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Geoffrey of Brittany

Geoffrey of Brittany (1158–86). The trouble-making third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He became duke of Brittany (initially in name only) in 1166 when his father invaded Brittany and forced Duke Conan to resign and agree to Geoffrey's betrothal to his daughter Constance. The wedding took place in 1181 and she was pregnant with Arthur when he died. In 1185 he issued an assize introducing primogeniture into Brittany. From 1173 onwards, when he joined his mother's revolt against his father, he was in the thick of every Plantagenet family quarrel. He was at Paris plotting with King Philip Augustus of France when he was trampled to death in a tournament accident. Contemporary historians disliked him. According to Gerald of Wales, he was ‘overflowing with words, smooth as oil, a hypocrite in everything, capable by his syrupy eloquence of corrupting two kingdoms with his tongue’.

John Gillingham

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