William I, Duke of Normandy

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Statue of William Longsword as part of the Six Dukes of Normandy statue in Falaise.

William I Longsword (c. 900–942) was the second "Duke of Normandy".[a] William added to his father's territories. He also began to expand Norman influence in West Francia (France).

Early career[change | change source]

William was born to the Viking Rollo and his Christian wife Poppa of Bayeux.[3] He was born overseas probably in England. [4] His mother was from a Frankish noble family.[5] William was baptized a Christian probably at the same time as his father,[6] William's nickname Longsword was probably earned during the fighting in 924–925 around Beauvais, Ponthieu and Amiens.[6]

Duke of Normandy[change | change source]

William succeeded his father as leader in 927[7] Early in his reign he faced a rebellion from by other Normans who did not think he was fit to lead them.[8] The leader of this rebellion was Riouf of Évreux.[8] At this same time William sent his wife Sprota to Fécamp where their son Richard was born.[9]

In 933, William I Longsword swore loyalty to Raoul as King of Western Francia. In turn Raoul gave him lordship over much of the lands of the Bretons including Avranches and the Cotentin.[10] But the Bretons fought to keep these lands. They were led by Alan II, Duke of Brittany and Count Berenger of Rennes. It ended shortly with Alan fleeing to England and Beranger seeking to be on friendly terms with the Normans.[11] In 935, William arranged a marriage between his sister Adela and William, count of Poitou with the approval of Hugh the Great.[12] At the same time William married Luitgarde,[13] daughter of count Herbert II of Vermandois. Her dowry gave William the lands of Longueville, Coudres and Illiers l'Eveque.[14]

The funerary monument of William Longsword in the cathedral of Rouen, France. The monument is from the 14th century.

William Longsword attacked Flanders in 939 and Arnulf I, Count of Flanders, and Louis IV, King of France, attacked Normandy because of this. Arnulf captured the castle of Montreuil-sur-Mer defeating Herluin, Count of Ponthieu. Herluin helped William Longsword to take back the castle.[15] William was excommunicated for attacking and destroying lands belonging to Arnulf.[16] William pledged his loyalty to King Louis IV when they met in 940. In return for this he was confirmed in lands that had been given to his father, Rollo.[17] Almost three years later, on 17 December 942 at Picquigny on the Somme, William Longsword was attacked and killed by followers of Arnulf while at a peace conference to settle their differences.[14]

Family[change | change source]

William had one son with Sprota.[b][19]

William married secondly Luitgarde, daughter of Herbert II, Count of Vermandois.[19] They had no children.[19]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. While he is sometimes titled Duke of Normandy this is a title of convenience used by historians. The first leaders of Normandy used the title count or marquis. It was not until the middle of the eleventh century until the counts of Normandy called themselves Dukes.[1] Flodoard of Reims used the term princeps when writing about Rollo or his son William I Longsword.[2]
  2. After William’s death, Sprota married Esperling, a rich miller in the Pont-de-l’Arche-Louviers region. By her, he had a son, count Rodulf of Ivry, who was one of the most trusted advisers of his half-brother, Richard I of Normandy.[18]

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. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims 919–966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning; Bernard S. Bachrach (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. xxi
  3. David C. Douglas, 'Rollo of Normandy', The English Historical Review, Vol. 57, No. 228 (Oct., 1942), p. 422
  4. François Neveux, A Brief History of the Normans, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, 2008), p. 62 & n. 111
  5. François Neveux, A Brief History of the Normans, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, 2008), pp. 60-1
  6. 6.0 6.1 David Crouch, The Normans: The History of a Dynasty (London: Hambledon Continuum Press, 2007), p. 9
  7. David C. Douglas, 'Rollo of Normandy', The English Historical Review, Vol. 57, No. 228 (Oct., 1942), p. 435
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Companion to the Anglo-Norman World, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill; Elisabeth Van Houts (Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press, 2007), p. 25
  9. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 95
  10. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), pp. 252-3
  11. The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumieges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, ed. & trans. Elizabeth M.C. Van Houts, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 79
  12. The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumieges, Orderic Vitalis, and Robert of Torigni, ed. & trans. Elizabeth M.C. Van Houts, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 81
  13. Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band III Teilband 1 (Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 79
  14. 14.0 14.1 François Neveux, A Brief History of the Normans, trans. Howard Curtis (London: Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, 2008), p. 72
  15. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p.56
  16. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 916-966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning and Bernard S. Bachrach (New York; Ontario Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 31
  17. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 916-966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning and Bernard S. Bachrach (New York; Ontario Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 32
  18. Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 108
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 François Neveux. A Brief History of The Normans (London: Constable & Robbinson, Ltd, 2008), p. 90