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Guerre et société en France, en Angleterre et en Bourgogne xive-xve siècle

 | 
H. Maurice Keen
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison
, 
Philippe Contamine

Breton Nobility in the Service of the State?

The Case of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen

Michael C. E. Jones

Texte intégral

1Emphasis in this colloquium is legitimately on the more strictly military aspects of late medieval warfare. Here, however, attention will be directed to military service as just one facet of the lives led by those called gentry in England and noblesse in France. Nowhere was the noblesse more numerous than in Brittany, perhaps a major reason why there is still no good general study. Nor is that what I can offer now, though the evidence I have drawn from the archives of one family does illustrate more generally how military matters were mixed with other concerns, allowing a more balanced picture of the noblesse to emerge.

  • 1 A. Dupuy, Histoire de la réunion de la Bretagne à la France, Paris, 1880, t. II, pp. 448-450.
  • 2 Ph. Contamine, Guerre, Etat et Société à la fin du Moyen Age. Etudes sur les armées des rois de Fra (...)
  • 3 Cf. M.C.E. Jones, The Creation of Brittany: A Late Medieval State, London, 1988, pp. 219-220.
  • 4 The main family archives of Rosnyvinen de Piré are in AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 201-334. Two mémoire (...)

2Guillaume de Rosnyvinen was, according to Antoine Dupuy, the fine nineteenth-century Breton historian, ‘the most brilliant example of a younger son, ambitious, fortunate and loyal’who ‘became one of the leading lords of his province’1. More recently Philippe Contamine has drawn attention to Guillaume’s career as one of the original captains of Charles VII’s ordonnance companies.2 In retrospect it appears that the fortunes of the family, which remained prominent to the end of the Ancien Régime and only became extinct in 1885, were made by two fifteenth century careers: that of Guillaume and that of his uncle, Jean, who preceded him in Charles VII’s employment, and lacking an heir, arranged for his nephew to follow him in his royal offices. But closer examination of Guillaume’s life reveals that its initial promise did not lead inexorably to ever increasing success and material rewards.3 From a relatively early point, preservation of what he had gained became an overwhelming concern of Guillaume; moreover his domestic life was dominated by a series of family quarrels which Dupuy’s account largely overlooks. It may not be legitimate for us, given the partiality of the surviving evidence, to speak of Guillaume’s old age as embittered but his declining years were marked not only by litigation, but also by political and economic difficulties. The majority of Guillaume’s estates lay on either side of Brittany’s eastern border where the war of 1487-1491 which put an end to Breton independence wrought much havoc. However, in so far as his career seems typical and is exceptional only in that it can be followed in detail, it may serve as an archetype, especially exemplifying the conflict of private and public interest in the lives of the noblesse during a period much disturbed by war.4

  • 5 BN, p. o. 502, dossier 11381, Bretagne, ‘Extraits des titres produits au cabinet du Saint Esprit… p (...)
  • 6 Le comte de Rosmorduc, La noblesse de Bretagne devant la Chambre de la Réformation, 1668-1671, St-B (...)
  • 7 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304.

3The origins of the family are obscure. An enterprising eighteenth-century forger of noble titles, aware that contemporary Rosnyvinens held important positions in the Breton Parlement, constructed a genealogy tracing them back to a certain Sire Guy de Rosnyvinen who, on 1 April 1102, made a grant to the abbey of St-Georges de Rennes for the souls of himself and his parents, Messire Eudes de Rosnyvinen and Dame Marie de Tinténiac.5 It is not clear how or even whether the family received this information which extended their history back two centuries further than that more soberly established after 1668 by successive commissions of the Réformations de la Noblesse, or through the efforts of Christophe, marquis de Piré (d. 1732), when head of the family.6 Despite Christophe’s assiduous investigations, the earliest surviving original document he discovered was issued in the court of Landiviziau on 23 September 1338 when Geoffroy de Rochnyvinen promised to deliver certain rents from the succession of his parents and sister Juhette, to his son Derien, an agreement also witnessed by Hervé, son of Alain de Rochnyvinen.7

  • 8 M. Montigny, «Guillemette de Rosnyvinen de Piré», MSHAB, t. IV (1923), pp. 137-252, at p. 143.
  • 9 Cf. Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. I, pp. 168-169 and t. II, p. 497.

4Rochnyvinen, ‘the rock of the Yew trees’, is a lordship in Ploudiry parish not far from Landiviziau.8 Although the relationship of the various Rochnyvinens is not made explicit, this and other evidence shows that during the fourteenth century the family possessed property in Finistère, just like the neighbouring Chastel and Coëtivy families, who were to play an even more significant role in Franco-Breton affairs than the Rosnyvinens.9 Without citing additional evidence, the marquis de Piré took Geoffroy de Rochnyvinen to be his own direct ancestor, though it is just as likely that it was Alain and Hervé who in 1338 represented the senior branch of the family. At present their relationships must remain uncertain as do the links of that generation with the next and with the progenitor of the main fifteenth-century line, Jean, grandfather of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen.

  • 10 Dom P-H. Morice, Mémoires pour servir de preuves à l’histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne,(...)
  • 11 Ibid., t. II, col. 203, 205, 207, 275, 279. M. Pastoreau, «Le rôle d’armes du second traité de Guér (...)
  • 12 Preuves, t. II, col. 437; AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, 31 Dec. 1382.

5In 1371 a Jean de Rosnyvinen, esquire, was serving in the company of Jean, lord of Juch, under the general command of Bertrand du Guesclin, constable of France.10 Another esquire, Guillaume, was with Olivier, sire de Clisson, and in 1381, Hervé de Rosnyvinen, also an esquire, swore to uphold the second treaty of Guérande. This Hervé has been identified as representing the eldest branch of the family and as son of Geoffroy de Rosnyvinen, although no documents seem explicitly to confirm this.11 Two years later Jehannin de Rosnyvinen, esquire, was campaigning in Flanders with another powerful local lord, Alain, sire de Léon, eldest son of Jean I, vicomte de Rohan, whilst a daughter of Mabille de Rosnyvinen had recently been contracted in marriage.12 It may be that the Hervé of 1338 was father of the later Hervé, Jean and Guillaume, that Mabille was their sister and that Jehannin was a grandson.

  • 13 Ibid., 2 Er 304, copy (1419) of contract in the court of Daoulas, 17 August 1404. Elinore received (...)
  • 14 Ibid., seventeenth-century extracts from a necrology of Daoulas abbey: ‘Nono Kalendas Julii anno 14 (...)
  • 15 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, a seventeenth-century copy of grant by Jean of the manor of Bréquélen (...)
  • 16 Ibid., 2 Er 299.
  • 17 Jean (d. 1414) succeeded his elder brother Hervé in most of his lands. The places named in early ma (...)

6There is another gap before firmer ground is reached. On 17 August 1404 Jean de Rosnyvinen, husband of Louise de Kerancouët, with the assent of his eldest son, Olivier, agreed to marry his daughter Elinore to Huon, principal heir of Guyomarch de Rouasle.13 Jean died in 1414 and was succeeded by his son Olivier, who died around 1460, succeeded in turn by his eldest son Louis (d. by 6 February 1480) and his grandson Alain, all of whom were usually styled sires de Kerancouët.14 But what was the relationship between this Jean and the earlier Rosnyvinens? Is he Jehannin named in 1383 or Jean of 1371? He certainly had a brother Guillaume.15 Is he to be identified with Guillaume of 1379? A case can be made that Jean, who died in 1414, was identical with Jean of 1371, and that he and Guillaume were younger brothers of Hervé, approver of the treaty of Guérande, whilst Jehannin was a nephew, though the marquis de Piré considered Jean (d. 1414) to be the son of Jehannin and grandson of Jean of 1371.16 At present these early genealogical problems cannot be conclusively resolved; however, one thing is clear, that the marriage of Jean and Louise de Kerancouët marked an important advance in the fortunes of one branch of the family, bringing it estates around Daoulas, Finistère.17 It is the first definite example in the family of that classic means by which cadet branches flourished. It was marked by the adoption of the title ‘sire de Kerancouët’by Jean’s descendants. Two similar marriages were to be the chief reasons for the success of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen half a century later.

  • 18 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, 1 August 1416 at Paris; cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 903, 912. E. Cosneau (...)
  • 19 J. Kerhervé, L’Etat breton aux XIVe et XVe siècles. Les ducs, l’argent et les hommes, 2 vol., Paris (...)

7But before turning to his career, it is necessary to sketch more background so that its context may be appreciated. Just as the campaigns of the 1370s and 1380s presented opportunities for a generation of Rosnyvinens born around the mid fourteenth century, civil strife between Armagnacs and Burgundians and renewed English invasions of France, allied to the uneasy relations between England and Brittany, provided an outlet for the military energies of the sons of that older generation at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Under various captains or leading their own small companies, a group of Rosnyvinens may be found between 1414-1416, frequently following Arthur de Richemont, the future constable of France and brother of Jean V of Brittany. One muster names four brothers, Jean, Guillaume, Henry and Nicolas, all esquires, serving together.18 Other evidence shows they were younger brothers of Olivier, sire de Kerancouët, and that in addition to Yvon, Geoffroy and Louis, in all probability also brothers, there were at least two sisters. With a minimum of nine children having a claim on their parents’ inheritance – and families of this size were not uncommon among the Breton noblesse – it is not surprising that many younger sons had to seek their fortunes by service in France.19 To date, however, no Rosnyvinen had achieved any particular eminence.

  • 20 Cf. G. Duby, Hommes et structures au Moyen Age, Paris, 1973, pp. 213-225.
  • 21 E. Cosneau, op. cit., p. 200; Preuves, t. II, col. 1231, 1259 and 1299.
  • 22 Père Anselme, Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, 3e ed., 1726-17 (...)
  • 23 Preuves, t. II, col. 1409 and 1642 (originals now AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280). Jean drew up his w (...)
  • 24 Cf. GR, Nos. 3627 and 3653.

8Now the success of Jean de Rosnyvinen the younger transformed matters and allowed other members of his family entirely new opportunities for social advance, a pattern, discernible in more prominent Breton families like the Chastels and Coëtivys as well as in many other less easily documented cases. Whilst senior members generally remained at home to manage their estates, raise a family and serve the duke of Brittany, cadets often pursued careers jointly in Brittany and France, or devoted themselves more exclusively to royal or other princes’ service. As in the twelfth century, so in the fifteenth, juvenes awaiting or debarred from succession, restlessly sought opportunities elsewhere.20 Jean de Rosnyvinen continued, for example, to hold a post at the Breton court till 1437, but his main interests were concentrated in France where he linked his fortunes with those of Richemont, now a figure of great importance. With such a protector, he did not hesitate to do any dirty work: in 1433 when Richemont launched a murderous attack on the favourite Georges de la Trémoille, it was Jean who struck the actual blows as Tanguy du Chastel had at Montereau.21 Esquire of the dauphin since 1418, captured by the English in 1423, subsequently captain of Lagny (where he was succeeded by a nephew, Olivier), present on many campaigns including that which recaptured Paris in 1436, keeper of the accounts for the expedition against Guyenne in 1442-1443, and still active enough to fight at Formigny in 1450, Jean gradually acquired various posts, finishing as first échanson and Maître des Eaux et Forêts de France.22 Lacking a direct heir, he resigned the former to his nephew Guillaume in 1447 and the latter likewise shortly before his death in 1455, after more than forty years service with Richemont and the crown.23 For a family whose horizons had hitherto been strictly limited – deeply provincial if marriage settlements are any guide – Jean’s career was of major significance in raising their prestige and ambitions; it provided a platform from which the following generation of Rosnyvinens, emerging at this critical moment in the fortunes of the Valois monarchy, could launch their own careers and build on Jean’s achievements.24

  • 25 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 19 Jan. 1460 Olivier, with the assent of his wife and eldest son, ass (...)
  • 26 Cf. Appendix 2 for his royal service; E. Cosneau, op. cit., pp. 387-388; Preuves, t. II, col. 1559, (...)
  • 27 Preuves, t. II, col. 1758, 28 Oct. 1461, order for his arrest.
  • 28 Preuves, t. II, col. 1777; t. III, col. 66 and 144. M.C.E. Jones, op. cit., pp. 366-367; AD Loire-A (...)
  • 29 AD Loire-Atlantique, E 131 f°. 217 r° and 237 r°, minutes of council meetings, 4 Nov. 1462 and 13 M (...)
  • 30 A. Dupuy, op. cit., t. II, p. 118; Guillaume de Rosnyvinen, captain of La Roche Maurice in 1480 (Pr (...)

9Guillaume de Rosnyvinen, born about 1420, was a younger son of Olivier, sire de Kerancouët, and his wife Havoise de Kernecheulan.25 He comes to notice as a captain of a royal ordonnance company in 1446, played an active part in the closing stages of the Hundred Years War and the establishment of royal control in Normandy in the 1450s. Normally leading thirty lances and acting jointly with two other Breton captains of comparable status, Geoffroy de Couvran and Olivier de Broons, he was present at the recapture of Fougères in 1449, saw further action in the Norman campaign which followed, in eastern France in 1451, in the Auvergne in 1452 and Rouergue in 1455, though in Charles VII’s last years he was normally based in garrison at Bayeux or Vire where he was captain. His epitaph later drew attention also to his position as royal maréchal des logis.26 Along with his fellow Breton captains he incurred the displeasure of Louis XI at his accession for reasons which remain obscure.27 Returning to Brittany, François II soon appointed him captain of the strategic frontier castle of St-Aubin-du-Cormier and employed him in his own ordonnance companies (though he did not enjoy a separate command like Couvran and Broons). He fought in the War of the Public Weal but not, it seems, in Normandy in 1467-1468 though his nephew Louis did.28 His wide military experience was, however, recognized by frequent appointment to commissions to supervise musters, oversee repairs to fortresses and, at least in the early days after his return to Brittany, by summonses to attend the ducal council to discuss urgent affairs, not exclusively military.29 Despite occasional reprimands for neglect and misconduct in the administration of St-Aubin, Guillaume still held the post of captain when the French invaded the duchy in 1487.30

  • 31 BN, fr. 15541 f° 28, 11 Oct. (? 1487), Perin de Sages to Charles VIII: ‘vous asseure que soit une b (...)
  • 32 Preuves, t. III, col. 582-583, 607; AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 1 F 1118.
  • 33 Preuves, t. III, col. 574, 581; his case was still under discussion in Nov. 1490 (AD Loire-Atlantiq (...)

10After a short siege at St-Aubin Guillaume capitulated. A later French report noticed deficiencies in arrangements for billeting troops there but considered the defences sound enough, so that despite vigorous denials of collusion and no very obvious reward if this had occurred, Guillaume must remain under some suspicion for its loss in October 1487.31 His disgrace was at first temporary. Before François II died on 9 September 1488, Guillaume received other commissions as maître d’hôtel and a daughter was a damoiselle d’honneur at court.32 But with the accession of Duchess Anne and the confiscation of his estates both in Brittany and later in Maine and Anjou, Guillaume’s public career lay in ruins. Eventually he recovered possession of most of these lands and after more than forty years military service he was knighted but his movable wealth had either been pillaged or sold by ducal officers following his alleged treachery.33

  • 34 Preuves, t. III, col. 558-563 (original, AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 284).
  • 35 Cf. ibid., 2 Er 280, 14 Sept. 1462 when Jacques de l’Espinay, bishop of Rennes, absolved Guillaume (...)
  • 36 For Obvier and Jean see Preuves, t. III, col. 354, 388-389, 580; for Louis see above n. 14; for Jac (...)
  • 37 Ph. Contamine, op. cit., pp. 413-414; RP, t. V, 176. After Guillaume’s death, his wife claimed 20,0 (...)
  • 38 Below Appendix 1 and J-Y. Copy, Art, société et politique au temps des ducs de Bretagne. Les gisant (...)

11In a remarkable petition for compensation presented to Charles VIII and Queen Anne c. 1492, Guillaume summarized his own career and set out the extent of his personal, especially financial, losses.34 Apart from the affront to his recently acquired knightly honour, stemming from accusations of disloyalty and on which he ostentatiously set a nominal value of more than 50,000 écus, sums of 7000 écus, 5000 livres and 2000 francs were specifically advanced as suitable recompense for unpaid wages, expenses incurred in the performance of official duties (repairs at St-Aubin being described in minute detail) and for the loss of personal property in ducal service. To the catalogue of his own services, which besides financial sacrifice, had also resulted in excommunication and public humiliation,35 Guillaume additionally described losses sustained by others of his family: ‘Item, there died in ducal service four of my nephews, namely Jacques, Louis, Jean and Olivier and my brother of Vaucoulour’.36 This litany – a curiously similar one was presented to Louis XI by Antoine de Chabannes a few years earlier and William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, on trial for his life in 1450, spoke in the same vein – elicited little sympathetic response.37 Guillaume did not receive any more public appointments. The last years of his life were spent settling family affairs, frequently in litigation with his relatives who were as anxious to assure themselves of a share in his succession as he had been eager in its acquisition. He died at his manoir of Parc d’Avaugour in Mayenne shortly after making a final will on 6 March 1496, specifying that he was to be buried in the nearby parish church of Brécé, though he had already built a tomb and inscribed his epitaph some years previously in the Franciscan convent at Dinan.38

  • 39 Cf. GR, Nos. 3185, 3266, 14246, 16488,16507, 200114.
  • 40 Philippe de Commynes, Mémoires, éd. B. de Mandrot, Paris, 1901-1903, t. I, p. 73.
  • 41 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 18 July 1467, letters of Louis XI over arrears at Parc d’Avaugour; 28 (...)
  • 42 When in 1475 Louis demanded guarantees for a treaty, Guillaume was not one of the 53 Breton nobles (...)
  • 43 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 3 March 1470, summons to explain the escape of a criminal from St-Aub (...)

12The public career of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen, ending in dismissal and disgrace, cannot be viewed as the outstanding success Dupuy described. Following his uncle in royal offices which could have opened the way to the highest posts in royal service – the contrast with another uncle and nephew team, the two Tanguys du Chastel, is most striking – Guillaume remained a minor company commander and garrison captain.39 Even after his return to Brittany and an initial ducal welcome, he again failed to achieve any senior position. To prove his loyalty to the duke, in his 1492 petition Guillaume claimed that he had turned down an offer of 6000 écus and a pension of 4000 francs from Louis XI. But no supporting evidence for this has come to light, a matter of some significance when, as Commynes remarked, the king seldom took no for an answer when determined to persuade someone to join him.40 After 1461 there was an occasional royal favour, but no regular royal pension or office.41 This suggests that Louis had correctly gauged Guillaume’s limited political abilities and importance.42 Since he was not one to let moral scruples stand in his way, Guillaume may have lacked the opportunity for, rather than enjoyed the luxury of, refusing later royal blandishments. Yet even in those matters where his own considerable professional experience was paramount, that is in military affairs, there is evidence that from the early 1470s he was neglectful of his duties in Brittany and only concerned to exploit his position for personal advantage.43 Guillaume has been correctly described as ambitious, but it was the ambition of a man of moderate abilities, chiefly devoted to his own selfish ends. In a tight corner he could still display courage and resource, as when many of his garrison at St-Aubin deserted in 1487, but his gifts were those of a man of action who, lacking great wealth, carried little political weight and was largely ignored by those shaped ducal policy after 1465.

13An examination of Guillaume’s domestic life serves to confirm these conclusions. It also underlines a more general point: how difficult it was to create loyalty and sympathy for the idea of the state in this period, either that which the Valois monarchs were seeking to create or the endeavours on a more limited scale of the duke of Brittany, and how private concerns outweighed public responsibility among many of those on whom rulers depended. It raises the interesting question of what Guillaume’s impeccable Breton ancestry meant to him.

***

  • 44 Cf. J. Gallet, La seigneurie bretonne (1450-1680): L’exemple du Vannetais, Paris, 1983, pp. 88 et s (...)
  • 45 M. C. E. Jones, op. cit., pp. 223-225.
  • 46 His portion was the manor of Bréhellan, which had also formed that of an earlier Guillaume (AD Ille (...)
  • 47 R. Couffon, «Quelques notes sur les seigneurs d’Avaugour», Bulletin et mémoires de la société d’ému (...)

14After the emergence of the knightly order in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it became traditional in parts of France for only one or two sons in such families to marry. The rest either found an outlet for their talents in tournaments, on crusade and other military operations, or in the church, in the hope of making their fortunes. Many died before they could establish themselves and raise families. Although habits changed, the marriage patterns then established seem to have remained fairly constant until demographic disaster in the later Middle Ages enforced modifications and eased some restraints placed on the marriage of younger sons.44 On the other hand, by then local successoral customs had been clearly defined by generations of use. In Brittany where only a third of the inheritance could be used for endowing junior members of the family, this meant that there were still many younger sons, whose ultimate share was so minute that their prospects were bleak since few substantial knights and esquires would contemplate marrying their daughters to men who were virtually propertyless. A natural fecundity at this level in society, especially marked in Brittany it seems, increased such problems.45 Few of Guillaume’s seven uncles, including Jean, married and established cadet lines. That Guillaume himself was able to contemplate marriage at an early point in his career is itself a sign of social advance, since he had at least six other brothers and his future share in his father’s inheritance was small.46 It was the security and prospects of his royal offices, employment in the royal army and his uncle’s patronage which probably enabled him to pursue a Norman heiress, Perrine de Meulent, to whom he was contracted as early as 1449, although the actual marriage did not take place until 1453.47

  • 48 Cf. GR, No. 13462.
  • 49 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 14 Feb. 1452, Angers, letters from Messire Guillaume de Briqueville, (...)
  • 50 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280; Lohéac may have represented the Coëtivy interest by virtue of his mar (...)

15At the time of the contract Perrine was a minor in the wardship of Prigent de Coëtivy, admiral of France, and her prospects were so considerable that Prigent’s brother, Olivier, who was eventually to bring off a sensational coup by marriage to Marie de Valois, Charles VII’s daughter by Agnès Sorel, seriously considered her a suitable match.48 It was typical of all that followed concerning Guillaume’s marital affairs, that in 1452 he came to terms with Perrine’s relatives to defray the costs of an action against Olivier de Coëtivy in the event of him being adjudged Perrine’s husband following an alleged promise made to marry her in the presence of the bishop of Saintes.49 Successful in this ruse, Guillaume still had to satisfy Perrine’s guardians for she represented a handsome prize now her estates in Normandy had been recovered, following the expulsion of the English, an attraction reflected in the way in which she was passed as a valuable ward from one leading member of Charles VIPs court to another. For once the Coëtivy interest had been eliminated, it was Jean d’Estouteville, sire de Torcy, grand maître des arbalétriers, who became her guardian, whilst an uncle, Messire Guillaume de Briqueville, was commissioned to look after her. Finally on 24 March 1453 Guillaume obtained consent to his marriage from Philibert de Berry, sire de St-Celerin, another of Perrine’s uncles, councillor and chamberlain to the king, and from another important fellow-countryman André de Laval, lord of Lohéac, marshal of France.50 To acquire a wife was not necessarily, however, to obtain her inheritance as Guillaume, like many other suitors, soon found.

  • 51 Cf. ibid., 2 Er 280, 15 Jan. 1457, Raoul Rouxel, sergeant at Vire, to the vicomte de Bayeux, report (...)
  • 52 G. Bois, Crise du féodalisme. Economie rurale et démographie en Normandie orientale du début du XIV(...)

16Perrine was the younger daughter and co-heiress of Thomas de Meulent, sire de Courseulles et de St-Paer, in the bailliage of Caen, and Jeanne, dame du Parc d’Avaugour in Mayenne. Jeanne, in turn, was the eldest of three daughters and co-heiresses of Jean, sire du Parc, representative in a cadet branch of a once great noble Breton family, the Avaugours. Potentially, Perrine stood to inherit considerable estates and from Guillaume’s perspective his posting in western Normandy in the 1450s was advantageous since from Baveux or Vire he could also supervise his domestic concerns around Caen.51 In common, however, with many other noble families of Normandy and Maine since 1415 both the Meulents and Parcs had suffered extensive losses in the wars that had engulfed the provinces. Properties had been confiscated or mortgaged to pay for ransoms and reconstitution of estates after the war required tenacity in pursuing claims, many bedevilled by the conflicting interests of other members of the same family, not to mention rival claimants.52 From the moment he became nominal lord of the minor barony of Courseulles to his death, much of Guillaume’s energies were absorbed in legal wrangling.

  • 53 M. Kessedjian, op. cit., p. 86, calculated that the lord of St-Brice, who disputed at least one cas (...)

17It is in the nature of family archives that they preserve all titles and subsidiary documents relating to properties long after other documents have disappeared so that there is always a danger of over-estimating the litigious quality of noble life to the exclusion of other aspects. Recognition of this is obviously relevant to a discussion of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen’s career, for aside from his military activities, it is his legal actions about which most can be learnt. Nevertheless their very number, long duration and likely cost (though little direct evidence on this survives) are indicative of Guillaume’s efforts to establish himself and his family in landed society. Some account must thus be taken of the most significant cases he fought.53

  • 54 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, Dec. 1465 at Rouen.
  • 55 Ibid., 30 Dec. 1457, referring to an inquiry held at Fougères, where Jeanne d’Avaugour had retired (...)
  • 56 Ibid., 26 September 1462 (copy, 1464), letters of lieutenant of bailli of the Cotentin, on behalf o (...)

18During his first marriage the major dispute was with Jean Dauvray and his wife, Jeanne, Perrine’s elder sister, over their parents’succession. A subsidiary issue absorbed into this was with Perrine’s aunts and their husbands, claimants to the succession of Jean du Parc. Both cases dragged on for years, though the main outlines are clear. Letters issued by Charles, duke of Normandy in December 1465 summarized the position to date in the matter of Thomas de Meulent’s succession with admirable clarity.54 By the custom of Normandy Jeanne and Perrine, should have partitioned the inheritance equally. But as early as 1457 Jeanne and her husband had first seized the movable goods which they could find and had then prevaricated over dividing the landed properties. Eventually, after Guillaume and his wife had begun proceedings, they agreed that lots should be cast to decide who should take the halves agreed as representing a fair division of the inheritance.55 Amongst other estates, Courseulles fell to Guillaume and Perrine; from 1458 they normally styled themselves lord and lady of Courseulles. But since Dauvray and his wife had taken up residence there, they refused to hand it over to Guillaume. This provoked a new round of legal debate which slowly moved through several Norman courts between 1459 and 1465. Despite judgement at one point for Guillaume and his wife and a temporary occupation of Courseulles ‘par puissance indue’ exerted, according to Dauvray, through the ‘grande autorite et… charge de gens d’armes’which Guillaume enjoyed, Dauvray, now an esquire of Louis XI’s stable, was able to exploit his position to such good effect that royal letters ordering the bailli of the Cotentin to return Courseulles to him were obtained.56 Even when, later, it was recognized that there had been infractions of court procedure and Guillaume was again put in nominal possession (sometime in 1463), Dauvray and his party nevertheless reoccupied Courseulles, which two years later Paston-like they still held by force.

  • 57 Cf. H. Stem, op. cit., pp. 135 et sq.
  • 58 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 28 Sept. 1470, original royal letters at Amboise.

19It was at this point that general political changes came to Guillaume’s aid. With the advent of Charles de France and his Breton allies in Normandy late in 1465, Guillaume was able to regain real possession of Courseulles.57 But his tenure was soon threatened. In 1470 Perrine died. Charles de France was now duke of Guyenne, and Normandy held by Louis XI, together with ‘le droit de garde que selon la coustume de nostre pays et duchie de Normandie nous peut et doit competer et appartenir pour raison de la minorite et bas aage de Franchoise de Rosnivinen fille de luy et de feue Perrine de Meulan’. Luckily for Guillaume, Louis XI now chose to remember the good services he had rendered Charles VII and (somewhat surprisingly considering what had happened since 1461) to himself. He granted wardship of Françoise to Guillaume, who also succeeded in ending his dispute with his late wife’s aunts over the succession to Jean du Parc and his eldest daughter.58

  • 59 Ibid., letters of 28 Feb. 1468 provide most details.
  • 60 Ibid., 2 Er 280, letters of Charles VII, 13 Dec. 1458. Jean, sire du Parc had sold the estates to t (...)
  • 61 Ibid., 2 Er 281, 28 Feb. 1468.
  • 62 Ibid., 4 Aug. 1468, Raoul le Porc acknowledged selling the fiefs of Livré and Boessel in the parish (...)
  • 63 Ibid., letters at Vire, 12 Nov. 1459 (cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 1743). Proceedings against Jean de M (...)

20Here his principal opponents were the second husband of Marie du Parc, Jean, sire des Megaudays, whom she had married in 1448, and her eldest son by her first marriage, Raoul le Porc.59 Whilst further complications arose from the sale by Jean, sire du Parc, of certain lordships to meet ransom expenses and by his failure to pay fully the dowry, accorded many years earlier, to his eldest daughter, Jeanne. Guillaume and Perrine began proceedings immediately after their marriage. In 1458 Charles VII granted them a delay in which to repurchase LOstagerie and Champorin, two small estates sold to the lord of Cucé, but the case was still in train in 1465 when during the War of the Public Weed, Megaudays and Rosnyvinen agreed to choose arbitrators to settle the matter.60 Finally in 1468, after ‘grant involution de procès’, it was agreed that Guillaume and his wife should have ‘le chasteau, manoir, emplacement, dommaines, estangs et moulins de ladicte terre et seigneurie du Parc’ and other opposing claims to the fragmented inheritance of Jean du Parc were settled.61 Guillaume was to get L’Ostagerie and Champorin, for example, with the seigneury of Bazeilles. During 1468 Guillaume also bought out Raoul le Porc’s claims and by October, Charles, count of Maine, admitted him into homage for Parc d’Avaugour.62 He took possession in November and Parc remained to the end of his life his principal residence when he was not at St-Aubin on ducal service. Although it was acquired by right of his wife and should have passed to their daughter, Françoise, Guillaume held onto it, fighting another lengthy case against Françoise and her husband in the 1490s. He justified his action chiefly by virtue of the jointure or mutual donation of all their goods that he and Perrine had agreed in 1459, which included ‘la tierce partie de leurs patrimoines and matrimoines a tenir celles choses par le sourvivant…’. With less justification, his heir by his second marriage, continued to claim Parc d’Avaugour on the same basis.63

  • 64 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 19 Jan. 1460.
  • 65 Ibid., procuration of 19 Dec. 1469 together with letters of 29 Dec. 1469 (copy, 1470).
  • 66 Ibid., 2 Er 280, 29 July 1462, quittance from Tanguy du Chastel as proctor of the sire de Malestroi (...)
  • 67 Ibid., 2 Er 280 and 281.

21Whilst these disputes over his first wife’s inheritance were in progress, Guillaume had not been entirely neglectful of his own rights in Brittany, where in 1460 his father, with the consent of Guillaume’s eldest brother, Louis, made suitable provision by assigning him the manor of Bréhellan in Plouazné parish near Daoulas.64 Later, because Guillaume was busy in France, Louis re-assigned this manor as dowry for his daughter Olive and, later still, granted it to his own eldest son, Alain, in advancement of his rights, so that Guillaume required a new assignation. On 29 December 1469 Louis granted him a noble fief in the town of Daoulas and received him as his jouveigneur according to the Assize of Count Geoffrey (1185), the principal rules governing noble successions in the duchy.65 This new grant no doubt consolidated what Guillaume already held at Daoulas for in 1462 he had invested 4500 écus in lands in the castellany bought from Jean, sire de Malestroit, the largest sum he appears to have spent in this way.66 Guillaume’s claims on his father’s succession thus seem to have been settled with relative ease – Dupuy attributes his conciliatory attitude to family loyalty – but this did not prevent him conducting in the mid 1460s yet another legal battle over parts of this succession with his brother, Jean, sire de Vaucoulour, in which all the usual delaying tactics of the law were used.67

  • 68 Ibid., 2 Er 280.
  • 69 Ibid., 2 Er 281.
  • 70 Cf. Abbé A. Lemasson, «Obituaire du couvent des Cordeliers de Dinan», Bulletin de la société d’émul (...)

22The community of goods (jointure) established between Guillaume and Perrine was confirmed on a number of occasions and on 12 April 1463 they drew up a joint will at Nantes.68 This is very uninformative. The usual formulae are employed about the certainty of death, commending their souls to a conventional range of saints and expressing a desire not to die intestate. They were not particularly concerned to name a suitable burial place, leaving the choice to their executors, nor apart from allowing upto 500 écus for funeral expenses and 2000 masses, were they anxious to lay down precise details on the conduct of their burial. Ten reaulx were to be given to each of thirteen ‘pouvres filles pour aider a les marier’ and masses were to be said at St-Denis in Mayenne and at Courseulles. For the rest their executors, Olivier, Guillaume’s brother, and Lancelot de Hautcour, sire de Hautcour, were given plenty of freedom to use their own discretion. Seven years later on 13 February 1470 at St-Aubin, this will was confirmed.69 The only major new dispositions were the establishment of a chapel at Parc d’Avaugour, an additional mass at Courseulles for Perrine’s soul and the nomination of Alain de Rosnyvinen, Guillaume’s nephew, and Messire Henri de Langalla, priest, as executors. A relative indifference to specific religious bequests was partly repaired later that year when Guillaume and his daughter, Françoise, established a requiem mass in the convent of the Franciscans at Dinan, with a rent of 40 bushels of wheat a year, in memory of Perrine. She had died on 16 July and was buried there in the tomb mentioned earlier.70

  • 71 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282, contract of 23 Jan. 1472, cited in letters of 4 June 1475. For later (...)
  • 72 Georget Bonenfant is said to have fortified Plessis-Bonenfant (Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. III, p. 554) (...)

23Approximately eighteen months after his fust wife’s death, Guillaume married again, this time with a Bretonne. Hélène Bonenfant was the elder daughter of René Bonenfant, chevalier, sire de Plessis-Bonenfant (also known as Plessis-Guériff or Plessis-Piré) and Jeanne Rabault, only daughter of Messire Guy de Rabault, sire d’Iné, two long-established families of the noblesse from the Rennais.71 The Bonenfants, in particular, represent a clear case of a family ascending the social scale by the slow accumulation of property, aided by advantageous marriages and the deliberate and often unscrupulous exercise of ducal office rather than by dramatic moves. Minor vassals of the lords of Châteaubriant in the early fourteenth century, by the mid fifteenth Robert Bonenfant, René’s father, could marry the daughter of Jean de Beaumanoir, sire du Bois de la Motte, banneret, a member of one of the most distinguished Breton lineages.72 Unfortunately their son was to bring its name into some disrepute by a series of outrageous crimes and a style of life little befitting a noble of his status, at least according to his new son-in-law and his wife. Not surprisingly it was a dispute over their marriage contract which brought these accusations into the open.

  • 73 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282 contains an enormous roll of proceedings (1473-1475), setting out the (...)
  • 74 Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. III, pp. 554-555; AD Loire-Atlantique, B 3 f°. 72 v°.

24By the contract it appears that Guillaume had been promised the lordship of La Gourmillaye in the parish of Québriac and 200 l. in rents, but that René had prevented its execution and, what was worse, had begun to waste Hélène’s inheritance. Shortly after their marriage Guillaume and Hélène began proceedings with a view to restraining René and depriving him of the administration of his estates, a case not infrequently found in surviving ducal chancery registers.73 Naturally the picture they painted of his prodigality lost nothing in the telling, but the very length of their indictment and catalogue of his excesses reveals that all was not well. At the outset they emphasised that they were undertaking the case not to enrich themselves but simply to prevent René’s bankruptcy, nor did they wish to say unpleasant things about him. Their sole concern – the theme is a familiar one – was the honour of their ‘maisons et seignouries’ for René belonged ‘de lignaige a plussours barrons, bannerez, chevaliers et escuyers de ce pais et duche et qui doye se gouvernez et vivre bien honestement’. There was an acceptable standard of behaviour for nobles and René’s parents had been exemplary, though he had chosen to ignore them. Rather, after his own marriage at the age of twenty, he had lived ‘de long temps yvroing continuel hantant et frequentant les tavernes sur les champs avecques gens plebeyen et de bas estat ou bourg de Pire et ailleurs, et par labondance des vins et viandes que led. messire Rene la pluspart du temps est hors de son scens…’. Worse was to follow: savage and murderous attacks on neighbours led to court appearances which cost him and his parents 1000 l. and the sale of La Gourmillaye, Hélène’s future dowry. René began to treat his wife and daughter cruelly. Night and day he beat his wife, pulled her hair, attempted to tear off her breasts, to strangle her and cut her throat. He put her outside to sleep at night, bit her and made her flee in terror to relatives in Maine. On one occasion he had shut her and her daughter up in their house at Leonnaie and threatened to burn them alive because he had lost at jeu de paume, only being prevented from carrying out his threat by the forcible restraint of neighbours. There is a long list of other attempts at arson, an attack on his mother whom he likewise locked up and bit ‘es greilles, comme sil fust en raige’, blasphemies and fornications, violent entries and sales of properties, destruction of furnishings (over 2000 l. worth destroyed at Plessis alone it was alleged), disinheritance of his daughter and general neglect of his properties. Even if some exaggeration is accepted, Rene’s behaviour was that of a man who was not just occasionally drunk but severely unbalanced mentally – an inherited trait probably since his father had given his wife powers to administer his affairs as early as 1452 and in 1464 had been placed under her care and that of the lord of Montauban because of alleged incapacity.74

  • 75 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282, letters of 2 June 1475; on 4 June Guillaume took possession of La Gou (...)
  • 76 Ibid., 2 Er 282, 284 and 306.
  • 77 Ibid., 2 Er 284.
  • 78 Ibid., 25 Jan. 1485.
  • 79 As Guillaume explained in 1492, Jean V had granted Jacques Bonenfant 2500 l. on 7 Aug. 1432 ‘pour r (...)

25With what was uncharacteristic speed as far as most of Guillaume’s legal proceedings are concerned, arrangements were made to deprive René of the administration of his goods. By June 1475, just over eighteen months after the case started, Guillaume and Hélène were put in posses sion of La Gourmillaye. In conjunction with Rene’s wife and mother, they managed on the whole to prevent any more excesses on the scale described in their réquisitoire. René was ‘demys de la propriete de touz et chacuns ses heritaiges’ though under their supervision he was allowed to provide for his own younger brother according to the Breton custom.75 In October 1475 René did break the accord by selling a small rent to Jacques de l’Espinay, bishop of Rennes, causing another seven-year court case.76 But from 1475 onwards Guillaume de Rosnyvinen and his wife were the major beneficiaries from the Bonenfant estates and on 30 January 1484, probably shortly after René’s death, Guillaume paid homage for Plessis-Bonenfant to the lord of Châteaugiron.77 In 1485 a new agreement was reached with René’s widow, Jeanne, now remarried, by which she was to hold Plessis-Bonenfant for her dower, saving only the rights of René’s mother, Isabeau de Beaumanoir. Jeanne was also quit of any debts left by René whilst Guillaume and Hélène satisfied the claims of Marguerite, Hélène’s sister, and her uncle, Bertrand, on this succession.78 A few years later the manor of Plessis-Bonenfant, which had already been destroyed once by the French in 1432, suffered severely again at the hands of the duke’s own German troops during the war with France.79

  • 80 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281 and 283.
  • 81 Ibid., 2 Er 284, 7 March 1491.

26It would be otiose to recount at length further court cases concerning Guillaume’s titles to various seigneuries acquired by marriage – one in which he appeared as defendant against the Morel family’s claim to possess a fief at Sermentot, part of the Meulent inheritance, begun by 1460, though its antecedents stem back at least to the 1430s, was still running its course in 1475;80 another which Guillaume actively prosecuted between 1473 and 1491, arose from transactions between the Bonenfant and Montauban families as early as 1416.81 In the last years of his life, apart from efforts to regain lands confiscated during the Franco-Breton wars, the only other matters which claimed his attention in the same way as property litigation were plans for his children’s marriages.

  • 82 Ibid., 2 Er 284, contract of 14 May 1481; Chambellay lies just north of Lion d’Angers, dép. Maine-e (...)
  • 83 Ibid., inquiry of 25 Nov. and 4 Dec. 1503. Witnesses declared that Guillaume had died at Parc and w (...)

27Françoise, his only daughter by Perrine de Meulent, was married to an Angevin esquire Jean de Montallays, only son of Mathurin de Montallays, knight, lord of Chambellay.82 She was to have Courseulles, Sermentot, Fie Farcy and a house in Caen, together with other acquisitions made by Guillaume in Normandy, and the right to one third of Parc d’Avaugour as agreed in a partition drawn up in 1460 between Guillaume and Jean des Megaudays. Additionally she was to receive the equivalent in value of the lordship of Bazeilles, though it was clearly stated that other acquisitions in Maine and Anjou were to be reserved for children of the second marriage, while Guillaume was to enjoy Françoise’s revenues at Parc d’Avaugour for his lifetime, together with 200 l. from Courseulles during the first year of her marriage. The terms of this contract were disputed in the 1490s by Françoise and her husband, by which date Guillaume was making dispositions for his five children by Hélène Bonenfant. His only son from this marriage, François, eventually succeeded him at both Parc and Plessis-Bonenfant.83

  • 84 Ibid., 2 Er 284, letters of 28 Jan. 1496 at Parc d’Avaugour.
  • 85 Ibid., 3 Jan. 1491.
  • 86 Ibid., contract of 16 Sept. 1494, summarized in letters of 5 Dec. assigning the elder Marguerite’s (...)
  • 87 Ibid.
  • 88 Ibid., contract of 14 March 1496; ibid. and ibid., 2 Er 306 for the marriage to Coëtlogon.

28Of Guillaume’s four younger daughters, the three youngest, two confusingly named Marguerite, were married or engaged in their father’s lifetime. Provision was also made for the eldest daughter of his second marriage, a second Françoise, shortly before Guillaume’s death.84 In 1491 Jeanne was contracted to another Angevin Jean d’Estanzçon, esquire, lord of Estanzçon, receiving the house and manor of la Roche au Selle at Lion d’Angers, valued at 100 l. annual rent for all her claims on Guillaume’s estates.85 In 1494 the elder Marguerite was contracted to Guyon Mainber, lord of Chaumère, from a well-known Breton courtly family, receiving lands valued at 60 l.p.a. at Champmorin in the parish of St-Denis in Maine. Two years later on 28 January 1496 the second Marguerite was contracted to Pierre de Boisberanger, esquire, sire de la Gauteraye, receiving a dowry of 40 l.p.a.86 On the same day Guillaume granted to Françoise de Rosnyvinen-Bonenfant, still unmarried, a rent of 100 l. and 200 écus as a lump sum for her share in the movable wealth of her parents. In a statement perhaps designed to allay any fears amongst those who remembered her grandfather but also one which shows the gulf between Guillaume’s achievements and his ambitions in the marriage market, Françoise was described as well brought up and well behaved upto the present, though ‘led. chevalier na trouve mariage consonant a son apetit’.87 Indeed for none of his children could Guillaume be said to have made matches as materially solid or as successful as his own. Just over a month after making these arrangements Guillaume was dead. A week later his wife contracted to marry Jacques de Mathefelon, sire de la Lande, from an old and important Angevin family, and having outlived him, she was matched thirdly with the well-connected Breton courtier Guyon de Coëtlogon, sire de Mejussaume.88

  • 89 Ibid., 2 Er 284, 6 March 1496 (in later copy).
  • 90 Ibid., cf. above n. 84.

29Before he died Guillaume drew up a third will which is more informative than earlier ones.89 Besides the usual instructions to pay his debts and carry out the terms of his first wife’s will, he specified this time that he wished to be buried in the parish church at Brécé. Once again, however, his executors, in consultation with his wife, could make suitable arrangements for the masses to be sung and candles to be lit. Five charges of bread were to be given to the poor on the day of his funeral. Then follow some personal legacies to his household: 20 l., above any unpaid wages, to his receiver, Alain Flourie; 20s for each year of service to his page Michel Messort; 20 l. to his chaplain, Guillaume Le Maignen; 100s to Jean de Borssart; 40s to Michel Aesmon; 60s to Olivier, his servant. Orders were given to pay all that was due to his other domestic servants and varlets ‘et especiaulement ce que je en aurays rescinde a ceulx qui demouraient avecques moy de lan soixante douze…’, that is since his second marriage. Mons. de la Gauteraye and his son were to receive 200 l. compensation if Marguerite did not marry Pierre, but Françoise, his eldest daughter, was to have nothing apart from the minimum allowed by custom because she had already received sufficient on her marriage to Jean de Montallays. Three executors were chosen: Jean d’Estanzçon ‘mon gendre’, Pierre de Boisberanger, a new son-in-law, and Alain Flourie, his receiver. The will is dated but no place is mentioned, though from another source it is clear it must have been drawn up at Parc.90 Apart from Guillaume Le Maignen, a notary as well as chaplain to Rosnyvinen, who drafted the will, it was witnessed by Pierre de Charné, knight, Michel Couesnon and two Franciscan brothers, Guillaume Bueran and Michel Tiron. This emphasises again the particular devotion that Guillaume had for the order as manifested by the naming of his children, the earlier donation made to their house at Dinan and the fact that he was depicted on his tomb there in the habit of a tertiary of the order. It is a small indication of Guillaume’s own religious convictions about which we otherwise remain largely uninformed.

30Thus well into his seventies Guillaume de Rosnyvinen took his leave of the world, surrounded by a few close relatives and servants, after a stormy and eventful life. The prosaic details of unpaid debts, the conventional commendation of his soul to God and all the saints of Paradise, with only the slightest touches of warmth and humanity creeping into a few personal legacies, the lack of really distinctive donations, bequests or possessions, all contribute to the picture derived from other records of a petty lord driven by overwhelmingly material concerns, docking the wages of his servants and keeping a careful account of what he spent of his own in ducal service. Knighted late in life, worried about his honour and good name, Guillaume had been willing to use many subterfuges to advance his wealth and status.

  • 91 Preuves, t. III, col. 558-559.
  • 92 In the accord with Raoul le Porc in 1468 (above n. 62) it was stated that when Jeanne du Parc marri (...)
  • 93 Ibid., 2 Er 284; in the dispute with Dauvray, Guillaume alleged he had spent more than 1500 écus on (...)
  • 94 For purchase of rents see AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280 (13 Jan. 1466) and 282 (17 Sept. 1474). In a (...)
  • 95 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 1 July 1462, commission of François II to adjourn Yvon de Langalla, a (...)

31In concluding this account a few remarks on the sources of that wealth may be offered. In the mémoire presented to Charles VIII and Queen Anne, Guillaume stated that among other things he had put in jeopardy by his service to François II lands in France worth 600 l. in rents.91 Given what can be discovered about the principal properties he held outside Brittany, this is probably not a gross overestimate. The value of Parc d’Avaugour was clearly in excess of 30 l.p.a. In straitened circumstances Jean, sire du Parc, had sold the lordships of Champmorin and L’Ostagerie for 500 saluts, which may have represented the equivalent of 20 years’income in the early fifteenth century, but by the end Champmorin alone was supposed to produce rents in excess of 160 l. annually.92 There were also the Norman properties – Courseulles was presumed capable of furnishing more than 200 l.p.a. in the 1480s. The métairie at la Roche au Selle returned receipts of 113 l. 12s 6d in 1491-1492, though expenses amounted to 139 l. 3s 5d.93 The largest single purchase by Guillaume was of lands at Daoulas for 5516 l. but on a number of occasions he spent several hundred écus or livres on the purchase of rents or to extinguish other claims on properties he owned. As master of the royal waters and forests of France he received 400 l. t. p.a. in addition to his ordinary wages with his company of soldiers in royal service. At St-Aubin his regular pension was 300 l.94 Although he alleged difficulties with the receivers he employed at Vire or on his lands in Maine, again it is clear that large sums were being handled in his name.95 He complained on occasion that he had been defrauded, but he did not overlook his own opportunities for embezzlement.

  • 96 Ibid., 2 Er 282 and 284.
  • 97 Ibid., 2 Er 284, 25 Jan. 1484 (accord); in 1480 Guillaume instanced particular frauds and alleged t (...)

32In 1467, for example, Duchess Margaret of Brittany alleged that she had established Guillaume at 25 l. a year as her sub-guard in the forest of St-Aubin, which she held by right of dower. She had delivered to him ‘ung marteau merche de ses armes pour le merch’des boais’. But each time there had been a sale of wood Guillaume had levied over and above his wages a right called ‘layee’ worth 10 l. on a certain number of trees and had used a hammer marked with his own arms. He had also released persons held on certain charges at St-Aubin, made repairs without the knowledge or command of the duchess and forced her officers to pay for them although she was not obliged to do so. Other wrongs were also claimed. Some years later in 1480-1481, a serious quarrel with Jean Baude, his receiver at St-Aubin, occurred which similarly came to the attention of the ducal council.96 Rosnyvinen alleged non-payment of his pension and the receiver countered with charges of various frauds in connection with the supply of materials for repairs not carried out. Yet a few years later Guillaume and Baude were the best of friends when Guillaume used Baude’s house in Rennes as the venue for settling family affairs in an accord with his mother-in-law. Given the circumstances of the capitulation of St-Aubin in 1487, it is highly probable that together with Baude, he had been paring to the minimum the amount spent on the fortress whilst maximising profits over many years.97

  • 98 M. Kessedjian, op. cit., pp. 45 and 130. 450-500 l. could be considered clear profit.
  • 99 In 1495-1496 Rohan and Rieux received 20,000 l. and Laval 10,000 . alone as royal pensions (BN, fr. (...)

33Clearly from surviving evidence an impression only may be derived of his wealth; although he employed a receiver-general none of his accounts have survived. But with an income of possibly 1000 l. p.a. from his scattered estates and offices towards the end of his life, Guillaume was a middle ranking Breton noble. His revenues were well above the average of 160-200 l. p.a. attributed to many petty nobles of the Vannetais during this period, above that, too, of his neighbour, the lord of St-Brice-en-Coglès, who had an income of approximately 700-750 l. and whose seigneurie was sold for 30,000 l. in 1509.98 But Guillaume de Rosnyvinen was far from being one of the greatest lords of his province in either political or economic terms; his fortune remained substantially below that of great lords like Rohan, Laval or Châteaubriant, his own immediate superior.99

  • 100 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 19 Sept. 1455, powers of attorney to execute Jean’s will; in a muster (...)

34His success should not, however, be underestimated: from very modest origins he had acquired considerable properties in Brittany, Normandy, Anjou and Maine. For a while he held high office in royal service and despite his position as a younger brother, he seems to have been regarded as the unofficial head of his family. At the request of his father, for example, he executed the will of his uncle, Jean, and in the 1450s led his brothers, cousins and nephews in the French army where as many as eight other Rosnyvinens besides relatives by marriage were sometimes to be found in his company.100 But it was a career ‘à l’éclipse’ and although his second marriage established Guillaume once more firmly amongst the Breton noblesse after his Norman ‘exile’ and engendered the branch of the family which gained a marquisate in the seventeenth century, from about 1470 he seems to have enjoyed little real political power while his domestic life was punctuated by lengthy litigation.

  • 101 Preuves, t. III, col. 562. The ornaments were in all probability those left to the chapel at Parc i (...)
  • 102 Ibid., 20 May 1455 (cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 1643, with incorrect date 20 March), by which Guillaum (...)

35It is clear that in the course of his life Guillaume gained much wealth – among the items which he lost in 1487 were ‘cinq ou six chambres de tapisserie de Caen toutes neuves… valient bien deux mille frans’ and ‘deux charettes de leurs biens ou il y avoit des couestes, coffres ou il avoit des ornemens d’Eglise (comme calices, un messel garni afermures d’argent…) qui bien valoient six cents frans’.101 But in the end much of this wealth slipped through his fingers. The reason for this partly lies in the damage caused to his manors at Parc d’Avaugour and Plessis-Bonenfant during the final Franco-Breton war. Although he was literate, there is little to show Guillaume was a substantial patron of the arts. It is striking, too, that despite the numerous progeny of both Guillaume’s grandfather and father, few Rosnyvinens in the fifteenth century entered the chinch, that refuge for younger sons, although one brother, Etienne, obtained a law degree and became a canon of Tréguier cathedral.102 For the rest a military career was the only one they knew.

  • 103 Olivier, named with Louis in a safeguard granted by Jean V on 22 Nov. 1435 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 E (...)
  • 104 Ibid., 2 Er 280, contract of 2 Feb. 1454; for some other cases cf. M.C.E. Jones, op. cit.., p. 224.
  • 105 Preuves, t. II, col. 1718 (1458); AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282, 7 May 1477 (François).
  • 106 Jeanne was allegedly affianced to Alain by 5 Sept. 1460 when he obtained an order to prevent the vi (...)

36On the basis of one example it would be unwise to generalize but a deviation from the normal marriage pattern of the family in Guillaume’s generation may be observed. Whereas few of his father’s brothers appear to have married, besides Guillaume’s eldest brother, Louis, two further cadets in addition to Guillaume established new branches in his generation.103 Jean, in particular, made a good match in 1454 when he married Beatrix de Guitté, eldest daughter and principal heiress of Guillaume de Guitté, sire de Vaucoulour. He had to promise that his heirs by Beatrix would carry the name of Guitté ‘avecques les armes plaines que porte a present ledit seigneur de Vaucoulour sens altre non ne arme portez sauff aux joveignours y avoit differences ainsy que ou faict de gens nobles appartient…’ as the price for obtaining his heiress, a practice that was not uncommon among the Breton noblesse.104 As in Guillaume’s case, Jean had problems with his father-in-law. Even at the time of the marriage contract Guillaume de Guitté seems to have been senile and in need of care, because it was agreed that Jean would not take Beatrix away from her father but that the newly-weds would reside with him. Before Guitté died he, like René Bonenfant, had to be deprived of the administration of his estates for alleged wastage; though Jean did remember his other promise and his son, François, bore the surname Guitté.105 The destinies of these two families were even more closely linked by the marriage of Alain, heir presumptive to the senior branch of the Rosnyvinens, to Jeanne de Guitté, in all likelihood, Beatrix’s younger sister, suggesting a broader family strategy than just the individual pursuit of fame and wealth.106

  • 107 Cf. F.W. Kent, Household and Lineage in Renaissance Florence. The family life of the Capponi, Ginor (...)
  • 108 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, 16 June 1491, emancipation of Beatrix, saving the rights of her elder (...)
  • 109 The tomb of one cadet is described in a seventeenth-century extract from the necrology: ‘Il y a une (...)
  • 110 Cf. grant by Olivier, sire de Kerancouët, to his eldest son Louis of his own claims on the successi (...)

37Guillaume de Rosnyvinen is thus not an isolated case of a younger son seeking his fortune and a rich heiress in his own generation. Alongside the nuclear family was the extended one, though how far the family concerted its efforts at this point cannot be known in the absence of personal correspondence, diaries or other intimate material.107 There are tantalizing hints of the deference one branch paid another – Alain de Rosnyvinen and Jeanne de Guitté named their two daughters Perrine and Beatrix after their aunts;108 Guillaume quite frequently had brothers and nephews around him after he retired from active military life; family members acted as each other’s executors; although not really possessing a family mausoleum, several of them were buried in Daoulas abbey;109 there was a sense in which the various lines recognized that they all belonged to one large lineage and had a general concern for the honour of the house of Rosnyvinen.110 In all of this as in their general lifestyle, the Rosnyvinens seem to have been typical of many Breton gentry families of their time; atypical only in that their archives, largely neglected since they were classified in the eighteenth century, allow us to enter into their concerns more directly than is usually the case. Amongst these, the interests of the state – whether it is France or Brittany – remain distinctly subordinate to family interests.

Annexes

APPENDIX 1. (from transcripts kindly provided by J.-Y. Copy)

A. Description of the tomb of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen and Perrine de Meulent in the church of the Franciscans at Dinan, 1785 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 300, f° 33).

Un tombeau en arcade de pierre de taille élevé de deux pieds et demi, fermi d’une grille de fer à hauteur d’homme, étant dans le choeur de l’église des Cordeliers de Dinan du côté de l’Epître et entrant de deux pieds dans le mur de la ditte église sur lequel tombeau sont représentés deux personnages en bosse, l’un d’un homme en robe longue et l’autre d’une femme, vers l’église, aux deux bouts et au côté duquel à main droite est un écusson en pierre blasonné mi-parti d’or à une hure de sanglier de sable langué de gueulle, ses déffenses d’argent et l’autre miparti au premier et 4e un échiqueté de gueules et d’argent qui est Meulent et au 2e et 3e d’argent à un chef de gueules qui est d’Avaugour.

Dans la vitre au-dessous sont un écusson mi-parti Bretagne et d’Avaugour et au-dessous duquel sont deux autres écussons sçavoir à gauche un pareil à celui du tombeau et à droite un écartelé au premier d’or à une hure de sanglier de sable arraché et languée de gueulle, qui est de Rosnyvinen, au second d’argent à un lion passant de gueules à la bande et deux cotices d’argent chargées de trois merlettes de sable, et au quatrième d’argent à la croix patée de sable qui est Bonenfant.

Au-dessous du premier écusson et à côté dudit tombeau est gravé dans la pierre en lettres gotiques un épitaphe…

B. Description of the tomb in 1791 (Abbé A. Lemasson, Histoire du pays de Dinan, Rennes, 1925-1957, t. I, pp. 53-54).

Au côté droit [du maître-autel], deux tombeaux accolés, moitié pris dans le mur sous voûte, fermés par une grille de fer. Ces tombeaux élevés de… pieds. Sur leurs pierres tombales, deux figures couchés. L’une porte une couronne sur la tête avec un manteau ducal, vêtue en Cordelier, accompagnée de quatre anges, deux en tête et deux aux pieds, l’autre est une femme vêtue en religieuse du même ordre, avec le même accompagnement, à côté un écusson avec les armes alliancées, au premier d’une tête de sanglier, au second écartelé au premier et au troisième d’un fond de damier et au deuxième et au quatrième d’une bande en chef.

C. Epitaph of Guillaume de Rosnyvinen and Perrine de Meulent as transcribed in 1785 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 300, fos 34-35).

Cy gist noble écuier Guille de Rosnevinen et noble Damoiselle Perrine de Meullent sa première femme et épouse en leur vivant sr et dame de Courseulle et du Parc d’Avaugour, conseiller et grand échanson du Roy Charles VII de ce nom, Maître et réformateur des eaux et forêts de France, Champagne et Brie et capitaine de gens darmes et de trait et capitaine de Vire et son maréchal des logis, conseiller et chambellan du duc François de présent notre souverain seigneur et son capitaine de St Aubin du Cormier lequel écuyer a fondé en l’église des Cordeliers de céans une messe à note de Requiem à diacre et sous-diacre perpétuelle chacune semaine à être ditte et célébrée tel jour que décéda la ditte damoiselle qui fut le sixième jour de juillet lan 1470 au chateau de Dinan selon qu’il est mention dans laditte fondation

APPENDIX 2

MUSTERS AND ÉTATS OF THE COMPANY OF GUILLAUME DE ROSNYVINEN IN ROYAL SERVICE

MUSTERS AND ÉTATS OF THE COMPANY OF GUILLAUME DE ROSNYVINEN IN ROYAL SERVICE

SUGGESTED RECONSTRUCTION OF THE GENEALOCY OF ROSNYVINEN

SUGGESTED RECONSTRUCTION OF THE GENEALOCY OF ROSNYVINEN

Notes

1 A. Dupuy, Histoire de la réunion de la Bretagne à la France, Paris, 1880, t. II, pp. 448-450.

2 Ph. Contamine, Guerre, Etat et Société à la fin du Moyen Age. Etudes sur les armées des rois de France, 1337-1494, Paris et La Haye, 1972, pp. 466-468 et passim.

3 Cf. M.C.E. Jones, The Creation of Brittany: A Late Medieval State, London, 1988, pp. 219-220.

4 The main family archives of Rosnyvinen de Piré are in AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 201-334. Two mémoires de maîtrise (Rennes, 1972, copies in AD Ille-et-Vilaine), M. Kessedjian, Une seigneurie rurale des marches de Bretagne au XVe siècle. Saint-Brice-en-Coglès sous la famille des Scépeaux (étude des comptes), and R. Cintré, Les marches de Bretagne au XVe siècle, provide essential detail on the region where most of Guillaume’s lands lay.

5 BN, p. o. 502, dossier 11381, Bretagne, ‘Extraits des titres produits au cabinet du Saint Esprit… pour servir au sieur Delvincourt, généalogiste’, p. 37.

6 Le comte de Rosmorduc, La noblesse de Bretagne devant la Chambre de la Réformation, 1668-1671, St-Brieuc, 1896-1905, t. II, pp. 544-560. For Christophe’s History see AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 299.

7 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304.

8 M. Montigny, «Guillemette de Rosnyvinen de Piré», MSHAB, t. IV (1923), pp. 137-252, at p. 143.

9 Cf. Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. I, pp. 168-169 and t. II, p. 497.

10 Dom P-H. Morice, Mémoires pour servir de preuves à l’histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne, 3 vol., Paris, 1742-1746, (cited hereafter as Preuves), t. I, col. 1648.

11 Ibid., t. II, col. 203, 205, 207, 275, 279. M. Pastoreau, «Le rôle d’armes du second traité de Guérande (1381)», BSAF, t. CIV (1976), p. 131 No. 94, ‘Herve de Rosinquinen, d’or à l’hure de sanglier arrachée de sable’.

12 Preuves, t. II, col. 437; AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, 31 Dec. 1382.

13 Ibid., 2 Er 304, copy (1419) of contract in the court of Daoulas, 17 August 1404. Elinore received rents of 20 l. in the castellany of Landerneau, 10 l. in Daoulas and movables worth 40 écus. She was widowed by 1426 (Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. II, p. 547).

14 Ibid., seventeenth-century extracts from a necrology of Daoulas abbey: ‘Nono Kalendas Julii anno 1414 (i.e. 23 June) obiit Johannes de Rosnyvinen…’; Olivier probably died shortly after providing for his son Guillaume in January 1460 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280); ibid., 2 Er 282 for Louis’s death. As a noble in 1480 Alain declared an income of 80 l. in the parish of Locperhet, 30 l. at Dirinon, 40 l. at Plougastel-Daoulas and 12 l. at Hanfouec, all dép. Finistère (Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. II, p. 548).

15 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, a seventeenth-century copy of grant by Jean of the manor of Bréquélen (Bréhellan) en Plouazné, to Guillaume, to hold ‘de bouche et de mains a la costume des nobles de Bretagne’, enjoining him not to alienate it except to gain freedom from imprisonment. In the light of note 14, it is likely that the alleged date of these letters, 9 July 1414, is that of a copy.

16 Ibid., 2 Er 299.

17 Jean (d. 1414) succeeded his elder brother Hervé in most of his lands. The places named in early marriage contracts are to be found in the parishes of Plouelan, Taulé and Plouvorin and in the jurisdictions of the courts of Landiviziau, Landerneau and Daoulas, Finistère.

18 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, 1 August 1416 at Paris; cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 903, 912. E. Cosneau, Le Connétable de Richemont (Artur de Bretagne) 1393-1458, Paris, 1886, remains invaluable.

19 J. Kerhervé, L’Etat breton aux XIVe et XVe siècles. Les ducs, l’argent et les hommes, 2 vol., Paris, 1987, t. II, pp. 546 et sq. M. Kessedjian, op. cit., pp. 32-38 calculates c. 8 persons per noble household in the parishes where the seigneurie of St-Brice extended, with such households representing 13.67 % of the total taxable population.

20 Cf. G. Duby, Hommes et structures au Moyen Age, Paris, 1973, pp. 213-225.

21 E. Cosneau, op. cit., p. 200; Preuves, t. II, col. 1231, 1259 and 1299.

22 Père Anselme, Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, 3e ed., 1726-1733, t. VII, p. 580; Guillaume Gruel, Chronique d’Arthur de Richemont, ed. A. Le Vavasseur, Paris, 1890, pp. 115, 207 and 209; GR, No. 15317 for Jean; the 1442-1443 accounts survive in a nineteenth-century transcript in AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 284. The originals, given to Empress Eugénie by the marquis de Piré, were destroyed at the Louvre in 1871.

23 Preuves, t. II, col. 1409 and 1642 (originals now AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280). Jean drew up his will on 1 March 1455 and was dead by 11 March (ibid., 2 Er 280, 300 and 304).

24 Cf. GR, Nos. 3627 and 3653.

25 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 19 Jan. 1460 Olivier, with the assent of his wife and eldest son, assigns the manor of Bréhellan to Guillaume.

26 Cf. Appendix 2 for his royal service; E. Cosneau, op. cit., pp. 387-388; Preuves, t. II, col. 1559, 1613, 1642 and 1743. A mémoire presented to Charles VIII and Anne in c. 1492 provides a summary from 1449 (Preuves, t. III, col. 558-563 after AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 284); Appendix 1 for the epitaph.

27 Preuves, t. II, col. 1758, 28 Oct. 1461, order for his arrest.

28 Preuves, t. II, col. 1777; t. III, col. 66 and 144. M.C.E. Jones, op. cit., pp. 366-367; AD Loire-Atlantique, B 6 f°. 167 v°, 23 Oct. 1468, as captain of St-Aubin.

29 AD Loire-Atlantique, E 131 f°. 217 r° and 237 r°, minutes of council meetings, 4 Nov. 1462 and 13 March 1463, edited by A. Lejeune, Le conseil ducal de Bretagne au début du principat de François II, 1459-1463, Ecole nationale des Chartes, thèse (1989), Nos. 430 and 460; cf. also Nos. 410 and 431-432.

30 A. Dupuy, op. cit., t. II, p. 118; Guillaume de Rosnyvinen, captain of La Roche Maurice in 1480 (Preuves, t. III, col. 387) and lieutenant of the captain of Nantes in 1482-1484 (AD Loire-Atlantique, E 214 Nos. 38 fos. 13 r° and 39 f°. 8 r°-9 r°) was a nephew.

31 BN, fr. 15541 f° 28, 11 Oct. (? 1487), Perin de Sages to Charles VIII: ‘vous asseure que soit une belle place de muraille et fort mais du bastiment de dedans il est bien povre…’. On 12 Oct. 1487, Guillaume’s goods at Rennes were granted to Philippe de Montauban and others because of his treason, though he was granted a safe-conduct to come before the ducal council (AD Loire-Atlantique, B 11 f° 8 r° and 30 r°, 7 Nov.).

32 Preuves, t. III, col. 582-583, 607; AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 1 F 1118.

33 Preuves, t. III, col. 574, 581; his case was still under discussion in Nov. 1490 (AD Loire-Atlantique, B 13 f°. 64 v°). Charles VIII ordered the seizure of his property in France on 20 November 1489 and its return on 12 May 1490 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 284), though full possession, was not obtained until 1492, probably after the presentation of his mémoire. The first unambiguous reference to him as a knight is in Dec. 1491 (ibid., 2 Er 284).

34 Preuves, t. III, col. 558-563 (original, AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 284).

35 Cf. ibid., 2 Er 280, 14 Sept. 1462 when Jacques de l’Espinay, bishop of Rennes, absolved Guillaume and Guion le Heuc. No reason for their excommunication is given, but cf. B-A. Pocquet du Haut-Jussé, Les papes et les ducs de Bretagne, 2 vol., Paris, 1928, t. II, pp. 799-800.

36 For Obvier and Jean see Preuves, t. III, col. 354, 388-389, 580; for Louis see above n. 14; for Jacques cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 1559; t. III, col. 124, 145, 322. In 1471-1472 he was a man-at-arms in the bodyguard of Charles de France, H. Stein, Charles de France, Paris, 1921, pp. 791, 799, 806) and served at St-Aubin in 1477 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282); for Jean, lord of Vaucoulour, captain of Dinan (d. 1477) see below pp. 11, 18.

37 Ph. Contamine, op. cit., pp. 413-414; RP, t. V, 176. After Guillaume’s death, his wife claimed 20,000 l. was still owed in compensation for his losses (AD Loire-Atlantique, E 209 No. 24 f° 16 r°).

38 Below Appendix 1 and J-Y. Copy, Art, société et politique au temps des ducs de Bretagne. Les gisants hauts-bretons, Paris, 1986, pp. 212-213, 236.

39 Cf. GR, Nos. 3185, 3266, 14246, 16488,16507, 200114.

40 Philippe de Commynes, Mémoires, éd. B. de Mandrot, Paris, 1901-1903, t. I, p. 73.

41 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 18 July 1467, letters of Louis XI over arrears at Parc d’Avaugour; 28 Sept. 1470, grant of guardianship of Françoise de Rosnyvinen (see below).

42 When in 1475 Louis demanded guarantees for a treaty, Guillaume was not one of the 53 Breton nobles who delivered pledges, although his father-in-law René Bonenfant did (BN, fr. 8269 fos 118-119).

43 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 3 March 1470, summons to explain the escape of a criminal from St-Aubin; 1485 order to reside there (Preuves, t. II, col. 459); in 1486 he was investigating various robberies committed in the forest of St-Aubin (AD Loire-Atlantique, B 10 f° 35 r°). After his second marriage (1471) he was normally to be found at his manors of Plessis-Bonenfant or Parc d’Avaugour.

44 Cf. J. Gallet, La seigneurie bretonne (1450-1680): L’exemple du Vannetais, Paris, 1983, pp. 88 et sq.

45 M. C. E. Jones, op. cit., pp. 223-225.

46 His portion was the manor of Bréhellan, which had also formed that of an earlier Guillaume (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281 and 304).

47 R. Couffon, «Quelques notes sur les seigneurs d’Avaugour», Bulletin et mémoires de la société d’émulation des Côtes-du-Nord, t. LXV (1933), pp. 81-141, at p. 129 without citing an authority for the contract which does not now appear to be in the Rosnyvinen de Pire archives; AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 24 March 1453, letters of Messire Philibert de Berry, permitting Guillaume to wed his wife’s niece, Perrine, daughter of the late Thomas de Meulent, presently in the wardship of Jean d’Estouteville, sire de Torcy. G. A. de La Roque, Histoire généalogique de la maison de Harcourt, Paris, 1662, t. III, pp. 60-61, 68-76, 86-95 for the Meulent inheritance. Courseulles, dép. Calvados, was granted in 1418 by Henry V to the Danish adventurer Hartung van Clux, C. T. Allmand, Lancastrian Normandy, 1415-1450, Oxford, 1983, p. 56. Thomas de Meulent, captured by the English at the siege of Rouen, had taken an oath to serve them to gain his liberty but received letters of remission on returning to the allegiance of Charles VII in 1423 (AN, XIa 9190 f° 256 v°).

48 Cf. GR, No. 13462.

49 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 14 Feb. 1452, Angers, letters from Messire Guillaume de Briqueville, Perrine’s uncle, and Nicolas Guillbellet, her curateur, to Guillaume, together with letters of 20 Oct. 1459, provide details on the quarrel with the Coëtivys and cf. A. Dupuy, op. cit., t. II, pp. 448-449.

50 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280; Lohéac may have represented the Coëtivy interest by virtue of his marriage to Marie de Rays, widow of the admiral.

51 Cf. ibid., 2 Er 280, 15 Jan. 1457, Raoul Rouxel, sergeant at Vire, to the vicomte de Bayeux, reporting that he had adjourned Jean Dauvray and his wife, Jeanne de Meulent, at the manor of St-Paer-le-Sernau, according to orders issued on 11 January by the vicomte which Rouxel had received from Rosnyvinen himself. Perrine’s lands in Mayenne were held by Thomas Gower before the expulsion of the English (G.-A. de La Roque, op. cit., t. III, p. 89).

52 G. Bois, Crise du féodalisme. Economie rurale et démographie en Normandie orientale du début du XIVe siècle au milieu du XVIe siècle, Paris, 1976, pp. 284-308 and C. T. Allmand, op. cit., pp. 50-80.

53 M. Kessedjian, op. cit., p. 86, calculated that the lord of St-Brice, who disputed at least one case with Rosnyvinen (G.-A. de La Roque, op. cit., t. III, p. 95) spent about 2 % of his income on legal proceedings. P. Charbonnier, Guillaume de Murol. Un petit seigneur auvergnat au début du XVe siècle, Clermont-Ferrand, 1973, pp. 224-227, 247 shows Guillaume spent about 1 %.

54 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, Dec. 1465 at Rouen.

55 Ibid., 30 Dec. 1457, referring to an inquiry held at Fougères, where Jeanne d’Avaugour had retired after de Meulent’s death, from whence Jean Dauvray had carried off her movables.

56 Ibid., 26 September 1462 (copy, 1464), letters of lieutenant of bailli of the Cotentin, on behalf of Jean Dauvray, whom Louis XI had dispensed from an earlier contract with Rosnyvinen; cf. G.-A. de La Roque, op. cit., t. III, pp. 68-76, 86-89.

57 Cf. H. Stem, op. cit., pp. 135 et sq.

58 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 28 Sept. 1470, original royal letters at Amboise.

59 Ibid., letters of 28 Feb. 1468 provide most details.

60 Ibid., 2 Er 280, letters of Charles VII, 13 Dec. 1458. Jean, sire du Parc had sold the estates to the sire de Cucé for 500 saluts d’or to pay for expenses from ‘several periods of captivity’. The king ordered Cucé to resell them at a reasonable price to Rosnyvinen and his wife who claimed by retrait lignaiger; letters of 17 Aug. 1465 for arbitrators.

61 Ibid., 2 Er 281, 28 Feb. 1468.

62 Ibid., 4 Aug. 1468, Raoul le Porc acknowledged selling the fiefs of Livré and Boessel in the parish of Notre-Dame de Chancé to Rosnyvinen for 300 écus; on 12 Nov. 1468 the bailli of Mayenne reported that on 14 October the count of Maine had accepted homage for Parc d’Avaugour. Aveux rendered to Guillaume as lord of Bazeilles survive from 1459 (ibid.).

63 Ibid., letters at Vire, 12 Nov. 1459 (cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 1743). Proceedings against Jean de Montallays and his wife, Françoise, Guillaume’s only daughter by Perrine de Meulent, for possession of Parc d’Avaugour began in the 1490s (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 283).

64 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 19 Jan. 1460.

65 Ibid., procuration of 19 Dec. 1469 together with letters of 29 Dec. 1469 (copy, 1470).

66 Ibid., 2 Er 280, 29 July 1462, quittance from Tanguy du Chastel as proctor of the sire de Malestroit for 4500 écus received for land at Irvillac and Logonna-Daoulas, dép. Finistère.

67 Ibid., 2 Er 280 and 281.

68 Ibid., 2 Er 280.

69 Ibid., 2 Er 281.

70 Cf. Abbé A. Lemasson, «Obituaire du couvent des Cordeliers de Dinan», Bulletin de la société d’émulation des Côtes-du-Nord, t. LIII (1921), p. 127 where Perrine is said to have died on XVII Kal. Aug. 1470 (i.e. 16 July). The foundation was still maintained in the seventeenth century (AD Côtes-du-Nord, H Cordeliers de Dinan, Inventaire L III, i); see below Appendix 1.

71 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282, contract of 23 Jan. 1472, cited in letters of 4 June 1475. For later proceedings over the succession to Guy de Rabault cf. ibid., 2 Er 282 and 284.

72 Georget Bonenfant is said to have fortified Plessis-Bonenfant (Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. III, p. 554). His will (1414) and those of his son, Jacques (1420, 1435), great-grandfather of Hélène, are in AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 305.

73 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282 contains an enormous roll of proceedings (1473-1475), setting out the charges against René Bonenfant. At least he was not murdered by his relatives as was the unfortunate Hervé de Tresmeur (AD Loire-Atlantique, B 3 f° 57 r°, 28 April 1464).

74 Rosmorduc, op. cit., t. III, pp. 554-555; AD Loire-Atlantique, B 3 f°. 72 v°.

75 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282, letters of 2 June 1475; on 4 June Guillaume took possession of La Gourmillaye for which homage had earlier been received by the sire de Combour, whilst on 14 June René Bonenfant provided for Bertrand, his jouvigneur, in Guillaume’s presence at Plessis (Piré, dép. Ille-et-Vilaine).

76 Ibid., 2 Er 282, 284 and 306.

77 Ibid., 2 Er 284.

78 Ibid., 25 Jan. 1485.

79 As Guillaume explained in 1492, Jean V had granted Jacques Bonenfant 2500 l. on 7 Aug. 1432 ‘pour recompense de ce que les François bruslerent sa maison du Plesseix-Bonenffant et trois de ses maisteries et tuerent son frere, pour que ledit seigneur avoit mis les Anglois en garnison en ladite maison du Plesseix-Bonenffant quant il fit mettre le siege a Pouence, ainsi qu’il est contenu plus a plain audit mandement’ (Preuves, t. III, col. 563 and cf. Lettres et mandements de Jean V, duc de Bretagne, éd. R. Blanchard, Nantes, 1889-1895, No. 2045 after Preuves, t. II, col. 1252-1253; original, AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 305). Any surviving traces of the medieval manor were finally destroyed when Christophe de Rosnyvinen rebuilt c. 1718 (M. Montigny, op. cit., p. 152).

80 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281 and 283.

81 Ibid., 2 Er 284, 7 March 1491.

82 Ibid., 2 Er 284, contract of 14 May 1481; Chambellay lies just north of Lion d’Angers, dép. Maine-et-Loire.

83 Ibid., inquiry of 25 Nov. and 4 Dec. 1503. Witnesses declared that Guillaume had died at Parc and was buried at Brècé, and that his sole male heir was his son François. On 7 June 1496 Hélène Bonenfant, widow of Guillaume and tutrice of François, summoned Jean de Montallays to assign dower on Parc for herself and to hand over two-thirds of the manoir to François. An aveu rendered by Hélène and her second husband, Jacques de Mathefelon, for Plessis-Guériff in 1500 and another by a later François de Rosnyvinen in 1538 to the sire de Châteaubriant survive in ibid., 2 Er 203.

84 Ibid., 2 Er 284, letters of 28 Jan. 1496 at Parc d’Avaugour.

85 Ibid., 3 Jan. 1491.

86 Ibid., contract of 16 Sept. 1494, summarized in letters of 5 Dec. assigning the elder Marguerite’s rent of 60 l. on Champmorin. Georges Mainber was a frequent ambassador to England in the 1480s; ibid., contract of 28 Jan. 1496 assigning rents of 40 l. to Marguerite the younger on her marriage.

87 Ibid.

88 Ibid., contract of 14 March 1496; ibid. and ibid., 2 Er 306 for the marriage to Coëtlogon.

89 Ibid., 2 Er 284, 6 March 1496 (in later copy).

90 Ibid., cf. above n. 84.

91 Preuves, t. III, col. 558-559.

92 In the accord with Raoul le Porc in 1468 (above n. 62) it was stated that when Jeanne du Parc married, she received 200 l. in rents and 300 saluts d’or as dower and Le Porc agreed to release Parc to be quit of 30 l. rent for which Guillaume claimed arrears, together with a lump sum of 200 l. The only accounts apparently surviving for Parc concern the farming of mills for 9 l. in 1481 and for 22 écus p.a. from 1485-1492 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 283); Françoise and Marguerite de Rosnyvinen-Bonenfant were assigned 160 l. in rents on Champmorin in 1494 and 1496 (ibid., 2 Er 284).

93 Ibid., 2 Er 284; in the dispute with Dauvray, Guillaume alleged he had spent more than 1500 écus on repairs there; Dauvray countered by saying he had paid Guillaume 570 l. in rents and that the repairs only cost 400 écus (cf. G.-A. de La Roque, op. cit., t. III, col. 70-71); ibid., accounts of Jean Davy, farmer of the métairie of La Roche au Selle, 18 Dec. 1491-26 Nov. 1492.

94 For purchase of rents see AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280 (13 Jan. 1466) and 282 (17 Sept. 1474). In an interesting transaction with Marie d’Orenges, dame de Beaufort (ibid., 2 Em 171), he paid 244 l. 10s for the right to farm the manor of Orenges for a year (11 June 1474); ibid., 2 Er 280 (cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 1642, 21 Feb. 1455), copy of letters of Charles VII appointing Guillaume as maître des eaux, at 400 l. p.a.; Preuves, t. III, col. 144 and G.-A. de La Roque, op.cit., t. III, p. 551 for St-Aubin.

95 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 1 July 1462, commission of François II to adjourn Yvon de Langalla, accused of removing goods from Vire and failing to pay receipts of over 4000 l. Yvon ‘sest absentee hors des parties ou il les a prins et a present se tient vacabond es marches de basse Bretaigne et doubte led. supliant comme assez est vray semble quil dissipe et degaste lesd. biens ou espoir se rendre futiff garny diceulx’. Further adjournments followed in September when an Yvon de Langalla was ordered to dwell on guard at Trémazon castle (AD Loire-Atlantique, B 2 f° 104 v°); see also AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 281, 20 Feb. 1467 for Guillaume’s pursuit of his receiver in Mayenne.

96 Ibid., 2 Er 282 and 284.

97 Ibid., 2 Er 284, 25 Jan. 1484 (accord); in 1480 Guillaume instanced particular frauds and alleged that because of Baude no one would do repairs at St-Aubin without receiving a third or a half more than was reasonable.

98 M. Kessedjian, op. cit., pp. 45 and 130. 450-500 l. could be considered clear profit.

99 In 1495-1496 Rohan and Rieux received 20,000 l. and Laval 10,000 . alone as royal pensions (BN, fr. 8310). Fragmentary accounts for Châteaubriant’s manor of Piré show that c. 1480 the receiver was handling more than 200 l. annually (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 204).

100 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 19 Sept. 1455, powers of attorney to execute Jean’s will; in a muster at Bayeux on 6 March 1461 eight other Rosnyvinens are named with Guillaume. Most had served him since 1451 (cf. Appendix 2).

101 Preuves, t. III, col. 562. The ornaments were in all probability those left to the chapel at Parc in 1470 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 280).

102 Ibid., 20 May 1455 (cf. Preuves, t. II, col. 1643, with incorrect date 20 March), by which Guillaume appointed Mr Etienne de Rosnyvinen, licenciate in law, as his lieutenant as maître des eaux et forêts. E-R. Vaucelle, Lettres de Nicolas V (1447-1455) concernant la province ecclésiastique de Tours, Paris, 1908, Nos. 322, 524, 658, 699, 741, 773 etc. for Etienne’s career on which his patron Cardinal Coëtivy had a decisive influence.

103 Olivier, named with Louis in a safeguard granted by Jean V on 22 Nov. 1435 (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, not cited in Lettres et mandements de Jean V, éd. R. Blanchard) as sons of Olivier de Rosnyvinen, later bore the title sire de Chamboy (ibid., 2 Er 280, 17 Aug. 1465) and was father of Maurice, sire de Chamboy, present with Guillaume at Parc on 28 Jan. 1496 (ibid., 2 Er 284). Jacques de Rosnyvinen had acquired the seigneurie of Orenges by 1481, although it is not clear whether this was by marriage or as a result of Guillaume’s own transactions with Marie d’Orenges (above n. 94).

104 Ibid., 2 Er 280, contract of 2 Feb. 1454; for some other cases cf. M.C.E. Jones, op. cit.., p. 224.

105 Preuves, t. II, col. 1718 (1458); AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 282, 7 May 1477 (François).

106 Jeanne was allegedly affianced to Alain by 5 Sept. 1460 when he obtained an order to prevent the vicomte de Pommerit and other relatives from contracting another match (AD Loire-Atlantique, E 131 f° 82 v°; A. Lejeune, op. cit., No. 199). The matter was still under discussion on 9 Feb. 1461 (ibid., E 131 f° 118 v°, A. Lejeune, op. cit., No. 276) and the marriage did not take place before 28 Feb. 1464 (ibid., B 3 f° 25 r°).

107 Cf. F.W. Kent, Household and Lineage in Renaissance Florence. The family life of the Capponi, Ginori and Rucellai, Princeton 1977, for a stark contrast with some rich Italian family archives and, of course, the Paston, Stonor and Plumpton correspondence could be cited.

108 AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304, 16 June 1491, emancipation of Beatrix, saving the rights of her elder sister Perrine.

109 The tomb of one cadet is described in a seventeenth-century extract from the necrology: ‘Il y a une autre tombe elevée des mesmes seigneurs ou l’escusson de Rosnyvinen est chargé d’un lambel à trois pendants, dans une des faces de la tombe l’escu est representé soustenu par deux lions, et une teste de lion pour cimier. Il y a un autre escu soustenu par deux sauvages armés de mesmes. Le dit escu est es chancre au costé droit’ (AD Ille-et-Vilaine, 2 Er 304). In 1419 the abbot recognized that Daoulas owed the services of one man to Olivier de Rosnyvinen and the abbot acted as executor for Jean de Rosnyvinen (ibid.). J. L. Deuffic, «Les documents nécrologiques de l’abbaye Notre-Dame de Daoulas», BSAF, t. CVII (1979), pp. 107 and 121 confuses Jean (d. 1414) and Jean (d. 1455).

110 Cf. grant by Olivier, sire de Kerancouët, to his eldest son Louis of his own claims on the succession to his younger brother Jean for the ‘sustenancion et augment[acion] du bien de la maison dud. Olivier’ (AD Illeet-Vilaine, 2 Er 280, 26 March 1455). When Alain, sire de Kerancouët came to terms with Jean Clocheur, sire de Ros, son of Hervé du Ros and Marguerite de Rosnyvinen, Alain’s great-aunt, over some unfulfilled terms of her marriage contract (1427), he showed a spirit of compromise for the sake of family harmony often absent from Guillaume’s dealings with his relative (ibid., 2 Er 282, 31 Dec. 1485).

Table des illustrations

Titre MUSTERS AND ÉTATS OF THE COMPANY OF GUILLAUME DE ROSNYVINEN IN ROYAL SERVICE
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1151/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 172k
Titre SUGGESTED RECONSTRUCTION OF THE GENEALOCY OF ROSNYVINEN
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1151/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 159k

Auteur

University of Nottingham

© Publications de l’Institut de recherches historiques du Septentrion, 1991

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