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ARTHUR I. (1187-1203), duke of Brittany, was the posthumous son of Geoffrey, the fourth son of Henry II. of England, and Constance, heiress of Conan IV., duke of Brittany. The Bretons hoped that their young prince would uphold their independence, which was threatened by the English. Henry II. tried to seize Brittany, and in 1187 forced Constance to marry one of his favourites, Randulph de Blundevill, earl of Chester (d. 1232). Henry, however, died soon afterwards (1189). The new king of England, Richard Cœur de Lion, claimed the guardianship of the young Arthur, but in 1190 Richard left for the Crusade. Constance profited by his absence by governing the duchy, and in 1194 she had Arthur proclaimed duke of Brittany by an assembly of barons and bishops. Richard invaded Brittany in 1196, but was defeated in 1197 and became reconciled to Constance. On his death in 1189, the nobles of Anjou, Maine and Touraine refused to recognize John of England, and did homage to Arthur, who declared himself the vassal of Philip Augustus. In 1202 war was resumed between the king of England and the king of France. The king of France recognized Arthur’s right to Brittany, Anjou, Maine and Poitou. While Philip Augustus was invading Normandy, Arthur tried to seize Poitou. But, surprised at Mirebeau, he fell into the hands of John, who sent him prisoner to Falaise. In the following year he was transferred to Rouen, and disappeared suddenly. It is thought that John killed him with his own hand. After this murder John was condemned by the court of peers of France, and stripped of the fiefs which he possessed in France.

See Ralph of Coggeshall, “Chronicon Anglicanum,” in the Monumenta Britanniae historica; Dom Lobineau, Histoire de Bretagne (1702); Dom Morice, Histoire de Bretagne (1742-1756); A. de la Borderie, Histoire de Bretagne, vol. iii. (1899); Bémont, “De la condamnation de Jean-sans-Terre par la Cour des Pairs de France,” in the Revue historique (1886), vol. xxxii.

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