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VIKINGS IN NORMANDY

Tuesday 9 October 2001

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 pillage, 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.

851 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 pillaging.

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.

911 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 developing it he formed a feudal system.

924 Rollon extended his territory in 924 to include the Bessin,The area around Bayeux. In 955 his son, William long sword, further extended the territory to the Cherbourg peninsular. Normandy had then much the same boundaries as now.

Next 100 years The next hundred years passed with four changes of Duke and a succession of conflicts with Brittany and Anjou, and also internal struggles.
A new era in the history of Normandy came with the The birth of William the illegitimate. He was the offspring of Robert the magnificent 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 succeeded 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 powerful as the king of France. His power 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 England died in January 1066 , one of his favourites , 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 accompanied William in the invasion were given territories in England. Those that remained in Normandy to continue the necessary task of administering the Duchy, got nothing. William spent more and more time in England which didn’t please his Norman subjects.

1087 When 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 besieged 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

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