This is a good story, POD. Thank you for continuing this. How far ahead are you planning to take this timeline in the future?
Last edited:
This is a good story, POD. Thank you for continuing this. How far ahead are you planning to take this timeline in the future?
Thank you:)
Actually, I'm still unsure. I plan to take it into the 13th century at least, but I have a few ideas for later periods. I may also make lists of monarchs and write a few posts about politics, religions etc. in this modern-day alt-world.
8. The Breton Court of Love
The Breton Court of Love

King Alan V and his wife, Queen Bertha, did everything in their power to appropriate the Arthurian legend in order to restore the Kingdom of Brittany, even claiming to be the direct descendants of King Hoel, son of the Breton king Budic II and Arthur’s sister according to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia.

Once peace returned after the Uprising in Nantes, Alan and Bertha were busy encouraging poets to make use of the legend and set scribes to putting old poems and songs in writing. They also named a Royal Chronicler, Stephen of Fougères, whose best-known work, De Genealogia Regum Letaviæ seu Britanniæ minoris, makes Alan and Bertha the descendants of both Kings Hoel and Arthur.

Bertha herself is known to have composed at least two lais: Morvyz and Conan and Helen’s Grave [1] and she encouraged her son-in-law’s sister, the famous Marie de France, [a] to write her own poems. Although the Breton court is not as famous as the Poitevin one, growing up in such rich literary environment had of course an important influence on Alan and Bertha’s children. Conan was to be known as “the Poet” in his lifetime and modern historians consider he was the founding father of Breton literature.

Indeed, had Alan and Bertha not brought up their children to be so well-read, it is very possible that most Breton poems would have slowly fallen into oblivion, or at least been preserved in French language only. For although Bertha and her children did not speak Breton fluently themselves, they strove to have Breton poems put in writing and not just translated in French.

[1] These two lais were themselves inspired by two Breton lais: Morvyz ha Conan and Bez Elena. M. de La Villemarqué, who attributed the lais Guidelüec ha Gualadon and Lacheu mab Arzur to Bertha, was wrong, as it is well-known that neither Bertha or her children spoke Breton.

Dr. Kerfelin Le Goff, “The Breton Court of Love”
in Roger S. Loomis, Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages (1965)​

[a] ITTL, Marie de France’s identity is Marie, Countess of Blois, Stephen’s youngest daughter.

Genealogy of the Kings of Brittany, according to Stephen of Fougères’s De Genealogia Regum Letaviæ seu Britanniæ minoris
Descent from Hoel
Conan Meriadec
Gradlon the Great
Budic I
Budic II
Hoel I the Great
Hoel II
Alan I
Hoel III
Salomon II
Alan II the Long
Gradlon II
Budic III the Great
Ridoredh, Count of Vannes
Alan the Great

Descent from Arthur
Salomon II
Alan II the Long
Gradlon II
Budic III the Great
Ridoredh, Count of Vannes
Alan the Great
i thaught conan died in 1184 in this scenario
Yes, I'd settled on (about) 1183 in my notes. For now (post-1152 period) his parents are still reigning so we'll see more of him later. He's not very well-loved by OTL Bretons (although a historian recently stood up for him in a very interesting way) so I thought it'd be nice if ITTL Conan IV became a successful ruler - which he would probably have been hadn't his stepdad decided to secure the power for himself.
Thank you so much! I'm preparing the next instalment (and trying a new presentation for it - no history book this time!)
9. Where a Loser Becomes a Conqueror
Where a Loser Becomes a Conqueror

Alan Penrose: Hello and welcome to An eur istorel, our weekly historical programme. This is Alan Penroz and today, I’m taking you back to the 12th century. I’m delighted to host as our first guest a young promising historian, Yuna Soler.
Yuna was born in Kemper, Bro Glazik and currently lives in Occitania with her husband and fellow historian Pèire Soler. Her first book, Hoel, a Forgotten Conqueror, will be released in a few hours’ time. So Yuna, tell us how you came to write about Hoel.
Yuna Soler: Well, I discovered Hoel — I should say this Hoel —quite by accident. When I was 16, I went on a linguistic trip to Toulouse with my class. The very first day, we visited the Old Town and went to the main square. Nowadays, this square is called the Great Square or the Conqueror’s Square by foreigners and these names are used by the Occitans as well.
Yet when we came here, we first went through a small street our Occitan teacher had insisted on showing us — there was a small but very well-stocked bookshop here — and as we finally arrived on the square, I saw an old sign that read Plaça del Comte Hoel. I was surprised to see it bore Breton name. I asked our teacher, who simply answered it must be Duchess Eleanor’s husband. We knew Hoel of Brittany had married Eleanor but that was all — except, of course, that all his attempts to grab the Breton throne from his sister had miserably failed.
A.P.: Well, to be honest, that’s about all I knew about him before I read your book. It was a very enriching read.
Y.S.: Thank you. Anyway, my teacher may not know why this place was named after a Breton person, which was quite normal as he was an Occitan, not History teacher, but it aroused my curiosity and I was determined to find out more about this. The next day, as we were visiting a museum, I asked a staff member who this Count Hoel was. He stared at me like I’d just asked him what Occitania itself was and said: “Why, it’s Hoel the Conqueror!” I was rather taken aback. Somehow, the words Hoel and Conqueror together don’t sound right to a Breton ear!
The young man took pity on me and told me how Hoel, as Eleanor of Aquitaine’s husband, claimed the County of Toulouse in 1159. Contrary to all his Breton attempts, this one succeeded and Hoel and Eleanor became Count and Countess of Toulouse. I do say Count and Countess because, although Hoel was Duke of Aquitaine jure uxoris, he was Count of Toulouse by right of conquest.
A.P.: Hence his nickname.
Y.S.: Exactly. I was so amazed to hear this part of Hoel’s story, which I didn’t know at all, that I started to look up every book, documentary etc. I could find about him. Unfortunately, he’s not very well-documented in Breton literature so I turned to Occitan resources. I can tell you my Occitan improved a lot in the following years! This way, I was able to find more about Hoel’s life.
A.P.: But how can somebody so important be completely forgotten in his birth country nowadays? I mean, he never actually ruled Brittany but as Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Toulouse, he should have left his mark in history, shouldn’t he?
Y.S.: That is exactly the question I asked myself over and over these last few years. The answer is quite simple, really. To understand the whole thing, we need to go back to the year 1148, when Hoel’s father Conan III, the last Duke of Brittany, died. We all know what happened. Conan died and Bertha succeeded him with her husband Alan as co-ruler, and they became the first King and Queen of Brittany in centuries. Nowadays, most people see them as some kind of liberators. But for them, Brittany would have remained a Duchy and would probably have ended up like Burgundy, absorbed by France sooner or later. No one in Brittany would ever dream of questioning Alan and Bertha’s legitimacy.
A.P.: But you do?
Y.S.: Not exactly. I don’t doubt it from a political point of view but I do from a Medieval, successional point of view. Imagine: in 12th century Europe — at least Western Europe, I won’t give an opinion about countries I don’t know well enough — men took precedence over women. Have you ever wondered how many women succeeded their fathers in lieu of their brothers?
In Medieval mentalities, it was just ridiculous! From the moment a deceased ruler had surviving sons, they were the ones who would claim their father’s inheritance. Women were married off to form alliances but unless they had no brothers, they could not dream of ever ascending a throne in their own right. What Conan III did was unprecedented!
A.P.: I see. Hoel must have felt… betrayed by his father.
Y.S.: Not exactly betrayed, no. Conan’s decision wasn’t made on his death bed. He must have had this idea in mind when Bertha married Alan. I’d even say it was probably Alan’s idea.
You know the Counts of Penthièvre had claimed they were the rightful heirs to the Duchy ever since Hawise succeeded her brother in 1066. If they’d had their way, they’d have established Salic Law in Brittany. Conan’s decision was aimed at reconciling the Penthièvre and Cornouaille branches of the family and reinforcing Brittany so royalty would be restored.
Well, Hoel must have known what his father and brother-in-law had in mind. He probably kept a low profile as long as Conan lived because he didn’t want to be immediately disinherited. But as soon as his father died, he claimed the throne. What he did was quite normal and legitimate from a Medieval point of view.
A.P.: But why wasn’t he successful then?
Y.S.: The political context was exceptional. England was fighting a war of succession, the French king hadn’t returned from Crusade yet… It was an opportunity the Bretons couldn’t miss.
As soon as Conan died, Alan styled himself King of all Brittany. And he and Bertha had several children, two of them boys, whereas Hoel had only one daughter. Better have a woman with a son succeed than support a man who had only one daughter as successor. Outside the County of Nantes, which his father had granted him as a consolation prize, Hoel didn’t really find support among the nobility. After his defeat, Alan and Bertha became the unquestioned rulers and a real Hoel-bashing progressively appeared. He had to be seen as a usurper, so the new dynasty wouldn’t be threatened by him or his descendants later. You just have to read or watch all the novels, plays or movies that have been made about this period. Hoel’s always the villain. He can be a harmless, stupid guy who’s more a bother than a threat to his sister, for instance in this awful comedy, Gimme Back my Crown, Sis! which I already found quite stupid when I first saw it at the age 12, or the perfect bad guy as in The Life and Death of Prince Hoel, which depicts him as a bitter, mentally and physically crooked man who meets an early and very anachronistic death. I personally prefer the way he’s portrayed as a dark, sinister figure in Anna Roc’han’s tragedy Hoel, a beautiful drama really, with Hoel a much more complex character than usual.
A.P.: Another example of history being re-written by the winner…
Y.S.: Precisely. But as I told you, I don’t doubt the political legitimacy of Conan and Alan’s plan. It was risky indeed. What if Alan had died when he fell ill in 1146? With Bertha widowed, things could have gone horribly wrong for Brittany.
A.P.: I thought the seriousness of Alan’s illness had been exaggerated?
Y.S.: It was. But we don’t know what this illness was. Alan could have died after all. History is full of instances of people who survived a very serious illness while others died when you’d have expected them to live. If he hadn’t survived, Bertha would have needed to remarry at once to protect her and her children’s interests and Hoel would’ve probably had his chance, depending who her second husband would have been.
Anyway, Alan didn’t die and the plan was successful. So yes, even if Alan and Bertha’s legitimacy was dubious according to Medieval custom, it was a good thing for Brittany on the whole. And after the Second War of the Breton Succession, Queen Constance and her husband made sure succession laws were clearly stated in the Succession Charter: sons should take precedence over daughters unless the sake of the kingdom was at stake and in this case, daughters should preferably be married to relatives so the crown would remain in the family. The last part was not always respected though. Even Queen Constance, who succeeded her childless brother, had married a foreign king.
A.P.: One could argue that when Constance married, no one could expect her brother to die childless.
Y.S.: True, but even when daughters were chosen over sons, although it hardly ever happened, they didn’t always marry into their family.
From An eur istorel, 18 July 2014 Radio Breizh 1.​

Praise for Yuna Soler’s Hoel, a Forgotten Conqueror

A stupendous investigation into the life of an unjustly denigrated prince. — Radio Breizh 1.

We all know Hoel. Whether he’s a murdering usurper in The Life and Death of Prince Hoel or a blundering conspirator in Gimme Back my Crown, Sis! we’ve all heard of him at least once in our lives. But Yuna Soler’s first book shows us a very different figure, a man robbed of his rightful inheritance who vainly fought for it and eventually won himself another country. After nearly nine centuries, a Breton writer redeems his name — at last! — Naoned Gazette.

“Our ancestors’ intents were noble and Hoel was the collateral victim of their effort to give Brittany her greatness back. Alan and Bertha made Brittany a kingdom again and for that we should be grateful. But we should not have forgotten Hoel. Yuna Soler did what we should have done long ago. May this late offering to Hoel’s memory put our wrongs right.” — King Malcolm III’s speech at the commemorative ceremony for the 830th anniversary of Hoel’s death, 12 August 2014.
Last edited:
Cover of Yuna Soler's book (Breton edition)
And here is the cover of Yuna Soler's book Hoel, a Forgotten Conqueror. This is the Breton edition of course.
Yuna Soler's book.jpg
Last edited:
Yes, ITTL Breton is one of the most-spoken languages in modern day. The country's bilingual but Alan V, Bertha and later Conan IV's support of Breton-speaking poets will have a lot of consequences...
Yes, ITTL Breton is one of the most-spoken languages in modern day. The country's bilingual but Alan V, Bertha and later Conan IV's support of Breton-speaking poets will have a lot of consequences...
that is interesting, and i can't say I've seen that much, if at all