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European Kingdoms

Celts of Armorica

 

 

 

Map Cornouaille / Kernev

Positioned to the southwest of Armorica, and isolated from major events by a long shoreline and the great Brocéliande forest to the southeast, which was never cleared, almost all of Cornouaille's history is legendary. The Cartuliary of Landevennec gives nineteen names (marked *), but no relationships. Its original capital was Caer Ys (now the Bay of Douarnenez, but Gradlon Mur relocated it to Corspotium (Quimper). The region is better known today as Kernew or Kernev. There may be a tribal connection between the original inhabitants of Cornouaille and the Carnonacae of second century Pictland, although it seems much more likely that Cornouaille was populated by Cornubians from the south-western peninsula of Britain.

FeatureDue to Cornouaille's isolation behind the Brocéliande, the identities of the princes of the sixth century are highly confused, and some may have ruled in a different order from that shown below, at least up until the reign of Budic. The dates for some kings is also highly questionable, Daniel Unua being a case in point. He appears to be placed in the early 600s here, but his position as king of the Bretons is given as 544 onwards. It seems to be impossible with the data available to provide a more accurate set of dates. Despite Cornouaille's seclusion, as well as in the fifth century, it also supplied the rulers of Brittany in the eleventh century (which by the latter date was a duchy under nominal French overlordship).

(Additional information by Edward Dawson and Geoffrey Tobin.)

c.387 - 400

One tale concerning Erbin, king of the Bretons, sees him separated from his entourage whilst out hunting. He becomes lost in the great Forest of Menez-Hom (now located in Finistère in Cornouaille). Almost dead from exhaustion and hunger, he eventually stumbles across the hermitage of St Corentin (now under the village of Plomodiern). St Corentin keeps him sustained with a miraculous regenerating helping of fish and brings him back to health. As a reward for his hospitality, Erbin makes St Corentin the first bishop of Cornouaille.

fl c.430

Rivelen Mor Marthou *

Mistakenly confused with Cynfelyn ap Arthwyr of Cynwidion?

fl c.450

Congar *

Probably Congar of Cernyw.

c.400? - 544

Many of the princes of Cornouaille are also the kings of the Bretons.

fl c.500?

Daniel Drem Rud *

fl c.500?

St Mélar ap Méliau

Son of Maxenri, king of the Bretons.

478 - 544

Budic * II

Brother. King of the Bretons. Ally of Macliau of Bro Erech.

577

Macliau, king of Bro Erech, had previously entered into a reciprocal arrangement with Budic whereby the two kings had promised each other that whichever monarch outlived the other would take care of his son. Upon Budic's death, Macliau had forced Budic's son, Tewdwr, to flee the kingdom. Tewdwr now returns to kill both Macliau and his eldest son Jacob.

577 - ?

Tewdwr

Son. Forced to flee by Macliau of Bro Erech. King of the Bretons.

fl c.590

Iahan Reith *

fl c.620?

Daniel Unua *

King of the Bretons (544-?). Confused with Daniel Drem Rud?

fl c.650?

Gradlon ap Alain / Flam *

Son of Alain I, king of the Bretons.

c.650s

The princes of Cornouaille now seem to lose their high status as providers of the kings of the Bretons. Their house is displaced by that of Domnonia. As mentioned in the introduction, above, some of the early dating for Cornouaille is hard to reconcile against the dates for the kings of the Bretons. With this in mind, the survival of Concar Cheroenoc until close to the end of the century may be doubtful. Is it possible that Domnonia's sudden rise to power is achieved on the back of a military victory or treachery against Cornouaille?

fl c.690

Concar Cheroenoc *

Nephew of Alain II, king of the Bretons.

fl c.720

Budic Mur * / Judon

Son. Fled overseas with his father in the 6th century.

fl c.770

Constantine ap Judon

fl c.812

Argant ap Constantine

fl c.840s

Judael / Fragual Fradeloec *

Son. Different names from two records, but the same man?

fl c.850s

Louvenan

Son. His son-in-law was Diles Heirgour Chebre.

fl c.860s

Gradlon Plueneor *

Probably a monk near Orleans c.900.

fl c.870s

Rivelen / Riwallon

874 - 888

Ninth century Brittany is a very civilised place in which peasant property rights are enshrined in law and the powers of the prince (king or duke) are strictly limited. This is all undone when when Salaun is assassinated and the land overrun by Vikings. Breton rule is eventually restored under Alain the Great, but in the meantime, Gurvand rules in Rennes and Pascweten in Vannes, and both are claimants to the throne. Pascweten is Salaun's son-in-law and also one of his assassins, along with Gurvand, and Wigo son of Rivelen of Cornouialle. Neither Gurvand or Pascweten are powerful enough to assume complete control so they fight it out amongst themselves for two years, and divide the country until both are dead. Pascweten's brother Alain continues the fight from Vannes until he reunites the entire country.

? - 913

Gourmaëlon / Gourmaelon

'Count of Kernev'. Seized power as 'Prince of Brittany'.

907

The death of Alain the Great results in instability in the land. With the succession again disputed, Gourmaëlon, count of Kernev, seizes power and declares himself 'Prince of Brittany'.

913/914

The Loire Vikings invade Brittany, slaying Gourmaëlon in battle and occupying the land. They establish their main naval base at the mouth of the Loire (at the southern edge of Brittany's lands), laying waste to Nantes, and then they use Brittany as a springboard for attacks on the Western Franks and the English (possibly in support of their kin in East Anglia).

c.930

Ulfret / Aulfret Alesrudon *

Cited in the Cartuliary of Landevennec.

c.946 - c.952

Diles Heirguor Chebre *

Son. Known by the Cartuliary of Landevennec.

c.1008 or 1031

Budic Bud Berhuc *

Died 1008-1031.

Budig Castellin / Binidic *

The dates of his father may in fact be his.

? - 1058

Alan Canhiart / Canhiarh *

Grandson of Budig Castellin.

c.990?

The little-known Judicaël, count of Nantes, has a daughter named Judith of Nantes. She marries Count Alan of Cornouaille, and their daughter, Agnes, marries Eozen or Eudes, the 'regent of Brittany' in 1040-1056 and count of Penthièvre. Their descendants retain this county, whilst Nantes occasionally falls outside Breton control. However, it becomes the principle seat of Duke Peter I (1221-1250).

1058 - 1084

Hoel IV / Houel / Huuel *

Son. Became duke of Brittany under French overlordship.

1064 - 1066

The Breton-Norman War is fought between Brittany and Normandy after years of sparring and raiding. William the Bastard (soon to be the Conqueror) has been supporting the rebellion by Rivallon I of Dol against Conan. The Battle of Dinan takes place in 1065, with Harold Godwinson of England fighting on William's side. Conan's forces are chased from Dol-de-Bretagne to Rennes and he finally surrenders at Château de Dinan in Brittany.

During Conan's campaign of 1066 against Anjou, he captures Pouancé and Segré, and arrives at Château-Gontier. There he is found dead on 11 December after donning poisoned riding gloves. Duke William is widely suspected as the culprit. Conan is succeeded by his sister, Hawise, whose marriage to Hoel of Cornouaille may have been a political move to consolidate and stabilise the duchy's eastern and western regions.

1084

With the death of Hoel IV the regency period for his son, Alain IV comes to an end and Alain rules alone. In effect, the princes of Cornouaille become rulers of Brittany, dukes by appointment of France.

1093

Not to be confused with Duke Alain IV Fergant of Cornouaille and Brittany, Count Alan Rufus dies. He is first earl of Richmond under King William the Conqueror of England and Normandy, but he has parentage that links him to Penthièvre and Cornouaille (see the entry for 1056, above). His Latin epitaph of 4 August 1093 at Bury St Edmunds describes him as 'praecepto legum, nitet ortus sanguine regum', ie. 'officer/teacher of the law, in whom ran the blood of kings'.