It says something of the location of Nantes, and of the Muscadet region, that the history of Bonnet-Huteau does not feature the Counts or Dukes of Anjou, the powerful noblemen who resided and ruled in the ancient region of Neustria, which covered most of Western France – excluding Brittany – from the 5th century onwards. Instead it was the Dukes of Brittany, a region which seems to have maintained a fierce sense of independence (rather akin to that held by the inhabitants of Cornwall, just to the north) through many centuries who seemed to hold sway here.
One such historical figure was Hoël II (circa 1031-1084) who was Count of Cornouaille, a region of Brittany, and indeed the name is analogous to England’s Cornwall. He was a minor nobleman who sometime around 1058 married Havoise, daughter of Alan III, Duke of Brittany. This was a real step up for Hoël who, by jure exoris, took ownership of all his wife’s possessions and titles, which included in Havoise’s case Duchess of Brittany. And so in 1066, when Duke William II of Normandy was busy invading England, Hoël II stayed at home and assumed the title of Duke of Brittany.
A man of such noble standing requires a residence befitting his status, and Hoël and Havoise settled at Levraudière, about 20 kilometres east of modern-day Nantes. Here among other buildings they erected a small chapel which was known, appropriately enough, as the Capelle Hoëlini. Today Hoël and Havoise are mere footnotes in the history of France, with very little known about them other than that they were born and lived. But Hoël’s name, at least, lives on; as Capelle Hoëlini was the origin of the name of La Chapelle-Heulin, one of several key communes eligible for the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation. And the feudal seat where they once resided, at La Levraudière, is today better known as the home of vignerons Bonnet-Huteau.