Did Charles de Valois Have a Mistress Helene de Brossard?

+5 votes

Apparently, family legend states that [Broussard-67| Helene de Broussard] and [[Capet-25|Charles de Valois (de France)] were lovers and that they had a son, Antoine de Broussard, who was Charles' oldest, but illegitimate, son.  I can find old books that repeat this legend, but I can find no real documented source for the info.  The Foundation for Medieval Genealogy's [http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/CAPET.htm#CharlesValoisdied1325B Medieval Lands Index] does not mention Helene or any mistress, nor does it mention Antoine.

What should we do with this oft-repeated but undocumented relationship?

WikiTree profile: Charles de Valois
in Genealogy Help by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (331k points)
edited by Vic Watt
Hi Vic,

I'm also searching for the same documentation. What "old books" are you referring to here? Curious to know...thanks!

Judy, the books were probably 19th century genealogies trying to connect the descendants of Antoine to royalty.  The books were so sourceless and unremarkable that I didn't note down their titles, just the rumors.
Thanks Vic! I found something online (in French) but my translation isn't the best (neither is Google translate):


It does reference a natural son between Charles de Valois and Helene de Brossard. Then I believe provides more background on Brossards--coming from a region in Normandy...

Judy, my French translation is also very poor, but I don't think the section about Helene de Brossard, cites any original sources.

As I said below, if Charles de Valois did have an illegitimate son with Helene de Brossard, then you would expect to find something recorded at or near that time.   Highly unlikely there would be a birth or baptism record, but there should be some form of documentation - a will, a donation to a church, a chronicle, a grant of land etc.

During the medieval period, it is those records that are used to build up a picture of who is related to who.  In England those sources are well-known and many have been published, but I'm not sure about French sources?

However if all we can find is secondary sources and none of them quote any original sources, then I think the relationship to Charles de Valois must be seen as very doubtful.

This article comes from the Bulletin (1913 (T29)-1914) of the Société des antiquaires de Normandie.  It may be a scholarly article, but I don't know. I know nothing about the author, M. le Comte de Caix de Saint-Aymoir.  The article is about the archives of a particular Brossard family, not about genealogy (although it does include some genealogical information.)

The relevant passage is in the introduction, and it is a disambiguation statement.  It says that the article is not about the Brossard family that descends from the illegitimate son of Charles de Valois and Hélène de Brossard, and that family is, as far as is known, not connected to the family whose archives the author is detailing.  The author makes no statement nor provides any evidence to support the existence of an illegitimate son for Charles de Valois.  He doesn't even seem to know who Hélène de Brossard is, merely calling a lady Hélène de Brossard.

You can find what Beauchet-Filleau (who specialized in Poitou genealogies) has to say about the Brossards here: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6562599j/f30.image - he obviously did not see a connection between diverse Brossards in Poitou. Brossard is a fairly common family name. I went to school with a Brossard.

Aubert de la Chesnaye on the Brossard-Lonnetière famlily: https://books.google.fr/books?id=XZ9YAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PA237&ots=e0Vr5YJRKD&&hl=fr&pg=PA235#v=onepage&q&f=false

And what the same Aubert de la Chesnaye says about the Brossard family with 12 branches of the same origin: https://books.google.fr/books?id=XZ9YAAAAMAAJ&lpg=PA237&ots=e0Vr5YJRKD&hl=fr&pg=PA235#v=onepage&q&f=false

Note that he writes: "According to this genealogical table"... " natural son (says the table)..." thus twice refusing in the same paragraph to take responsibility for what the table says. In other words, while La Chesnaye mentions the story, he heavily hints that it should be taken with a large grain of salt. Further down, he adds that "there is so much confusion  in this tract that it is impossible to us to give a followed and accurate filiation".


3 Answers

+1 vote
there are 2 old historic manuscripts that say that ,Know keep in mind this is Circa

1289,not likely you will find a documented source.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (917k points)
Hello Wayne,

What are the two manuscripts you refer to here? I have the same question posed by Viv Watt earlier...

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
+3 votes

I have a modern book;  Les Valois by Patrck Van Kerrebrouck, that seems well-researched and does include illegitimate children and their descendants of the dynasty, but doesn't mention any illegitimate children of Charles de France, Comte de Valois.  If Antoine had been recognised as the child of Charles of Valois, then you would expect there would be a record of some sort.

Even Antoine being named after his mother seems to reflect a later tradition when illegitimate children were given their mother's name.  Illegitimate children of royalty during the medieval era were often given a name that reflected the status of their father, eg. Fitzroy, or Batard d'Orleans. 

There seem to be a few of these, probably spurious, royal lineages in Wikitree, either because a historian had wanted to flatter a later descendant by inventing a royal connection, or an emigrant wanted to improve their standing in the community, by also inventing a link to a royal ancestor.

I think the usual Wikitree practice is to disconnect the person from one or both parents, but put something in the biography.

(Even Antoine's wife Judith de Ponthieu seems a bit doubtful if we are to assume that de Ponthieu meant she was from the dynasty of the Counts of Ponthieu, rather than just from the area of Ponthieu, as the Countess of that period was Eleanor of Castile - see list of rulers of Ponthieu  http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_comtes_de_Ponthieu


by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (486k points)
0 votes

I had heard of this legend when a Carl N. Broussard emailed me: 
"The tradition of the Brossard family is that Charles, Count of Valois and of Alençon, son of Philip III, and grandson of Saint Louis, had a son by Helen de Brossard of Britany. Charles wished his son to keep the name of his mother, so the son was known as Antoine de Brossard.
We have learned more recently that neither Helen de Brossard nor her son, Antoine de Brossard, was the first of that name, because Helen's father was Arnault de Brossard (see Note by Antoine Chevalier and Bonneret Breton in Nouveau d'Hozier FO page 32.) It is obvious, therefore, that Helen was of a well-established family of the nobility of France in her own right.
it is well established in the courts of France that many branches of the Brossard family are direct descendants of Helen and her son Antoine de Brossard. We have in our possession genealogical records of a number of these branches of the Brossard Family.
According to a genealogical and historical map or family tree, printed at Tours in 1766, the Brossard family has been established in France since 1289. It was divided into twelve branches, all going back to Antoine de Brossard.
The genealogist, Count of Folleville, who was recommended by the University of Paris (the Sorbonne) as a reliable genealogist, in his report to us in 1913 stated that the genealogy of our branch of the family also goes back to Antoine de Brossard."

  I wish there was a copy of this 1913 report from le comte de Folleville. 

by Donald Broussard G2G4 (4.7k points)


"According to a genealogical and historical map or family tree, printed at Tours in 1766, the Brossard family has been established in France since 1289. It was divided into twelve branches, all going back to Antoine de Brossard."

The 'tableau' (above) from 1766 is available through the BnF in Paris. It was compiled by royal genealogists. I have a copy. You can order it online.


following your discussions about Antoine de Brossard considered as a non legitimate son, but he received coat of arms blue with a diagonale bar on 3 fleurs de lys, the diagonale bar which indicated the sign of bastard / non legitimized but recognized.


and some of his descendants : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k54949602/f253.texte.r=BROSSARD.hl

Based on the stories passed down to us  as well as the scholarly writings presented above Antoine was who we believe him to be. There were no birth certificates or social security cards in those days. It is nice to see all of the notable ancestors that came from this family.Thanks

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