Frankish Rivalries and Norse Warriors

Frankish Rivalries and Norse Warriors

By Eleanor Searle

Anglo-Norman Studies, Vol. 8 (1985)

Introduction: We would all be agreed, I expect, that there is a consensus about the question of what one may call the “continuity/discontinuity model” of early Norse Normandy) Continuity of administration and institutions holds the day, though the adjective “dented” may be its current qualifier. Bear with me even so if I look aga in at the early evidence questioningly. I think that the ‘model’ is still in need of modification.

Let me remind you briefly of the current picture of Normandy in the early tenth century. It is this: Normandy can be said to have begun in 911 with the treaty of St.Clair-sur-Epte between Charles the Simple and the viking Rollo. Charles ceded land to Rollo for his promise to defend Francia from other invading vikings. There had been, we are taught, a Carolingian count still in Rouen in 905. We can therefore assume that “Rollo could have received almost from the hands of his predecessor certain traditions of Frankish administration,” and was “the new count.” There was still, so the picture has it, a bishop at Coutances in 906. By 933 Normandy had already taken its shape, by means of other grants made in good faith by the Frankish kings, Charles the Simple and Raoul. From that time on, and certainly from 940, one ruler, a Carolingian count of, perhaps, little Norse blood himself, and whose people were becoming rapidly gallicized, ruled the ancient pagi from the Pays de Caux to the Couesnon. In a word: “continuity,” though under different management.

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But there is another possible reconstruction of the beginning of Normandy. If we intertwine the internal politics of northern Francia with the supposed cession of Normandy to Rollo and his successors, it is possible that the story looks a more complicated one than that of continuity.

Click here to read this article from the California Institute of Technology


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