Alan I "the Great", king of Brittany

Count of Brittany

Alan I "the Great", king of Brittany's Geni Profile

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French: Alain
Also Known As: "Alain de Nantes", "Alain de Bretagne"
Birthplace: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire, France
Death: November 10, 907
Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Pays DE La Loire, France
Place of Burial: Nantes, France
Immediate Family:

Son of Ridoredh de Bretagne, Comte de Nantes et Vannes and Aremburge d'Ancenis (conbubine)
Husband of Oreguen, Queen of Britanny
Father of Rudalt, comte de Vannes; Pascweten de Rennes; Guerec de Bretagne; Budic de Bretagne and N.N.
Brother of Pascwethen de Vannes, duc de Bretagne

Occupation: The Last King of Brittany, Duke of Brittany, Count of Vannes
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Alan I "the Great", king of Brittany

Alain (Alan) I, King of Brittany

Alan I (French: Alain; died 907), called the Great, was the Count of Vannes and Duke of Brittany (dux Brittonium) from 876 until his death. He was probably also the only King of Brittany (rex Brittaniæ) to hold that title by legitimate grant of the Emperor.

Alan was the second son of Count Ridoredh of Vannes. He succeeded his brother Pascweten in Vannes and Brittany when the latter died, probably in the middle of 876. He represented the power bloc of southeastern Brittany and had to fight, initially, against Judicael of Poher, representative of western Breton interests, for the ducal throne. Eventually he and Judicael made peace in order to fight the Vikings. Judicael died in the Battle of Questembert in 888 or 889. In 890, Alan defeated the Vikings at Saint-Lô, chasing them into a river where many drowned.

After the death of Judicael, Alan ruled all of Brittany as it had been during the time of Salomon. He ruled not only the Breton territories of Léon, Domnonée, Cornouaille, and the Vannetais, but also the Frankish counties of Rennes, Nantes, Coutances, and Avranches, as well as the western parts of Poitou (the so-called pays de Retz) and Anjou. In the east his rule extended as far as the river Vire. He was the first Breton ruler to rule this entire territory without great opposition within the west and the last to rule the whole bloc of Franco-Celtic countries. His strongest opponent was Fulk I of Anjou, who disputed control of the Nantais with him, though Alan seems to have had the upper hand in his lifetime. His power base remained in the southeast and he was powerful and wealthy in land in around Vannes and Nantes.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, after the death of Carloman II in 884, Charles the Fat succeeded to all of West Francia save Brittany, thus making Brittany an independent kingdom; but this does not seem to have been true. A charter datable to between 897 and 900 makes reference to the soul of Karolus on whose behalf Alan had ordered prayers to be said in the monastery of Redon. This was probably Charles the Fat, who, as emperor, probably granted Alan the right to be titled rex. As emperor he would have had that prerogative and he is known to have had contacts with Nantes in 886, making it not improbable that he came into communication with Alan. Charles also made a concerted effort to rule effectively in the entirety of his empire and to make former enemies, with dubious ties to the empire, like the Viking Godfrid, men of standing in return for their loyalty. Throughout his reign, Alan used Carolingian symbols of regalia and Carolingian forms in his charters.

Alan augmented his power during the weak reigns of Odo and Charles III. He died in 907 and Brittany was overrun by Vikings, who held the region until 936, when Alan's grandson, Alan II, succeeded in reestablishing Christian rule, but Brittany was never thenceforth as extended as in Alan's time and no future Breton rulers were called kings.

Children by his wife Oreguen, Alan left the following issue:

  1. Pascweten (died c. 903)
  2. Guerec
  3. Budic
  4. Rudalt, Count of Vannes, fled the Viking invasion c. 919
  5. Unnamed daughter, who married Mathuedoi, Count of Poher, and was the mother of Alan II
  6. Unnamed daughter, who married Tangui, Count of Vannes, died before 913

ALAIN (-907). Regino records that "Alanus frater Pasquitani" succeeded his brother, jointly with "Iudicheil, ex filia Herispoii regis natus"[73]. The Annales Mettenses names "Judicheil ex filia Heriospoii regis natus" when recording that he ruled jointly with "Alanus frater Pasquitani"[74]. He succeeded his brother in [876] as ALAIN I "le Grand" joint Duke of Brittany, ruling jointly with Judicaël son of Duke Gurwent. Regino records disputes between "Alanum et Iudicheil duces Brittonium" in 890[75] and, in an earlier passage, that Duke Alain ruled solely after Judicaël died fighting the Vikings[76]. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that the Bretons defeated the Vikings at St Lo in 890 and "drove them into a river and drowned many"[77]. It appears that, after the death of Alain, power in Brittany was shared between the counts of Poher (Alain´s son-in-law), Vannes (Alain´s possible eldest son) and Cornouaïlle, and that none of them was acknowledged as overall ruler. It is likely that this situation persisted until the Viking invasion in 919 as no reference has been found to any overall Breton duke during that time in any of the primary sources so far consulted in the preparation of the present document. m [firstly] OREGUEN, daughter of ---. "Alanus…rex Brittaniæ" donated property "abbatial sancti Sergii in pago Andecavensi" to "Raino Andacavensis episcopus" to "episcopo Adalaldo archiepiscopo simulque Rainoni episcopo, fratri eiusdem" by charter dated [5 Feb 897/26 Nov 903], subscribed by "Orgaim uxoris suæ…Vuereche filii Alani, Pascuiten fratris sui"[78]. [m secondly as her first husband, ---. "Tanchi comes…cum…filiolum suum Derian, filium Alani" shared property which they donated to the abbey of Redon by charter dated 27 Nov 910, "Gurmahilon regnante Britanniam"[79]. This charter indicates that Tanguy was closely related to the family of Duke Alain. The use of the word "filiolus" suggests that Derien may have been Tanguy´s stepson. As Duke Alain´s other known children were adult by the late 9th century as shown by the various documents in which they are named, it is unlikely that their mother would have remarried after her husband´s death. The most likely explanation therefore is that Alain remarried after the death of his wife Oreguen, had a son by this second marriage, and that his widow married secondly Tanguy after her first husband died. This would explain the joint holding of property in which the other sons of Duke Alain are not stated to have held any interest.] Duke Alain I & his [first] wife had [six] children.



  1. Smith, Julia M. H. Province and Empire: Brittany and the Carolingians. Cambridge University Press: 1992.
  2. Medieval Lands Foundation for Medieval Genealogy. 2006 - 2010.
  3. Wikipedia article on Alan I, King of Brittany

Alan and Jukeal, his brother, ruled Brittany together. When his brother died he ruled alone. He held the title of King of Brittany ,bestowed by the Emperor, from 890 until his death in 907. He was successful in fighting off a Viking invasion in 890.

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Alan I "the Great", king of Brittany's Timeline

December 11, 857
Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire, France
- 907
Age 19
Count of Brittany
Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, Bretagne, France
Penthiève, Bretagne, France
November 10, 907
Age 49
Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Pays DE La Loire, France
Age 49
Nantes, France
Penthiève, Bretagne, France
Penthiève, Bretagne, France