Count Conan II of Brittany (r.1040 to 1066)

Conan II was the son of Count Alain III of Rennes. Robert I, Duke of Normandy, second son of Richard the Second, left his son, William the Conqueror, in the charge of his cousins Robert I, and Alain III, whilst undertaking a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Duke Robert died on his return, poisoned by Raoul Mouin. Alain III of Brittany died on October 1, 1040 whilst laying siege to the castle of Montgomery. It was claimed that Alain was poisoned by Duke William and his accomplices. After the death of his father, Conan aged three, was held in captivity at Rheims, by his uncle Eudes (Eudon de Penthievre). Conan was held for seven years until he was rescued by the Breton barons in 1048. Sometime after the siege of Mortemer in 1054, Conan captured his uncle Eudes and had him imprisoned in chains. The conflict was then carried on by Hoel, Count of Nantes, son of Eudes, who, upon Conan's death claimed the Duchy by right of his marriage to Conan's sister. Conan died in 1066, poisoned at William's command whilst campaigning against the Angevins.

There was a Breton noble, a chamberlain of Conan, who had sworn fealty to William and to Conan alike, and who had borne the message to William as Conan's ambassador. He undertook at whose bidding or from what motive we are not told-to rid the world of his Breton master. He smeared the gloves, the bridle, and the hunting-horn of Conan with poison. The Count was engaged in his Angevin campaign, and was besieging the fortress of Chateau Gontier, not far from the Cenomannian border. The defenders had capitulated, and Conan seems to have been in the very act of making his triumphal entry into the town. The Count put on his gloves, he grasped the bridle, and unwittingly raised his hand to his mouth. The poison took effect, and before long Conan was a corpse. --Freeman

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