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The Duchy of Normandy, formed in the region of France known as Rouen, was originally colonized by the Vikings of Scandinavia in the late 9th century AD. Formally created by the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911, King Charles III of France would concede the territory to the Viking leader Rollo, creating the foundations of what came to be known as Normandy. William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, would serve as its most famous leader, capturing the throne of England in 1066.

Early History[]

Normandy grew out of various invasions of West Francia by Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking, and Anglo-Danish in the 9th century. Normandy began in 911 as a fief, probably a county (in the sense that it was held by a count), established in 911 by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III and a Viking leader, Rollo.

Originally coterminous with the ecclesiastical province of Rouen that was centred on Rouen on the Seine and composed of the northern portion of the province of Neustria, Normandy was later expanded by Rollo's and William Longsword's conquests westward into recent Breton territories (Cotentin and probably Avranchin) and southward to include the areas of Évreux and Alençon. They did it first of all in order to unify politically the Viking settlements of the Seine maritime (Rouen) together with those of the Cotentin, but also to allow the return of the Rouen archbishop in the historical borders of his archbishopric. Eventually the County roughly corresponded to the present-day regions of Upper and Lower Normandy of modern France.

When the Norse ("Norman") settlers spread out over the lands of the Duchy, they married local women and adopted the Gallo-Romance speech of the existing population — much as Normans later adopted the speech of the English after they invaded. In Normandy, the new Norman language formed by the interaction of peoples inherited vocabulary from Norse or Old Danish.

Normandy was formed from Rouen county, the Pays de Caux, and Talou in Dieppe county, which the Vikings had colonised. The capital was established at Rouen in 912, and a western capital was later established at Caen as the Duchy expanded. In 928, Évreux, Hiémois county, and the Bessin were added. In 931–934, Rollo's son William Longsword added the Cotentin Peninsula and the Avranchin. The Channel Islands were added in 933. Sometime around 950–956, Normandy or its frontier became a marchio, according to K.F. Werner.

Norman Duchy[]

Richard II was the first to be styled duke of Normandy (the ducal title became established between 987–1006). The Norman dukes created the most powerful, consolidated duchy in Western Europe between the years 980, when the dukes helped place Hugh Capet on the French throne, and 1050, despite being part of the Kingdom of France. Scholarly churchmen were brought into Normandy from the Rhineland, and they built and endowed monasteries and supported monastic schools. The dukes imposed heavy feudal burdens on the ecclesiastical fiefs, which supplied the armed knights that enabled the dukes to control the restive lay lords but whose bastards could not inherit. By the mid-11th century the Duke of Normandy could count on more than 300 armed and mounted knights from his ecclesiastical vassals alone. By the 1020s the dukes were able to impose vassalage on the lay nobility as well. Until Richard II, the Norman rulers did not hesitate to call Viking mercenaries for help to get rid of their enemies around Normandy, such as the king of the Francs himself. Olaf Haraldsson crossed the channel in such circumstances to support Richard II in the conflict against the Count of Chartres and was baptized in Rouen in 1014.

In 1066, Duke William defeated Harold II of England at the Battle of Hastings and was subsequently crowned King of England, through the Norman conquest of England. Anglo-Norman and French relations became complicated after the Norman Conquest. The Norman dukes retained control of their holdings in Normandy as vassals owing fealty to the King of France, but they were his equals as kings of England. From 1154 until 1214, with the creation of the Angevin Empire, the Angevin kings of England controlled half of France and all of England, dwarfing the power of the French king, yet the Angevins were still technically French vassals.

One interpretation of the Conquest maintains that England became a cultural and economic backwater for almost 150 years after the Norman Conquest, as the kings of England preferred to rule from cities in Normandy, such as Rouen, and to concentrate on their more lucrative continental holdings. Another interpretation holds that Norman Duke-Kings neglected their continental territories, where they in theory owed fealty to the Kings of France, in favour of consolidating their power in their new sovereign realm of England. The resources poured into the construction of cathedrals, castles, and administration of the new realm arguably diverted energy and focus away from the need to defend Normandy, alienating the local nobility and weakening Norman control over the borders of its territory, while at the same time the power of the Kings of France was growing.

The Duchy remained part of the Anglo-Norman realm until 1204, when Philip II of France conquered the continental lands of the Duchy, which became part of the royal demesne. The English sovereigns continued to claim them until the Treaty of Paris (1259) but in fact kept only the Channel Islands. Having little confidence in the loyalty of the Normans, Philip installed French administrators and built a powerful fortress, the Château de Rouen, as a symbol of royal power.

Later History[]

Although within the royal demesne, Normandy retained some specificity. Norman law continued to serve as the basis for court decisions. In 1315, faced with the constant encroachments of royal power on the liberties of Normandy, the barons and towns pressed the Norman Charter on the king. This document did not provide autonomy to the province but protected it against arbitrary royal acts. The judgments of the Exchequer, the main court of Normandy, were declared final. This meant that Paris could not reverse a judgement of Rouen. Another important concession was that the King of France could not raise a new tax without the consent of the Normans. However the charter, granted at a time when royal authority was faltering, was violated several times thereafter when the monarchy had regained its power.

The Duchy of Normandy survived mainly by the intermittent installation of a duke. In practice, the King of France sometimes gave that portion of his kingdom to a close member of his family, who then did homage to the king. Philippe VI made Jean, his eldest son and heir to his throne, the Duke of Normandy. In turn, Jean II appointed his heir, Charles, who was also known by his title of Dauphin.

In 1465, Louis XI was forced by his nobles to cede the duchy to his eighteen-year-old brother Charles, as an appanage. This concession was a problem for the king since Charles was the puppet of the king's enemies. Normandy could thus serve as a basis for rebellion against the royal power. Louis XI therefore agreed with his brother to exchange Normandy for the Duchy of Guyenne (Aquitaine). Finally, to signify that Normandy would not be ceded again, on 9 November 1469 the ducal ring was placed on an anvil and smashed. This was the definitive end of the duchy on the continent.

From Wikipedia.


William I[]


William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 under the style William II. After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.

William was the son of the unmarried Robert I, Duke of Normandy, by Robert's mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status and his youth caused some difficulties for him after he succeeded his father, as did the anarchy that plagued the first years of his rule. During his childhood and adolescence, members of the Norman aristocracy battled each other, both for control of the child duke and for their own ends. In 1047 William was able to quash a rebellion and begin to establish his authority over the duchy, a process that was not complete until about 1060. His marriage in the 1050s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a powerful ally in the neighbouring County of Flanders. By the time of his marriage, William was able to arrange the appointments of his supporters as bishops and abbots in the Norman church. His consolidation of power allowed him to expand his horizons, and by 1062 William was able to secure control of the neighbouring county of Maine.

In the 1050s and early 1060s William became a contender for the throne of England, then held by the childless Edward the Confessor, his first cousin once removed. There were other potential claimants, including the powerful English earl Harold Godwinson, who was named the next king by Edward on the latter's deathbed in January 1066. William argued that Edward had previously promised the throne to him, and that Harold had sworn to support William's claim. William built a large fleet and invaded England in September 1066, decisively defeating and killing Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. After further military efforts William was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066, in London. He made arrangements for the governance of England in early 1067 before returning to Normandy. Several unsuccessful rebellions followed, but by 1075 William's hold on England was mostly secure, allowing him to spend the majority of the rest of his reign on the continent.

William's final years were marked by difficulties in his continental domains, troubles with his eldest son, and threatened invasions of England by the Danes. In 1086 William ordered the compilation of the Domesday Book, a survey listing all the landholders in England along with their holdings. William died in September 1087 while leading a campaign in northern France, and was buried in Caen. His reign in England was marked by the construction of castles, the settling of a new Norman nobility on the land, and change in the composition of the English clergy. He did not try to integrate his various domains into one empire, but instead continued to administer each part separately. William's lands were divided after his death: Normandy went to his eldest son, Robert, and his second surviving son, William, received England.

From Wikipedia.

Unique Components[]


The Knights of the Norman army who served during the conquest of England in the 11th century were equipped with knee-length shirts of chain-mail, known as "Hauberks," and typically wore a conical helmet designed (in theory) to deflect incoming arrows. Norman Knights were perhaps most famously known for carrying "Kite" shields, elongated shields designed to protect the mounted knight's leg while engaged in melee combat.

Motte and Bailey[]

A design first attributed to the Normans in the 10th century, the motte-and-bailey was a type of elevated castle built on top of a raised earthwork mound. The Motte was formed by digging a trench around the prospective castle site. The leftover fill-dirt was then used to construct an artificial hill or mound, upon which the castle itself was built. The "Bailey" refers to the lower courtyard, typically enclosed by a large wall, containing a barracks, servants' quarters, and storage buildings.

Bayeux Tapestry[]

(Requires Sukritact's Events and Decisions)

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long and 50 centimetres (20 in) tall, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. The tapestry consists of some fifty scenes with Latin tituli, embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William's half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s. In 1729 the hanging was rediscovered by scholars at a time when it was being displayed annually in Bayeux Cathedral. The tapestry is now exhibited at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy, France.