Rollo

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Rollo
Rollo statue in falaise.JPG
Rollo on the Six Dukes statue in Falaise town square.
Duke of Normandy
Reign911–927
PredecessorNone
SuccessorWilliam I
HouseHouse of Normandy
Bornc. 846
Diedc. 931
Normandy
BurialRouen Cathedral
 
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Rollo
Rollo statue in falaise.JPG
Rollo on the Six Dukes statue in Falaise town square.
Duke of Normandy
Reign911–927
PredecessorNone
SuccessorWilliam I
HouseHouse of Normandy
Bornc. 846
Diedc. 931
Normandy
BurialRouen Cathedral

Rollo (c. 846 – c. 931), baptised Robert[1] and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent who was founder and first ruler of the Viking principality which soon became known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy, and following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, kings of England.

Name[edit]

The name "Rollo" is a Latin translation from the Old Norse name Hrólfr, modern Icelandic name Hrólfur and Scandinavian name Rolf (cf. the latinization of Hrólfr into the similar Roluo in the Gesta Danorum), but Norman people called him by his popular name Rou(f) (see Wace's Roman de Rou).[2] Sometimes his name is turned into the Frankish name Rodolf(us) or Radulf(us) or the French Raoul, that are derived from it.[Note 1]

Historical evidence[edit]

Rollo was a powerful Viking leader of contested origin. Dudo of Saint-Quentin, in his De moribus et actis primorum Normannorum ducum,[3] tells of a powerful Danish nobleman at loggerheads with the king of Denmark, who had two sons, Gurim and Rollo; upon his death, Rollo was expelled and Gurim killed. William of Jumièges also mentions Rollo's prehistory in his Gesta Normannorum Ducum, but states that he was from the Danish town of Fakse. Wace, writing some 300 years after the event in his Roman de Rou, also mentions the two brothers (as Rou and Garin), as does the Orkneyinga Saga.

Norwegian and Icelandic historians identified Rollo instead with Ganger Hrolf (Hrolf, the Walker), a son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, Earl of Møre, in Western Norway, based on medieval Norwegian and Icelandic sagas. The oldest source of this version is the Latin Historia Norvegiae, written in Norway at the end of the 12th century. This Hrolf fell foul of the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair, and became a Jarl in Normandy. The nickname "the Walker", "Ganger" in Norse, came from being so big that no horse could carry him.

The question of Rollo's origins was a matter of heated dispute between Norwegian and Danish historians of the 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in the run-up to Normandy's millennium anniversary in 1911. Today, the debate continues.

Claimed Yngling lineage leading to Rollo[edit]

The Yngling "Fairhair dynasty" lineage introduced in Hversu Noregr byggðist ("How Norway was settled") and the Orkneyinga and Heimskringla sagas suggests a line of Rollo going back to Fornjót, the primeval "king" who "reigned over" Finland and Kvenland.[citation needed] The claimed line leading to Rollo includes Rognvald Eysteinsson, the founder of the Earldom of Orkney.[citation needed]

Raids along the Seine[edit]

In 885, Rollo was one of the lesser leaders of the Viking fleet which besieged Paris under Sigfred. Legend has it that an emissary was sent by the king to find the chieftain and negotiate terms. When he asked for this information, the Vikings replied that they were all chieftains in their own right. In 886, when Sigfred retreated in return for tribute, Rollo stayed behind and was eventually bought off and sent to harry Burgundy.[a]

Later, he returned to the Seine with his followers (known as Danes, or Norsemen). He invaded the area of northern France now known as Normandy. In 911 the Vikings under Rollo again launched an attack on Paris before laying siege to Chartres. The Bishop of Chartres, Joseaume, made an appeal for help which was answered by Robert, Marquis of Neustria, Richard, Duke of Burgundy and Manasses, Count of Dijon. On 20 July 911, at the Battle of Chartres, Frankish forces defeated Rollo despite the absence of many French barons and also the absence of the French King Charles the Simple.[4]

The Principality of Normandy[edit]

Statue of Rollo in Rouen. There are two bronze replicas of this statue : one at Ålesund (Norway) and the other one at Fargo, North Dakota

In the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (911) with King Charles, Rollo pledged feudal allegiance to the king, changed his name to the Frankish version, and converted to Christianity, probably with the baptismal name Robert.[5] In return, King Charles granted Rollo land between the Epte and the sea as well as parts of Brittany [b] and according to Dudo of St. Quentin, the hand of the King's daughter, Gisela, although this marriage and Gisela herself are unknown to Frankish sources. He was also the titular ruler of Normandy, centered around the city of Rouen. There exists some argument among historians as to whether Rollo was a "duke" (dux) or whether his position was equivalent to that of a "count" under Charles.

According to legend, when required to kiss the foot of King Charles, as a condition of the treaty, he refused to perform so great a humiliation, and when Charles extended his foot to Rollo, Rollo ordered one of his warriors to do so in his place. His warrior then lifted Charles' foot up to his mouth causing the king to fall to the ground.[6]

After 911, Rollo stayed true to his word of defending the shores of the Seine river in accordance to the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. However, he also continued attacks on Flanders.

After Charles was deposed by Robert I in 922, Rollo considered his oath to the King of France at an end. It started a period of expansion westwards. Negotiations with French barons ended with Rollo being given Le Mans and Bayeux and continued with the seizure of Bessin in 924. The following year saw the Normans attack Picardy.

Rollo began to divide the land between the Epte and Risle rivers among his chieftains and settled there with a de facto capital in Rouen. Eventually[when?] Rollo's men intermarried with the local women, and became more settled as Normans.[clarification needed]

Family[edit]

14th century depiction of the marriage of Rollo and Gisela

Two spouses are reported for Rollo:

1. Poppa, said by chronicler Dudo of Saint-Quentin to have been a daughter of Count Berenger, captured during a raid at Bayeux. She was his concubine or wife,[7] perhaps by more danico.[8] They had issue:

2. (traditionally) Gisela of France (d. 919), the daughter of Charles III of France

Death[edit]

Rollo's grave at the cathedral of Rouen

Sometime around 927, Rollo passed the fief in Normandy to his son, William Longsword. Rollo may have lived for a few years after that, but certainly died before 933. According to the historian Adhemar, 'As Rollo's death drew near, he went mad and had a hundred Christian prisoners beheaded in front of him in honour of the gods whom he had worshipped,[citation needed] and in the end distributed a hundred pounds of gold around the churches in honour of the true God in whose name he had accepted baptism.' Even though Rollo had converted to Christianity, some of his prior religious roots surfaced at the end.[9]

Legacy[edit]

Rollo is the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror. Through William, he is an ancestor of the present-day British royal family, as well as an ancestor of all current European monarchs and a great many pretenders to abolished European thrones. A genetic investigation into the remains of Rollo's grandson Richard I and great-grandson Richard II has been announced, with the intention of discerning the origins of the famous Viking warrior.[10]

The "Clameur de Haro" in the Channel Islands is, supposedly, an appeal to Rollo.

Genealogy[edit]

Cronological tree william I.svg

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ This is the traditional account; the presence of Rollo at the siege of Paris is uncertain. Douglas (1942) makes the case that Rollo did not arrive in France until at least 905.
  2. ^ The precise identity of Breton lands ceded to Rollo is not certain. Charles did not control Brittany, and there was a March, or buffer zone, to protect Neustria (Western Francia) from the Bretons and the Vikings who occupied the Breton territories from 907 to 939. From 907 Brittany was itself subject to a separate series of Viking invasions, and their Ducal heir, Alan II, fled to England for a time. Alan II returned to expel the Vikings and re-established his line's rule over Brittany by 939. In 907 the Breton lands included the Cotentin Peninsula, and by 939 the peninsula appeared to have become part of Normandy.

Depictions in fiction[edit]

Rollo is the subject of the 17th century play Rollo Duke of Normandy written by John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, Ben Jonson, and George Chapman.

A character based on the historical Rollo, played by Clive Standen, is Ragnar Lodbrok's brother in the 2013 TV series Vikings.[11]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rou is the result of a series of French regular phonetic changes from Hrólfr > Rolf > Rouf to Rou (see Lepelley 15–16) and Norman names in -ouf and -ou(t) : I(n)gouf and Ygout < Old Norse Ingulfr / Ingólfr (Old Danish Ingulf). The variant form Rollo is just a latinization of the root Rol(l)- + Latin suffix -o / -one-, after the Latin names in -o. cf. Cicero / Cicerone and the latinized Germanic short names in -o > -o / -on, instead of -an in Germanic cf. Bero / Beran (see Lepelley 15–16). That is the reason why his name is Rollon in Standard French. Rollo is also known in the documents as Radulf(us) (Old Low Franconian) (or sometimes Rodulf(us)) > French Raoul, that is the French translation of Hróðulfr > Hrólfr, according to the Low Franconian variant form Radulf of Germanic Rodulf / Rudolf.

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Crouch, The Normans:The History of a Dynasty, (Hambledon Continuum, 2002), 8.
  2. ^ René Lepelley, Guillaume le duc, Guillaume le roi : extraits du Roman de Rou de Wace, Centre de publications de l'Université de Caen, Caen, 1987, p. 15 and 16.
  3. ^ Dudo of Saint-Quentin (1015–1030). "De moribus et actis primorum Normannorum ducum". Historia Normannorum (in Latin). Wiksource. 
  4. ^ Francois Neveux. A Brief History of The Normans. Constable and Robinson Ltd. 2006; p. 62.
  5. ^ Roman de Rou, Wace.
  6. ^ Holden, A.J. (1970). Le Roman de Rou de Wace. Paris: Éditions A.J. Picard. p.54. Lines 1147–1156.
  7. ^ Stewart Baldwin, F.A.S.G., Henry Project:"Poppa".
  8. ^ Philip Lyndon Reynolds: Marriage in the Western Church: the Christianization of marriage during the Patristic and Early Medieval Periods (2001).
  9. ^ van Houts, Elisabeth (2000). The Normans in Europe. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. pp. 41
  10. ^ "Viking is 'forefather to British Royals'". Views and News from Norway. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-15.. 
  11. ^ Turnbow, Tina (18 March 2013). "Reflections of a Viking by Clive Standen". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
French nobility
Preceded by
New title
Duke of Normandy
911–927
Succeeded by
William I