The Middle Ages
After the Breton kingdom came the Breton duchy. First harassed by Vikings, the regionâ€™s leaders then had to contend with powerful neighbours and niggling infighting. A bitter Breton civil war broke out in the 14th century. Forts sprang up through the period, and towns were protected behind strong walls, while mighty new Gothic cathedrals arose in the cities.
Warring and Infighting
Through medieval times, Brittanyâ€™s dukes had difficulties not just standing up to their powerful Norman and Angevin neighbours, but also to tricky local lords. Problems reached boiling point in the 14th-century Breton War of Succession. This conflict was like a violent sideshow to the Hundred Yearsâ€™ War. Two formidable Breton warriors, Bertrand du Guesclin and Olivier de Clisson, went off to fight on a wider front leading the French army. In Brittany, the de Montfort family triumphed, establishing a strong administration for the 15th century.
Fortification and beautification
One fine legacy from this bellicose period is the forts and fortified towns built around Brittany. Sensational castles guarded the coasts, such as Fort La Latte or Suscinio; certain ports were given great ramparts like St-Malo and Concarneau; many medieval towns developed along well-protected rivers splendid examples of which include Dinan, Morlaix, Quimper and Vannes. FougĂ¨res and VitrĂ© on Brittanyâ€™s eastern flank were stunningly fortified too.
A strong religious spirit
Through the Middle Ages, the religious spirit was strong in Brittany. New Gothic cathedrals marked the cities, while modest churches and chapels mushroomed up in the countryside. All are still a delight to behold. One exceptional figure distinguished himself in the 13th century: the lawyer Yves of Kermartin who defended the interests of the poor. Buried in TrĂ©guier cathedral, he would become patron saint of Brittany.