35. (C) RENNES

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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)

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 JUDICAEL DE RENNES and GERBERGE (35)

 

JUDICAEL or JUHEL DE RENNES was the only known son of Berenger, Count of Rennes and Bayeux and Margrave of the Breton March. We do not know his mother’s name, but she was the daughter of a previous Count of Britanny.[1]

He is often known as Judicael Berenger.

In the 880s and 890s his father led a successful campaign against the invading Vikings. There are two accounts that say Berenger was killed in 896 when the Viking Rollo stormed Bayeux and carried off Judicael’s sister Poppa, whom he married.[2] Since he died in 970, Judicael was probably still a boy then.

After his father’s death in 896 Judicael became Count of Rennes in Britanny.

 

He married Gerberge, but we know nothing else about her.

 

We know of two sons, Conan I “Le Tort”, who became Count of Rennes and Duke of Britanny, born 927, and Meen, who became Seigneur de Fougères. There was also a daughter Enoguen or Ynoguen, who married Tristan de Vitré, on the frontier between Britanny and the rest of France.

 

Throughout their lives Britanny was under threat from the invading Vikings, who became known as Normans, or North Men, when they settled in the land named Normandy after them.

After 919 the situation in Brittany became so perilous that many of the Breton aristocracy fled to Mercia in England or to Francia. In some areas only the Breton peasantry remained in charge.

The Chronicle of Nantes records: “The evil race of Normans, a most cruel and perverse people, sailed across the ocean with a huge fleet of ships and laid waste to all of Brittany. Frightened counts and viscounts and machiterns fled in panic before them, scattering to Francia, Burgundy and Aquitaine. Only poor Bretons tilling the soil stayed under the domination of the barbarians, without leaders or defenders.”[3]

In 931 it was these peasants, rather than their feudal lords, who led a rebellion against the Normans. The Normans were taken by surprise, and the revolt was initially successful. But the peasants were unable to stand up to the power of the Norman counter-attack. Brittany was re-conquered.

The situation changed in 935 when the Viking Rollo’s son William Longsword achieved a reconciliation with the Franks. William Longsword was the son of Judicael’s sister Poppa. Exiled Bretons began returning from Britain.

We have no certain information about whether Judicael fled from Brittany like so many other aristocrats. We do know what happened next.

The Breton leader Alan Brabancourt was one of those who returned from England in the 930s. Together with Judicael Berengar of Brittany and the Frank Hugh II, Count of Maine, he led a joint army against the Normans in the Battle of Trans-la-Fôret in 939. They attacked decisively and defeated the Norse stronghold, bringing the occupation of Brittany to an end. Brittany became a sovereign duchy under Alan.[4]

Trans-la-Fôret stands to the south of Mont St Michel.

When Alan donated property to Landevenec in the 940s, Count Judhael was a witness. Landévennec Abbey is on the western tip of Britanny.

The capital of Brittany moved from Nantes to Rennes, because the latter was more easily defensible. Since Judicael was Count of Rennes, this can only have been in his favour.

His good fortune was not to last. After the death of Alain, Judicael, “enfeebled by age”, came under the sway of Wichohen, Archbishop of Dol. Wicohen had gained power far beyond his ecclesiastical domain and acted like a duke. Judicael became, in effect, his vassal. He ate at Wicohen’s table, rather than presiding over the high table in his own hall.[5] Later sources says that he and Gerberge were rescued from this humiliating position by their son Conan.[6]

 

Judicael died around 970.

We have no information about Gerberge’s death

 

[1] Connected Bloodlines. http://www.connectedbloodlines.com/getperson.php?personID=I11923&tree=Lowell&sitever=standard
[2] Guillaume de Jumièges and Orderic Vitalis
[3]  Chronion Namnetense (ed Merlet), 81-83
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Trans-la-For%C3%AAt
[5] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicohen
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicael_Berengar

 

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