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Erispoe, Duke of Brittany

Male - 857

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  • Name Erispoe  
    Suffix Duke of Brittany 
    Gender Male 
    Died 12 Nov 857 
    Buried Redon Abbey Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Erispoe (French: Erispoë, Latin: Herispoius, Herispogius, or Respogius; died 2 or 12 November 857) was the Duke of Brittany[1] from 851 until his death. He was the eldest son and successor of Nominoe. He was called rex Brittonum by Regino of Prüm, but this indicates only that he received a gift of regalia and not that he was ever king by imperial grant or even in his own charters.
      Immediately after his father's death, his power was challenged by his nominal suzerain, Charles the Bald, who crossed the river Vilaine with an army and was soundly defeated by Erispoe on 22 August 851 at the Battle of Jengland.
      Erispoe met Charles in Angers (possibly in secret[2]) in the days following the battle and concluded a peace treaty in return for being invested with the counties of Rennes and Nantes.[3] South of the Loire, the Pays de Retz was detached from the County of Poitou and granted to him as well.[4] Charles and Erispoe also created a baptismal alliance, whereby Charles stood as godfather at the baptism of Erispoe's infant son Conan, but whether in 851 or 856 is unknown.[5] Finally, in 851 Charles gave Erispoe royal regalia (robes at least) and Erispoe in turn pledged himself to Charles with the giving of hands and an oath of fidelity.[6] Erispoe subsequently overate at the banquet given in his honour.[7]
      According to the Annales Bertiniani, at Louviers in February 856 Erispoe's daughter (unnamed in the sources) was betrothed to Charles's young son, Louis the Stammerer, who was granted the ducatus Cenomannicus as subking of Neustria with Le Mans as his capital.[8] With the consent of the Frankish magnates, Louis received the regnum Neustriae from Erispoe:
      Karlus rex cum Respogio Brittone paciscens, filiam eius filio suo Ludoico despondet, dato illi ducatu Cenomannico usque ad viam quae a Lotitia Parisiorum Cesaredunum Turonum ducit.[9]
      King Charles, making peace with Erispoe of Brittany, the daughter of whom was betrothed to his son Louis, gave the duchy of Maine as far as the road from Paris to Tours as duke.
      Erispoe was at peace with Charles for the whole of his reign after Jengland and he governed as a typical Carolingian regional official might, with the added dignity of a consors regni (royal consort). Erispoe's use of a royal seal has led to the false belief that he was a king (rex), but in fact he probably received the right to use such a seal from Charles, who himself used an imperial seal.[10]
      Erispoe was a benefactor of the abbey of Redon, as his father had been; his power base lay in the Vannetais and southeast Brittany (even more easterly than his father).[11] In 853 the town of Nantes was plundered by the Vikings. Erispoe launched a war against them but it came to an end when they departed a few years later.[12]
      He was assassinated at the altar of a church, which was then considered a place of asylum, by his cousin and successor Salomon, aided by an obscure Almarchus (Almarus).[13] He was buried at Redon. By his wife Marmohec (who predeceased him) he had at least two children, the aforementioned Conan and a girl, who eventually married Gurvand of Rennes.
    Person ID I40765  Johnson & Hanson
    Last Modified 12 Dec 2015 

    Father Nominoe, 1st Duke of Brittany,   d. 07 Mar 851, near Vendome Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother Argentaela 
    • Nominoe or Nomenoe was the first Duke of Brittany from 826 to his death. He is a sort of Breton pater patriae and to Breton nationalists he is known as Tad ar Vro ("father of the country").

      A man of modest origin, Nominoë was discovered by Charlemagne, who made him Count of Vannes, in south-eastern Brittany. Becoming Duke of Brittany (826) under Louis the Pious, he set about uniting all the Bretons when Louis died, which required ten years to achieve. In 845 he forced Charles the Bald to recognize Breton independence, within borders that remained until 1790.
      Rise and titulature under Louis the Pious
      After a general rebellion which had enveloped the entire Carolingian Empire was put down, a general assembly was held at Ingelheim in May 831. It was probably there that the emperor Louis the Pious appointed Nominoe, a Breton, to rule the Bretons (which corresponded to "almost all" of Brittany).[1] Regino of Prüm in his famous Chronicon writes, inaccurately for the year 837, that:
      Murmanus rex Brittonum moritur et Numenoio apud Ingelheim ab imperator ducatus ipsius gentis traditur.
      Morman, king of the Bretons, died and Numenoi [Nominoe] was created duke of that same people by the emperor at Ingelheim.[2]
      Nominoe was a staunch ally of Louis the Pious until the emperor's death in 840. He supported Louis in the several civil wars of the 830s and he supported the monastery of Redon, even ordering the monks to pray for Louis in light of the emperor's "strife".[3] Nominoe's power base was in the Vannetais and two charters refer to him as Count of Vannes, though it is unknown when that title was held, be it as early as 819 or as late as 834. Nominoe may not have possessed any land outside Vannes and his ability to gather revenue in Breton-speaking territories was probably no greater than any other aristocrat of those regions.[4] His chief source of income after he broke with his overlord was plunder from raids into Frankish territory and from the despoliation of churches.[5] He did have the political authority to exact payment (wergild) in the form of land from a man who had murdered his follower Catworet.
      The title Duke of Brittany is primarily a chronicler's invention of the tenth century. Nominoe never held a title from the emperor, who refers to him in charters as merely fidelis, "faithful one", or as missus imperatoris, "imperial emissary", which was probably the title he was granted at Ingelheim.[6] In Breton charters, Nominoe was known inconsistently by several titles from February 833 until his death:
      • Nominoe magistro in Britanniam
      • Nominoe possidente Brittanniam
      • gubernante Nominoe totam Brittanniam
      • Nominoe principe in Brittannia
      • regnante Nominoe in Brittannia
      • Nominoe duce in Britannia
      • Nomenoius dux
      • Nominoius princeps
      • Nomenogius Britto
      Loyalty and falling out with Charles the Bald
      The relations between Nominoe and Charles the Bald, Louis's successor after 840, were initially amicable. In the midst of a revolt of his men in Neustria, Charles sent from Le Mans to see if Nominoe would submit to him in the spring of 841 and Nominoe agreed to do so. It is clear from the wording of the account of this event in Nithard that Nominoe was too powerful to be compelled to submit; later in 841 he rebuffed the overtures of the new emperor, Lothair I, who claimed Neustria.[7] Nominoe remained loyal to Charles throughout the next year, even making a donation "in alms for the king" to the abbey of Redon on 25 January 842.[8] Breton soldiers, as well as Gascons, certainly took part in the military show of the Oaths of Strasbourg.
      In the summer of 843, Lothair or perhaps his supporter Lambert II of Nantes succeeded in persuading Nominoe to abandon Charles and go over to the emperor.[9] Nominoe was thereafter a constant enemy of Charles and his authority in Neustria, often acting in concert with Lothair, Lambert, and Pepin II of Aquitaine. Breton troops fought under Lambert in Neustria and when, in June 844, Charles was besieging Toulouse, Nominoe raided into Maine and plundered the territory.[10] In November 843, Charles had marched as far as Rennes to compel Breton submission, but to no effect.
      At the synod of Yütz in October 844, presided over by Charles' uncle Drogo of Metz, the bishops sent orders to Nominoe, Lambert, and Pepin commanding them to renew their fealty to Charles or be prepared to accept military consequences.[11] Lambert and Pepin complied, but Nominoe ignored the Frankish bishops. However, some Bretons had connived against him with Charles and the king tried to enter Brittany in support of the defectors, but without success: he was defeated at the Battle of Ballon just north of Redon across the Vilaine on 22 November 845.[12] It is probable that in the Vannetais Nominoe's authority had been weakened after his split with Charles in 843 and Lupus of Ferrières reports "unrest" in Brittany during this period.
      In 844 and 847 according to the Annales Bertiniani, Nominoe made war on the Vikings.[13]

      Renewed loyalty and second rebellion
      In Summer 846, Charles marched on Brittany and again took no military action, instead coming to peace with Nominoe and exchanging oaths. The details of the peace arrangements are unknown, but Prudentius of Troyes uses the title "duke" (dux) for the first time in this context and this may indicate that Nominoe was created Duke of the Bretons in return for recognising Charles' lordship.[14] As another part of the agreement, Nominoe had Charles remove Lambert from Nantes and put him in power in Sens further away.
      By Christmastime, Nominoe's Bretons were raiding Neustria, this time near Bayeux, again. This was probably instigated by Lothair, for he, Charles, and their brother Louis the German met at Meerssen in February 847 and agreed to send orders to Nominoe and Pepin II to desist from making war on Charles.[15] Nominoe, probably being paid by Lothair, did not in fact desist; neither did Pepin. In two campaigns in the spring and then fall of 849, Charles was in Aquitaine and Nominoe took the opportunity to raid Neustria. Charles reestablished Lambert in Nantes after Nominoe invaded Anjou.[16]
      In 850, Lambert (and his brother Warnar) had renewed their friendship with Nominoe and together were raiding Maine "with unspeakable fury" according to the Chronicon Fontanellense. In August, Charles marched on Rennes, again avoided fighting, and installed garrisons there and at Nantes. Immediately after he left, Lambert and Nominoe defeated the garrisons and captured the new Count of Nantes, Amalric.[17] On 7 March 851, Nominoe died near Vendôme while ravaging the Nantais and Anjou; he was buried at Redon. By his wife Argentaela, Nominoe left a son named Erispoe, who succeeded him. Nominoe was thus the founder of a political tradition in Brittany which had not thitherto existed; though his charters did not mimic Carolingian ones, his successors would imitate the legitimising Carolingian language in theirs.[18]

      Deposition of the bishops
      In 849 at a place called Coitlouh, Nominoe held a synod whereat he deposed the five Breton bishops of Alet, Saint-Pol, Vannes, Quimper, and Dol.[19] The charges he levelled against them are unknown. Pope Leo IV sent a letter to Nominoe and the bishops (whether before or after the deposition is unknown) informing him that the depositions could only be enacted by a panel of twelve bishops with seventy-two witnesses. The later popes Benedict II and Nicholas I believed that Nominoe had forced the bishops to admit to crimes they had not committed and that there depositions were thus invalid. A Frankish synod of 850 held at either Angers or Tours accused Nominoe of simony by unlawfully removing bishops and replacing them with mercenarii (mercenaries of his own). These mercenarii were excommunicated, as indicated by an epistle of the synod of Savonnières in 859 sent to what remained of the Breton church in communion with the Archdiocese of Tours. Nominoe sacked Rennes and Nantes, replacing the new Frankish bishop of the latter with his own nominee.
      Susannus was deposed in Vannes and replaced by Courantgen. Salocon was deposed in Dol, but his replacement is unknown. At Quimper, Felix was replaced by Anaweten and at Saint-Pol, Clutwoion replaced Garnobrius. The two bishops of Alet, first Rethwalatr and then Mahen are very obscure figures. The bishop of Nantes whom Nominoe succeeded in removing for about a year was Actard. His replacement was the obscure Gislard. In the end the synod of Coitlouh and the bringing of the bishoprics of Rennes and Nantes into the Breton fold meant that the church of Brittany was an actively independent ecclesiastic polity from its nominal metropolitan, the see of Tours.
    Family ID F14537  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Marmohec 
    +1. Daughter of Erispoe
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2008 
    Family ID F14536  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Redon Abbey
    Redon Abbey
    Redon Abbey, or Abbey of Saint-Sauveur, Redon ("Abbey of the Holy Saviour"in Redon is a former Benedictine abbey founded in 832 by Saint Conwoïon, at the point where the Oust flows into the Vilaine, on the border between Neustria and Brittany.