MALE Bérenger

Count [probably of Maine], fl. 891×895.
[Marquis of Neustria?]
[also count of Rennes, according to a late (and doubtful) source]

Bérenger is known primarily from a charter of 891×895, cited as an early example in which one vassal had two different lords, e.g., a certain Patericus, who had as lord both count Bérenger (apparently of Maine, although this is not explicitly stated) and Bérenger's "amicus" and abbot Robert of Saint-Martin (later king Robert I of France) [See, e.g., Ganshof (1929), 267-9]. He was evidently the same person as the count Berengarius whose death date of 13 December on the same day as the death of bishop Lambert of Le Mans, in an unknown year is recorded in the necrology of the cathedral at Le Mans [Nec. Mans, 329]. Although these are apparently the only two contemporary notices of count Bérenger, there have been a number of attempts to add further details, most notably in identifying him with a certain count Bérenger whom Dudo names as the father of Poppa, wife of Rollo of Normandy [see e.g., Merlet (1925) and the discussion below]. Based on the word "amicus" and on the apparent simultaneous existence of more than one marquis of Neustria during the ninth century, Guillotel has suggested that Bérenger was a feudal equal of Robert (brother of Eudes, then king), and also a marquis of Neustria [Guillotel (2000)], and he has been followed in this by others [e.g., Keats-Rohan (1997, citing Guillotel's forthcoming work); Jackman (2000)]. The suggestion that he was also count of Rennes is supported only by late evidence, as discussed below.

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

Date of Death: 13 December of an unknown year.
[Nec. Mans, 329, shows the death of a count Beringerius on 13 December on the same day as archbishop Lambert ["Eodem die, obiit Lambertus, episcopus, et Beringerius comes."], who was probably the same man as the present count Bérenger]
Place of Death: Unknown.

Father: Unknown.

Mother: Unknown.

Spouse(s): Unknown.

Children: Uncertain.

Although there is no solid proof for any family relationship of Bérenger with any other individual, there is also no shortage of speculation regarding such alleged family relations. Some of these conjectures are discussed in the Commentary section.



Commentary

At an uncertain date in the 890's, provost Ecfred and Adalmar, advocate of Saint-Martin de Tours, approached count Bérenger in Le Mans in order to complain that his vassal Patericus had usurped property of the abbey, to which Bérenger replied that Patericus was also a vassal of Robert, abbot of Saint-Martin (the future king Robert I), his amicus, from whom he held a more important benefice [Gall. Christ. 14, Inst. 53: "Notitia qualiter venit Ecfredus praepositus cum Adalmaro, advocato S. Martini, in civitate Cenomannis, die octavo kal. Maii, feria II, ante Beringerium comitem et reclamaverunt se quod vassalus ipsius, Patericus nomine, res fratrum, quas Guitto propter advocariam olim tenuerant, malo ordine retinebat. Tunc Beringerius comes respondit quod non esset suus solummodo vasallus, quamvis ex suo beneficio aliquid haberet, sed potius vasallus Rotberti, amici sui, quia plus ab ipso beneficium tenebat. ..."; later confirmed on 13 June in the fourth year of the reign of Eudes]. Monday, 24 April, would match 892, which would, however, be the fifth year of Eudes, not the fourth. Levillain [as cited by Merlet (1925), 553] would emend "feria II" to "feria V" and change the fourth year of the reign to the eighth (IIII to VIII) to give 24 April 895. Merlet would emend the date to 13 kal. May (assuming XIII was misread as VIII), giving 19 April 891. While Merlet's date requires fewer emendations and seems more consistent with the statement that Bérenger died on the same day as bishop Lambert (who appears to have died in the early 890's), I have not had the opportunity to examine Levillain's article.

Possible daughter: FEMALE Poppa, m. Rollo of Normandy.
The case that Bérenger was the father of Poppa, wife of Rollo of Normandy, is based on the statement of Dudo of St. Quentin (early eleventh century) that Rollo carried off and married Popa, daughter of princeps Bérenger [Dudo iii, 36 (pp.78-9)], along with the proposed identification of Dudo's Bérenger with the present Bérenger. The major weaknesses in the case are Dudo's unreliability (especially for the earlier period) and the uncertainty of the identification of Poppa's father Bérenger with this particular Bérenger. See the page of Poppa for more details.

Less convincing are various other conjectures which would attempt to provide Bérenger with a spouse or ancestry, or to identify other possible children. Keats-Rohan (1997) had a detailed discussion of Poppa's possible ancestry, following many others in suggesting that Poppa's father was the present count Bérenger, and offered two different hypotheses regarding Bérenger's ancestry, based to a large extent on onomastic evidence. Given that two different alternatives were hypothesized, and that these conjectures depend on accepting previous suggestions which are themselves conjectural, nothing definite can be said about the ancestry or marriage(s) of Bérenger. The two hypotheses offered by Keats-Rohan [pp. 196-7; p. 153 in French version] were as follows.

Keats-Rohan "Hypothesis 1" (very conjectural):
Grandfather:
Gebhard of Lahngau (of the Konradiner dynasty).
Spouse:
NN [Adalind (conjectured name)], daughter of Heinrich of Thuringia, brother of Poppo II.
In this hypothesis, Keats-Rohan relied on the then unpublished work of
Hubert Guillotel [since published in Guillotel (2000)], suggesting that Bérenger was a grandson of the Konradiner Gebhard of Lahngau.

Keats-Rohan "Hypothesis 2" (very conjectural):
Father:
Heinrich of Thuringia, brother of Poppo II.
Mother:
Ingeltrude, sister of Berengar I, d. 924, king of Italy and Emperor.
Spouse:
NN [Adela (conjectured name)] de Vermandois.

Bérenger's supposed Breton connection

In addition to the suggested connection of Bérenger and Rollo of Normandy, there have been various conjectures, often mutually contradictory, which would connect Bérenger to the family of the counts of Rennes. One seductive reason for this is the appearance in the records of a count Bérenger or Juhel Bérenger on a number of occasions in the tenth century. The other is the mention, apparently only in very late sources, of a count Bérenger of Rennes who was supposedly ruling about the year 890. This can be traced back to a statement by Pierre le Baud (d. 1505):

"[... mais après] s'assemblèrent partie desdits Bretons sous le viscomte Bérenger de Rennes [, fils du comte Salomon neveu & filleul du roy Salomon dessus nomme, fils de sa soeur & de Moderand comte de Rennes. Lequel Berenger & Allain comte de Dol qui deffendoient la région par devers Neustrie, se joignirent ensemble] & firent bataille près le fleuve Coynon contre une multitude desdits Normans qu'ils occirent. Et Allain le Grand, avec l'autre partie qu'il cueillit assailit une autre partie desdits Normans au territoire Nantois assez près du fleuve de Loire dont il occist la pluspart et les autres s'enfuirent; & ainsi chassèrent les Bretons lesdits Normands de leur région." [Le Baud 3: 204; de la Borderie (1890), ----, quotes another edition of Le Baud, Hist. de Bret., p. 127, with only "..." for the part in brackets (plus calling Bérenger "comte" instead of viscomte" and a few other relatively minor differences); (Translation: "...but afterward part of the said Bretons gathered under [vis]count Bérenger of Rennes, son of count Salomon, nephew and godson of king Salomon named above, son of his sister and of Moderand, count of Rennes. That Bérenger and Alain, count of Dol, who defended the region near Neustria, joined together and made battle near the Coynon river against a multitude of the said Normans, whom they killed. And Alain le Grand, with another part which he gathered, attacked another part of the said Normans in Nantois territory rather close to the river Loire, of whom he killed the greates part, and the others fled, and thus the Bretons chased the said Normans from the region.")]

If this statement of Le Baud could be trusted, then there would be a plausible case for making the present Bérenger a count of Rennes. However, even though Le Baud had access to many old documents now lost, there is good reason for caution here, for there is another well known context in which we would find two Bretons counts named Alain and Bérenger fighting against the Vikings, and that would involve the tenth century contemporaries Alain Barbetorte and [Juhel] Bérenger [see, for example, Flodoard's Annals, s.a. 945, MGH SS 3: 391]. This concern is verified by another passage of Le Baud:

"Et ainsi furent, selon lesdits Chronicques, les Bretons en celuy temps contraires aux Normans, combien qu'en celles desdits Normans soit dit qu'ils obéirent à Guillaume longue espée, & à Richard son fils, & que Berenger comte de Rennes, & Allain comte de Dol estoient à Picquigny quand le duc Guillaume y fut occis en l'an 942 & es expéditions de Richard & d'Algrode roy de Dannemarche conte Loys transmarin roy de France, qui ne se peut accorder: car le comte Berenger n'estoit pas lors vivant, mais regnoit pour luy Juhael son fils. Aussi que selon les Annaux, les Bretons avecques leur princes allèrent à Rouen en l'aide dudit roy Loys contre lesdit Normans l'an 943." [Le Baud 3:209] (Translation: "And thus, according to the said chronicles, the Bretons were at that time opposed to the Normans, although in those [chronicles] of the said Normans it is said that they obeyed William Longsword and Richard his son, and that Bérenger, count of Rennes, and Alain, count of Dol, were at Picquigny when duke William was killed there in 942, and in expeditions of Richard and "Algrode" [i.e., Hagrold or Harald] king of Denmark against Louis d'Outre-Mer, king of France, with which I do not agree: for count Bérenger was not still living, but his son Juhael ruled in his place. Also, according to the annals, the Bretons with their princes went to Rouen to aid the said king Louis against the said Normans in 943.")

Thus, there seems to be no reason to regard Le Baud's allegedly ninth century Breton counts Bérenger of Rennes and Alain of Dol as being distinct from the known tenth century counts [Juhel] Bérenger of Rennes and Alain Barbetorte. For this reason, we must set aside the supposed Breton connection of the ninth century Bérenger for lack of evidence.

Conjectured son (chronologically improbable) or descendant (evidence weak):
MALE Juhel Bérenger, fl. 945×ca. 970, count of Rennes.
There are a number of differences between various attempts to genealogically connect the present count Bérenger with count Juhel Bérenger of Rennes, either as father and son [e.g., Merlet (1925)], or as a more distant descendant (chronologically more suitable), possibly with an intervening female generation, and sometimes with Juhel Bérenger (almost certainly incorrectly) split into a father Bérenger (-ca. 958) and a son Juhel (ca. 958-ca. 970) [Guillotel (1984)]. In general, these theories use the (still unproven) supposed connection of Bérenger with Brittany as the starting point for an onomastic argument. More details about these theories can be found on the page for Juhel Bérenger.

Conjectured daughter (very doubtful):
FEMALE Wendilgard ("Henrici regis de filia neptis"), m. Udalrich, count of Linzgau and Thurgau.
See Jackman (2000), 137-8. This conjecture assumes as a starting point that Hypothesis 1 of Keat-Rohan is correct (which, if true, would imply that Bérenger's wife were a sister of Hadewig, wife of Otto the Great, son of king Henry/Heinrich I), and then uses a very novel interpretation of "Henrici regis de filia neptis" to get the above. There does not seem to be any good reason to accept the conjecture.


Bibliography

Le Baud = Charles de la Lande de Calan, ed., Cronicques & Ystoires des Bretons par Pierre le Baud, 4 vols. (Société des Bibliophiles Bretons et de l'Histoire de Bretagne, Rennes, 1910-2). This was taken from Le Baud's previously unpublished first redaction (1480), with selections from the second redaction given in volume 3, pages 172-213. Pierre Le Baud died on 19 September 1505. [Note: I now have access to the entire second redaction, published in Paris in 1638, but I have not yet updated the bibliographic citations to include this version.]

de la Borderie (1864) = 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.

Dudo = Eric Christiansen, ed. & trans., Dudo of St. Quentin, History of the Normans (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1998). Citation is by book and chapter of Dudo's work, with the page number in parentheses.

Ganshof (1929) = François-Louis Ganshof, "Depuis quand a-t-on pu, en France, être vassal de plusieurs seigneurs?", in Mélanges Paul Fournier (Paris, 1929).

Guillotel (1984) = André Chédeville & Hubert Guillotel, La Bretagne des saints et des rois Ve-Xe siècle (Rennes, 1984). (All pages cited on this webpage are from the part of the book by Guillotel.)

Guillotel (2000) = Hubert Guillotel, "Une autre marche de Neustrie", in Keats-Rohan & Settipani, eds., Onomastique et Parenté dans l'Occident médiéval (Oxford, 2000), 7-13.

Jackman (2000) = Donald C. Jackman, "Cousins of the German Carolingians", in Keats-Rohan & Settipani, eds., Onomastique et Parenté dans l'Occident médiéval (Oxford, 2000), 117-139.

Keats-Rohan (1997) = K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, "Poppa of Bayeux and her Family", The American Genealogist 72 (1997): 187-204. Also available in French as "Poppa 'de Bayeux' et sa famille", in Keats-Rohan & Settipani, eds., Onomastique et Parenté dans l'Occident médiéval (Oxford, 2000), 140-153.

Levillain (1897) = L. Levillain, "L'abbé Ebles, chancelier du roi Eudes", Correspondance historique et archaeologique (1902), 365-9 [cited by Merlet (1925), 553 and Ganshof (1929), 267; I have not seen Levillain's article].

Merlet (1925) = René Merlet, "La Famille des Bérenger comtes de Rennes et ducs de Bretagne", in Mélanges d'histoire du Moyen Age offerts à M. Ferdinand Lot par ses amis et ses élèves (Paris, 1925), 549-561.

Nec. Mans = Busson & Ledru, Nécrologe-obituaire de la Cathédrale du Mans (Archives Historiques du Maine 7, Le Mans, 1906).


Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

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