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WILLIAM’S Troubles with Brittany

Wednesday 31 October 2001

In the IXc Charles le Chauve (Bald Charles) ceded Cotentin and Avranchin to prince Salomon of Britanny. Probably because Charles was incapable of protecting this area from Viking raids.

In 911 Normandy came into being with the treaty of St Claire sur Epte (Epte is a tributary of the Seine) between Rollon the Viking and Charles le Simple King of France.

924 : Normandy had spread to Bayeux

955 : Normandy had spread to Cherbourg and had the same boundaries as now.

In the years 1020 to 1030 a historian Dudon de St Quentin had finished a history of Normandy on the request of Richard II. In it he stated that when Rollon was invested as Duke in 911 he had complained that Normandy had been devastated by the Vikings (Rollon’s people) and that it would be difficult to gain revenues from it. Dudon affirmed that King Charles le Simple had promised the right to gain compensation through Brittany. To back his claim he cited a visit of Count Alan of Rennes to Rouen in 942 to pay homage to Richard I. Alan did go to Rouen in 942 but it was to pay homage to the King.

So any way the Normans believed they had a right over Brittany and the Bretons believed they had a right to the Cherbourg peninsula. A recipe for conflict.
Efforts had been made to ally the two provinces by marriages. Richard II married Judith the sister of count Geoffrey of Brittany. And count Geoffrey had married the sister of Richard, Hawise.

When Geoffrey died on a pilgrimage in 1008 Richard “generously” helped his sister to govern Brittany. When the son of Geoffrey became count Alan III of Brittany he informed Robert the Magnificent (who had succeeded his brother Richard III as Duke) that he no longer needed his help.
Robert immediately reinforced the border with Brittany by building a castle on the River Couesnon, then invaded Brittany.

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