Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany

From Academic Kids

Geoffrey Plantagenet (September 23 1158 August 19 1186) was Duke of Brittany between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth son of King Henry II of England and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine.

He was a younger maternal half-brother of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France. He was a younger brother of William, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King, Matilda of England and Richard I of England. He was also an older brother of Leonora of Aquitaine, Joan of England and John of England.

King Henry, always anxious to enrich his sons at little cost to himself, arranged for Geoffrey to marry Constance, the heiress of Brittany. Geoffrey was invested with the duchy, and he and Constance were married in 1181. Geoffrey and Constance would have three children, one born posthumously:

  1. Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany (1184-1241)
  2. Maud of Brittany (1185-before May 1189)
  3. Arthur I, Duke of Brittany (1187-1203)

Unsatisfied with his share of the vast Angevin empire, Geoffrey joined the Revolt of 1173-1174 alongside his brothers Young Henry and Richard and their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, against King Henry. The rebellion was quashed, the three brothers submitted to their father, and Queen Eleanor was imprisoned. In 1183 another conflict erupted between Young Henry and Richard when Richard refused to do homage to his elder brother. King Henry invited Young Henry to invade Aquitaine and subdue his brother Richard. Geoffrey allied with Young Henry, and they invaded Aquitaine from Gascony and Brittany. The mayhem got so out of control that King Henry was forced to intercede to try to stop his warring sons. Young Henry died suddenly that summer, which ended the war but not the quarreling between King Henry and his sons.

Geoffrey withdrew to Paris and the court of King Philip II of France, who became his friend and made him the suzerain of France, largely to annoy King Henry. According to Gerald of Wales, Geoffrey was "overflowing with words, soft as oil, possessed by his sweet and persuasive eloquence, to corrupt two kingdoms with his tongue; of tireless endeavor, a hypocrite in everything, a deceiver and a dissembler." Geoffrey was killed suddenly in Paris, stamped to death by his horse, after a fall during a tournament. He was buried in the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, and King Philip was so overcome with grief during the ceremony that he had be dragged away from Geoffrey's casket.

During his life, Geoffrey had been the presumptive heir of his older brother Richard, the Lionheart, who remained single at the time. His premature death opened the way of John Lackland to the throne of England, which he occupied in 1199.

Geoffrey's widow Constance succeeded him and ruled Brittany until 1196, when she abdicated to their son Arthur. Arthur of Brittany fought his uncle John for the throne and was subsequently murdered. Geoffrey's daughter Eleanor was imprisoned at Corfe and died in 1241, still a prisoner of the crown.

See also: Dukes of Brittany family tree British monarchs family tree Other politically important horse accidents

Fictional Portrayals

With a character closely resembling that given by Gerald of Wales above, Geoffrey appears as a major character in the James Goldman play The Lion in Winter. In the film version of the play, Geoffrey is played by John Castle.


  • Everard, Judith. Charters of Duchess Constance of Brittany and her Family, 1171-1221, 1999
  • Reston, James. Warriors of God: Richard the Lion-Heart and Saladin in the Third Crusade, 2001


Preceded by:
Conan IV
Duke of Brittany Succeeded by:

he:ג'פרי, דוכס בריטניpt:Geoffrey II, Duque da Bretanha


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