The Count of Brienne was one of the Seven Peers of Champagne in eastern France (Brienne-le-Chateau and Brienne-la-Ville are in the valley of the Aube, a tributary of the Seine, northwest of Bar-sur-Aube, and ENE of Troyes).
The last Count of the original family was Constable of France and died in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.
The original family of Brienne seem to have heeded the advice of some contrary medieval Horace Greeley to “Go east, young man, go east”.
- One Count was pretender through his wife to the throne of Sicily.
- Another was Count of Jaffa and husband of a princess of Cyprus.
- A third was Duke of Athens (his son, titular Duke of Athens, was the Constable of France who died at Poitiers in 1356).
- The most distinguished of them all was a cadet of the family, John de Brienne, King Consort of Jerusalem 1210-25, and co-Latin Emperor in Constantinople, as father-in-law to the young Baldwin II, 1231-37.
After the death of the Constable, the County passed to Isabella, his sister, whose husband was of the Enghien family. When her grandson died in 1381, the County passed to Louis, Isabella’s Enghien brother-in-law and so passed away from the descendants of the old family. Louis was succeeded by his daughter and her husband, who belonged to the family of the Luxemburg Counts of St Pol.
With that family the County remained – with an interruption, 1475-83, following upon the execution of the Count in 1475 for treason – until 1623, when it was bought by a member of the Loménie family. The most illustrious of the Loménie de Brienne family was the Cardinal Etienne, Achbishop of Toulouse and minister of Louis XVI in 1787, one of those who vainly sought reform.