Duchy of Normandy

From Academic Kids

The Duchy of Normandy stems from the Viking invasions of France in the 8th century. It was created by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911 out of concessions made by King Charles, and granted to Rollo, leader of the Vikings known as Northmen (or in Latin Northmannorum).

Originally encompassing the province of Neustria and a portion of Breton territory on the Northern Coast and interior of France, it is now divided between territory in mainland France and the Channel Islands, which are crown dependencies of the British Monarchy.

See Normandy for this region in modern France and more of the geography and culture of the region.

When the Norse-speaking settlers spread out over the lands of the Duchy, they adopted the Gallo-Romance speech of the existing populations — much as Norman rulers later adopted in England the speech of the administered people. In Normandy, the new Norman language formed by the interaction of peoples inherited vocabulary from Norse. In England the Norman language developed into the Anglo-Norman language. The literature of the Duchy and England during the period of the Anglo-Norman realm is known as Anglo-Norman literature.

Chronology of the Duchy

It was formed from Rouen county, the Pays de Caux and Talou (Dieppe county) which the Vikings had colonised. The capital was established at Rouen in 912, and a western capital was later established at Caen as the Duchy expanded.

In 928 Evreux county, Hiémois county and the Bessin were added.

In 931-934, William Longsword, Rollo's son, added the Cotentin Peninsula and the Avranchin. The Channel Islands were added in 933.

In 1066, Duke William defeated Harold II of England at the Battle of Hastings and was subsequently crowned King of England.

In 1066, William the Bastard added the kingdom of England through the Norman Conquest.

Anglo-Norman and French political relations became complicated after the Norman Conquest, as the Norman rulers retained control of their holdings in Normandy as vassals owing fealty to the King of France, but were his equals as King of England. In the 1150s with the creation of the Angevin Empire the Normans controlled half of France and all of England, dwarfing the power of France. Yet the Normans were still technically vassals to France.

One interpretation of the Conquest maintains that England became a cultural and economic backwater for almost 150 years after as kings of England preferred to rule from cities in Normandy such as Rouen and concentrate on their more lucrative continental holdings.

Another interpretation has it that the Norman Duke-Kings neglected their continental territories, where they in theory owed fealty to the Kings of France, in favour of consolidating their power in their new sovereign realm of England. The resources poured into the construction of cathedrals, castles and the administration of the new realm arguably diverted energy and concentration away from the need to defend Normandy, alienating the local nobility and weakening Norman control over the borders of the territory, while at the same time the power of the Kings of France grew.

The Duchy was ruled as part of the Anglo-Norman realm until 1204, when Philip II of France conquered the continental lands of the Duchy. The eventual loss of control of continental Normandy divided landed families as members chose loyalty over land or vice-versa.

During the Hundred Years War Anglo-Norman kings of England tried to regain their dynastic holdings in France.

The Treaty of Paris (1259) settled the mainland territory on France; but the Channel Islands were retained by the English Crown (with the exception of Chausey).

In 1789 the French Revolution brought an end to the historic rights and privileges of the Duchy, and in 1790 the territory of Normandy was divided into five départements.

See also

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