Rollo of Normandy

From Academic Kids

Rollo (c.860 - c.932) was the Frankish-Latin name taken by (probably) Hrolf Ganger (Hrolf the Walker, Old Norse: Hrólfur Rögnvaldsson and Göngu-Hrólfur, Norwegian: Gange-Rolf). He has also been called "Rollo the Gangler" in some works, or occasionally "Robert".

Rollo was a Viking leader, probably (based on Icelandic sources) from Norway, the son of Ragnvald, Earl of Moer; sagas mention a Hrolf, son of Ragnvald jarl of Moer. However, the latinization Rollo has in no known instance been applied to a Hrolf, and in the texts which speak of him, numerous latinized Hrolfs are included. Dudo of St. Quentin (by most accounts a more reliable source, and at least more recent and living nearer the regions concerned), in his Gesta Normannorum, tells of a powerful Dacian duke (or count?) at loggerheads with the king of Dacia, who then died and left his two sons, Gurim and Rollo, leaving Rollo to be expelled and Gurim killed.(1) With his followers (known as Normans, or northmen), Rollo invaded the area of northern France now known as Normandy. This does seem somewhat unlikely, as Dacia had by then ceased to exist, and was right at the opposite southeastern corner of Europe. Wace, writing some 300 years after the event, gives a Scandinavian origin, as does the Orkneyinga Saga, Danish or Norwegian most likely.

Concluding the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (911) with the French king Charles the Simple, Rollo pledged feudal allegiance to the king, changed his name to the Frankish version, and converted to Christianity, probably with the baptismal name Robert. In return he was granted the lower Seine area (today's upper Normandy) and the titular rulership of Normandy, centred 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 Charlemagne. According to legend, when required, in conformity with general usage, to kiss the foot of King Charles, he refused to stoop to what he considered so great a degradation; yet as the homage could not be dispensed with, he ordered one of his warriors to perform it for him. The latter, as proud as his chief, instead of stooping to the royal foot, raised it so high, that the King fell to the ground.

Sometime around 927 he passed the Duchy of Normandy to his son, William Longsword. He may have lived for a few years after that, but certainly died before 933.

He was a direct ancestor of William the Conqueror. By William, he was a direct ancestor of the present-day British royal family, including Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The "clameur de haro" on the Channel Islands is, supposedly, an appeal to Rollo.

See also: Ålesund, Viking Age, Dukes of Normandy

Preceded by:
Duke of Normandy Succeeded by:
William I

(1) For those who assume that Dudo was confused or mistranslated in his Gesta Normannorum and really meant "Denmark" and not "Dacia", the kings of Denmark during Rollo's lifetime (c. 860-933) were probably: Harald (not the famous Harald Bluetooth) for the first three years of Rollo's life, the two co-rulers Halfdan (not the famous Halfdan the Black) and Sigfrid, and the kings of the Swedish Olof dynasty. This may lead to additional confusion, as Ragnvald (or Rognvald or Rognvaldr) was killed by another Halfdan, the son of a Harald, but this Harald is Harald Fairhair, king of Norway.

References and external links

  • D.C. Douglas, "Rollo of Normandy", English Historical Review, Vol. 57 (1942), pp. 414-436
  • Robert Helmerichs, [Rollo as Historical Figure]
  • Rosamond McKitterick, The Frankish Kingdom under the Carolingians, 751-987, (Longman) 1983
  • Dudonis gesta Normannorum ( - Dudo of St. Quentin Gesta Normannorum latin version at Bibliotheca Augustana
  • Dudo of St. Quentin's Gesta Normannorum ( - An English Translationde:Rollo

fr:Rollon sv:Gånge-Rolf


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