Richard I, Duke of Normandy

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Statue of Richard the Fearless as part of the Six Dukes of Normandy statue in Falaise.

Richard I of Normandy (933–996), also known as Richard the Fearless (French, Sans Peur), was the "Duke of Normandy" from 942 to 996.[a] Richard made Normandy into a feudal society where he owned all the land. His followers held on to the lands given them by remaining loyal to him. He made Normandy a much stronger a power in western France.

Early Career[change | change source]

Richard was the son of William Longsword, princeps[3] or ruler of Normandy. His mother's name was Sprota.[4] She was a Breton prisoner captured in war who William later married.[b][7] William Longsword was told of the birth of a son after the battle with Riouf and other viking rebels. But he kept this a secret until a few years later. When he first met his son he kissed him and made him the heir to Normandy. William then sent Richard to be cared for in Bayeux.[8]

When his father died, Richard was only 10 years old (he was born in 933).[4] King Louis IV of France decided to take charge of Normandy himself. The king placed the young duke in the custody of the count of Ponthieu.[9] Then the king gave the lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. Louis kept Richard a prisoner at Lâon.[10] Fearing the king was going to harm the boy Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Richard's grandfather Rollo), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane freed Richard.[11]

Duke of Normandy[change | change source]

In 946, Richard agreed to be a ward of Hugh, Count of Paris. He then allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders. Together they drove Louis out of Rouen and took back Normandy by 947.[12] In 962 Theobald I, Count of Blois, attacked Rouen. But Richard's army defeated them.[13] Lothair king of West Francia stepped in to prevent any more war between the two.[14] For the rest of his reign Richard chose not to make Normandy bigger. Instead he worked on making Normandy stronger.[15]

Richard used marriages to build strong alliances. His marriage to Emma gave him a connection to the Capet family. His wife Gunnor was from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin. His marriage to her gave him support from her family. Her sisters married several of Richard's loyal followers.[16] Also Richard's daughters provided valuable marriage alliances with powerful counts as well as to the king of England.[16] Richard also made sure the church and the great monasteries were doing well. His reign was marked by a long period of peace and tranquility.[17] Richard died in Fecamp, Normandy, on 20 November 996.[18]

The first three "dukes" or counts, Rollo of Normandy, William I, of Normandy and Richard I of Normandy.

Marriages[change | change source]

William married first (960)to Emma, daughter of Hugh "The Great" of France.[4] They were promised to each other when both were very young. She died after 19 March 968, before they had any children.[4]


Richard had children with his concubine Gunnora. Richard later married her to make their children legitimate:[4]

Illegitimate Children[change | change source]

Richard was known to have had several other concubines and had children with many of them. Known children are:

  • Geoffrey, Count of Eu[19]
  • William, Count of Eu (c. 972-c. 1058),[19]
  • Beatrice of Normandy, {{:en:wikt:abbess|Abbess}} of Montvilliers d.1034 m. Ebles of Turenne[4]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. The title "Duke of Normandy" is used here as a title of convenience by historians.[1] While Richard's father was called the Count of Rouen he also used the title Count of Normandy. Richard I styled himself "count and consul" in a charter for Fecamp.[2]
  2. This was a type of marriage that did not have a church ceremony. It was a common type of marriage at this time in Normandy and elsewhere.[5] After William was killed, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf of Ivry was their son and Richard's half-brother.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. François Neveux, The Normans; The Conquests that Changed the Face of Europe, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2008), p. 69
  2. David Douglas, 'The Earliest Norman Counts', The English Historical Review, Vol. 61, No. 240 (May, 1946), p. 130
  3. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 916–966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning and Bernard S. Bachrach (University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 32
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln|Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 79
  5. Edward Augustus Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England; Its Causes and its Results, Vol. I (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1877), pp. 624-25
  6. Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band III Teilband 4 (Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt, 1989), Tafel 694A
  7. The Normans in Europe, ed. & trans. Elisabeth van Houts (Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 47 n. 77
  8. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840–1066 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988), p. 95
  9. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1993) pp. 262–3
  10. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840–1066 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988), p. 80
  11. The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumieges, Orderic Vatalis, and Robert of Torigni, Vol. I, ed. & trans. Elisabeth M.C. van Houts (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992) pp. 103, 105
  12. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840–1066 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988), pp. 85–6
  13. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 916–966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning and Bernard S. Bachrach (University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 66
  14. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1993), p. 265
  15. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840–1066 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988), p. 89
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Companion to the Anglo-Norman World, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill, Elisabeth Van Houts (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2007), p. 27
  17. François Neveux. A Brief History of The Normans (Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, London, 2008), pp. 73. 74
  18. François Neveux. A Brief History of The Normans (Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, London, 2008), p. 74
  19. 19.0 19.1 David Douglas, 'The Earliest Norman Counts', The English Historical Review, Vol.61, No. 240 (May 1946), p. 140