aged 90 = 1080 for Gernegan’s earliest possible DoB.

He was lord of his manor by 1115, and a canon at York by 1120 x 1129. So what was the latest he could have been born?

1115 – aged 21 = 1084.

But is that realistic? Let’s make him twenty-five when he lord of his manor.

1115 – aged 25 = 1090 for Gernegan’s latest possible DoB.

Thus we have these dates for Gernegan I: b 1080 x 1090, fl 1115 x 1158, d 1160 x 1170

Hugh, son of Gernegan I

Since it’s unlikely that Gernegan fathered his son before his sixteenth birthday we can easily find Hugh’s earliest possible Date-of-Birth.

1080 + aged 16 = 1096
1090 + aged 16 = 1106

Hugh’s earliest possible DoB = 1096 x 1106

But a man is able to father his children long after a woman’s years are done. What year is Hugh’s latest Date-of-Birth? This is set by the year he was steward at Richmond castle. How old was he in 1135? He could have been forty, if he were born in 1096. He is unlikely to be younger than twenty-five. It was a responsible position. But if we set it at that . . .

1135 – aged 25 = 1110 for Hugh’s latest possible DoB.

Thus we have these dates for Hugh: b 1096 x 1110, fl 1135 x 1154, d bef 1166

Gernegan II

Hugh would have been at least sixteen when he fathered his first son, be it Hugh, William or an as-yet-undiscovered other. And again, the arithmetic produces a spread of years:

1096 + aged 16 = 1112
1110 + aged 16 = 1126

The ‘sons of Hugh’s’ earliest possible DoB = 1112 x 1126

But we need take only that first date,1112, as the earliest possible DoB for filii Huguonis.

When this is laid against the date of the Redon charter 349 (1136) we find that the firstborn of Hugh’s sons would have been twenty-four at the very most when he stood witness, be he William or Gernegan II.

1136 – 1112 = aged 24

These are extreme dates. Yet if the sons of Hugh of Tanfield are to witness Redon Charter 349 as ‘filii Huguonis‘ then the evidence we have allows little variance from them.

Table I, Gernegan Dates, shows William and Jarnogon to be between 14 and 24 in 1136.

Table 1, Gernegan_Dates

Now we have settled that the sons of Hugh of Tanfield had the necessary maturity to witness the charter we can asked the next question.

Why were filii Huguonis in Brittany at the time of the charter?

Trans-Channel Bretons

It is a fallacy that granted land in England by William the Conqueror the barons turned their backs on their family lands in Normandy, Flanders and Brittany. Though many of the new English tenants-in-chief, and particularly the numerous subtenants, might be the lesser sons of the Norman, Flemish or Breton nobility, might be the cousins several times removed on a lesser branch, might not have an estate in ‘the old homeland’ that required their constant crossing of Channel, yet their attachment to family and place is well attested and not merely for the first generation but for two or three hundred years later. This applies particularly to Bretons.

Much like the Irish who emigrated to America, there was always a reason for a visit back home. In the first years, to show the folks how well they were doing, then to attend their grandpa’s funeral, to be a groomsman for a godson or nephew, to dangle a new niece on his knee. And their motives repeat the same for the next generation, and the next generation, and the generation after. “Ah, but I have to see the old land just the once before I die.“ Even today, with jet travel, internet, almost instant satellite-communications, still the ancestral lands exert their pull.

So it should be no surprise to find filii Huguonis, if they were the grandsons of Gernegan of Stonham and York, crossing the Channel to visit the folks. Perhaps they went for a funeral, or for a wedding. Their father couldn’t attend, now that he was steward to the lords of Richmond. The third lord of Richmond, Stephen of Penthièvre, Count of Tréguier, had died that year; his son Alan the Black succeeded him. These were of the ducal family; Hugh and his sons would have gained kudus from that.

Much can be learned from the way the scribe recorded the witness’s name.

Guillelmus atque Jarnogonus filii Huguonis

No place-name is given, the brothers were not local lords. Yet they were placed in the section de militibus, ‘of the knights’. Feudalism came late to Brittany compared with Normandy. Yet after the Norman Conquest, with Breton counts holding land in England, the system fair galloped along. Certainly by 1136 it was firmly established. And by this time in England it was possible to hold a knight’s fee and be titled ‘Sir Knight’ without actually fighting.

I’m not sure if the same situation held in Brittany. But these brothers were visitors, and would have been accorded the titles they held in England, in active combat or not. For certain, they were not taken as monks or priests, or other ecclesiasts.

The scribe who wrote out the charter recorded only of William and Jarnogon. There was no mention of Hugh at that time; filii Huguonis was added later, possibly when the scribe returned to the abbey with the charter, though possibly it was later still. It is added as a note above the names of his sons.

What does that tell us? That Jarnogon and William were known, as a neighbour’s family are known, to the people present at the making of the charter. It also says that Hugh was sufficiently known at Redon abbey that no qualifier was needed for him. As we shall see, this was not the case for all the witnesses.

That phrasing, too, Guillelmus atque Jarnogonus, tells us something more. Atque, not just the usual et but Guillelm atque, ‘and moreover, more importantly’, Jarnogon. It seems to me that William was the older brother, since he was named first, yet it was Jarnogon who was the better known. He had a reputation – for something. Certainly it sounds like he had made his mark in the area.

But what was this area, this neighbourhood where the sons of Hugh were so well known? It’s time to look at the charter. (See Jarnogon Appendix for the full text)

Redon Charter 349

Guillelmus, filius Justini, de vico qui vocatur Ros, hujus sancte aecclesie frater et domni abbatis homo . . . “

This is the donation charter of William, son of Justin, of the village of Ros,a man of the abbot’s house, a brother of the Church. It is prefaced with a back-story, an explanation of why this donation is made – for restitution after forgiveness of sins, with the respect deserved for the Merciful Redeemer, to the benefit of the church of St Salvator, Redon, that William de Ros might be compassionately received for burial.

Having taxed his scribe to the extreme with his story, William de Ros details his gift:

  • Two streets of houses in Redon near the town-gate, namely Nehan
  • His land of Ponte Cahas [on the outskirts of Redon]
  • The land that’s called Cauarzen
  • A fourth part of the abbot’s mill
  • And the claim that he made over Faget’s land he . . .  [guerpio] and releases.

He then promises to live a sober life, to keep the feasts, and, miserable sinner that he is, he gives his hand on this contract in the expectation of future resurrection.

But our interest in William de Ros is more in his ‘lordship’ than in his person. Where is the village of Ros?

As I mentioned in the previous post, Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon comprises more than a prologue and the transcriptions of the abbey’s charters. The second half of the book brims with supplementary material. There is a section on the Breton dioceses with lists of parishes and priories, deaneries and alien houses. And right at the back, tucked between the ‘General Index’, the ‘Index to the Appendix’, the Index Onomasticus (a dictionary of the Breton and less commonly used Latin terms in the charters) is the Index Géographique, a Gazetteer. Unfortunately not every place named in the charters are listed here. In the intervening 800 years, when de Courson was writing, some had disappeared, others changed names, and some had been only field-names in the first place or the names of peasants’ smallholdings. Thus Ponte Cahas and Cauarzen, lands that formed part of the gift of William de Ros, are not given in the Gazetteer. But Ros is listed.

Ros (villa), située entre l’Oust et la Vilaine, ann. 834, comm. de Bains, cant. de Redon

Situated between the Oust and the Vilaine, part of the town of Bains-sur-l’Oust, near Redon.

I searched Google Maps; I could not find. So we must be content to say it lies close by the town of Bains-sur-l’Oust, and now is absorbed in the modern spread. (See Map Redon Charter 349, below.)

But the charter wasn’t made at William’s village of Ros.

“Factum est hoc in domo Willelmi de Siz…”

This is made in the house of William de Siz.

Siz is more easily found. Breton Seizh, it is today known by its French name of Sixt-sur-Aff. It lies due north of Bains-sur-l’Oust. (Again, see Map Redon Charter 349, below)

Amongst the witness-list we find three more placenames. If we can locate these it might help us to fix Gernegan’s ancestral land and, perhaps, confirm that it lies between Bains-sur-l’Oust and Sixt-sur-Aff, as so far implied.

Hujus rei sunt testes:

  • de monachis (of the monks)
    • Justinus et Ivo
  • de presbyteris (of the priests)
    • Losius atque Bigotus
  • de militibus (of the knights)
    • Rivallonus de Cornou et uxor ejus Oravia et duo filii ejus, Justinus atque Guehenocus
    • Radulfus filius Pagani Homenex
    • Guillelmus atque Jarnogonus filii Huguonis 
    • Bili et Rivallonus frater ejus
    • Mathias de Siz 
    • Octomanus et frater ejus
    • Gaufridus
    • Daniel de Haia 
    • Evenus de Sancto Siguinino 
    • insuper etiam ipsius Willelmi mater, nomine Orhant.”

Rivallonus de Cornou et uxor ejus Oravia et duo filii ejus, Justinus atque Guehenocus . . . Rivallon of Cornon and his wife etc . . . Cournon lies between Bains-sur-l’Oust and La Gacilly – just west of the line between Bains and Sixt.

Evenus de Sancto Siguinino . . . de Courson’s Gazetteer again directs us: St Siguinini is the town of Saint-Sëglin, canton of Maure (Ille-et-Vilaine). St Siguinini is Sant Sewenn in Breton. It’s northeast of Bains, heading towards Rennes, and roughly double the distance from Bains to Sixt. Yet it is still in the same general region.

Daniel de Haia . . .Haie is not in de Courson’s Gazetteer. I went on the hunt. The word haie means ‘hedge’ or ‘hurdle’ so, not surprising wherever I looked I found small villages of said name. It seems every district has one has a village of Haie. But I was looking for something more . . .  grand. There are other charters featuring the de Haia’s. They were not smallholding peasants.

I tried the find-search in the pdf file I have of de Courson’s Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon – unfortunately it’s not possible to likewise search Lobineau’s Histoire de Bretagne. The search turned up this:

PROLEGOMENES, Chapter III Page 216

Via publica in plebe Serent — M. l’abbé Marot a trouvé dans cette paroisse , qui est l’une des plus considérables du diocèse de Vannes, de nombreux débris romains, briques à crochets, poteries, etc. Attiré par ces découvertes, M. Bizeul a pu constater, de son côlé, qu’une voie romaine entrait à Sérent près du village des Haies.”

‘A Roman road came to Sérent near the village of Haie’.
(though the online translator insisted that Haies is Hales.)

Sérent lies a good stretch northwest of Bains but is closer than La Haie-Fouassière, south of Nantes, another Haie I had found. A close scrutiny of the Google Map turned up ‘La Petite Haie’, a village south of La Chapelle Caro, and 5-6 miles east of Serent.

Map Redon Charter 349

Map Redon Charter 349
showing possible location of La Haie

Still not satisfied, I continued to search de Courson’s Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon. In the Appendix is Charter 72 (p 394) dated 1131.

Redon Charter 72 (Appendix)

This, a donation charter, begins with a long and painful story of the donator’s past misdemeanours and his subsequent salvation at the hands and efforts of Abbot Herve of Redon. It concludes with details of the lands given – the valley that is called Brengoen, that lies next to the land of Ballac. The miscreant is Oliver, son of Jarnogon de Ponte – to whom we shall shortly return.

For now, our interest is the witness list.

“Testes hujus rei :

  • Herveus abbas
  • monachi
    • Budicus
    • Alfredus
    • Robertus
  • de laicis
    • Oliverius [filius Jarnogoni de Ponte]
    • Rivallonus de Rocha
    • Alanus filius Gundiern
    • Guillelmus filius Tengui
    • Riocus filius Freoli
    • Petrus filius Inisani de Malestret
    • Petrus Rabin
    • Guerrarius de la Haia
    • Radulfus de Severac
    • Guenho de Gauvezac
    • Paen Homenex, Daniel filius ejus
    • Guischart filius Guerri
    • Guillelmus de Ros 
    • Brient filius Hodonis
    • Hugo Poulet.”

Here again is William de Ros – and, as fellow witnesses, a certain Guerrari de la Haia and Paen Homenex. Paen appears in Charter 349 witness list as Pagan Homenex, father of Ralf.

The appearance of these three men together suggests the Appendix Charter 72 was made in the same location as Charter 349. So what clues do the text of this charter yield as to its location?

The valley called Brengoen, that lies next to the land of Ballac.

De Courson gives Brengoen as a village in the township of Pierric, in the canton of Guéméné.

Today that Guéméné is Guéméné-Penfao – ‘white hill of the beech tree’. It lies some 10 miles east of Redon. Pierric lies northeast of this (See Map A Charter 72 below). North of Guéméné-Penfao, and kissing the Ille-et-Vilaine / Loire-Atlantique border, is l’Abbaye de Ballac. Less than 5 miles east of the abbey is Brangouin.

Avessac, a parish also mentioned in the charter, is in the same area, though closer to Redon. Note on the map, the nearby La Haie de Rivieres. And there’s another La Haie village on the northwest outskirts of Conquereuil. Finally, Moia, another place mentioned in the charter, is today’s Mouais, some 25-30 miles from Redon.

Map A, below, shows clearly the focus of Appendix Charter 72.

Map A, Charter 72

Map A Redon Charter 72

But is Jarnogon of Ponte, father of Oliver, the same Jarnogon who witnessed Charter 349 with his brother William? No. Our Jarnogon, at most a 24 year old, could not be the father of this self-confessed sinner and troublemaker who here is donating part of his land to the abbey. However, it is worth examining the charters witnessed or made by the de Ponte family.

The Family de Ponte

We saw in Gernegan Case Reopened the name given in the Yorkshire charters varies between Garnegot, Gernag’, Gernagot, Gernagat, Gernagay, Gernagan, Gerwagan, Gaernaguen, Jarnugun, Jarnegan, Jarnogon, Jernegan, Jernagot, Iarnuoican, and Iarn. These variations are not entirely due to the different languages or dialects of the scribes. They are a tangle of hypocorisms, i.e. diminutive forms of a name.

The suffix -ot/-od is found in French, as in Pierrot and Margot.

The suffix -an is either French or (Middle) English, as in Robin and Dicken; also found in the girls names Marianne, Julianna, Adrienne, Vivienne, Georgiana etc.

But with the name Jarnigot/Gernegan the suffixes –ot/-od and –an have been tagged on to a pre-existing Breton suffix –ic/-ig, meaning ‘little’ (Anglo-Normanised to –eg/-ag). ‘Little Jarn’, Jarnig or Jerneg, was the son or the nephew or cousin of (Big) Jarnogon. In the same way we find in English Mike and Mikey, John and Johnny, or Henry and Henry Junior. We can imagine a situation when, not realising their pupil Jarnig has already named ‘little’ by his family, his Anglo-Norman teachers then added their own diminutive form and made him Jarnigot or Gernegan.

Since there is no doubt that the younger, later, Gernegan II of Tanfield was named for his grandfather, this doesn’t apply to the grandfather himself, Gernegan I. It was this earlier Jarnegan of York / Gernagot of Stonham, who was the son or nephew or cousin to a Jarnogon in Brittany. And that Jarnogon could have been Jarnogon de Ponte – although Francis Blomefield in his history of the Jerningham family thinks not.

But where is ‘Ponte’? The name can mean ‘bridge’ or ‘ferry’ or, as used in Latin, a littoral hinterland. It can also be used as a ‘point, hill or headland’,of which all abound in Brittany. There is, for example, a charter from Saint Florent (Lobineau, p72) dated c.1108 which names ‘Ansgerio scilicet de Ponte’. But by the inclusion of Goffredus de Dinan, who also made a gift to Saint Florent, this ‘Ponte’ more likely lies in the north, around Dol and Dinan.

The General Index (in de Courson) cuts through all ambiguity:

  • Pons (castri), vulgo Pontechateau, 392, 393, 394, 395. Vid. Oliverius.
  • Ponte (Oliverius, filius Jarnogoni de), 392, 393, 394, 395.
  • Oliverius, filius Jarnogoni de Ponte, delictu juventutis horrescens, locum qui dicitur Ballac monachis Rotonensibus tradit, 392.
  • Oliverus, filius Jarnogoni de Ponte, anathemate percussus, monachis Rotonensibus donat vallem quae dicitur Brengoen, 394, 395.

In de Courson’s section on the Breton dioceses, the priory of Pontechateau (Prieuré de Pontchâteau) is listed as belonging to the deanery of La Roche-Bernard in the diocese of Nantes. In the charters La Roche-Bernard is given in Latin as de Rupe.

Map B, below, shows whence the main witnesses in Appendix Charter 72 (de Courson, p394).

Map B, Charter 72

Map B Appendix Charter 72

The ‘de Ponte’ Charters

Pontchateau is named in 8 of the charters in Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon and a further 8 in Lobineau’s Histoire de Bretagne covering the years 1051 to 1200. I have listed them below. The full charters, in legible format, are available on Jarnogon Appendix [LINK] or click the links in the listing below.

Several of these charters seem mere repetitions, yet each adds to or confirms one or more details given in another. Amongst these details are the names of the sons of Daniel de Ponte.

In No 2 (my numbering) they are Jarnigon, Gaufred, and Judical. Judical is confirmed as a brother in No 5. No 6 repeats the names of Jarnigon and Gaufred, but omits Judical. Instead it adds Peter, and possibly Rivallon and Herve, a priest.

No 3, however, names Daniel’s sons as Oliver, Savaric and William.

But that is jumping ahead. The charters divide between:

  • Even de Ponte, fl 1051
  • Daniel de Ponte, fl 1088 x 1127
  • Jarnigon de Ponte, fl 1088 x 1131
  • Helias de Ponte, fl 1126 x 1127
  • Oliver de Ponte, fl 1127 x 1133
  • Eudes de Ponte, fl 1181 x 1203

There is, of course, some overlap.

1: Ch. LVIII Appendix (de Courson, pp378-79)

  • 1051 (the given date of 1061 has been amended at source)
  • Evenus de Pontes

2: Titres de Marmontier  (Lobineau, p84)

  • 1088 x 1099, dated by mention of Pope Urban II in text
  • Daniel de Ponte, lord of Pontis Castro
  • Agnes, his wife
  • Jarnigon, Gaufred and Judical, his sons
  • Bidian de Ponte

3: Ch. CCCLXXXIII (de Courson, p339)

  • 1095
  • Daniel de Ponte
  • Oliver, Savaric and William the prior, his sons.

4: Cartulary de S. Nicolai d’Angers (Lobineau, p 125)

  • 1123, internally dated
  • Daniel de Ponte
  • Jarnogon, his son

5: Titres de Marmontier (Lobineau, p85)

  • 1126, undated but correlates with Charter LXX (de Courson, Appendix, p392)
  • Helias de Pontis Castro
  • Jarnigon, lord of Pontis Castro
  • Judical de Botmaro, Jarnigon’s brother

6: Titres de Marmontier (Lobineau, p85)

  • 1127, undated but correlates with Charter LXX (de Courson, Appendix, p392)
  • Helias de Ponte (apparently a neighbour)
  • Daniel de Ponte, son of Jarnigon
  • Agne, Daniel’s wife
  • Jarnigon, Gaufred and Petro, their sons
  • Rivallon and Herve the priest, possibly their sons

7: Ch. LXX Appendix (de Courson, p393)

  • 1127, internally dated
  • Jarnogon de Ponte
  • Oliver, his son

8: Ch. CCCXLVIII (de Courson, p300)

  • 1127, internally dated
  • Oliver de Ponte

9: Benefactores Præcipul (de Courson, p449)

  • 1131, internally dated
  • Jarnogon de Ponte

10: Ch. LXXII Appendix (de Courson, p394)

  • 1131, internally dated
  • Jarnogon de Ponte
  • Oliver, his son

11: Redon Annales, ‘Abbot Herveis’ (de Courson, p428)

  • after 1132
  • Jarnogon de Ponte
  • Oliver, his son

12: Ch. LXXIV, Appendix ( de Courson, p 395)

  • 1133, internally dated
  • Oliver de Ponte

13: Titres de la Vieuville (Lobineau, p114)

  • 1181 x 1203
  • Eudo de Ponte

14: Titres de Marmontier (Lobineau, p86)

  • 1189, internally dated
  • Eudo, lord of Pontis Castro
  • Agnete, his mother
  • Oliver, his brother

15: Titres de Marmontier (Lobineau, p173)

  • 1189, internally dated
  • Eudo, lord of Pontis Castro
  • Agnete, his mother
  • Oliver, his brother

16: Titres de Marmontier (Lobineau, p86)

  • 1200, internally dated
  • Eudo, lord of Pontis Castro

The maps below show the spread of placenames (those still recognisable) mentioned in the charters of Even de Ponte (Map C), Daniel and Jarnigon de Ponte (Map D), Oliver de Ponte and Helias (Map E), and Eudes de Ponte (Map F).

 

LVIII Appendix (de Courson, pp378-79)

Haec carta indicat atque ad memoriam reducit qualiter quidam nobilissimus miles Eschomar nomine de Laval

Despite Eschomar is given the name of ‘Laval’ this is likely to be a scribal error. To quote Wikipedia (Francais) on Laval: “Before the construction of the castle in xith century, Laval does not exist.” On the other hand, Escomar de Lavou was in dispute with the lord of nearby Cordemais.

Again, from Wikipedia (Francais): Cordemais:

“The lord of the place is so Tutual Cordemais. To 1050 , are mentioned rivalries Tutual, Escomar of Lavau and monks Savenay for possession of land.” [Wikipedia’s translation]

Map C: Even de Ponte

Map E: Oliver de Ponte and Helias

Map F: Eudes de Ponte

With the charters of Eudes de Ponte the focus appears to move north of Rennes. De Ponte charter 13 features Steophania, abbess of St Georges at Rennes. Her brother Oliver de Tinteniac gave to the abbey the mill at La Bigoteria. Otherwise the focus remains in the same southern region.

The impression from these charters is that, yes, William and Jarnogon, the sons of Hugh who stood as witness to William de Ros in 1136, could indeed be part of the family of Pontchateau.

The Lords Pontchâteau

Invaluable though the charters are, the work of French historians should not be ignored. Wikipedia Francais provides an interesting article about Pontchateau and its lords, plus a ‘Liste des barons de Pontchateau’, from which I have taken the following gene-chart.

Gene Chart: Lords of Pontchateau

The Lords Pontchâteau have a long history behind them. In 400 CE, when the Germanic tribes were invading the Empire, a Roman general, Gerontius (later known as Gerient) who had served in Britain, led his levy of Britons to Gaul’s defence. He brought his family with him. And although he died fighting in Spain, his sons founded the House of Gereint in what was to become Pontchâteau on the river Brivet. His descendents proved influential in the Church. Several are counted amongst the early saints. They also played their part in the administration; Riwal Deroc, Gereint’s son, was the first leader of the post-Roman Armorica. The family gave their name to the Guerande peninsula.

In C11th the Gérontides founded the town of Pontchateau beside their castle, built to guard the bridge over the Brivet. The town, astride the later pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, was to become a thriving centre of trade. C11th also saw the Lords Pontchâteau’s close association with the priory founded there for the monks of Marmoutier.

The Lords Pontchâteau were one of the ‘Nine Old Lordships of Brittany’. Their honour stretched across seven parishes: Pontchâteau, Drefféac, Crossac, Saint-Gildas-des-Bois, Guenrouët, Quilly and Campbon. See Map ‘Honour of Pontchateau.

Map: Honour of Pontchateau

The Wikipedia article names only three of Daniel de Ponte’s sons, Jarnigon, Gaufred, and Judical. So it is not much help in clarifying what appears as an error in their naming.

In No 2, dated 1088 x 1099, (Titres de Marmontier, Lobineau, p84) his sons are given as Jarnigon, Gaufred, and Judical.

In No 6, dated 1127, (Titres de Marmontier, Lobineau, p85) they are given as Jarnigon, Gaufred, Peter, and possibly Rivallon and Herve the priest.

Yet in No 3, dated 1095, (Ch. CCCLXXXIII, de Courson, p339) they are given as Oliver, Savaric and William.

Is it the same Daniel de Ponte named in both charters No 2 and No 3 ?

In No 3 ‘de Ponte’ is given in parenthesis with a footnote to explain it was given as suprascript in the original.

Hoc quoque, annuente Daniele [de Ponte] cum filiis suis, Oliverio videlicet atque Savarico atque Guillelmo preposito, factum est.”

So might the monastery’s scribe have assigned him the wrong name?

CCCLXXXIII is a donation charter by Cavallon son of Alvi, who has given an acre of land in alms to the Redon Abbey and to Daniel, a monk resident at Croazac. The act is supported by Daniel [de Ponte] and his sons.

Croazac (Crossac), as we have seen, is within that area of land held by the Lords of Pontchateau. The charter is witnessed by three monks of Redon, by Cavallon who is making the gift, by his sister Aanor and his sons Jordan and William, who agree it, by Judical de Hengot (today’s Le Hainguet, near Crossac), Rodald Oregon and Riael Girart. (You might notice that the Bretons were early in the use of surnames.)

We see, then, Daniel supporting the gift of Cavallon, who is clearly his vassal. This is as we’d expect. So his identification as lord of Pont Castle must stand.

Gene Chart: Daniel de Ponte (No 3)

How then do we explain the other clutch of sons assigned him? There is no mistaking that Daniel here is intended as the lord of Pont Castle.

Daniel Dominus ejusdem Castri. Jarnigonius & Gaufredus & Judicalis filii ipsius Danielis. Agnes etiam uxor ejus. Paganus de Livriaco. Bidianus de Ponte.”
1088 x 1099 (Titres de Marmontier, Lobineau, p84)

Gene Chart: Daniel de Ponte (No2)

Concessit etiam Daniel filius Jarnigoii cum conjuge sua Agne & filiis suis Jarnigonio, Gauffrido, Petro omnibus istis videntibus scilicet Rivallonio, Herveo que sacerdotibus.”
1127 (Titres de Marmontier, Lobineau, p 85)

Gene Chart: Daniel de Ponte (No6)

The first thing is to decide whether the Marmontier charter (No 2, Lobineau p84) should be dated early or late in its range.

  • 1088 x 1099. Jarnigon, Gaufred and Judical.
  • 1095. Oliver, Savaric and William.
  • 1127. Jarnigon, Gaufred, Peter, Rivallon and Herve.

It is obviously easier to explain the changes if it is dated close to 1099. The chronological progression then would be:

  • 1095. Oliver, Savaric and William.
  • 1099. Jarnigon, Gaufred and Judical.
  • 1127. Jarnigon, Gaufred, Peter, Rivallon and Herve.

To do otherwise means dancing back and forth with the name. It still leaves only four years between 1095 and 1099. But these are sufficient to allow the changes.

In charter 348 (CCCXLVIII, de Courson, p300, we are told that

Oliverius pontensis, qui antea, in carcere nannetensi…”

Oliver de Ponte, who before was imprisoned in Nantes…

The full story of this is given in charter 72 (LXXII Appendix, de Courson, p394) as preface to Oliver’s gift of the valle of Brangoen near Ballac. Having violently persecuted the monks at Redon abbey, he was imprisoned by Duke Conan III in the castle at Nantes and excommunicated by the bishop. He only regained his freedom, in 1126, by donating his land at Ballac in Pierric to the monks. Which explains his absence from the 1099 list of sons.

As to William, he is described as preposito. This can mean dean, prior or ecclesiastical superior. Whatever his position, this would explain his later absence as a witness beside his father and brothers.

And that leaves Savaric. The First Crusade falls between those two dates, 1096–1099. And if that doesn’t explain his future absence then there were plenty of other battles to deliver his death.

By 1099 there were three new sons of Daniel: Jarnigon, Gaufred and Judical. They didn’t magically appear overnight. It was that only now were they old enough to serve as witnesses. From that we can guess their ages. Jarnigon just tipping 14 in 1095, would now be 18. Gaufred perhaps 16-17, and young Judical just pressing on 15. Further, we now can fix their DoBs.

Jarnigon b. 1081
Gaufred b. 1082-1083
Judical b. 1084

If their births seem squeezed together, remember there was no effective birth control. Besides, women were expected to produce potential heirs, as many and as fast as possible. Life was uncertain, one never knew which child would survive.

In 1127 – 28 years later – we find Jarnigon and Gaufred, but no mention of Judical. That oughtn’t surprise us. And the older sons have been joined by Peter, Rivallon and Herve. Herve is old enough to be a priest.

Another look at Table 1, the Gernegan Dates, raises the most pertinent question. Might Gernegan I, father of Hugh, grandfather of William and Jarnogon, and Jarnigon, son of Daniel be one and the same?

Table 1, Gernegan_Dates

The sons of Daniel de Ponte have DoBs ranging from 1081 to 1084.

As we have calculated it, Gernegan I was born between 1080 and 1090.

And he bears the right name. Jarn-ig-on.

There is just one charter that shows Jarnigon son of Daniel as the Lord of Pontchateau: Titres de Marmontier (Lobineau, p85). Although undated, it correlates with charter LXX Appendix (de Courson, p392), internally dated to 1127.

The charter recounts how ‘Helias de Pontis Castro’ intruded upon land held by the monks of Saint-Martin Majoris-Monastery i.e. Saint Martin’s at Marmontier (Tours), and in consequence paid a fine of 20 shillings to Jarnigon, ‘lord of this same castle’. Amongst the witnesses to this charter is ‘Judicali de Botmaro fratre ejus’ i.e. Jarnigon’s brother. As we have seen, Jarnigon son of Daniel has this brother Judical, confirming the identification.

It might be argued that since he was lord of Pontchateau he could not also be Gernegot of Stonham or Gernegan I of York and Whitby. Yet cross-channel lordships were the norm of the day. What speaks louder against this identification is that Gernegan I was active as a senior canon at St Peters Abbey, York, from 1120 x 1129, retiring to Whitby abbey 1145 x 1153. But even with this, by 1129 he could have retired his lordship to be succeeded by a brother. It is most likely he was only the ‘acting lord’ and was forced to relinquish his position when firstborn Oliver returned from his imprisonment. The charters of Oliver de Ponte are dated 1127 to 1133, there are then no more charters until Eudes de Ponte in 1181.

Nothing given here is absolute evidence that William and Jarnogon, sons of Hugh, were Gernegan II and brother William, of Tanfield, North Ridings, Yorkshire.

Nothing given here is absolute evidence that Gernegot of York and Stonham was Jarnigon of Pontchateau, son of Daniel. Yet certainly what evidence there is, is highly suggestive.


Next (and hopefully) final part – The Montfort Charter – coming soon!

Jarn and Hoairn, Iron-Men of Brittany

(Part 9 in the series, Gernegan Case Reopened)

The Jarn-Name in Brittany

I wrote in Captain Gernegan (Part 6 of the previous, Jerningham, series) that I doubted the name Jarnigan was native to Brittany, though I agreed with other writers that ‘Jarnigan the man’ almost certainly did originate there. I questioned the use of the form jarn, iron. The Breton language is not only akin to Welsh but in the early Middle Ages was identical with it. Therefore we ought to find a form similar to modern Welsh i.e. haearn. Jarn, however, is the Icelandic and Early Danish form, dating from the early C11th. I wondered, was it possible that the name arrived in Brittany with the Vikings who had both raided and settled Brittany during the previous century. It would at least explain the muddled notion that the Gernegan family were of Danish origin.

The Charters of Redon Abbey

In answer, one of my readers directed me to the Cartulary of Redon. Although Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon En Bretagne by Aurelien de Courson (1863) is available on Google Books, I downloaded it as a pdf from archive.org (see link: Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon En Bretagne).

The first 399 pages are in French, not my most favourite language and consequently I have yet to read it. (I have dipped it where required.) Following upon the 399 page ‘Introduction’ is a section devoted entirely to the Charters de l’Abbaye de St Salvatori, Redon. There are also several gems hidden at the back of this 1100+ page tome, well worth the delving. But first, a word about Redon Abbey, and why its charters are central to any historical study of Brittany in the 9th century.

As we saw in From Rome to the Plantagenets, (a brief history of Brittany) , this (former) Benedictine abbey, situated at the confluence of the Oust and the Vilaine, on the border of Brittany’s Vannetais and Carolingian France, was founded in 832 by Saint Conwoïon. As with any new foundation of the medieval period, the nobles, and the peasants, flocked to donate their pieces of land – ‘for the health of the souls of their fathers, mothers, brothers, wives and sisters’. For with the donation they were buying the prayers of the monks, that their dearly departed might more speedily pass through purgatory and achieve entry to heaven.

But almost unique is that accompanying each donation to the newly-founded Redon Abbey were the legal documents relating to that piece of land. These might track back over several generations; the earliest surviving dates to 797. Moreover, though the act of giving might take place at the abbey, and be witnessed by the monks, the abbot or representative, would then visit the machtiern who was overseer of the relevant villa or plebe and the entire population turned out to witness the deed all over again.

So here we learn who is father, daughter and nephew to whom; where they lived; what was the saint of their local church; what the name of the priest; who was the machtiern; what trades were amongst them; and many other details that help the historian build up a picture of life in C9th Brittany – or at least that one region of it for, while the donations came from far and wide, by far the most are from the immediate area. See map.

Map of Redon and Region

Redon, sited on the confluence of the Vilaine and the Oust;
central to Vannes, Nantes and Rennes

Jarn– and Hoiarn-names in C9th Brittany

Having downloaded the pdf, I then ploughed my way through the 391 charters, spread over the 351 pages, in search of Jarn– and Hoairn-names, this latter being the Breton form in the 9th century.

Jarn, I noticed, was almost always used with a suffix (e.g. Jarn-bidoe, Iron-daring; Iarn-con, Illustrious-iron; Jarn-uualart, Iron-prince; Iarn-uuoret, Iron-protection), while Hoairn was most often prefixed (e.g. Anau-hoiarn, Iron-wealth; Hael-hoiarn, Iron-generous; Sul-hoiarn, Iron-sun; Uuoret-hoiarn, Iron-protection). The number of suffixes/prefixes they share can be counted on one hand and a thumb.

1. bud/ budic, victory
2. con, illustrious
3. hirt/hird, hard
4. uueten, warrior
5. uuin, blessed
6. uuoret, protection

I counted 198 occurrences of Jarn-names in the charters dated from 797 to 924, when the monks moved to escape the Vikings. Those 198 names have 48 different suffixes. There are, however, some names which seem to be abbreviations; those are not included in the suffix-count.

For the Hoiarn-names over the same period I counted 235 occurrences with 57 different prefixes. Some of these may be variations in form.

Also, and this applies to both Jarn– and Hoiarn-names, some of these are the same person repeated over. Yet it was a valid exercise since it enabled me to arrive at certain solid conclusions.

First, the Jarn-form was not a Viking import. It predates the raids. Also, not only does it share some of the prefixes (used as suffixes) of the undeniably Breton Hoiarn-names, but also its suffixes, as far as I can ascertain, are all Breton in origin and form. Furthermore, both names are likely to appear in the same family, as in Charter LXXIX (as numbered by Aurelien de Courson), dated to 863:

“Haec carta indicat atque conservat quod dederunt Deurhoiarn et Jarnuuocon, filius ejus, in Plebelan ……”

Deurhoiarn and Jarnuuocon, a son of his.

The next thing was to ask if the Jarn-form might be Frankish. As we saw in From Rome to the Plantagenets, the Merovingian Franks and later the Carolingians not only overran the County of Nantes, but also tried to colonise the Vannetais. Jarn– could be a Germanic form (the Franks were of Germanic origin despite they quickly adopted the Common Latin that was then in the process of becoming French). But the Jarn-form was used by Breton nobles and peasants alike. Since Bretons and Franks were not on the closest of terms, it is unlikely the Jarn-name is Frankish.

That leaves one last suggestion for its origin, and it offers a neat explanation for the difference in form between the overtly Breton Hoiarn-name and the seemingly intrusive Jarn-name. And that is that, far from intrusive, the Jarn-form is indigenous – Gallic, pre-Roman. We saw in From Rome to the Plantagenets, that in the Vannetais especially, evidence for the survival of the old language is strong.

Jarn-Names in C11th and C12th Brittany

So far I had been using the Redon Cartulary only. As said, though donations were received from farther away, they were mostly from the Vannetais, an area where there is little doubt of the survival of the indigenous Gallic population. But I wondered would Jarn-names be found in Cornouaille too? And what about the former Domnonia, now the dioceses of St Brieuc, St Malo, Dol and Rennes, would there be evidence of Jarn-names there? If so my theory of a Gallic origin would be proven wrong.

Unfortunately, charters and other records from regions other than the Vannetais are rare until the beginning of the 11th century. Lobineau’s History of Brittany (Histoire de Bretagne) then becomes our best resource.

Alexis Guy Lobineau 

Alexis Guy Lobineau was born in Rennes, in 1667, to a family of lawyers. At 16 he entered the abbey of Saint Melaine at Rennes and applied himself to the study of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Ten years later, in 1693, he was chosen by the abbot of Saint-Vincent du Mans to join his team in composing a ‘new’ history of Brittany. When the existing coordinator of the project died two years later, Dom Lobineau took over the role.

Though it had not originally been his project, it was Lobineau who pushed for the publication of the book. The two folio volumes told the story of Brittany from 458 until the union with France in 1532. He estimated the total cost of the book to be in the region of twenty-five thousand pounds. It had been no small undertaking. He also said there was material enough to make two more volumes. For his efforts he received an annual pension of three hundred pounds.

The book received complaints. It was said that Dom Lobineau had distorted the facts to suit his beliefs. While this might be true in the (very) short introduction (7 pages), the remainder of the book comprises charters and excerpts from annals and chronicles and other available records. These, almost without exception, are in Latin, no attempt made to translate; the book was not intended for the uneducated masses.

Lobineau’s ‘History‘ is available on Google Books. If the link fails (this is my own google account) then key in: ‘Histoire de Bretagne, Guy Alexis Lobineau’. Below is a snapshot so you’ll know when you have the right one.

Lobineau Front Page

Because Lobineau’s History draws upon many sources, from France as well as from the breadth of Brittany, we can better judge whether the Jarn-name was local to only the Vannetais.

Table 1 gives a list of the Cartularies Lobineau used. The accompanying map shows where these abbeys were sited.

Table 1 List of Cartularies

Distribution Map of Cartulary Abbeys

Then there are the Titres, or Titles. I take these to be the documents of entitlement: the foundations charters and subsequent donations. Table 2 gives a list of these.

Table 2 List of Titres

We find the Jarn-name in only a few of these ‘Cartularies’ and ‘Titres’. See the map below.

Distribution Map of Jarn-name Charters

What jumps out at us is the eastern distribution of these names. Although I have not done a similar analysis of the Hoiarn-names for this same period, yet while reading I did note that their distribution was primarily within Brittany, with a more even spread, east to west.

But the map is deceptive. It was noted in From Rome to the Plantagenets, that after the Viking raids abated, the French abbeys were invited and encouraged to found dependent cells in Brittany. The data for the map below (Alien Abbeys) is taken from Aurelien de Courson’s Cartulaire de L’Abbaye De Redon. It shows the number of alien cells in each of the dioceses of Brittany.

Map of Alien Cells and Mother Abbeys

I do not have the date for the above data used; it could represent the situation in C12th Brittany, or as late as C15th. Yet it does make a point: that despite, for example, Jarnogon is named in a charter held at the mother abbey of St Martin at Marmoutier, in the diocese of Tours, it could relate to dioceses of Dol, Nantes, Rennes, St Malo or Vannes. We cannot say without first we examine the charter. But it is worthy of note that not one of these mother monasteries had outlying cells in the North and North-West dioceses of St Brieuc, Treguier or Léon. In fact, as predicted, the Jarn-name is found exclusively in the east of Brittany and in the Breton March.

Below, Tables 3a and 3b list the C11th and C12th charters and other records from Lobineau’s History and Aurelien de Courson’s L’Abbaye de Redon in which the Jarn-name is found.

Table 3a C11th Jarn- Charters

Table 3b C12th Jarn- charters

Gernegan presbyter, Jarnogon son of Daniel de Ponte, Garnigon de Malonido, Jarnoen nephew of Tudualus de Lanrigan, Jarnehen son of Trelohen, Jarnogot son of Hamelin; there are so many Jarn-names they invite exploration. Are any of these the Jarnigot/Jarnigan we see in England during the same period? Has the ancestor of the lords of Somerleyton left a deep enough footprint in Brittany that we might find it?

This will be the focus of the next post: Lost In Lobineau. By its title you might guess it won’t follow speedily upon the heels of this though I hope to deliver within the month. But if it takes longer, please be patient. To give you taste of the problems involved, this is a snapshot of the first mention of the name ‘Jarn—’ in Lobineau’s History (col 2, page 12). It is a charter from the Redon Cartulary.

Snapshot 1st mention Jarn

Oh, what’s that; You can’t quite see it? So here is the relevant paragraph, enlarged.

Close Up Snapshot 1st mention Jarn

Apart from being blurred and pixellated, this doesn’t look much of a challenge. It is, after all, only a short passage. Yet the copy-&-paste on MS Word doesn’t quite understand the language, though it does do its best . . .

Haec cartha indicat qUod dédit Judvallonus X X. selidos ad Jarneon pro patte terra: quas vocatur Roe- tanau &c. factum est v 1. seriâ à nativitate Domini, & soit nativitatem Domini in die Dominica. In ipso anno emisit fpiritum Karolus Imperator. Régnante JARNITHINO&VIDO Comite & IfaaC Epifcopo. Cartul. Roton.

Here’s the copy-typed version:

Haec cartha indicat quod dédit Judvallonus xx. solidos ad Jarneon pro parte terrae quas vocatur Roetanau &c. factum est vi. feria a nativitate Domini, & soit nativitatem Domini in die Dominica. In ipso anno emisit spiritum Karolus Imperator. Regnante JARNITHINO & VIDO Comite & Isaac Episcopo.
Cartul. Roton.

But this now needs translating to English. Like the copy-&-paste on MS Word, Google does its best but doesn’t quite make it . . .

Haec Cartha indicat quod dedit Judvallonus X X selidos to Jarneon pro flaps earth: quas vocatur Roe-Tanau & c. factum east v. 1. Serious nativitate Domains, Domains & soit nativitatem day in Dominica. In ipso year emisit fpiritum Karolus imperator. Reigning JARNITHINO & VIDO

Well, it managed to translate ‘earth, year and day’. I think you’d agree, it’s best that I handle the translations myself, even if it does require frequent visits to the dictionary and I admit to problems with the means of dating used by the Church, their reference to x, y, and z feasts of the year. I can handle the Anno Domini.

For interest, the above translates to:

Here is the charter that shows that Judvallon gave 20 shillings to Jarneon for a part of the land that is called Roetanau. It is made the same year the spirit of the Emperor Charles departed. Ruling then [in Brittany] was Jarnithin, Guy is count and Isaac bishop.

The death of Charlemagne dates the charter to 814.

I shall not be translating every one of those Jarn- charters listed. Yet to follow the connections, I shall probably translate triple that number. I hope to achieve it by mid April.