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VIKINGS IN NORMANDY

Tuesday 22 January 2002

There is little physical trace of the Viking invasion of Normandy. Place names such as Isigny, Honfleur, la Hague, Houlgate are reminders of the
Viking past. Until the last century people didn’t move much and there was a higher than average proportion of blonds. The Viking invasion did lead of
course to William the Conqeror, who left a great mark on history. 

820: The first recorded visits of Vikings was in the Seine valley in 820. This part of France was inhabited by Gauls and had an organisation which
revolved round the church. This was because the monks and priests were the only people with any education and so assumed the role of
administrators. The Vikings came to pilage, and as all the riches were in the churches and abbeys, they suffered most attacks. To protect themselves
and their treasures , the monks fled into the countryside. This had a great disruptive effect on the organisation of the church and life in general. 

In 851 several groups of Vikings found that it would be preferable to stay in this land of plenty rather than face the sea voyage back home.Tbese
settlers were quite readily accepted as they then stopped pilaging. 

864: Rollon ,who could be called the founder of Normandy, comes into the picture in 864. He was a pirate in the Baltic sea but was banished from
scandinavia when he plundered some cattle near Oslo. He journeyed to the Hebrides, then England, then in 881 raided Flanders. In 890 he raided
Paris but was pushed back. With his followers he colonised the area of Rouen on the Seine. 

In 911 Rollon made a treaty with Charles the Simple , King of Francs .Charles the Simple ceded the area around Rouen , in exchange for Rollon
undertaking to Protect Paris from attack from the Seine. 
Rollon saw that it would be a good political move to be baptised into christianity and make his followers do the same. This helped to integrate the
invaders with the Gauls. With the same aim of using the exiting system and developping it he formed a feudal system. 
Rollon extended his territory in 924 to include the Bessin, (the area around Bayeux). In 955 his son, William long sword, further extended the terrirory
to the Cherbourg peninsular. Normandy had then much the same boundaries as now. 

The next hundred years passed with four changes of Duke and a succession of conflicts with Britanny and Anjou, and also internal struggles. 

A new era in the history of Normandy came with the The birth of William the illigitimate. He was the offspring of Robert the magnificant from a
passing encounter with Arlette of Falaise. Robert had promised the dukedom to William, but when he died on a pilgrimage to the Holy land there
were other more legitimate contenders. 

1055: Robert had succeded from his brother Richard III. Their sister had a son Guy, count of Brionne, who had a legitimate claim on the duke dom.
The barons of Normandy were against William and supported Guy’s claim. William called on King Henry of France to support his claim. Henry sent
an army to aid William and he was crowned Duke in 1035. 

William developed the economy , overseas trade and the feudal system , and was soon richer and as powerfull as the king of France. His poweer led
him to take an expansionist outlook and he made raids on Brittany and Anjou. He also had his sights on the throne of England. When King Edward of
Englamd died in January 1066 , one of his favorites , Harold , was voted king of England by the barons. William claimed that Edward had promised
him the throne and assembled an army and fleet to Invade England. At the time the outcome of the battle of Hastings wasn’t a forgone conclusion but
we all Know that William had a resounding victory. 
1066 William was crowned king of England on the 25th of December 1066. As duke of Normandy and King of England William became a dangerous rival to the king of France. Philip I tried to devise many intrigues to promote discord between the duchy and the kingdom. There were
already many discontented barons in Normandy. Those that had accompagnied William in the invasion were given territories in England. Those that remained in Normandy to continue the necessar task of administering the Duchy, got nothing. William spent more and more time in England which didn’t please his Norman subjects. 

Whem William died in 1087 he left three sons ready to dispute the duchy and kingdom. The oldest son, Robert, took the Dukedom and the second son William Rufus , became King of England. The youngest son Henry wasn’t content to accept this arrangement and ended up beseiged by his two brothers at Mont St Michel. This didn’t stop him later killing William and becoming King of England in 1106. 

Six years later he contested the Dukedom with his brother Robert and deposed him at the battle of Tinchbrey in 1106. 
England and Normandy were once again united 

Henry I ‘s son was drowned in a boating accident so the succession went to his nephew Etienne de Blois, then his son in law Geoffroy, then
passed to his grandson by his daughter. This was Henry Plantagenet who became Henry II.in 1154. By his succession and a marriage to Alienor of
Aquitaine he was King of England , duke of Normandy, count of Anjou . and duke of Brittany Aquitaine and Poitiou. He was master of a domain
stretching from Scotland to the Pyrenees. 

It was Henry II who was responsible for the murder of Thomas Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. Thomas Beckett who was a boy hood freind of
Henry, was promoted quickly from priest to archbishop. Henry hadn’t counted on Thomas taking his religious vows too seriously and was annoyed
when Thomas oposed his actions. One night when drunk Henry asked his Barons to get rid of Thomas. They promptly went to find him and slew him
in the cathedral. 

1180 : In 1180 Philippe Auguste came to the throne of France. He undertook, by variuos devious means to regain his empire. By marriage and
annexing territory he regained Flanders and the Champagne region. He exploited the rivalry between Henry II and his son Richard lion heart. With the
aid of Richard , Philippe invaded the Loire valley. Henry II was killed in the combat. 

1189 Once crowned king Richard went off with Philipppe on a crusade. While they were away they argued and Philippe left Richard and returned
home. When Richard was returning home later, a storm in the Mediterenean swept him on to the coast of Dalmatia and he fell into the hands of the
german Emperor. Philippe took advantage of Richard’s capture to befreind Richards brother John. John ceded back to philippe some regions of
Normandy. But , in 1194 Richard escaped and returned to England. He reacted to this treatury by building a castle at Gaillard on the Seine. He also
made several expeditions of conquest into Philippes territory. But during a siege on Chalus he was killed whilst reprimanding a vassal. 

His brother John succeded to the throne and he continued being conciliatory with Philippe . He gave back part of Normandy around Ruoen and
Evreux and posessions in the Auvergne. His neice was married to the son of Philippe. Philippe wasn’t satisfied by this. He took the occasion of a
dispute between John and Lusignan de la Marche to confiscate all John’s territory in France. He gave all the territories except Normandy to John’ s
nephew Arthur. This repartition was laid out on paper but to make it an established fact was another matter. Philippe set out to conquer
Normandy,and Arthur was left to do the rest. 
Arthur didn’ t get very far . His army was defeated by John, and Arthur was taken prisoner. He was later found strangled in a tower at Rouen.
Philippe profited from this crime by using it to show how barbaric and injust was the hold of John over his French posessions. 
In face of the growing opposition to him, John stayed at home and let Philippe take back all his posessions till he was left wlth a territory in Aquitaine. 
Philippe didn’t rest there. His son , Louis, persued the English over the channel and London fell to him. Philippe considered crowning himself king of
England but on the death of John the pope intervened and maintained the succession of John’ s son Henry III.

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