Last episode we saw Olivier de Clisson and John of Montfort at each other’s throats. In this Supplemental Episode we’ll explore the conflict that drove the two Breton Nobles apart. What could have been a minor conflict got tangled up with the Hundred Years War and the War of Breton Succession, also known as the War of the Two Jeannes, saw the Duchy of Brittany wracked with violence and chaos for decades.
Time Period Covered: 1341 – 1388
Notable People: John of Montfort, Jeanne of Penthievre, Jeanne of Flanders, Charles of Blois, Jeanne de Clisson, Olivier de Clisson, Philip VI of France
Notable Events/Developments: The War of Breton Succession, Outbreak of the Hundred Years War, English Control of Brest
The Hundred Years War: Trial By Battle by Jonathan Sumption
The Hundred Years War: Trial by Fire by Jonathan Sumption
The Hundred Years War: Divided Houses by Jonathan Sumption
The Creation of Brittany by Michael Jones
Princely Power in Late Medieval France: Jeanne de Penthièvre and the War for Brittany By Erika Graham-Goering
The War of the Two Jeannes: Rulership in the Fourteenth Century by Katrin E. Sjursen
The Valois: Kings of France 1328-1589 by Robert Knecht
The Hundred Years War by Robin Neillands
6 thoughts on “Supplemental Episode 2: Jeanne VS Jeanne”
No patreon version of this episode 😦
Nevertheless interesting stuff! Jean III truly sounds like a dilettante duke!
1) Are there theories as to when Jean switched his choice of heir 1 year before his death? That seems to me to be a wildly irresponsible decision for the stability of your duchy, but then again this is the man who wanted to sell the thing!
2) Why was it that Montfort’s support was concentrated among the lower nobility/towns, what appeal did he have to these communities.
3) I find myself challenged to believe a stern talking to from the king pushed Montfort towards a treason that he had not considered before. Is there strong evidence to support his ‘lack of interest’ in openly allying England before hand?
4) Regarding the king’s situation, what was his calculation when he was giving Montfort the stern talking to, was it an arrogant assumption that Montfort would meekly accept his judgement and order would be maintained in Bretagne?
By the way Jeanne is pronounced zhun
Oh forgot to say,
Its interesting that the Rohan were the most virulently anti-English of all the Breton lords. Given that after the family largely converted to Protestantism they’d be among the longest lasting in their amity towards England down past the siege of La Rochelle in 1628. 🙂
1) I’m honestly not sure why John changed his mind on Montfort and haven’t found any convincing explanation. There are all sorts of reasons that could have contributed to it such as Edward III threatening to seize the Earldom of Richmond which John held if Brittany passed to Jeanne of Penthievre and Charles of Blois who was the French King’s nephew after all. Misogyny, both of the Duke himself and of the Breton nobility more generally, is also a possible explanation for the Duke’s action as are simple changes of heart. I definitely don’t see him as a doting uncle to Jeanne of Penthievre, rather he simply disliked her less than John of Montfort, and given his deathbed quote along the lines of ‘don’t bother me about it’ I also don’t get the impression that he was too concerned with the state of Brittany after his death.
2) John of Montfort had few supporters among the higher nobility due for the large part to John III’s earlier promotion of Charles of Blois and Jeanne of Penthievre and exclusion of John of Montfort. As to why he held the support amongst the lower nobility and the towns I haven’t found a great explanation for that. From what I’ve read there seems to have been some tensions between the upper and lower nobility in Brittany during this time and as most of the higher nobility went to Blois, the lower nobility had more opportunities for advancement with Montfort. As for the towns I’ve found even less on them. Brittany was no Flanders and so the support of the towns didn’t count for too much and there doesn’t seem to be too much written about them or their motives for supporting John of Montfort.
I’ll answer 3 and 4 together as they’re pretty linked.
When John of Montfort was first summoned to Paris, he reasonably could have expected a fair trial. Philip hadn’t taken any action thus far to support his Nephew Charles despite his repeated pleas for aid and so there was definitely a chance that John would be awarded Brittany as he was in control of the Duchy at the time. While John had been in contact with the English, he had avoided making any deals with Edward as if it were possible for him to be awarded Brittany by Philip that would be preferable to committing treason. And honestly if the Hundred Years War wasn’t going on, Philip likely would have ruled in Montfort’s favor.
However, word about the talks between Montfort and Edward III had reached Philip and the French King gave those rumors too much credit. Part of this is due to the fact that in these early years of the Hundred Years War many great lords still had lands in both England and France and so loyalties were naturally divided. Shortly before Montfort was summoned to Paris the lord of Montpellier declared for the English and had overrun some of his French-aligned neighbors so Philip was likely on edge.
Therefore it wasn’t a stern talking to so much as John got word that he was at risk of being arrested. Unbeknownst to John, Philip had already begun drawing up charges of treason before Montfort reached Paris.
So, after his stern questioning John was ordered to remain in Paris, leading him to fear that he would not get that fair trial and in fact would be imprisoned for treason for his talks with the English, which he would have been.
I do think that Philip was relying on his authority as king here and genuinely didn’t think that Montfort would run off, and if he did Philip probably saw this as bringing treason out into the open rather than causing it to happen in the first place. Montfort also had lands outside of Brittany that Philip could (and did) seize to incentivize compliance. But even after John fled, Philip was willing to facilitate an agreement. When John of Normandy (Future John the Good) first came to Brittany he was given wide latitude to come to an agreement with Montfort including putting him back in the line of succession to the Duchy and giving him more lands outside the Duchy.
Many thanks for this details answer!!
Whoops, I’ll add the post to Patreon. I just got COVID unfortunately so it might be a bit before I can properly respond to these.
My sympathies. Stay safe!