History of the Vikings
derived from ON. Hrollaugr or Hrolleif rather than from Rolf. (1) But this in itself would not disprove the Norwegian nationality of Rollo, and as guarantee of his Danish origin there is nothing better than the always-to-be-suspected word of that very indifferent historian Dudo of St. Quentin. On the other hand, in St. Olaf's time, according to the Heimskringla, a Duke of Rouen, a descendant of Rollo, declared that he well remembered his kinship with the chiefs of Norway; while Saxo, the persistent panegyrist of the Danes and a writer to whom Dudo's book was known, makes no boast that Rollo was of Danish ancestry. It must be held, therefore, as most likely, though not proven with certainty, that Rollo was Norwegian (2) ; but whether he were Norwegian or Danish, there can be no doubt that the bulk of the army he commanded was composed of Danish vikings and that he had with him at the most only a few Norwegians from Ireland or from Norway itself. In a word, the signal achievement of this army that is now to be described must be counted as a Danish enterprise.
At this time Charles the Simple, the posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer, was king of the West Franks, having succeeded Odo in 898. He was not, despite his surname, a man of no understanding or determination, and after the retreat of Rollo's army from Chartres he acted with statesmanship and precision. He saw that while the Franks were strong enough to keep the vikings in check and could prevent serious and far-flung raids by them, yet it was useless to attempt an organized defence of the kingdom as a whole, or to oust the Danes from their settlement on the lower basin of the Seine. To shield his own most precious dominions, the very heart of his realm, from further peril of viking attacks by way of the Seine and the Oise, he realized that it was necessary under these circumstances not only to tolerate the presence of the Northmen on the lower Seine, but to establish them there in the status of peaceful citizens whose interest it would be to prevent the attacks that he himself feared. And so, at the end of 911, Charles and Rollo made a treaty at St. Clair-sur-Epte on the highroad from Rouen to Paris.
By this treaty Charles offered to Rollo as a fief, on the
1. Which would probably appear in the chronicles as Rodulfus.
2. For an attempt to prove that Rollo was a Swede, see Eng. Hist. Review, III (1892), 214. A summary of the whole debate over Rollo's nationality is given by H. Prentout, Essai sur les origines et la fondation du Duché de Normandie, Paris, 1911, p. 153 ff. Cf. L. Weibull, Hist. Tidskrift f. Skåneland, IV (1910-13), p. 205, Rollo o. Gånge-Rolf.
customary terms of vassalage in the Frankish kingdoms (terram determination in allodo et in fundo), all the territory that was later known as Haute Normandie, that is the country between the Bresle and the Epte and the sea, together with the Rouen, Lisieux and Évreux districts of the Seine basin. This offer, which was accompanied by the disgraceful intimation that the Danes might continue to plunder in Brittany, was conditional upon Rollo paying homage to Charles and adopting the Christian faith, conditions that bound Rollo to keep the peace with the Christian king and, more than that, to defend from attack that portion of the Christian kingdom that was offered to him. Rollo agreed, did homage to Charles (with a very bad grace, so the story goes), and became a Christian. Now at last the vikings had won for themselves a permanent and recognized home in France.
Rollo took his new position as the Christian lord of Haute Normandie seriously. He is said to have rebuilt and re-endowed the abbeys that had been pillaged and ruined by the Danes, to have divided the land among his followers, according them the full odel (i.e. freehold and hereditary) rights to their properties, and to have set in order the defences of the towns; in addition to these measures he formulated some sort of rough-and-ready legal code on the Scandinavian model that was sufficient to guarantee the personal safety of his subjects and the security of their possessions.
In what degree he considered himself master of his new territory it is difficult to say. The chronicles call him princeps or dux, and, later, patricius, and he was doubtless considered by the folk of Scandinavia and Denmark to be the absolute ruler of an independent and self-governed colony. But in Frankish eyes he was certainly nothing more than a new Count of Rouen, the lord of a restricted fief, owing proper allegiance to the king of the West Franks. As such, after the revolt that led to the crowning of Robert of Neustria as king of France, Rollo loyally took up arms in 923 on behalf of Charles the Simple against Robert's son-in-law and successor Raoul, Duke of Burgundy; but for this recognition of his vassalage, if such it was, he paid dearly, since later on Raoul made a punitive expedition into Normandy, burning and slaughtering in the land of the vikings just as these had been wont to burn and slaughter in the country of the Franks. After this the vikings in their turn began to ravage the provinces across the Oise and in the end a peace was patched up between them and the new royal house on terms that were favourable to Rollo inas-
much as he now received the Bessin and Hiémois districts for the aggrandizement of his existing fief.
There were, however, continual arrivals into the colony of fresh adventurers from the north and it was a long while before occasional outbursts of the old viking temper had ceased to be a danger to the safe tenure of Rollo's Frankish duchy. Thus in 925 there was an invasion of the Beauvaisis by armed bands of the Normandy settlers, a serious attack that culminated in the burning of Arras and Amiens, and as reprisal for this King Raoul marched into Normandy and captured Eu with heavy loss to the Danes. Later in this same year there was a battle at Fauquembergue in Artois between the new colonists and the Franks, and though Raoul himself was wounded over a thousand of the Danes were killed and the remainder put to flight; after this defeat Rollo's little state was in real danger of dissolution, but fortunately for him Raoul was prevented from consolidating his substantial victories in Normandy by the necessity of withdrawing his troops to repel an invasion of the Hungarians, and the Frankish king was therefore compelled to terminate the Danish war summarily by the old expedient of a bribe.
The granting of Normandy to Rollo, however, had achieved its object in that a desultory border-warfare was the worst evil that was now likely to disturb West Francia from the Channel side, and henceforward the oppressing dread of the formidable viking raids up the Seine was at an end. But there were, nevertheless, other vikings besides those of Normandy remaining in Francia. In 897 Odo had come to terms with some of the Seine vikings, leaving them free to go off to the Loire, and this they had accordingly done. Not being so dangerously situated, in the opinion of the West Frankish king, as were their countrymen on the Seine, they had been ignored by Charles the Simple at the time of the treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte; but the Loire valley suffered seriously from their depredations. In 919 Brittany was ravaged with the utmost severity (1) ; Nantes fell again, Angers and Tours were burnt, and Orleans was besieged. Robert of Neustria, the brother of King Odo, drove them out of his duchy in 921, but after a five months' siege of their stronghold he was content to accept hostages from them and to withdraw, leaving them in undisputed possession of the Nantes district. In 923,
1. Nordmanni omnem Britanniam in cornu Galliae in ora scilicet maritima sitam depopulantur, proterunt atque delent, abductis, venditis, ceterisque cunctis ejectis Britonibus (Ann. Clod., Pertz, M.G.H., SS. III, p. 368).
at the time of the outbreak of civil war between the Carolingians and the Capetians, these Loire vikings raided far south into the Aquitaine and Auvergne, and in 924, made bold by their unrestricted progress, they demanded for themselves a fief such as had been granted to Rollo. This was refused them by King Raoul, and thereupon they went off plundering into Neustria, now the territory of Hugh the Great; in the winter of the same year they even invaded Burgundy, but there they met with a defeat and afterwards retired in confusion to Melun on the Seine, subsequently escaping back to Nantes when both Hugh and Raoul took the field against them. In 927 Hugh the Great set out to attack them in Brittany, but his campaign, which lasted only for five weeks, ended, as Robert's had done six years before, in an agreement whereby the vikings gave hostages and promised to make no further raids on the condition that they were left undisturbed in Nantes. They kept their word for a time and no more is heard of them until 930 when they penetrated into the Limousin country, and there they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of King Raoul that abruptly ended the long and bloody record of viking onslaught upon the land of France.
For the raiders, when they returned discomfited to Nantes, now found that their position on the Loire was itself no longer secure, since the Bretons, encouraged by Raoul's great victory, were risen against them. In 931, upon the feast of St. Michael, they were caught off their guard and large numbers of them massacred including their leader Felecan, and though a Loire viking named Incon afterwards ravaged Brittany as a reprisal for this slaughter of his fellows, the fighting spirit of the Bretons was not extinguished. In 936 their chief, Alan Barbetorte, returned from England where he had been a refugee, and putting himself at the head of local levies he quickly fired the enthusiasm of his compatriots by crushing victories over the foreigners (1) at Dol and St. Brieuc. He then marched towards the Loire and in 937 his campaign was crowned by a decisive and brilliant coup, the recapture of Nantes. The vikings that escaped with their lives fled from the country, and thereafter Brittany had only to fear her neighbours the Normans. In 939 there was a Norman attack upon Rennes, but the invaders were subsequently
1. The chronicles do not distinguish between Normans, that is to say Danes from Normandy, and the Loire vikings. It is probable that these initial victories of Alan were won in a campaign against the invading Normans who long continued to be dangerous and pugnacious enemies of the Bretons.
annihilated in their fortress of Trans (Trant) near Coësnon, and the victorious Bretons were left, for a time at any rate, as undisputed masters of their own land. Thus after a full century of terror and bloodshed, of humiliation and dismay, of vicious outrage and foul sacrilege, the attack of the Danes upon Francia was ended.
Rollo died about the year 927 and his son, William Longsword, succeeded him. The new duke recognized Raoul as king and did homage to him, once on his succession and again in 933 on receiving the Avranchin and the Cotentin which were in that year added to his duchy, perhaps as purchase-price of his continued fidelity. He was a man of Frankish tastes, a devout, though rather irresolute, Christian, having few of the qualities of his viking forefathers, and it is not surprising, therefore, that there should have been a reaction in Normandy when he died in 942, both paganism, with a revival of the cult of Thor, and viking savagery showing themselves plainly under the thin veneer of Frankish culture. Immigrants from Scandinavia and Denmark were no doubt responsible for much of this unrest, (1) but an unsuccessful attack shortly after William's death by the Carolingian Louis d'Outremer, king of France from 936 to 954, helped to restore order in the duchy for the reason that Louis was plainly desirous of wresting Normandy from her young duke. This was Richard (942-996), who at first had been a supporter of the heathen party; but the Christian Normans rapidly asserted themselves as the political leaders of the duchy, so that the duke, realizing that the ultimate triumph of Frankish civilization was certain, finally concluded a formal alliance, not with the Carolingian, but with Hugh the Great and, later, with Hugh Capet. From this time onwards the distinctively northern character of the people of the duchy, their Scandinavian or Danish manner of life and their old viking roughness, weakens, and only the build and body of the Normans endured as proof of their viking ancestry. For these alliances with the Capetian princes drew Normandy more and more into the political maelstrom of tenth-century Francia, more and more made Christianity necessary as the adopted religion of the duchy, more and more made the law of Normandy Frankish, and more and more the speech of Normandy French.
In what degree the viking blood that was in them contributed to the remarkable vigour of the eleventh and twelfth century
1. One band of these new arrivals was commanded by 'Haigrold' and it is not impossible that this chieftain was either King Harald Gormsson of Denmark or King Harald Greycloak of Norway.