The History of Dol de Bretagne

Dol de Bretagne, the city where Edd Hostel stands, has nothing to envy to the Mont-Saint-Michel… in terms of History! In this article, we will focus on two main stories about this little village. Let’s eddplore together the History of Dol de Bretagne! 🙂

 

Dol, the religious metropolis

 

The origin of the creation of the town, Dol de Bretagne, comes from the 6th century. At this time, the bishop Saint Samson had a reveal: To leave his hometown, which was South Wales, in order to found a bishopric in Brittany. He is part of the Seven Saints that guided the destiny of Breton people.

All the Seven Saints of Brittany, Saint Samson standing left

The first thing the bishop did, was releasing the true king of Breton Judual from the lord of Poher. He instantly gained the friendship of Judual, and became the first bishop of Brittany. At that time,  the land was under control of Franc people, ruled by Charles le Chauve.

But Breton people are proud people, and they don’t appreciate being ruled by anyone! So it’s for this reason that Nominoë, the new king of Breton, decided to fight Franc people.

Nominoë talking to his followers

After defeating the Francs, Nominoë decided to create the first metropolis of Brittany. He chose Dol to be the main religious city of Brittany, and the place where its archbishopric would take place. Of course, the archbishop of Tours, that ruled the place before, disagreed.

Despite the complains of Tour, Dol remained the archbishopric of the whole Brittany during over 3 centuries!

However, in 1198, the new pope Innocent III decided to put an end to the archbishopric of Dol de Bretagne. Every Breton bishops had to submit to the archbishopric of Tour.

That was the end of Dol de Bretagne as the religious metropolis of Brittany. From the rich main city of a whole land, Dol became a countryside town… but with a lot of heritage sites and history!

A lot of places and buildings are named after mens who built the glory of the town, like the Nominoë place or the Cathedral Saint Samson. Those are irremediable proofs of the incredible past of Dol de Bretagne!

 

The Stuart Roots

Did you know History of Dol and Scotland kingdom are connected?

All starts with the great grandson of Alain Dapifer, Breton steward of Dol in 1066. His name is Walter Fitzalan, and he is the origin of the foundation of the Stuart family. The father of Walter, who fought for Henry the 1st and made him a friend, moved from Brittany to England with his son.

Several years later, Walter befriended David the 1st, king of Scotland, during a conflict between empress Mathilda, the niece of the Scottish king, and Stephen of Blois for the English throne.

Afterwards, during the 12th century, Walter entered the service of the crown of Scotland, and in 1150 the king David the 1st made him high Steward.

Since the title of high steward is hereditary, his son also gained that title. The name of Fitzalan changed for “Steward”, which was frenchified into “Stuart”.

Finally, in the 14th century, Robert II Stuart managed to sit on the Scottish throne. So, we can say king of Scotland is a bit from Dol 🙂

“La grande rue des Stuarts” in Dol de Bretagne, which you can see on the above picture, refers to the Breton origins of Stuart royal family.

Nowadays, signs are exposed in the main street of Dol to tell that story to anyone, both in French and English of course! From time to time, progeny of the Stuart family comes to Dol to remind themselves the bond that links their family to Dol de Bretagne… Isn’t it awesome?

There is so much history hidden in the streets of Dol that we can’t tell all of it in just an article! If you want to know more about it, we highly recommend the book of Patrick Amiot. In that book you will learn more about the town, its roots and little secret, but also its WWII past.

You can also book a tour of the city with the Tourist information office, click here!

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