MALE Alain I "le Grand"

Count of Vannes, 876×7-907.
Duke (sometimes called King) of Brittany, 888-907.

In 876 or 877 (more likely the latter year), the joint Breton rulers Pascweten and Gurvand died, and were succeeded by Alain I, brother of Pascweten, and Judicaël, maternal grandson of the previous ruler Erispoë [Regino, Chronicon, s.a. 874, 109-110 (Regino's chronology is inaccurate)]. Between 1 August 888, when Alain was only count of Vannes ("comes Warochiae provinciae"), and 8 November 888, when he was called "Alan, omni Britannice presidens regioni", Alain became the ruler of Brittany, evidently on the death of his co-ruler Judicaël [for the chronology of Alain's reign, see Borderie (1890), 577-588]. He appears to have been succeeded as count of Vannes by his son Rudalt, while a certain Gurmhailon was recognized (at least nominally) as the ruler of Brittany.

Date of Birth: Unknown.
Place of Birth: Unknown.

Date of Death: 907.
Le Baud gives the date as 907, citing unspecified annals ["... 907 auquel an il mourut, selon aucuns Annaux" Le Baud (2nd redaction), 128] Contemporary sources only narrow the date down to 906×8 [see Borderie (1890), 587].
Place of Death: Unknown.

Father: Ridoredh.
The name of Alain's father is given only by an eleventh century Angevin document [Poupardin (1900), 206],which states that he was illegitimate son of an otherwise unidentified Ridoredh, and brother of Pascweten. The fact that Alain was a brother of Pascweten is confirmed by contemporary sources ["Alanus frater memorati Pasquitani" Regino, Chronicon, s.a. 874, 110; Cart. Redon, 186].

Mother: Unknown.

Spouse: Orgain. [Cart. Angers, 32 ("Orgaim"); Chr. Nantes, 68 ("Droguen"), 75 ("Ohurguen")]


by Orgain:
Orgain's status as the mother of the following four sons appears to be confirmed by the charter quoted in the Chronicle of Nantes [Chr. Nantes, 74-7].

MALE Rudalt, count [apparently of Vannes], 909×913.
Rudalt appears as as a count "post mortem patri sui" on a charter of 30 November 909 [Cart. Redon 225; Borderie (1897-8), 438], and as princeps in a charter of 15 March 913 [Cart. Redon 222]. Although Rudalt is not explicitly called a son of Alain, the latter is the obvious candidate for the unnamed father mentioned in the 909 charter, and the charter quoted in the Chronicle of Nantes, which he signed first, immediately before the following three known sons of Alain, suggests that he was Alain's eldest son by Orgain. For the attempt of Guillotel to identify Rudalt with Derian below, see the Commentary section below on count Tangui.

MALE Guérech, fl. 888×903.
[Cart. Redon, 216, 373-7; Chr. Nantes, 74-7; Cart. Angers, 29-32; Poupardin (1900), 306]

MALE Pascweten, fl. 895×903.
[Cart. Redon, 216, 376-7; Chr. Nantes, 74-7; Cart. Angers, 29-32; Poupardin (1900), 306]

MALE Budic.
[Cart. Redon, 216, 376-7; Chr. Nantes, 74-7]

mother uncertain:
Derian's absence in the above charter suggests that he may not have been a son of Orgain, although this is hardly conclusive. Nothing is known about the mother(s) of the two daughters.

MALE Derian, fl. 903×910.
Mentioned as a son of Alain in a charter of Alain in 903 [Cart Redon, 376-7 ("Dergen")], and in a charter of his godfather count Tangui in 910, with whom he had divided the village of Elven [Cart. Redon, 226]. For the attempt of Guillotel to identify Derian with Rudalt above, see the Commentary section below on count Tangui.

FEMALE daughter, m. Mathuédoï, count of Poher. [Chr. Nantes; Poupardin (1900), 306]
Mathuédoï led a group of Bretons into exile in England when Vikings overran Brittany soon after the death of Alain le Grand. Mathuédoï's son Alain Barbetorte (d. 952) was the leader of the returning exiles who eventually took Brittany back from the Vikings.

FEMALE daughter, de orti sunt Rochisii.
[Poupardin (1900), 306] the attempt of Guillotel to identify the husband of this daughter as Tangui, godfather of Derian, see the Commentary section.


Most of the information on the sons of Alain le Grand comes from various charters:

888: The cartulary of Redon records that Alain gave two [villages] to abbot Fulcher on 8 November 888, for the health of his son Gueroc (Querac), who was then gravely ill [Cart. Redon, 373-5: "... filius ejus Querac graviter egrotare cepisset. ..."; Borderie (1897-8), 605-6].

895: In a charter of duke Alain dated 15 January 895, Alain is followed as a witness by his son Uueroc and by two others (Paxuuetan, Budic) known to be his sons from other charters mentioned below. [Cart. Redon, 216: "Bili, episcopus, testis; Alan, dux, testis; filius ejus Uueroc, testis; Paxuuetan, testis; Budic, testis; Salomon, filius Euuen, ..."; Borderie (1897-8), 439]

ca. 900?: An undated charter of Alain (probably ca. 900) quoted in the Chronicle of Nantes mentions his wife Ohurguen and their children ("... conjugis nostrae Ohurguen ac etiam communis prolis ...") and is signed by Rodald, Guerech, Pascitan, and Budic. [Chr. Nantes, 74-77:"... nos, pro aeternae nostrae remunerationis mercede, pariterque conjugis nostrae Ohurguen ac etiam communis prolis ..." ..."Signum piisimi ac misericardissimi Britinum regis, Alani, qui hujus eleemosinae auctoritatem fieri et a affirmare rogavit. Sigmum Rodaldi. Signum Guerech. Signum Pascuitani. Signum Budici."]

903: In the cartulary of Redon, a charter dated 14 September of an uncertain year was confirmed on 28 August 903 by Alain and his sons Pascuuethan, Dergen, and Budic. [Cart. Redon, 376-7: "... Alanus, princeps, qui affirmavit; Pascuuethan et Dergen et Budic, filii ejus ..."; Borderie (1897-8), 607]

probably 903: In the cartulary of the cathedral at Angers, there is a charter of Alain, king of Brittany, dated 26 November of an unstated year which must be 897 or later (because of the presence of Foucher, bishop of Nantes), but probably in 903, in which he granted the abbey of Saint-Serge d'Angers to Rainon, bishop of Angers, and his successors. Witnesses included Alain's wife Orgaim and his sons Vuereche and Pascuiten. [Cart. Angers 29-32: "... Signum Alani glorissimi regis ... S. Orgaim, uxoris suae. S. Bili, episcopi. S. Fulcherii, episcopi. S. Vuereche, filii Alani. S. Pascuiten, fratris sui. ..."]

Possible son:

MALE Hervé, living 12 June 878.
A "Haervi, testis, filius Alan" appears as a witness (the last in the list) in a charter of Alain, count of Broweroch (i.e., Alain le Grand) dated 12 June 878 [Cart. Redon, 183]. It is not clear whether this Hervé (apparently otherwise unknown) was a son of Alain le Grand or of another man named Alain. A son of the count would ordinarily have been higher up in the list of witnesses.

Falsely attributed sons:

MALE Judicaël.
Called a son of Alain (along with Colledoc) by Le Baud [Le Baud (1st redaction), 3: 141-2]. There appears to be no evidence for such a son. A "Jedecael, princeps Poucaer" appears as the first witness to the 892 charter of Colledoc (see next below), and this may be the individual intended by Le Baud, but there is no good reason to regard him as Alain's son.

MALE Colledoc, living 14 September 892.
Called a son of Alain by Le Baud [Le Baud (1st redaction), 3: 141-2], Colledoc donated land to Saint-Saveur de Redon on 14 September 892 "pro anima sua et pro anima Alani principis totius Britanniae et filiorum ejus" (for the sake of his own soul, and for the sake of the soul of Alan prince of all of Brittany and of his sons), later confirmed in 903 by Alain and his sons Pascweten, Derian, and Budic [Cart. Redon 221, 376-7; see Borderie (1895), 606, for the chronology]. A Colledoc, possibly the same, had witnessed a charter of 868 [Cart. Redon, 19 (Coletoc)], 869 [Cart. Redon, 192 (Koledoc)]. Although he may have been related to Alain, the wording of the charter makes it very unlikely that he was Alain's son.

MALE Gurmhailon, fl. 908×913 [Cart. Redon 224, 226; for the chronology, see Borderie (1890), 588-590 and Borderie (1897), 445-9], ruler of Brittany.
[Lobineau (1707) makes Gurmhailon a son of Alain in the genealogical tables at the begiing of his history, but there is no good reason to belive this.]

Supposed son-in-law (doubtful):
Tangui, fl. 910, count.
As stated above, a charter of count Tangui (Tanchi, Tangi), dated 27 November 910, states that he had divided the "plebs" of Elven with his godson (filiolu[s]) Derian, son of Alain [Cart. Redon, 226]. The claim that Tangui was a son-in-law of Alain le Grand, as well as the attempt to identify Rudalt with Derian, comes from a statement of Guillotel [Guillotel (1984), 372-3; also on the genealogical table on p. 357]:

"Une notice qui peut être datée du 27 novembre 908 relate la concession à Saint-Sauveur de Redon par le comte Tangui et son filleul Rudalt, fils d'Alain le Grand, d'une partie de la paroisse d'Elven - dans le Vannetais - que ceux-ci s'étaient partagée (no. 279). Cette possession en commun confirme l'assertion d'une généalogie définitivement mise en forme à Sain-Aubin d'Angers aux années 1066-1080 et qui fait de Tangui un gendre d'Alain le Grand."

Thus, Guillotel would identify Tangui as the husband of the above daughter from whom the Rochisii descended, as given in the Angevin genealogical collection [Poupardin (1900)]. However, both of Guillotel's statements are misleading, for the charter from the cartulary of Redon names Derian as the son of Alain and filiolus of Tangui [Cart. Redon, 226], and the Angevin genealogies do not give the name of Alain's second son-in-law. Thus, not only does Guillotel not give reasons for identifying Rudalt with Derian and Tangui with the husband of Alain's other daughter, he makes these identifications without making it clear to the reader that he is doing so, and by misleading the reader as to the actual content of the sources. Also, from the chronology, we would not generally expect Tangui's godson to also be his brother-in-law (especially since Rudalt appears to have been his father's eldest son and successor), and there is also no clear reason to identify Rudalt with Derian.


Borderie (1864, 1890) = Arthur de la Borderie, "Examen chronologique des chartes du cartulaire de Redon antérieur du XIe siècle", Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes 25 (1864): 259-282, 393-434 [reprinted in Annales de Bretagne 5 (1889-90): 535-630]. Page numbers given are from the latter work.

Borderie (1897-8) = "La chronologie du Cartulaire de Redon", Annales de Bretagne 13 (1897-8): 11-42, 263-279, 430-458, 590-.611.

Cart. Angers = C. Urseau, Cartulaire Noir de la Cathédrale d'Angers (Paris & Angers, 1908).

Cart. Redon = M. Aurélien de Courson, Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Redon (Collection de documents inédites sur l'histoire de France, Paris, 1863).

Chédeville & Guillotel (1984) = André Chédeville & Hubert Guillotel, La Bretagne des saints et des rois Ve-Xe siècle (Rennes, 1984).

Chr. Nantes = René Merlet, ed., La Chronique de Nantes (Paris, 1895). [Page numbers alone are citations to the text, page numbers with footnotes indicate comments by Merlet.]

Guillotel (1984) = Chédeville & Guillotel (1984).

Le Baud (1st redaction) = Pierre le Baud, Chronicques & Ystoires des Bretons (Charles de la Lande de Calan, ed.), 4 vols. (Société des Bibliophiles Bretons, 1910). This edition contains le Baud's first redaction (ca. 1480) in its entirety, with extracts from the second redaction (ca. 1500) which differ significantly from the first.

Le Baud (2nd redaction) = NN, sieur d'Hozier, ed., Histoire de Bretagne, avec les les chroniqves des maisons de Vitré et de Laval, par Pierre Le Bavd, chantre et chanoine (Paris, 1638). This was taken from the second redaction of Pierre Le Baud's history of Brittany, which was finished not long before his death on 19 September 1505.

Lobineau (1707) = Gui Alexis Lobineau, Histoire de Bretagne, 2 vols., (Paris, 1707).

Poupardin (1900)a = René Poupardin, "Généalogies angevines du XIe siècle", Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire (Paris, Rome) 20 (1900): 199-208.

Regino, Chronicon = Friedrich Kurze, ed., Reginonis abbatis Prumiensis Chronicon cum continuatione Treverensi (MGH SRG, Hannover, 1890).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

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