Normandy

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Normandy is a region in the north of France, lying on the English Channel.

The Viking leader Rollo who had besieged Paris was given Normandy in 911 under the Treaty of St. Claire, in return for defending it against future pirate attacks. By the 11th century the Norman people had become a mixture of native Franks and Viking immigrants.

Norman culture spread into England with the Norman Conquest led by the Duke of Normandy in 1066, William the Conqueror. Normandy was sporadically under English control, until the end of the Hundred Years' War in 1453, from which point it remained with France until World War II.

The Dukes of Normandy

An amount of this, including most of the details of children, has been "lifted" from the research of Robert Sewell, who has placed it on the Web at http://www3.sympatico.ca/robert.sewell/normandy.html .

  • Rollo (also known as Rolf, and, after baptism, Robert) - The original "Norman", a Viking raider who, having taken part in the 885CR seige of Paris and having been paid off by the French and sent off to harry Burgundy, returned to northern France around 910CE. He seized land along the River Seine around 911CE, fought with King Charles III the Simple of France, was ceded what is now Normandy in return for stopping his raids, and was recognised as its feudal tenant (although it is not clear whether or not he received the formal title of Duke). His father was Rognvald, either Eysteinssen or Ragnvaldssen; of his two elder brothers, one married a daughter of Harald I, king of Norway, the other emigrated and settled in Iceland. Rollo/Robert's first wife, Poppa of Valois, was a descendant of Charlemagne; and his eldest son by her succeeded him in Normandy. He also married (possibly bigamously, but possibly not as his first marriage may not have been recognised by the Church) Gisla, daughter of Charles the Simple, but she died shortly afterwards, having provided him wtih no children. Rollo himself died around 932CE.
  • William Longsword - Rollo's son, he may have been born before his father "acquired" Normandy. He succeeded his father in 927CE, and married another female descendant of Charlemagne, Adela (or Sprota) of Senlis. His eldest son succeded him on his death (possibly murder, possibly by the Count of Flanders) in 942. There is no evidence to point to his having received the ducal title.
  • Richard the Fearless - Born in 933CE, he took over Normandy at the age of 9 from his deceased father. He married Emma of Paris, a daughter of Hugh "the Great" Capet, the founder of the Capetian dynasty. Later, after Emma's death childless, he married Gunnor of Crepon, thereby legitimising any children he had previously had by her. His eldest son succeeded him, but again Richard does not appear to have attained the formal rank of duke. Along his other children were Emma of Normandy, born about 986, who married King Aethelred Unraed of England in 1002, and bore him a son who was to be King Edward the Confessor. After Aethelred's death, she married Canute (or Cnut), who was then king in Aethlred's place, in 1012, and bore him Hardicanute, king from 1035-40. Another daughter was Hawise who married Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. A third, Matilde, died a couple of years after marrying the Comte of Chartres.
  • Richard the Good - Son of the Fearless, his first wife was Judith of Brittany, daughter of Duke Conan (the Crooked) and sister to Geoffrey. Their son succeded his father, when he died in August 1026. Their second son, Robert, was also to be duke; one of their daughters, Alice (or Adelaide) married Rainald, Count of Burgundy (and her grandson would become Pope); the other, Eleanora (also known as Judith) married Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders. This Richard is known to have been recognised as Duke of Normandy.
He later remarried, in 1017, to Estrith, daughter of Sweyn Forkbeard king of Denmark, but they were divorced shortly afterwards.
  • Richard (III) - He succeded his father and married Princess Adela or Alix of France, daughter to king Robert II (the Pious), in Janury 1027. In August of the same year, he died suddenly (rumour had it, of poison). Their posthumously-born son, Nicholas, was relegated to a monastic life, and his uncle, Richard's brother, Robert, took over the dukedom. Princess Adela remarried, to Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, and their daughter, Mathilda, was to marry Duke William of Normandy.
  • Robert (the devil) - Born about 1008CE, he seized Normandy and the ducal title on the (sudden) death of his nephew, in 1027. Shortly afterwards his girlfriend Herleva, daughter of Fulbert, a tanner of Falais, gave birth to their son, William, a bastard. They also had a daughter, Adeliza, who married, serially, a Count of Ponthieu, a Count of Lens, and a Count of Champagne. Robert married, in 1031, Estrith, and divorced her a year later. This was the same Estrith who had previously been his father's wife. In late 1034, Robert was inspired to crusade, but on the way home he died.
  • William (the Bastard) - Son of Robert and Herleva, William took over Normandy when the news of his father's death came in 1035. In 1053 he married Mathilda of Flanders. In 1066 he invaded England, having previously been promised the throne by King Edward the Confessor, overthrowing the usurper, Harold Godwinson. Of his children Robert, the eldest, became Duke of Normandy after him, and mortgaged the duchy to raise money to go on Crusade, his sons William Rufus and Henry 'Beauclerc' became kings of England after him, and his daughter Adela married Stephen, Count of Blois, and their son Stephen seized the English throne after Henry.
  • Robert 'Curthose' - Duke after William, he coveted the English throne given to his younger brother William Rufus, but was unable to seize it. He then went on Crusade, mortgaging Normandy to raise money, and on his return found that William had died and been succeeded by Henry Beauclerc. Robert raised objections, and tried an invasion, Henry counter-struck and, repelling Robert, then invaded Normandy, captured Duke Robert, imprisoned him, and took the duchy into the English crown.