Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rolf or Rollo the Ganger or Rolf Ragnvaldsson

Rolf Ragnvaldsson also know as Rolf 'The Ganger', Rolf 'Wend-a-foot, Rolf the Viking and Rollo 0f Normandy. He was given the name Robert when he was baptized. He was also called Rollo which is French and Latin.

Encyclopeadia Britannica states that Rolf was a "Scandinavian rover who founded the duchy of Normandy. Making himself independent of King Harald I of Norway, Rolf sailed off to raid Scotland, England, Flanders, and France on pirating expeditions and, about 911, established himself in an area along the Seine River. Charles III the Simple of France held off his siege of Paris, battled him near Chartres, and negotiated the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, giving him the part of Neustria that came to be called Normandy; Rolf in return agreed to end his brigandage. He gave his son, William (I) Longsword, governance of the dukedom (927) before his death. Rolf was baptized as 'Robert' in 912 but is said to have died a pagan."

Rolf was the son of Ragnvald or Rognwald. He was lord of three little islets far north, near the Fjord of Folden, called the Three Vigten Islands. His main means of making a living was that of sea robbery or piracy. King Harold did not approve of Rolf's conduct while conducting this robbery. During Harold's reign, piracy was forbidden within his own countries, but was perfectly acceptable against foreign countries and was a profession held by many nobles.Harold's own son, Eric was employed this way as early as age twelve.

The thing that caused Rolf to be outlawed was taking from his own countrymen. Coming home from one of his pirate expeditions, his crew ran short of supplies. Rolf landed with them on the shore of Norway, and out of desperation, drove some cattle and proceeded to kill and eat them. Cattle theft was a crime. Somehow King Harold 'Harfager' got word of this and was on his way to investigate and punish the perpetrators.

Rolf and his men left hurriedly in their ships and went to the coast of France. At some point he was enfeoffed to the King of France and given the desolate coast of Normandy, which took it's name from 'the Northmen' or 'Norsemen' as they were called by the French.

The Heimskringla says that when Harold outlawed Rolf, his mother went to him and begged for mercy for him. And he was very angry and refused to listen to her. At which time an evidently very proud mother made this statement:

The name of Nevja is torn;
Now driven in flight from the land.
Is the warrior's bold kinsman.
Why be so hard, my lord/

Evil it is by such a wolf,
Noble prince, to be bitten;
He will not spate the flock
If he is driven to the woods.

A rough translation would be that if the king persisted in being so harsh and driving her son from the land, he would become as a wolf and would not spare the flock. She undoubtedly felt that he owed her son the son of his most valiant nobles a little more consideration. Rollo's father had been given the great honor of being the one to cut Harold's hair. Harold had sworn not to cut it until he had become king and won his bride.

Over the next two centuries, Rolf and his descendants made Normandy into a prosperous country and became a force to be reckoned with.

Alternate origins for Rollo are given by Dudo of St, Quentin who says that he was the son of Danish noble who was at odds with King Harold of Denmark, who upon his death left Rollo and a brother Gurim who was killed. William of Jumieges says in his Gesta Normannorum Ducum that Rollo was from the Danish town of Fakse. The Roman de Rou and the Orkneyinga Saga both also refer to two brothers named Rou and Garin.

The Norwegian and Icelandic historians (historia Norvegiae) say that Rollo was a son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, the Earl of More in Western Norway, and call him Ranger Hrolf (Rolf the Walker). This nickname was given to him because he was so big that he couldn't ride a horse, because none of the small Norwegian horses were big enough.

When Rollo and his men were exiled, they first made their way to the Hebrides, where other noblemen of Viking descent were living. They welcomed him, but the land must not have been sufficient to sustain them. These chieftains all banded together as equals and travelled first to Holland, but it had been ravaged and was too poor to benefit them, so they left from there toward the coast of northern France and headed up the Seine.

In 885, Rollo was with a Viking fleet that laid siege to Paris. He was one of the lesser leaders under Sigfried. The legend that comes down from this time is that the French sent an emissary to negotiate. This emissary asked who was their chieftain. They told him that they were all chieftains in their own right. In 886, the French paid off Sigfried who left, but Rollo stayed behind and continued to raid. He was eventually bought off too and he left to raid Burgundy.

He later returned to the area of northern France now known as Normandy and began raiding again. Tradition says that when the people of Rouen saw that Rollo was going to lay siege to their town, they sent their archbishop to him to try and negotiate. They were very surprised when he returned unharmed and told them that he had been treated with kindness and courtesy. The message he brought back was that if they admitted the Vikings to their town they would be unharmed. They opened their gates to him and Rouen became Rollo's citadel.

Sometime during this period, around 886-887, he attacked Bayeaux. According to Oderic Vitalis, the Count of Bayeaux was killed and his daughter was taken by Rollo as a captive bride. The History of the Norman People by Wace says that when Rollo decided to attack Bayeaux, he sent spies, who determined that it would be easy to take. When Berengar the lord of Bayeaux discovered that they were coming. He placed his men outside the wall and they went to battle with the Normans. They managed to capture one of the Norman chiefs. In return for giving him back, they received a year's peace from the Normans. But the next year they returned. They attacked Bayeaux and damaged it heavily. They destroyed the farms and the people as well. Eventually the barons of the land went over to the side of the Normans. It also says that when he took Poppa, she was just a girl and had not even developed breasts yet. But Rollo loved her and made her his wife anyway. Poppa means something like little doll.

In 911 Rollo's men were defeated at the Battle of Chartres by Charles II 'the Simple' Charlles realized that the custom of paying them to leave was no longer effective. They made an agreement that they could stay in the northern territory they were occupying as long as they defended it against any other Viking raiders. A treaty was signed in 911, in which Rollo was enfeoffed to King Charles. The area that Rollo was given was in the lower Seine or the northern part of Normandy and the area around Rouen. Some historians differ as to whether Rollo was a duke or a count under Charles the Simple. Legend says that Charles required Rollo to kiss his foot in a show of subservience as a condition of the treaty. Rollo refused to humble himself in so degrading a manner and ordered one of his men to do it in his place. This man raised Charles foot up to his mouth causing Charles to fall down rather than to stoop and do it.

In the beginning Rollo honored the treaty and defended the shores of Normandy for Charles, but after a time, he decided to divide up Normandy among his men as if it were his own sovereignty. His capital was Rouen. As he began these settlements, he and his men began raiding other French lands. Now they had a secure base of operations from which to conduct these raids, His men eventually began to intermarry with the local women and to assimilate into their new home.

About 927 Rollo began to pass the control of Normandy into the hands of his son William Longsword. The territory that he was relinquishing control of now extended as far west as the Vire River. He died sometime between then and 933.

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, 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.' With his mind slipping, he must have at times returned to an earlier time before he had converted to Christianity.


Makers of Europe: Outlines of European History for the Middle Forms of Schools‎ - Page 91
by Ethel Mary Wilmot-Buxton - Europe - 1905


The Works of Thomas Carlyle‎ - Page 205
by Thomas Carlyle, Henry Duff Traill - 1899

Stories of the Olden Time‎ - Page 200
by James Johonnot - Readers and speakers - 1889

The Heimskringla: A History of the Norse Kings‎ - Page 38
by Snorri Sturluson, Samuel Laing, Rasmus Björn Anderson - Norway - 1907

The Normans, told chiefly in relation to their conquest of England: Told ...‎ - Page 30
by Sarah Orne Jewett - Normans - 1891

The gesta Normannorum ducum of William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis, and ...‎ - Page 92

The History of the Norman people: Wace's Roman de Rou‎ - Page 23
by Wace, Glyn Sheridan Burgess, Elisabeth M. C. Van Houts - Literary Criticism - 2004

Monday, April 27, 2009

Map of Normandy

Map of Normandy.

The area of Normandy is at the North of France bordering the channel. Normandy and Brittany and the Aquitaine are shown in peach. France is green

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William Longsword or Guillaume,"Longue-Épée"

William Longsword or Guillaume,"Longue-Épée"

There does not seem to be much written about William Longsword's childhood or upbringing. He was given a French name, Guillaume. The Heimskringla sage of Saint Olaf says that he was born in 905 or 906 in Rouen.However Dudo and the Planctus record that he was born overseas or that his mother was from overseas and a Christian. His father separated from his mother,Poppa (referred to variously as Poppa de Senlis, Poppa de Valois) and remarried Gisela, daughter of Charles III 'the Simple. The Historia Norwegie records that after Gisela died, Rollo remarried Poppa. The separation and reunification of his parents was likely a political move on the part of his father. An example he would follow himself in his adult life.

Almost immediately after he succeeded his father, there was a rebellion of his own people because some of them believed he had become too French. Most of William's career was spent in relative obscurity, but in the late 930's he suddenly emerged onto the stage of Frankish royal politics. Two things brought him into the political forefront. His war with Arnulf of Flanders and his support for King Louis IV.

William's father Rollo was still living in 928 but probably died by 933. He had gradually transferred authority to William before his death. And William was recorded as the leader of the Normans, by Flodoard in 933.

William Longsword was involved in a war in the late 930's against Arnolph I, "The Great", Count of Flanders. Some sources state that a peace conference was held in December 942, and that Arnulph I arranged for the murder of William Longsword at that time. Other sources state that Arnolph waged war against William of Normandy, whom he defeated and slew.

William Longsword was the son of Rollo, founder of the Rollonid dynasty that would become the dukes of Normandy and after 1066, kings of England. In William's time, the Rollonid principality was still a vulnerable. The Rollinid Normans' ruled it from Rouen. This is not to say that they did not have influence outside of Normandy.

In 924 Rollo signed a treaty with Ralph (Raoul), King of France. The result being that the Bessin, Hiesmois and the Seois were became an established part of the Rollonid sphere of influence and in 927 the Breton counts of Rennes and Dol were forced to accept Rollo as their sovereign over the Contentin and Avaranchin. They most likely performed homage to Rollo, but certainly gave an oath of on aggression. within his borders.

In 930 the Normans living in the Loire attacked the Saintonge, Angoumois, Perigord and Limousin. They were defeated by the king of France. They were left weakened and the Bretons revolted against them and killed one of their chiefs named Flekan.

William supported Inkon, the leader of the Loire settlements. The Breton counts broke their agreement and joined the revolt. They believed they could take advantage of William's young age and inexperience. William defeated them and then returned to Rouen a little too hastily. The Bretons regrouped and attacked Rollonid territory as far as Bayeaux. William defeated them again and the Breton count of Dol accepted William's sovereignty over Dol and Saint-Brieuc. At the end of 931, Brittany was controlled in the east by the Rollonid Normans and in the west by the Loire Normans.

William's Rollonid Normans occupied the Cotentin, Avranchin and the territories of Dol and Saint-Brieuc. The Contentin already had Viking settlements, but were not immediately ready to accept William as their lord. The Loire Normans were still vulnerable to Breton attach in the area of Nantes. The Avranchin would be an easier area for them to defend, and in order to keep them from moving in and taking it from him, William needed to control it.

In 933 William met with the French king, Ralph (Raoul) and paid homage to him. In return Ralph gave him the land of the Bretons. William had coinage mented during his lifetime that bore the title of Duke of Brittany. By 933 William's Rollonid Normans were given royal authority in all of the area that became Normandy, but that did not guarantee them control of it. It would take them some time to ensure that.

The Scandinavians who lived in the Contentin, Avranchin and in Bessin were still pagan and maintained their independent nature. It was difficult for William to get them to accept him as their ruler and to convert to Christianity, possibly due to the appearance that he only paid lip service to religion himself. Due to areas being un-pacified and especially part of southern Brittany still being undefeated, William found it necessary to build fortifications at Pontorson to protect the Couesnon River crossing. He upgraded the fortification of Avranches, where there was already a castle in existence. He also built a castle at Mortain. As well as fortification, he used settlement as a means of controlling his domain. He encouraged Normans to settle in the eastern part of Brittany and also invited Vikings from colonies in the Contentin, Britain as well as Ireland.

William had begun the process of consolidating Viking and Norman colonies under Rollonid control into what would become a unified Normandy.

If trouble within his own domains was not enough for William to handle, he also had to deal with trouble originating across the English Channel. In 931, Aethelstan, king of Wessex welcomed the exiles from Brittany, Mathedoe and Alan "Red Beard" among them. There were also exiles from the Rollonid Vikings and the Vikings of the Loire in Flanders and France who also wanted to free their land from William. In 936 Aethelstan gave a fleet of ships to Alan to use. He and his followers landed on the coast of Brittany near Dol. They massacred a surprised Norman garrison and move on to the west. The Norman colonists resisted, but he advanced with an ever increasing army toward Nantes and besieged it. On 1st August 939, the joint armies of Alan 'Red Beard', count Berenger and count Hugh II of Maine defeated the colonists at the battle of Trans, ten kilometres south-west of Pontorson. This freed Brittany from Norman occupation and Alan was proclaimed duke.

Alan did not try to retake the Contentin or Avranchin, because there were strong Norman garrisons there. In 942, he did homage to King Louis IV of France, during which he had to promise not to claim these areas in the future. He also had to give up his claim to Mayenne in order to maintain support from Hugh II, count of Main. In 942 Harold "Bluetooth", king of Denmard had temporarily lost his throne. He made an agreement with William to settle in the Contentin, with his 60 ships, until such a time as he was able to regain his throne. This agreement most likely arose out of a sense of Scandinavian solidarity. During the 940's, William also built a chain of castle from Tinchebrai to Teilleul in order to provide protection from Breton attack. At this point, the western border of Normandy was Brittany.

Franco-Norman Relations

Backtracking a bit, we find that in 927 William and his father Rollo met Charles the Simple at St. Quentin. Charles had been deposed in 923 and had been put in prison by Herbert II of Vermandois. Although they had made a previous agreement with King Ralph, who had usurped Charles' throne, they were intending to support Charles against Ralph. But Charles died in 929, making it unnecessary for them to be contentious toward Ralph.

In 931, Hugh the Great, a French Duke, seized land at Braine-sur-Vesle, south east of Soissons. The land belonged to the diocese of Rouen, and was considered a hostile act. They had previously had good relations with Hugh and they had the previously mentioned non aggression pact with King Ralph. In 933 William again met with Ralph and made another non aggression agreement. Ralph confirmed his sovereignty over the Contentin and Avranchin and his protectorate over Brittany.

At some point between 935-939 William married Luitgard, who was Hugh Vermandois' daughter. His successor was Richard who was the product of his Danish marriage with Sprota De Senlis. Due to this being a Danish marriage, some would not view Richard as legitimate.

In 936 King Ralph died and there was contention over who would succeed him. His brother, Hugh the Black chose to succeed him in Burgundy, but not to try to take the French throne. Hugh the Great was the next logical choice, but he also chose not to take the throne. He sent for Charles' son to come back from his exile in England and Louis IV became the next king of France. Hugh apparently intended to influence Louis as might a puppet master.

Louis IV and Hugh the Great went to Burgundy to have Hugh the Black recognize the fifteen year old Louis as the rightful king. Hugh's plans did not work out so well. In 937 Louis IV moved away from Hugh's influence and set up his court at Laon. During the next few years, the political situation in France was constantly changing. The prime players, Louis IV, Herbert II Vermandois, Hugh the Great, Arnulf of Flanders and other nobles, were constantly vying for position, influence and power, forming and dissolving agreements and alliances as it suited them.

In the principality of Lotharingia, the nobility rebelled against Otto I. Louis went to Lotharingia and received homage from these nobles. Otto's response was to launch raids into West Francia. Louis was not able to oppose him and applied to Aethelstan of Wessex for aid. Hugh the Great, Herbert of Vermandois and Arnulf of Flanders, took advantage of the situation and agreed to support Otto against Louis IV. William decided that it was in his interest to unite with the others, in order to curb the power of France.

Louis's leading ally in Lotharingia died and Louis withdrew from Lotharingia. Hugh the Great and Herbert II Vermandois met with Otto I in 941. This time William went instead to meet with Louis. He committed to Louis and in return for this Louis recognized William's rights to the lands given to his father by King Charles the simple in 911. Although it was not direct action against Louis, when Hugh and Herbert attacked Rheims, in order to depose the archbishop that was Louis' chancellor, William joined them. After they captured the town, Herbert had his son reinstated as the archbishop. Herbert and Hugh went to the royal stronghold of Laon and laid siege to it. As per his earlier agreement with Louis, William did not go with them.

Louis IV was able to defend Laon and his enemies abandoned the attack. For a while, Louis would mount expeditions into Otto's territory and Otto would mount attacks on Louis. The success of Louis IV against Otto kept Hugh and Herbert on the sidelines out of the fighting. But Louis was not able to gain a decisive victory. In 941, Hugh, William and Herbert met with Arnulf were still biding their time and not entering the fighting. In 942, Louis IV sent the count of Douai, to Rouen as a royal envoy to negotiate a new peace. Once an agreement had been met, Louis went to Rouen to seal the treaty. During this process William mediated between Louis and Otto. This in effect neutralized Hugh and Herbert by removing their most powerful supporter Otto. As an added bonus to this, the most powerful Norman landowners recognized Richard as William Longsword's heir.

In December 942, Arnulf called a peace conference with William; at this meeting William was murdered. Arnulf was supposedly responsible for his death. A Planctus, or mourning prayer was composed shortly after, in approximately 943. This poem survives only in incomplete versions and attempts to elevate William to saintly status. Despite the bias, it is an important source of Norman history. It is the earliest work written about the Normans and from their point of view.

Normandy's Relationship with Flanders

Normandy and Flanders had maintained an uneasy peace since the 920's. During this time, Arnulf had been expanding his power, by taking control of the counties of Boulogne and Ternois. He also disinherited his nephews. He then made an alliance with Herbert II Vermandois by marrying his sister, Adela in about 934.

In 929 Herbert De Vermandois, aided by Hugh the Great, besieged Mortreuil. Montreuil was in the territory of the count of Ponthieu, Herluin II. During the conflict, Hugh defected to Herluin's side. Three years later, Herluin defeated Herbert. But managed to regain some leverage by capturing the castle of Ham, in St.Quentin. Ten years after the hostilities began, Herbert De Vermandois returned to besiege Montreuil, aided by Arnulf of Flanders and gained control of all of Ponthieu and Vimeu between the rivers Somme and Bresle. Herluin II turned to William Longsword for aid. He sent troops from the Contentin to attack Montreuil and they recaptured it. Most of Arnulf;'s garrison was killed. In return for this military aid, Herluin II had to perform homage to William Longsword.This newly gained area, provided a buffer between Normandy and Flanders.

Hugh the Great, Arnulf, and many other French lords, the Normans still represented an unwelcome intrusion in France that they were determined to rid themselves of. Arnulf sent a message to William saying that he wanted to settle their disagreement over Montreuil. This is the meeting he went to and was assassinated at.

The Planctus of William Longsword

Two manuscripts of the Planctus survive, dating from the early 11th century. They appear to be taken from an earlier version that does not exist any more. Modern copies of Medieval manuscripts frequently don't come from originals, but from later copies. Sometimes, this means that they contain attempts to deliberately alter them or inaccuracies, caused by their translators attempt to make multiple copies agree with each other when they contain differences.

The copies that survive are corrupted, but still preserve the general sense of the original. It has been edited four times by three different scholars, who had to make decisions on how to deal with problem areas. Jules Lair published full sized translations of both manuscripts.

Here is a translation into English by Robert Helmerichs:

The Planctus For William Longsword

Verse 1

Ringing out to the farthest reaches, tearful plectrum of the tongue
echoing, blowing, with a sad heart,
mourn the loss of the great peace, once ours,
now taken away.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 2

This man, born in an overseas city to a father
remaining in the error of the pagans,
but to a mother dedicated to the nourishing faith,
was washed by the sacred water.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 3

With his father dying the infidels,
warlike, rose up against him:
trusting completely in God, he
subjugated them to himself with his strong right hand.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 4

One time he made King Louis
a lord to him, one who would reign,
in order that with him he would surpass his enemy
and rule in the way of kings.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 5

He, taught the unity of the Trinity
by Martin, the trinity of the Unity,
three are one and one is three,
he founded a monastery...
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 6

.which was named in honor of Saint Peter.
After which, we should admit, he would have brought himself there,
where he would have seemed to be devoted to the life of the monks in his fashion.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 7

With so many good things needing to be counted, we hesitate
to announce such a crime, a loss to everyone,
to be recited with sobbing and weeping,
a lamb butchered by a wolf.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 8

There was a certain wealthy man, full of trickery,
and he was called Arnulf the Fleming,
with whom he associated himself by a sworn oath,
that fortunate one to the miserable one.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 9

A meeting was set up for a Saturday,
with no hostage given, at a certain river
that brutal one hurried to the innocent one,
the milder one to be sacrificed.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 10

For gathering together on the following day,
as if friends (merely by behavior and not in heart)
they indicated that they would speak,
concealing their animosity.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 11

With the sun setting in the west,
the innocent one rowing back across,
[gibberish, but the sense seems to be “messengers called him back.”]
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 12

“A secret of [our] master is concealed from you until now,
which will be beneficial to himself and to you.”
Considering it on this side [of the river], dreading the one he was going to meet,
ordering it, he hurried [back across the river].
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 13

They met him as he was disembarking from the alder ship,
hiding [weapons?] in their cowls;
one of them [hit?] his head with a sword
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 14

Seeing this, two avengers*
murdered and plundered the unarmed one;
in such a manner they sent his body to the earth, his spirit to heaven,
him to Christ.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

*A tradition holds that after William defeated a Norman rival, Riulf, he treacherously had Riulf murdered, and that his own murder was an act of vengeance by Riulf’s relatives.

Verse 15

There were two noblemen of the world
O William, called by the same name,
You were one of them, called “of Rouen”;
and the other still shines at Poitou.
Let us pray for them.
All weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 16

O William, bringer and lover of peace,
consoler and defender of the poor,
supporter of widows and orphans,
now joyfully joined to heaven,
all weep for innocent, slain William.

Verse 17

Hail Richard, Rouennais count,
prince and father of the county, hail;
may Christ concede the days of life to you,
so that you may be with him without end. Amen.

The information on the Planctus was found at http://vlib.iue.it/carrie/documents/planctus/planctus/index.html

William Longsword's Rule of Normandy

The position that William was born to inherit meant that he was sole legislator. He had absolute power. He controlled the church within his principality. There was no law that put him into subjection to anyone, he chose not to subject himself to.

From the beginning it had been the Rollonid Norman modus operandi, to assimilate the customs of the lands they colonized and inhabited. They were not prone to being overly attached to Viking customs. Their subjects may have intended to keep the old pagan ways, but the Rollinid family saw that the way to advance themselves was to abolish the old and establish the new.

It was not their way to establish courts of barons with whom they shared power or depended upon to maintain their own. There was no one to tell him what laws he was allowed to make or enforce. The only contemporary evidence of exceptions to this is the fact that he appointed a mayor of the palace. It would be hard to determine precisely what this position was. It may have been the title given to his chief counselor and a possibility that he served as regent when William was away; as a sort of second in command. Some chroniclers seem to think that it meant something more like a constable, important military commander or maybe his personal bodyguard. It may have entailed all of them.

As part of his administration he produced coinage, which he had a monopoly over. And he established new towns in the Contentin. And although they did not take part in the decision making process of government, he had seargeants, or men who received land in return for service to William. These services were things such as maintaining order, judicial and military service and protecting therie lands, which they held in a sort of feudal obligation to William. This served the joint purpose of delegating duties that he could not possibly carry out by himself as well as keeping his people happy with rewards.

Some of his people must have felt that he was a good ruler in order for the Planctus to have stood the test of time, but good is relative.

The church did not presume to try and enforce ecclesiastical restraint upon him. Rather, they were answerable to him. He appointed the bishops. He disregarded Papal supremacy and Canon law with regard to these appointments.

Despite the temptation to be despotic, William seems to have been a wise, yet firm ruler. In order to be the effective administrator that he was, he had to rely on personal strength and integrity. He was equal to the responsibility that had been placed with him. He was not often seen to be oppressive or unjust.

When it suited his purposes he behave in a deeply pious and Godly manner. Yet, he was not a celibate man. Whether or not his Danish marriage to Sprota was a legitimate and lawful one or not, depends on the opinion of the person asking. But he obviously had no qualms about getting rid of her when he chose to remarry. He did not look to the laws of Christianity to restain his desire.

He was apt to swear an oath and then go back on it later, something condemned by Christianity. Whereas he showered gifts on his soldiers and friends, he did not find it necessary to confer this favor upon the church. Those whom he appointed to religious position were often no better than they had to be and they were encouraged them in their corruption by showing them favor, over the more pious brethren. Hugh the Monk of St. Denis was reputedly a very impious man.

His disrespect for monks is evident in a story recounted in The History of Normandy and of England. The had been a monastery at Jumieges, but it had been destroyed some time since the Vikings had come. It had become so over grown that it was now forest. William decided to hunt there as he had never explored it before. While riding his horse through the wood, he encountered two old men laboring. He demanded to know where they had come from and what they were doing. They had disturbed his hunting and the sight of them made him angry. In an effort to be hospitable and appease him, they offered to share their meager meal of barley bread and water. He was rude and refused them. He went on ahead after his game. He and his dogs were chasing a wild boar. The boar turned about face and charged toward the dogs and William's horse. His javelin missed and the boar charged again and knocked the horse to the ground.

When William regained consciousness, he was met with the faces of the old monks, standing next to a pallet they had lain him on. They had stopped his bleeding and bandaged his bruises, probably saving his life. Their humane treatment and his awareness of just how close he had come to death caused him to be filled with contrition. He regretted his harshness and anger and realized that he needed to do something to repay them and show his thanks.

He had the monastery repaired, a new roof put on the choir, cloisters were built, a refectory and dormitory cells. Having done this he realized that the place needed monks to fill it, but he had none to send from within the area and would need to get them elsewhere. William had his sister apply to Saint Cyprian's monastery and the Suprerior of the house for help. Twelve monks and the Superior named Martin went to Jumieges from Poitiers. Martin became the abbot, and William paid to be commemorated as the founder.

William enjoyed the intelligent and learned conversation of the abbot and travelled there often for his company. The History of Normandy and of England speculates that he may have also went there to rest and for prayer.

William was aware that the political stability and social stability as well, depended on conversion to Christianity.

In summary of his life, William Longsword was a man prone to weaknesses of the flesh and the tendency to have selfish motives, no matter how much he had intentions of being a pious man. He may have had personal reasons for attempting to be a Christian, but it was also polically motivated and partly inspired by ambition.


The History of Normandy and of England
by Francis Palgrave - 1857




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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Richard I, the Duke of Normandy

Richard I of Normandy was born 933 in Fecamp. He was the son of William Longsword and Sprota De Senlis. He acceded to the Dukedom of Normandy in 942.

He married Emma of Paris in 956. She was the sister of of Hugh Capet. The marriage is recorded in 956 Liber Modernorum Regum Francorum. Guillaume de Jumièges says that the marriage was arranged at the same time that Richard I was appointed guardian to her brother Hugh Capet and that it occured after her father's death.

She died after 966 with no issue. Robert of Torigny recorded that not long after her death, Richar went out hunting and stopped at the house of the local forester. He became enamored of the forester's wife, Seinfreda, but she was a virtuous woman and suggested he court her sister Gunnor, who was unmarried.

When the married Gunnor, her family rose in prominence. Her brother Herfast de Crepon was involved in a controversial trial of the Cathars. She was of Danish descent. Guillaume de Jumièges records this second marriage soon after the death of his first wife, but Robert de Torigny says it took place to legitimize their children, which would indicate, either that she was his mistress while his first wife was living, or that it took place at a later date. Gunnor's death is recorded by Robert of Torigny in 1030.

He had children:
1. Mauger of Corbeil, Earl of Corbeil died after 1033
2. Robert of Evereaux, Count of Evereaux, Bishop of Rouen died 1037
3. Matilda Maud of Normandy, wife of Odo II of Blois, Count of Blois, Champagne and Chartres.
4. Emma of Normandy b. about 986 died 1052 married Æthelred the Unready of England and then Cnut the Great of Denmark
5. Richard II, the Good of Normandy
6. Hedwig or Hawise, b. about 978 died 2-21-1034 married Geoffrey I, Duke of Brittany.
7. Beatrix of Normandy, Abbess of Montvilliers d.1034 m. Ebles of Turenne (d.1030 (divorced)
8. Godfey or Geoffey of Brionne and Eu born about 970
9. Hiesmes or William Count of Eu
10. Robert Danus died 985-989
11. Willaim d'Eu Count of Eu b. about 985
12. Papia married Gilbert de St. Valery
13. Fressenda b. about 995 died about 1057, married Tancred of Hauteville
14. Muriella married Tancred of Hauteville.

Richard was called "the Fearless" or in French Sans Peur. He was bilingual, being educated at Bayeux, and preferred his Danish subjects to his French subject.

During his reign, Normandy became completely Gallicized and Christianized. He introduced the feudal system and Normandy became one of the most thoroughly feudalized states on the continent. He carried out a major reorganization of the Norman military system, based on heavy cavalry.

His mother was a Breton concubine, captured in war and bound by a Danish marriage to his father. She married Esperlung, a wealthy miller after William Longsword's death.

Upon his father's death, Louis IV of France seized Normandy. He was still a boy and unable to do anything about it. He was imprisoned at Laon. He escaped and made alliances with the Norman and Viking leaders. With their help, he drove Louis out of Rouen and took back Normandy by 947.

Richard I, Duke of Normandy died in Fecamp, 11-20-996 of natural causes, and was buried at Fecamp.

Guillaume de Jumièges names Richard as son of Guillaume and Sprota, recording that news of his birth was brought to his father when he was returning from his victory against the rebels led by "Riulf"

Flodoard records "filio ipsius Willelmi, nato de concubina Brittana" being granted the land of the Normans by King Louis after his father's death

Dudo of Saint-Quentin described him as a boy at the time his father died. Oderic Vitalis says that he was ten years old. Guillaume de Jumièges says that he succeeded his father under the guardianship of Bernard le Danois.

He used the title Comte de Rouen/comes Rothomagensium. After 966 he used the title Marquis des Normands/marchio Normannorum.

Not long after he succeeded he suppressed a rebellion led by Rodulf "Torta", who fled to Paris after being banished. Otto I, King of Germany attempted to capture Rouen in retaliation for his having escaped from prison.

He also defeated French forces after King Lothaire of France captured Evreux.

He was appointed the guardian to the son of Hughes "le Grand". This son later became Hugh "Capet", King of France in 956.

He invited William of Volpiano, an Italian abbot of Saint-Benigne at Dijon, to reform the Norman abbeys. Monks were installed at Mont Saint-Michel and Fecamp. Richard I also founded Louviers.

He agreed to a non agression pact with Aethelred II, King of England 3-1-991. It was designed to prevent either side from sheltering Viking marauders.

McKitterick, Rosamund. The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987, 1993.
Searle, Eleanor. Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066, 1998.


The Henry Project, http://sbaldw.home.mindspring.com/hproject/henry.htm



Richard II, The Good, Duke of Normandy

Richard II, The Good, Duke of Normandy was born 963 in Normandy. He was the son of Richard I, The Fearless of Normandy and Gunnor of Crepon. He acceded to the dukedom in 996.

He married about 1000, Judith De Bretagne (Judith of Brittany) in Mont Saint-Michel, daughtre of Conan I, "le Tort", Duke of Brittany. According to Oderic Vitalis, she founded the abbey of Bernay, Eure in 1025, but the date is inconsistent with the her date of death and Richard's second marriage.

He had children:

1. Richard III of Normandy, Duke of Normandy
2. Robert II the Devil, Duke of Normandy
3. William (Nicholas) monk at Fechamp b. about 1007/9
4.Alice(Adelaide or Judith) b. about 1003/5 married Renaud I, Count of Burgundy
5. Eleanor of Normandy married Baldwin IV, count of Flanders b. about 1011/13
6. Matilda b. about 1013/15 a nun at Fecamp

He married about 1017 Estrith (Margaret) of Denmark. Daughter of Svend I, King of Denmark. Adam of Bremen this marriage and says that after Richard repudiated her, she married Wolf, Duke of Anglia. She later married Ulf Thrugilson, Jarl. She may have had a daughter Popia by Richard.

He married about 1024 Papia of Envermeu, daughter of -----. Gullaume de Jumieges says she was Richard's second wife, as does Oderic Vitalis and The Chronicon Fontanellense. She is named in a charter granting property to the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel given by Richard.

He had children:
1. Mauger of Rouen, Archbishop of Rouen
2. William of Arques, Count of Arques
3. Papia

Ademar names Richard as son of "Richardus Rotomagensis"

Guillaume de Jumièges names (in order) "Richard, Robert, Mauger" as three of the five sons of Duke Richard and Gunnora

Robert of Torigny names "Ricardum…qui ei successit et Robertum postea archiepiscopum Rothomagensium et Malgerium comitem Curbuliensem, aliosque duos" as the sons of "Ricardi primi ducis Normanniæ" and Gunnora

Some sources give him another son named Godrey Gilbert,Count of Eu, the father of Gilbert De Clare. He was supposedly the son of Gunnor of Crepon or an illegitimate son.

He tried to improve relations with England through his sister's marriage to King Ethelred, But she was disliked by the English. This connection later gave his grandson William the Conqueror patrt of his claim to the English throne.

Richard II, Duke of Normandy died 28 August 1027 in Normandy.

Royal & Noble Genealogical Data On the Web


Royal ancestors of Magna charta barons: including ancestry of John Talbot ...‎ - Page 68
by Carr Pritchett Collins - Nobility - 1959

Dictionary of national biography: Index and epitome‎ - Page 241
by Sir Leslie Stephen, Sidney Lee - Great Britain - 1906

Robert II The Devil of Normandy

Robert II "the Devil" of Normandy was born about 1008 in Normandy.

He was the son of Richard II of Normandy and Judith De Bretagne. Some sources call him Robert The Magnificent.

Robert helped in the restoration of Henry, King of France, to his throne and received the gratitude of the monarch, in the form of Vexin, as an addition to the lands he had received from his father.

He also aided Edward the Confessor, when he was in exile.

He became Duke of Normandy in 1028, succeeding his brother Richard III, Duke of Normandy, whom he was suspected of poisoning. In the 8th year of his reign, he set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Fatigue from the journed and the hot climate, weakened him and caused him to die on his return home in 1035, in Nice, Bithynia. William of Malmesbury recorded that his son William the Conqueror sent a mission to Constantinople and Nicea about 1086 to bring back his father's body, to be buried in Normandy. This mission travelled as far as Apulia, Italy on their return journey. Here they received word that William had died and they decided to re-inter Robert's body in Italy.

On his pilgrimage, he is said to have travelled barefoot and in such humble clothing that when he passed through a little town in France, a warder at the gate thought he was a beggar and struck him over the shoulders with a halbert. His friends wanted to avenge the insult, but he prevented it, saying, "Pilgrims ought to suffer for the love of God; I love his blow better than my city of Rouen."

When he reached Constantinople, he appeared in full state. His mule was even shod with silber shoes, which were purposely fastened on loosely so that they fell off and were a prize for the crowd. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he paid his devotions and made rich gifts at all of the holy shrines.

When his father died, his elder brother Richard III, succeeded as Duke of Normandy. Robert became Count of Hiemois. On the death of his brother, he succeeded. He is said to have received his nickname of "the Devil" or "le Diable" because he had his brother murdered. Another legend is that his mother was in dispair over not having a son and prayed to the devil for a son.

He had a mistress named Herleva, Herlette or Arlette of Falaise.

He had children:

1. Adeliza of Normandy, Countess of Aumale, b. 1029, named by Robert of Torigny in one place as full sister to William I and in another she is said to have had a different mother. She married 1. Engerrand II, Count of Ponthieu, 2. Lambert II, Count of Lens, 3. Odo II of Champagne

2. William the Conqueror, William I of England b. 1028

He is said to have sponsored monastic reform in Normandy.

Gesta Normannorum Ducum

Royal & Noble Genealogical Data On the Web or Directory of Royal Genealogical Data

Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe © 1999 The Learning Company, Inc.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2005, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.



A History of France‎ - Page 204
by George William Kitchin - France - 1892

Landmarks of History ...‎ - Page 21
by Charlotte Mary Yonge, Edith L. Chase - World history - 1867

The Viking Ancestry of William the Conqueror

Since I have been making posts about other Viking nobles that I am related to, I thought I would post the ancestors of William the Conquer, with links to posts on each of them.

William Guillaume The Conqueror (1024-1087)
+Matilda of Flanders

Robert II 'the Devil' of Normandy (1008-1035)
+Harlette/Herlette De Falaise

Richard II of Normandy (963-1035
+Judith De Bretagne

Richard I Of Normandy (933-996)
+Gunnor of Crepon

William Longsword (900-942)
+Sprota Adela of Senlis

Rolf Ragnvaldsson(846-932)
+Poppa de senlis De Valois

Ragnvald I 'the Wise of More' Eysteinsson (830-894)
+Hiltrude Hrolfsdottir

Glumra 'eystein The Noisy (788-?)
+Aseda Ragnvaldsdottir

Ivar Oplaendinge Of Uplands (770-?)
+_____ Eysteinsdottir

Halfdan The Old (700-800)

Sveidi Svidasson (650-760)
+ ?

Svidri Heytsson (600-?)
+ ?

Heytir Heiti Gorrson (525-?)
+ ?

Gorr Thorrason (365-?)
+ ?

Thori Snaersson (320-?)

Snaer Jokulsson (275-?)

Jokul Frostasson (240-?)

Frosti Karsson (210-?)

Kari Fornjotsson (185-?)
+ ?

Fornjotur Fjornjot (160-?)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Randver Radbardsson, King of Denmark

Randvér or Randver was, according to Sogubrot and the Lay of Hyndla, the son of Raodbardr or Radbard. the king of Gardariki (Nordic term for Rus which became Russia) and Aour the Deep Minded, the daughter of Ivar Vidfamne. In these two sources, Aour had Randver's brother, Harald Wartooth, in a previous marriage.

Hversu Noregr Byggoist (How Norway was inhabited) says he is the son of Hroerekr slongvanbaugi and the brother of Harald Wartooth.

On the other hand, according to the Hervarar saga, both Ranver and Harald Wartooth were the sons of Valdar and Alfhild, the daughter of Ivar Vidfamne. This saga relates that Ivar appointed Valdar the king of Denmark, and when Valdar died, he was succeeded by Randver. When his brother Harald, had reclaimed Gotaland or Gotland, Randver died hastily in England, and was succeeded by Sigurd Ring as the king of Denmark.

He was married to Ingild, the daughter of an unknown Swedish king. He was succeeded by his son Sigurd Ring.

Aour the deep minded, was apparently used by her father for political reasons. She was given to a Hroerekr slongvanbaugi, the king of Zealand, but preferred his brother Helgi the Sharp. Her father Ivar Vidfamne solved the problem by telling Hroerekr that she had been unfaithful with Helgi. Hroerekr killed his brother, afterwards it was easy for Ivar to attack Hroerekr and kill him as well.

She fled to Gardariki with her son Harold Wartooth, and married Radbardr and had Randver. Her father was angry that she had married without his permission. He was an old man, but he went to Gardariki with a large group of men.

One night, as they were harboured in the Gulf of Finland, he had a strange dream, and so he asked his foster-father Hörð. His foster-father was standing on a high cliff during the conversation and told Ivar that the dream foretold the death of Ivar and the end of his evil deeds. Ivar was so angry by these words that he threw himself down into the sea, whereupon also Hörð did the same thing.

As the throne of Sweden and Denmark was vacant, Auðr's son Harold Wartooth, departed to Scania to claim his inheritance, with the help of his stepfather Ráðbarðr.

According to Stories and Ballads of the Far Past- page 139, he married Asa, daughter of King Harold of the Red Mustache of Denmark.

Anglo-Saxon and Norse poems‎ - Page 192
by Nora Kershaw Chadwick - Literary Criticism - 1922

A history of Sweden from the earliest times to the present day‎ - Page 68
by Neander Nicolas Cronholm - History - 1902

Origin and history of the Montgomerys: Comtes de Montgomery, Ponthieu ...‎ - Page 24
by Bo Gabriel de Montgomery - History - 1948

Sigurd Ring

Now playing: Alter Bridge - Before Tomorrow Comes
via FoxyTunes Sigurd Ring was a Swedish and Danish king mentioned in many Scandinavian legends or sagas. In these old sources he is noted for winning the Battle of the Bravellir angainst Harold Wartooth and for being the father of Ragnar Lodbrok.

In the Hervarar saga, his grandfather Valdar died and his son Randver became the king of Denmark. When Randver died, his son Sigurd Ring became king of Denmark.

Harald Wartooth was king of Gotaland or Gotland, which is a part of Sweden. After Sigurd Ring defeated him, Harald Wartooth's son Eysteinn Beli ruled Sweden. The Gesta Danorum says that Harald Wartooth was the maternal uncle of Sigurd Ring. The Sögubrot af nokkrum fornkonungum says that Harold Wartooth was his father's brother. They shared a mother Auðr the Deep-Minded, who apparently had been married to Harold's father and then to Sigurd's father. In this story, Harold Wartooth made Sigurd Ring, the king of Sweden, when he was getting old. Then Sigurd Ring defeated him in battle and was also the king of Denmark. According to Hversu Noregr byggdist, Sigurd was the son of Randver and nephew of Harold Wartooth.

Sigurd's wife was Alfhild, the daughtre of king Alf of Alfheim. And Ragnar Lodbrok was their son. Alfheim or Elphame, and Elfhame means fairyland, the abode of the Elves. Apparently Elves do not live forever, because the Skjoldunga sagas says that Alfhild died.

According to this saga, when Sigurd Ring was an old man he went to Skiringssal to take part in the great blots. These were Norse pagan sacrifices to the Norse gods and the elves. While he was there, he saw a beautiful girl named Alfsol, daughter of King Alf of Vendel . He wished to marry her, but her brothers refused to allow it. Sigurd fought with the brothers and killed. Then he found that she had been given poison so that she could never marry him. When her body was brought to him, he carried her aboard a ship along with her brothers bodies. He then piloted the ship out to sea as it burnt. Burning ships were the traditional burial method for Norse nobles.

According to the Volsunga Saga, before Sigurd Ring, left to go and take Alfsol as a bride, he made his son Ragnar, his heir and had him recognized as the next ruler. Ragnar was only about fifteen when he became ruler.


A General History of the World‎ - Page 303
by Oscar Browning - World history - 1913

Epitome of Ancient, Mediæval and Modern History‎ - Page 207
by Karl Julius Ploetz, William Hopkins Tillinghast - History - 1888

The Saga of King Olaf Tryggwason who Reigned Over Norway A.D. 995 to A.D. 1000‎ - Page 75
by Oddr Snorrason, John Sephton - 1895

Scandinavian history‎ - Page 27
by Elise C. Otté - History - 1874

The Volsunga Saga‎ - Page 330
by Eiríkr Magnússon, William Morris, Jessie Laidlay Weston, Henry Halliday Sparling, Rasmus Björn Anderson, James William Buel - 1907

Legends of the Middle Ages‎ - Page 311
by H. A. Guerber - 2008 - 360 pages

Ragnar Lodbrok or Lodbrokar

Ragnar Lodbrokar or Lodbrok (hairy britches) was a hero in Norse legend. Ragnar's Saga was written about him. He was a Viking leader and was the scourge of France during his time. He was a contender for the Danish throne. Briefly he was king of Denmark and a large part of Sweden.

His mother was said to be from Alfheim, and therefore a fairy or elf. His success in battle was said to have been partly due to a magic shirt his mother wove for him, saying:

"I give thee the long shirt,
Nowhere sewn,
Woven with a loving mind,
Of hair---[obscure word].
Wounds will not bleed
Nor will edges bite thee.
In the holy garment;
It was consecrated to the gods."

It was claimed that he descended from Odin. He married Lathgertha or Lodgerda, the shield-maiden. He told people that he was always seeking adventure in order to keep his adoptive sons from outshining him in fame and honour. He only stayed with her for about three years, and became restless for adventure and left. After this, a seer came to him and showed him an image of Thora, daughter of Jarl Herrand, in a magic mirror. Since Lodgerda had refused to accompany him back to his homeland, he felt no further obligation to their marriage. Their marriage is addressed later.

He raided France many times, by traveling up the rivers in his fleets of longships. He avoided battles with large armies of French cavalry by staying on the move. This also allowed him to utilize his greater mobility and to capitalize on the fear of the Vikings and their unpredictability. One of his tactics was to attack Christian cities on feast days, because many of the soldiers would be in church. He would usually spare his victims in return for huge payments. Then he would go back again and demand more money.

One of his most notable raids was one he made on Paris in 845. They paid him 7000 pounds of silver, called Danegeld in order to keep him from burning it down.

Ragnar traveled to Sweden to fight an infestation of venomous snakes as part of his method of courting his second wife, the Swedish princess, Thora. This is where he obtained the nickname of 'hairy britches', which he apparently wore to protect him from the snakes.

Another story says that Thora/Tora was given a snake by her father, who had received it in an enchanted egg. When he gave it to her, it was small enough to keep in a box. But it grew huge enough to fill the tower room in which she lived. This place was called Castle Deer, because she was beautiful above other women, and deer are considered to be more beautiful than other animals.

The snake became viscious and noone could go near it except Thora and the man who fed it. It was said to have eaten a whole ox at one time. Her father offered Thora as a bride to any man who could kill it, and a great reward as her dower. In this version of the story, he made a coat for himself out of a hairy hide boiled in pitch and then drawn through sand. He then left it to dry and harden in the sun.

The next summer, he set out for, East Gothland, where Thora lived. He hid his ships in a small bay. At dawn the next day, he went to the tower, carrying a spear and wearing his coat. There he found the serpent, coiled in a ring around the wall. Ragnar attacked it before it could strike. He impaled it on the spear and drove it all the way through. It thrashed around violently and would have killed him with the venom it poured out, if he had not had his coat for protection.

Hearing the commotion, Thora went to the window and seeing a tall man in the faint light, called to him, asking what he wanted. Ragnar's reply was:

"For the maid fair and wise
I would venture my life.
The scale-fish got its death wound
From a youth of fifteen!"

Ragnar left, taking half of his broken spear with him. Wondering at what she had heard, she pondered whether he was a man or a wzard. She told her father about what had happened. The Jarl went to see and drew out the remainder of the spear, and saw that it was heavier than most men could lift.

The jarl sent a mandate throughout his kingdom, calling all men together, and when they came he told them the story of the snake's death, and bade him who possessed the handle of the spear to present it, as he would keep his word with any one, high or low.

Ragnar and his men stood on the edge of the throng as the broken head of the spear was passed round, no one being able to present the handle fitting it. At length it came to Ragnar, and he drew forth the handle from his cloak, showing that the broken ends fitted exactly. A great feast for the victor was now given by Jarl Herröd, and when Ragnar saw the loveliness of Tora, he was glad to ask her for his queen, while she was equally glad to have such a hero for her spouse. A splendid bridal followed and the victor took his beautiful bride home.

His name of Lodbrok apparently came from his stange coat. Thora gave him two sons named Erik and Agnar. She died young and Ragnar was greatly saddened and took once again to wandering in search of adventure.

He continued successfully raiding France during the 9th century, as well as fighting several civil wars in Denmark. His sons continued to raid France, in particular Rouen, which they destroyed several more times. Many of them eventually settled there, and this part of France became known as Normandy.

His second wife was Aslog, daughter of King Sigurd Fafnisbane. According to legend, her father and mother and all of their people that could be found were killed soon after her birth. She was saved by the foster father of her mother, Heimer. He hid her and all of the treasure he could find in a huge harp and smuggled her away. He traveled as a harper, keeping her inside the harp and playing it to quiet her when she cried. At length, they came to a cottage at a place called Spangerhead, in Norway, where a beggar and his wife lived. The beggar and his wife saw some jewelry and some gold embroidery sticking out from the harp and killed Heimer during the night.

When they broke open the harp, along with the treasure, they found the child. They decided to keep her, and so that people would believe that she was their daughter, they disguised her beauty. They put tar on her head to keep her hair from growing long, and dressed her in rags and made her work at hard tasks. They named her Kraka. As she was growing up, she never spoke and was believed to be mute.

As time passed, Ragnar Lodbrok and his men were sailing along the coast of Norway. The crew was out of bread and men were sent ashore to bake some at a house they saw in the distance. This house was Spangerhed, where Kraka dwelt.

She had seen the ships come up and the men land, and was ashamed to be seen by strangers as she was, so she washed herself and combed her hair, though she had been bidden never to do so. So long and thick had her hair grown that it reached to the ground and covered her completely.

When the cooks came to bake their bread they were so surprised at the beauty of the maiden that they let the loaves burn while looking at her, and on being blamed for this carelessness on their return to the ship said they could not help it, for they had been bewitched by the face of the loveliest maiden they had ever gazed upon.

"She cannot be as lovely as Tora was," said Ragnar.

"There was never a lovelier woman," they declared.

Ragnar sent men to shore to find out if they were telling the truth. He told them that if Kraka was really as beautiful as Thora had been, then they were to bring her to him, neither dressed nor undressed, neither fasting nor satisfied, neither alone nor in company. The messengers found the maiden as fair as the cooks had said and repeated the king's demand.

"Your king must be out of his mind, to send such a message," said the beggar's wife; but Kraka told them that she would come as their king wished, but not until the next morning.

The next day she went to the shore. She wore her hair around her like a net, in order that she would be neither clothed nor unclothed. She ate an onion, so that she would neither be hungry or fed. And brought a sheep dog with her so that she would neither be in company or alone.

Ragnar was impressed with her wit. He bid her to come aboard his ship, but she would not go until she was promised peace and safety. When she was taken to Ragnar's cabin, he thought her to be even more beautiful than Thora had been and prayed to Odin that she would fall in love with him. He gave her Thora's gold embroidered dress and said:

"Will you have Tora's robe? It suits you well.
Her white hands have played upon it.
Lovely and kind was she to me until death."

She answered, saying:

"I dare not take the gold-embroidered robe which adorned Tora the fair.
It suits not me. Kraka am I called in coal-black baize.
I have ever herded goats on the stones by the sea-shore."

She told him that she would go home and that if he did not change his mind, he could send for her, which he did. When they travelled to his homeland, a marriage celebration was held and all the great lords came.

Among the children she bore Ragnar, two of her sons were different. The oldest was called Iwar or Ivar the Boneless. The bones in his body were weak and he could not stand, and had to be carried on a litter, wherever he went. But he was known as a wise and prudent man. The second gained the name of Ironside, and was so tough of skin that he wore no armor in war, but fought with his bare body without being wounded.

Returning to the more factual history of Ragnar, after he had raided France, he next turned his sights on England, After being shipwrecked on the coast of England during a storm in 865, he was captured by the Saxon king Aella and put to death by being thrown into a pit of vipers. As he was slowly being bitten to death, he is alleged to have exclaimed "How the little pigs would grunt if they knew the situation of the old boar!", referring to the vengeance he hoped his sons would wreak when they heard of his death. Another version of the story has him singing a death song: "It gladdens me to know that Balder’s father makes ready the benches for a banquet. Soon we shall be drinking ale from the curved horns. The champion who comes into Odin’s dwelling does not lament his death. I shall not enter his hall with words of fear upon my lips. The Æsir will welcome me. Death comes without lamenting… Eager am I to depart. The Dísir summon me home, those whom Odin sends for me from the halls of the Lord of Hosts. Gladly shall I drink ale in the high-seat with the Æsir. The days of my life are ended. I laugh as I die."

The Viking Sagas say that when his sons heard of his death and the manner in which he died, they were all greatly saddened. Hvitserk, who was playing tafl, gripped the piece so hard that he bled from his fingernails. Björn Ironside grabbed a spear so tightly that he left an impression in it, and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, who was trimming his nails, cut straight through to the bone. It is possible that these stories are true. It is customary in some places to maim oneself to show grief. And in modern times, it is well known that some people develop an illness in which they self mutilate in order to deal with mental anguish. His sons, Ivar the Boneless, and Ubbe swore vengeance.

In 866, Ivar and Ubbe crossed the North Sea with a large army (The Great Heathen Army), sacked York, met King Aelle in battle, and captured him. He was sentenced to die according to the custom of Rista Blodörn (Blood eagle), an exceedingly painful death.

Afterward, they went to East Anglia, attacking the monasteries of Bardney, Croyland, and Medesham as they went. According to legend, they killed 80 monks. They captured King Edmund and had him shot by archers and beheaded. These barbarities had an effect upon the next generation of Saxons, led by Alfred the Great and his war against the Danes.

His mother was Alfhilda, who was the daughter of Gandalf, and grandaughter of Alfgeir, who was said to be the son of Alfi ruler of Alfheim.

According to legend, he married Aslaug and became the son-in-law of Sigurd the Völsung.

Historical Tales: Scandinavian by Charles Morris, http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=morris&book=scandinavian&story=ragnar

Legends of the Middle Ages‎ - Page 311
by H. A. Guerber - 2008 - 360 pages

Halfdan Whiteshirt, King of Dublin

Halfdan Whiteshirt King of Dublin the son of Ragnar Lodbrokar died 877 and was succeeded by his son Sihtric I Sigtryggr Halfdansson

Sihtric I Sigtryggr Halfdansson, King of Dublin

Sihtric I Sigtryggr Halfdansson, King of Dublin acceded 883 and died 888. He was the son of Halfdan Whiteshirt.


Sihtric Caoch Sigtryggr Gale

Sihtric Caoch Sigtryggr Gale left sons Sihtric Silkbeard of Dublin and Harold or Harald Sihtricsson, King of Limerick, and Olaf Cuaran.

Coach refers to a defect of his eye and Gale refers to his ancestry. He was the king of York. He was a grandson of Ivarr of Dublin. He was born about 890 and died about 927.

He was the son of Sitric I or Sigtryggr Halfdansson, King of Dublin, who was born about 860 and died about 896. In some places Sigtryggr Halfdansson is listed as the son of his uncle Ivar the Boneless, but since his surname is Halfdannson, it is more likely that his father was Halfdan White Shirt, King of Dublin who died 877.

Halfdan White Shirt was the son of Ragnar or Ranald Lodbrock/Lodbrok(hairy britches).

Sitric Sigtryggr married in 925 at York, Saint Edith of Polesworth. She was the sister of King Athelstan of England. When he died, she became a Benedictine nun at Polesworth, Warwickshire. She was noted for her holiness and may have become Abess. She may also have been the sister of King Edgar and aunt of St. Edith of Wilton. Her feast day in July 15th.

In 919 a battle was fought at Cilmashogue. The Irish army was defeated, and the Vikings seized Dublin, reestablishing control over the districts which they had before held. The Dublin dynasty became rulers also over the kingdom of York. Sigtrygg became king of Dublin and Ragnvald became the king of York. Ragnvald also conquered Bernecian and the northern part of Northumbria in 912. In 920 Sigtrygg left Dublin on an expedition to southern England. On the death of Ragnvald, which occured about 921, he was made king of York.

Sigtrygg's son Godred ruled as king of Dublin until 934 and was succeeded by his son Olaf Godredsson.

Saints Who Left Descendents And Their Ancestry‎ - Page 150
by Brian Starr - Religion - 2005

Calendar of Saints: Whose Lineage Is Known‎ - Page 112
by Brian Starr - History - 2006


Harald Sigtryggrsson

Harald Sigtryggrsson was King of Limerick. He was killed in Connaught, Ireland in 940.

History of the Norwegian people‎ - Page 497
by Knut Gjerset - Norway - 1915

Scandinavian Britain -
by William Gershom Collingwood, Frederick York Powell - 1908

Britain and Ireland, 900-1300: insular responses to medieval ... - Google Books Result
by Brendan Smith - 1999

Harold the Black King of Iceland

Harold the Black King of Iceland?

Chronica regum Manniæ et insularum. The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys, ed ...‎ - Page 51
edited by Peder Andreas Munch - 1860

"Harold, the father of Godred Crowan, is called Haraldus niger de Ysland, in the Chronicle. This name, Ysland, has been construed by some interpreters as being a blunder for Ireland, which however is not very probable, Ireland, being throughout the whole book always styled Ybernia. We will not utterly deny the possibility of perhaps Iceland being meant, as it would in itself be not at all unlikely, that Harold the black, after his father's death, might have retired to Iceland, as so many other Norwegian warriors from those parts did, and that his son Godred, watching every opportunity for regaining the lands of his ancestors, stepped forth to follow King Harold on his expedition. However, seeing that the epitheton, de Ysland, stands here evidently a territorial designation, but not as a mere indication of the country from whence Harold or Godred came, we are rather inclined to think, that it means neither Ireland nor Iceland, but the island of isla, which other places of the book is called Yle, but might for once, through a blunder or inconsequence of the writer, have been called, Ysland. It is not to be overlooked that Godred died in the island of Isla, which may seem to involve, that he generally resideded there, and that it was his paternal domain."

In another place it says, "There can, however, be very little doubt, that in aspiring subsequently to the crown of Man, and really making himself king of the Island with its appendages, he vindicated only what he regarded as his hereditary right. If he had not belonged to a royal line, or if his ancestors had not enjoyed the title of King, it would have been almost impossible, according to the feelings or opinions of those days, that he should have ventured to assume it. The title of King, amont the northern, nay, generally among the German tribes, was in itself strictly hereditary; "

"Taking it, consequently, for granted, that Godred descended from a royal family, and that his ancestors were kings, we think it very probably, nay, almost certain, that hsi grandfather was no other than the above mentioned Godred son of Harold, who was killed in 989." It then states that it was the custom to name a son after his grandfather.

Speaking of this Godred, son of Harold, it says he had two sons, Donald, who was killed in 989, and was probably a bastard, because of his Gaelic name; and Harold the father of Godred Crowan, the heir to the estates and his title.

Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters as translated into Englis by Owen.... by Michael O'Clery 2003, says that Harold the Black of Iceland, was a descendant of the kings of Norway.

Thus we have a Harold, followed by his son Godred, another Harold who in turn was the father of Godred Crovan.


Critical Dissertations on the Origin, Antiquities, Language, Government ...‎ - Page 230
by John Macpherson - Celts - 1768 -

Godred Crovan

Godred Crovan, Gofraid mac meic Arailt, Gofraid Merenech, was a Norwegian king of Dublin and King of Mann and the Isles. Crovan means white hand. In folk lore he is called King Orry. He was the son of King Harold the Black of Iceland.

An Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Mann, from the Earliest Times to the Present Date, by Joseph Train 1845, calling him Goddard Crovan or Chrouban, says that Chrouban in Icelandic means White Handed. The surnames of Scandinavia were not inheritable, but were distinctive to each man. Iceland was divied into shires or prefectures, called Goddard, and the prefect or magistrate of each shire was called Godi. The term Goddard denoted both the dignity and also the district over which the authority extended, in other words, the Godi-ship and the Godi-ric. From this it may be inferred that Crowman had either been a Godi in his own country or assumed that title on his arrival in Mann, in addition to that of king, being perhaps more honourable. Crowman, signifying the Slaughter, was perhaps conferred on him, being a Viking.

He is referred to as Gofraid mac meic in the Annals of Tigernach. He was the son of Harold The Black. The Chronicle of Mann say he was one of the survivors of Harold Hardrada's defeat at the Battle of Stamford Bride in 1066. He then took refuge with Godred Sigtryggson, King of Mann.

The Irish Annals say that he was a vassal of Murchad, King of Dublin. When Godred Sigtryggson died in 1070, his son Fingal succeeded as King of Mann.

In 1079 Godred Crovan gathered ships and sailed to Mann and tried to take control of the island but was defeated and forced to leave. He returned a second time and was again defeated. The third time he returned at night. He concealed 300 men behind what he knew would be the position of Fingal's men. During the battle these men revealed themselves from their hidden position behind the Manxmen and this caused them to lose their formation and they ran.

After taking the Isle of Mann, Godred Crovan took Dublin. He was driven out of Dublin in 1094 by Murdach Ua Briain. He died the next year according to the Annals of the Four Masters. on Islay.

He had sons Lagmann, Olaf and Harold. Lagmann blinded his brother Harold. Olaf and Lagmann's descendants ruled Mann. When Magnus died in 1095, Lagmann regained possession of his father's kingdom. He only ruled for seven years and was expelled by his subjects for his tyranny and cruelty. He went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and died there. Olave the youngest son, was appointed a regent to rule for him, because he was under age. But in 1114, Olaf or Olave was placed on the throne.

An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, from the First Introduction ... - Google Books Result
by John Lanigan - 1829 - Ireland


Publications‎ - Page 87
by Manx Society - 1864
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