Sgip i gynnwys

Welsh History Review


Vol. 6, nos. 1-4 1972-73

Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Breton families in Cornwall

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Neidio i dudalen
survey.1 They included Normans, some English, at least one
Fleming, as well as Bretons. (The native Cornish seem to have been
reduced to serfdom by the English.) With regard to the Bretons, one
can only pinpoint those with distinctively Breton names, but in
addition there may be others who, coming from the French-speaking
districts of Brittany, bear names which are indistinguishable from
those of their Norman neighbours. These sub-tenants of the Norman
count were not of the nobility and we have no firm clue as to their
place of origin, but it seems probable that they were part of the army
under the command of the Breton leaders, Judhel and Brient, who
undertook the conquest of west Devon and Cornwall in the
campaigns of 1067 and 1068, after the conquest of Exeter by William
of Normandy.
Juhellus filius Aluuredi was granted Totnes, a house in Exeter,
107 manors in Devonshire, but only one in Cornwall. This was
Froxton in the north-east, near the Devon border, and need not
concern us here.
The other leader, Brient of Bretagne, was the second son of
Eudon, the irrepressible count of Penthièvre whose repeated
rebellions against his elder brother, Alain III, duke of Brittany,
form a recurring pattern in Breton history during the eleventh
century. For his part in the invasion of England Brient seems to
have been awarded the lordship of Cornwall, and estates in Suffolk
and elsewhere. He died before 1086 and his estates had by then
become part of the enormous grants made by King William to
Robert of Mortain who is usually reckoned to be the first earl of
Cornwall. An interest in Cornwall, however, seems to have been
maintained by the lords of Richmond (Yorkshire) Alan Rufus and
Alan Niger who were younger brothers of Brient. In 1140, during
the anarchy, their nephew and heir, Alan III of Richmond, briefly
obtained Cornwall from King Stephen, only to lose it within twelve
months to Reginald de Dunstanville.
While it is tempting to assume that the Bretons in Cornwall at
the time of the Domesday Survey had been followers of Brient de
Bretagne, one has to bear in mind that a number of other Breton
lords and their younger sons had taken part in the invasion. These
included Morvan, the vicomte de Leon, Robert, baron of Vitre,
Raoul, son of the baron of Fougeres, sons of the sire de Dinan and
of the sire de Chateaugiron.2 Other recognisable Breton names can
1 Victoria County History: Cornwall, vol. 2, pt. 8 (1924), p. 58.
Z Arthur de la Borderie, Histoire de Bretagne (1896), vol. 3, p. 25.
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