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Fay Sampson’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

Sampson  Tree



CONAN DE RENNES was the elder son of Judicael Count of Rennes and his wife Gerberge.[1]

When his father, “enfeebled by age”, died in 970, Conan succeeded him as Count of Rennes. In 990, on the death of Duke Alan, he achieved the highest rank as Duke of Brittany. Brittany was then not a kingdom, but a sovereign dukedom. Conan is said to have “crowned himself with a royal diadem”.

He was known as Conan “le Tort” (the Crooked). Doubtless he suffered from the same kind of deformity as the English King Richard III.

He married Ermengarde of Anjou.


ERMERNGARDE D’ANJOU. She was the daughter of Geoffroy I, Count of Anjou, and his first wife Adela de Meaux. She is thought to have been born around 956.


The couple married in 973.

The marriage was supposed to form a political alliance between Anjou and Brittany. It failed in this objective, and there was war between the two.


Conan and Ermengarde had five children

Geoffrey, 980. On  his father’s death in 992 he became Duke of Brittany.
Judith de Bretagne, 982. She married well, to Richard II, Duke of Normandy, in a ceremony at Mont Saint Michel. She founded the abbey on Bernay, Eure.
Judicael. He became Count of Porhoët.
Catualon. Abbé de Redon.
Hurnod de Bretagne. He and Judicael witnessed the killing of their elder brother Geoffrey.

In addition to these, Conan had four illegitimate sons by unnamed mistresses. They were Alain, Judicael called Glanderius and two whose names we do not know.


In 990, two years before his death, Conan gave the lands of Villamée, Lillele and Passille to the abbey of Mont Saint Michel.

Ermengarde’s family, the Angevins (House of Anjou), twice fought with Conan at Conquereuil, on the frontier between the Counties of Rennes and Nantes. The Angevins were led by Fulk Nerra (the Black), Ermengarde’s brother.

There is agreement that Conan was killed on 27 Jun 992 in the Battle of Conquereuil, when he was defeated by Ermengarde’s brother, Fulk, Count of Anjou.

There are three versions of how this happened.

There was a longstanding rivalry between Rennes and Nantes. Conan was besieging Nantes when he learned that Fulk was marching with an army to relieve the city. Conan lifted the siege and marched his army back towards Rennes to meet Fulk.

In one account, he halted at Conquereuil and prepared the battlefield. His men dug pits and ditches which were flooded by the water from nearby swamps. These they hid by covering them lightly with turfs. Behind this they raise earthworks, whose flanks were protected by the swamps.

When Fulk’s Angevin army attacked, the Bretons feigned flight, luring them into the flooded pits. They then counterattacked and drove the Angevins back in disarray.

The Bretons believed they had won, but Fulk rallied his troops and attacked a second time. This time the Angevins routed the Bretons, killing Conan.

Another version has it that the Breton counterattack was successful and the Angevins were fleeing for their lives. In the midst of the pursuit, Conan removed his armour because of the heat. Some Angevin knights saw him from a nearby wood. They charged the unarmoured Duke and killed him, turning the battle decisively in the Angevins’ favour.

The third story is that Conan surrendered after his right hand was cut off.

He was buried in the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel, which he had endowed during his lifetime.

Mont Saint Michel [2]


12-year-old Geoffrey was now Duke of Brittany. Since he was a minor, Ermengarde acted as his Regent, ruling Brittany in his place.

She was of the House of Anjou, and remained loyal to her brother Fulk, who had killed her husband. She aligned Brittany with Fulk’s allies, rather than those that Conan had favoured.

By now, the Viking invaders had settled in Northern France and become known as the Normans. Their overlordship covered a wide territory.

In 996, while he was still a teenager, Geoffrey was married to Hawise, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. This was followed by the wedding of his sister Judith to Duke Richard himself.

These were not marriages of equals. Brittany was, in effect, putting itself under the lordship of Normandy.

Around 1000, Fulk arranged a second marriage for Ermengarde to Willliam II of Angoulême, in the south-west of France.

She had five sons by him:
Alduin, Count of Angoulême .
Geoffrey, Count of Angoulême
Fulk of Angoulême
Arnauld and William, both of whom died young.

Ermengarde died around 1024.


In 1026, William de Taillefer set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre.

He died in 1028, reputedly poisoned.

Their son Alduin succeeded him as Count of Angoulême, and was himself succeeded by his brother Geoffrey of Angoulême, who had previously revolted against him.


[1] Much of this information is from Connected Bloodlines. https://www.connectedbloodlines.com/getperson.php?personID=I10627&tree=lowell
[2] https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d2/56/ac/d256acbf5142905699d657773d8cbe0a.jpg




Sampson Tree