Alan III "le Noir" DE BRETAGNE 1st Earl of Richmond
- Born: Abt 1096, Treguier, Cotes-du-Nord, France
- Married: Bretagne, France
- Died: 15 Sep 1146, Begard, Bretagne, France
Richmond, previous creations: Alan III, a Count of Brittany, whose uncle, another Alan, was probably a companion in arms of William I (The Conqueror) at Hastings and was granted vast land holdings in Yorkshire almost immediately after the Conquest, seems to have been recognized as Earl of Richmond by 1136. There is no record of his formal investiture with the dignity, however.
His title derived from Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire, which his uncle Alan had built not long before dying in 1089 and which remained the caput or administrative centre of the honor (agglomeration of knight's fees in a single unit under the feudal system). Richmond Castle was granted to the 1st Duke of Richmond of the present creation in August 1675, the same month he was first ennobled, but the medieval hono comprised lands throughout eastern England, not just in Yorkshire. Earl Alan sided with Stephen against the Empress Maud at the time of the Anarchyl. His son Conan IV held the Dukedom of Brittany (right to which he enjoyed through his mother, Alan's wife) as well as the Earldom of Richmond.
Conan IV had an only child, a daughter Constance, who married first Geoffrey, a younger son of Henry II of England who was thus acknowledged as Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany, then Ranulf, Earl of Chester, who styled himself Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany too. She divorced Ranulf in 1199 and took a third husband, Guy de Thouars, who ran the Richmond estates, but may not necessarily have been recognized as Earl of Richmond. Guy sided with the King of France against King John of England in 1203, whereupon his English lands were forfeited, after which the question as to whether he enjoyed recognition as Earl hardly arises. [Burke's Peerage, p. 2402]
EARLDOM OF RICHMOND (I)
ALAN III the Black (Niger), a count of Brittany and EARL OF RICHMOND, 2nd son of Stephen, born before 1100. He seems to have been marked out as the successor to his father's English lands. In 1139 an unnamed nephew of his was killed at the King's court by the servants of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, and of the Bishops of Lincoln and Ely, and Alan urged the King to reprisals, thus contributing to the fall of the bishops. In 1140 he seized the castle of "Galclint" with its treasure, ejecting William d'Aubigny therefrom; he afterwards built a castle at "Hotun," being land of the Bishop of Durham, and ravaged Ripon and the property of the archbishopric of York. In the same year, 1140, King Stephen deprived Reynold de Dunstanville, illegitimate son of Henry I, of his lands in Cornwall and,gave the county, (patriam) to Alan, who seems to have had some claim to it as heir of his uncle Brian; he thereupon became, or at any rate assumed the style of EARL OF CORNWALL. He fought on the side of Stephen at the battle of Lincoln, 2 February 1141, but was put to flight at the outset by the charge of the "Disinherited." Later in the same year he was taken prisoner by Ranulf, Earl of Chester, who forced him to do homage and to surrender the Earldom of Cornwall to Reynold de Dunstanville. At Christmas 1141 he was with the King at Canterbury, where as comes Alanus he witnessed the King's second charter for Geoffrey de Mandeville. After Easter 1142 a tournament between him and William, Count of Aumale, was stopped by the King. In 1143 he invaded the church of Ripon and insulted Archbishop William at the tomb of St. Wilfred. In or shortly before 1145 he issued two charters of confirmation for the abbey of Jervaulx, adding a gift of common of pasture. In 1145 he crossed to Brittany, whence he never returned, and later in the year at Quimper issued a charter confirining the abbey of St. Melaine at Rennes in its rights over the church of St. Sauveur at Guingamp and over their possessions in England. In Brittany he executed two other charters, which have survived, one at Rennes on 6 January 1146 and the other at Ploërrnel.
He married Bertha, daughter of Conan III, DUKE OF BRITTANY, by Maud, illegitimate daughter of HENRY I. He, died in Brittany, 15 September 1146, and was buried at Bégard. His widow married, 2ndly, in or before 1148, Eudon, VICOMTE OF PORHOËT, who on the death of Conan III in 1148 was recognised as Duke of Brittany jure uxoris; she had Costessy and othcr lands in Norfolk In dower, and was living in 1162, but dead in 1167. [Complete Peerage X:788-91, (transcribed by Dave Utzinger)]
Alan Niger was an active partisan of King Stephen in his contest with the Empress Maud. In 1142, he took the castle of Lincoln, with considerable treasure, from Ranulph, Earl of Chester, by scaling the walls at night. He also garrisoned the castle of Hotun, in Yorkshire, then part of the bishop of Durham's possessions, and made great spoil at Ripon upon the demesnes and tenants of thearchbishop of York. This Alan Niger, who is described as a most deceitful, wicked person, wrote himself Earl of Brittany, Cornwall, and Richmond; but notwithstanding that character, he appears, like his progenitors, to have been a munificent benefactor to the church. His lordship m. Bertha, dau. and heir of Conan le Gros, the 3rd Duke of Bretagne (and by this marriage acquired the title of Duke of Brittany) and had issue, Conan le Petit, his successor, Brian, Guy, and Reginald. He d. in 1165 and was s. by his eldest son. [Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages, Burke's Peerage, Ltd., London, 1883, p. 162, de Dreux, Earls of Richmond]
In the summer of 1140, Stephen with his amazingly consistent energy against new threats, brought an army to Cornwall to regain his own lands there. He recovered all the castles which had fallen into the hands of Reginald, illegitimate son of Henry I, with the exception of the one Reginald himself inhabited. Stephen introduced his own loyal supporter, Alan of Penthièvre, into Cornwall, gave the recovered lands into his hands, and shortly afterwards created him Earl of Cornwall. However, Matilda gave Reginald the same title, and the two rival earls were left to contest their claims. In February, 1141, Alan fought alongside Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln. After the defeat of Stephen's forces, Alan continued to fight on and tried to ambush Ranulf of Chester but was captured, put in chains and tortured in a dungeon until he submitted to Ranulf, did homage to him, and handed over his castles. Another result of this humiliation for Alan was that it confirmed that his rival in the west country, Reginald, would keep the earldom of Cornwall. [Jim Bradbury, Stephen and Matilda, The Civil War of 1139-53, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., Gloucestershire, 1996]
Alan married Bertha DE BRETAGNE Heiress of Brittany, daughter of Conan III "Le Gros" DE BRETAGNE Duke of Brittany and Princess Maud Margaret D' ANGLETERRE, in Bretagne, France. (Bertha DE BRETAGNE Heiress of Brittany was born about 1122 in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, Anjou/Pays-de-la-Loire, France and died before 1167 in Richmond Castle, North Riding Yorkshire, England.)