Duke Geoffrey II of Brittany (23 September 1158 - 19 August 1186)

"He has more aloes than honey in him; his tongue is smoother than oil; his sweet and persuasive eloquence has enabled him to dissolve the firmest alliances and his powers of language to throw two kingdoms into confusion." - Gerald of Wales.

Geoffrey II of Brittany was the fourth son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He became duke of Brittany jure uxoris after his marriage to Constance, daughter of Duke Conan IV. He died in 1186 at the age of 27.

Sadly, little attention has been given to Geoffrey in historical research and on this webpage we want to rectify this. Next to a thorough biography about Geoffrey, we also want to address further questions, for example his relationship with Gace Brule and Bertran de Born, his family, and how he was depicted in later years.

As a first step here is a brief summary of the main events of Geoffrey's life:


23 September 1158 Geoffrey born as the fourth son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, presumably named after Henry II's, count of Nantes, Henry II's younger brother who had died in July 1158, and/or Geoffrey of Anjou, Henry II's father

c. 1161 Birth of Constance, only daughter of Conan IV, duke of Brittany and Margaret of Scotland

1166 Betrothal of Geoffrey and Constance
Conan IV hands over most of Brittany (except the lordship of Guingamp and his earldom of Richmond in England) to Henry II

May 1169 Geoffrey visits Brittany for the first time and receives homage of Breton barons in Nantes

January 1170 Extensive travels of Henry II and Geoffrey through Brittany where he receives further homages

April-March 1170 Geoffrey at Northampton

June 1170 Geoffrey attends the coronation of his elder brother Henry 'the Young King'

1171 Geoffrey probably attends celebrated feast at Bur near Bayeux

20 February 1171 Conan IV dies

Conan IV's widow, Margaret, marries Humphrey de Bohun, constable of England

Early 1173 Geoffrey and his brother Richard join their elder brother Henry in revolt against their father

July 1173 Geoffrey joins siege of Driencourt

September 1173 Henry II and his rebellious sons meet for an unsuccessful peace conference at Gisors

June 1174 Henry II lays waste to parts of Brittany

30 September 1174 A settlement between Henry II and his sons is reached at Montlouis near Tours which is later confirmed in Falaise. Geoffrey was to receive half the cash revenue from Brittany until his marriage to Constance took place

December 1174 Geoffrey still in Falaise. He is then sent to Brittany with the former rebel Roland de Dinan who was appointed Henry II's chief representative in Brittany shortly before Easter 1175.

Easter 1176 Geoffrey and the royal family celebrate Easter in Winchester

Christmas 1176 Geoffrey and the royal family celebrate Christmas in Nottingham. Henry II hands over Cheshunt, part of the honour of Richmond, to Geoffrey

January 1177 Theft of the Relics of St Petroc from Badmin. They were taken to St Méen in Brittany, but returned by order of Henry II and Geoffrey

March 1177 Geoffrey witnesses arbitration of Henry II between kings of Castile and Navarre

August 1177 Geoffrey returns to the continent and is sent to subdue Guihomar de Léon who was in rebellion again

Christmas 1177 Geoffrey joins his father in Angers for Christmas

6 August 1178 Geoffrey is knighted by his father in Woodstock

1178 Geoffrey briefly in Normandy and participates in tournaments

Christmas 1178 Geoffrey participates in Christmas court in Winchester

Easter 1179 Geoffrey shortly afterwards returns to Brittany and defeats Guihomar de Léon who is deprived of most of his lands and forced to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem

1 November 1179 Geoffrey attends the coronation of Philip II Augustus

1179 Geoffrey possibly attended tournament in Lagny-sur-Marne

1181 Geoffrey and his brothers support Philip's campaigns

About July 1181 Geoffrey and Constance are married and Henry II hands over control of Brittany

1182 Geoffrey disinherits the heir of the county of Tréguir

February 1183 Geoffrey leads an army into Poitou and occupies Limoges

July 1183 Geoffrey makes peace with his father. He is (temporarily and probably only symbolically) deprived of the fortresses in Brittany

1182/4 Birth of Eleanor, daughter of Geoffrey and Constance

1184/6 Birth of Matilda, second daughter of Geoffrey. She had died before 1189.

1184 Geoffrey and  his younger brother John attack Richard who in turn invades Brittany

Henry II summons his sons to England to reconcile them. Geoffrey sent to Normandy to govern it. Possibly considered as Henry II's successor.

1185 Assize of Count Geoffrey

Further conflicts between Geoffrey and Richard

1186 Geoffrey appointed Seneschall of France by Philip II

19 August 1186 Geoffrey dies in Paris and is buried in Notre-Dame

Constance becomes ruler of Brittany, though under strict supervision from Henry II

29 March 1187 Arthur, posthumous son of Geoffrey, is born

February 1189 Constance marries, at the order of Henry II, Ranulf Earl of Chester

6 July 1189 Death of Henry II, Richard I succeeds

1190 Richard acknowledges Geoffrey's son Arthur as his successor in the treaty of Messina with Tancred of Lecce as part of his negotiations for a marriage between Arthur and Tancred's daughter

1194 Richard invades Brittany alienating many Bretons

1194 Geoffrey's daughter Eleanor sets off to marry Duke Leopold of Austria, which was a condition for Richard's release from captivity. However, news of Leopold's death (31 December 1194) makes the arrangement void.

1196 Ranulf captures Constance and imprisons her in the castle at St James de Beuvron

6 April 1199 Richard I dies. His younger brother John and his nephew Arthur both claim to be his heir.

18 April 1199 Arthur issues charter in Angers

Philip II accepts Arthur's homage for Maine, Touraine, and Brittany

Arthur and Constance briefly join forces with John but flee to Philip II after harsh treatment

c. 1199 Marriage between Constance and Ranulf is annulled

Autumn 1199 Constance marries Aimery de Thouars, three daughters are born, Alix (later duchess of Brittany), Marguerite and Catherine

22 May 1200 Treaty of Le Goulet. Philip II accepts John as heir of Richard. Arthur to do homage for Brittany but will stay at Philip II's court

1201 Constance's mother Margaret dies in Brittany. She is buried in Sawtry Abbey, Huntingdonshire

September 1201 Constance dies. She is buried in Cistercian abbey of Villeneuve  which she had refounded the year before

1. August 1202 John captures Arthur, his sister Eleanor and many nobles, who were besieging Eleanor of Aquitaine in Mirebeau

1203 Rumours about the harsh conditions of Arthur's imprisonment spread

3 April 1203 Alleged day of John murdering Arthur

10 August 1241 Eleanor, daughter of Geoffrey, dies in custody in England

Posthumous Appearances:

Goldman, James The Lion in Winter (1966) - play
also: The Lion in Winter (1968) - film
The Lion in Winter (2003) - film

Penman, Sharon Devil's Brood (2008)


Craig, Malcolm A. 'A second daughter of Geoffrey of Brittany', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research (later Historical Research) 50:121, (1977), 112-115.

Everard, Judith A. Brittany and the Angevins. Province and Empire 1158-1205 (Cambridge, 2000).

Evergates, Theodore 'Aristocratic Women in the County of Champagne', in: Theodore Evergates (ed.), Aristocratic Women in Medieval France (1999), 74-?.

Jones, Michael ‘Geoffrey, duke of Brittany (1158–1186)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10533, accessed 5 Oct 2008].
'Constance, duchess of Brittany (c. 1161-1201)', ibid. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/46701, accessed 5 Oct 2008].
'Arthur, duke of Brittany (11987-1203), ibid. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/704, accessed 5 Oct 2008].
'Eleanor, suo jure duchess of Brittany (1282x4-1241), ibid. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/ article/46702, accessed 5 Oct 2008].

Powicke, Frederick M. The Loss of Normandy, 1189-1204 (2nd ed., Manchester 1961).


The Devil's Brood; the Siblings of Geoffrey II of Brittany

For further information about our research or complaints, compliments or your thoughts about Geoffrey, please contact us at: geoffrey@monikasimon.eu