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Rollo

For other uses, see Rollo (disambiguation).

ple called him by his popular name Rou(f) (see Wace's


Roman de Rou).[4] Sometimes his name is turned into the
Frankish name Rodolf(us) or Radulf(us) or the French
Rollo (c. 846 c. 932; Norse: Hrlfr), known in
[Note 1]
Icelandic sagas as Ganger Hrlf, and baptised Robert, Raoul, that are derived from it.
was a Norse Viking who was the rst ruler of the region of northern France which would become Normandy.
Rollo came from a noble warrior family of Scandinavian 2 Biography
origins. After journeying to Scotland and Ireland, he
took part in raids along the Seine river in the northwest of France and emerged as a leader of the Norsemen who were beginning to settle in the area of Rouen.
Charles the Simple, the king of the Franks, granted them
lands between Rouen and the Seine valley in exchange for
Rollos protection against further incursion by Norse war
bands.[1]
Rollo is rst recorded as the leader of these Viking settlers in a charter of 918, and it appears that he continued
to reign over the region of Rouen until at least 927. After
his death, his son William I of Normandy succeeded him,
and Rollos ospring rose as the Dukes of Normandy.
Following the conquest of England and the conquest of
southern Italy by the Normans over the succeeding century, the descendants of Rollo and his men ruled Norman
England (the House of Normandy) and the Kingdom of
Sicily (the Kings of Sicily) from the 10th to 12th century
AD, leaving a lasting legacy in the history of Europe.

Origins

Rollo was born as Hrlfr Ragnvaldsson in Mre, Western


Norway in the late 9th century. The 13th century Icelandic sagas, Heimskringla and Orkneyinga Saga, remember him as Ganger Hrolf (Hrolf the Walker) but seem to
oer a contradictory account of his parentage: both state
he was the son of the Norwegian jarl Rognvald Eysteinsson, who was known to be an enemy of the brothers given
in The Life of Gruudd ap Cynan. Richer of Reims, who
lived in the 10th century, named his father as one Catillus,
or Ketil;[2] however the reliability of Richers account has
been dismissed by some scholars and Ketil is regarded by
the historian D. C. Douglas as a legendary gure.[3]

Statue of Rollo in Rouen. There are two bronze replicas of this


statue: one at lesund (Norway) and the other one at Fargo,
North Dakota (United States)

According to Dudo, Rollo seized Rouen in 876 and


led the Viking eet which besieged Paris and attacked
Bayeux and Evreux between 885 and 887. He subsequently married Poppa, daughter of Berengar, count
of Rennes, who gave birth to Rollos future successor,
1.1 Name
William Longsword. Douglas dismisses this account,
pointing out that Rollos death in or after 925 makes it
The name Rollo is a Latin translation from the Old very unlikely that he captured Rouen as early as 876, and
Norse name Hrlfr, (cf. the latinization of Hrlfr into the that he had already fathered William before his arrival in
similar Roluo in the Gesta Danorum), but Norman peo- France. Instead, Douglas asserts that Rollo likely came
1

2
to France no earlier than 900, and probably after 905.
Before then, he became an experienced Viking, visiting
Scotland and probably Ireland.[5]

FAMILY

3 Legacy

The sparsity of northern Gaulish chroniclers in the early


10th century has proved to be a barrier in piecing together Rollos raids and invasion of the region around the
Seine.[6] Rollo is rst mentioned in a chronicle in 921,
but the earliest documentary evidence of his presence
in the region is a charter dated 918, which assigned the
Parisian abbey of St Germain des Prs the monastery of
La Croix-St Ouen on the Eure; it records those properties which we have given for the protection of the kingdom of the Northmen on the Seine, that is, Rollo and his
associates.[7][8]
There is, however, no contemporary record of the concession of these lands to Rollo. The chronicler Flodoard
records that Robert of the Breton March waged a campaign against the Vikings, who nearly levelled Rouen
and other settlements; eventually, he conceded certain
coastal provinces to them.[9] Dudo retrospectively stated
that this pact took place in 911 at Saint-Clair-sur-Epte;
this was roughly the time when the Vikings suered a
defeat at Chartres and the Frankish king, which may
have prompted them to negotiate. David Crouch concludes that although probable, it is impossible to verify
this;[10] however Douglas agreed with Flodoards account
in the History of the Church at Rheims: after the defeat at
Chartres, the Normans formed a pact with Charles and
converted to Christianity. He argued that Charles the
Simples plan to invade Lorraine would have also contributed to his willingness to negotiate a settlement in the
north.[11][12]
Flodoard explicitly states that Charles granted Rollo and
his men the city of Rouen and a number of dependent
districts around the coast.[13] Charles was overthrown
by a revolt in 923, and his successor, Robert of Neustria, was killed by the Vikings in 924; his successor,
Ralph, conceded the Bessin and Maine to Rollo shortly
afterwards.[14] Subsequent analyses of the regions place
names reveal Scandinavian settlements stretching from
the Seine valley to the coast, and from Rouen to Dieppe.
However, compared to settlements along eastern England
(especially East Anglia and Yorkshire), the appearance of
Norse elements in place names was far from widespread
or entrenched. The occurrence of the Gallo-Roman sufx "-ville" after Norse names is evidence for this.[15]
Around these territories, Normandy emerged, with Rollo
and his men gradually adopting the pre-existing administrative and ecclesiastical boundaries they inherited: the
archbishopric of Rouen and the traditional civil province,
or pagus.

Rollos grave at the Cathedral of Rouen

Rollo divided the lands between the rivers Epte and Risle
among his chieftains, and settled with a de facto capital in Rouen. Over time, Rollos Vikings would convert from Norse paganism to Christianity and intermarried with the local Frankish women;[17] with Rollo taking Poppa of Bayeux, daughter of Berengar, the Count
of Rennes, as wife.[18] Their child, William Longsword,
and grandchild, Richard the Fearless, laid the foundations of the Duchy of Normandy in the northwest of
France. The descendants of Rollo and his men assimilated with their maternal Catholic culture and became
known as the Normans, lending their name to the region
of Normandy.[19]
Rollo is the great-great-great-grandfather of William the
Conqueror, or William I of England. Through William,
he is one of the ancestors of the present-day British royal
family, as well as an ancestor of all current European
monarchs and a great many claimants to abolished European thrones. A genetic investigation into the remains
of Rollos grandson, Richard the Fearless, and his greatgrandson, Richard the Good, has been announced, with
the intention of discerning the origins of the historic
Viking leader.[20] The "Clameur de Haro" in the Channel
Islands is, supposedly, an appeal to Rollo.

4 Family

Dudo records that Rollo took Popa (or Poppa), a daughter of Berenger, Count of Rennes, as a wife and with her
had their son and Rollos heir, William. It is impossible
to verify this[21] and Douglas dismissed it.[22] Dudo also
records that Charles the Simple gave one of his daughters,
Rollo was alive but frail in 927, when his son is recorded Gisela, in marriage to Rollo, but Douglas considers this
[23]
doing homage to King Ralph. His exact death date is not in the highest degree improbable. Douglas accepts a
known, but he was certainly dead by 933 and most histo- story from an Icelandic saga that, while in Scotland, Rollo
married a Christian woman and had a daughter, Kathleen;
rians approximate the year of his demise to 928.[16]
according to the sagas, she married a Scottish King called
Beolan, and had at least a daughter called Nithbeorg, who

and Ygout < Old Norse Ingulfr / Inglfr (Old Danish Ingulf). The variant form Rollo is just a latinization of the
root Rol(l)- + Latin sux -o / -one-, after the Latin names
in -o. cf. Cicero / Cicerone and the latinized Germanic
short names in -o > -o / -on, instead of -an in Germanic
cf. Bero / Beran (see Lepelley 1516). That is the reason
why his name is Rollon in Standard French. Rollo is also
known in the documents as Radulf(us) (Old Low Franconian) (or sometimes Rodulf(us)) > French Raoul, that
is the French translation of Hrulfr > Hrlfr, according
to the Low Franconian variant form Radulf of Germanic
Rodulf / Rudolf.

8 References
[1] Bates Normandy Before 1066 pp. 810
A genealogical chart of the Norman dynasty

was taken captive by and married to Helgi Ottarson.[24]


Another daughter, Gerloc or Adele, who married William
III, Duke of Aquitaine,[25] was identied by Dudo (who
does not name the mother)[26] and accepted by Crouch as
a daughter of Rollo and Popa,[27] an identication made
by William of Jumieges in the latter-half of the 11th
century.[28]

[2] Crouch 2002, pp. 297-300


[3] Douglas 1942, p. 420
[4] Ren Lepelley, Guillaume le duc, Guillaume le roi : extraits du Roman de Rou de Wace, Centre de publications
de l'Universit de Caen, Caen, 1987, p. 15 and 16.
[5] Douglas 1942, pp. 424-425
[6] Douglas 1942, p. 425
[7] Douglas 1942, pp. 425-426

Depictions in ction

Rollo is the subject of the seventeenth century play Rollo


Duke of Normandy written by John Fletcher, Philip
Massinger, Ben Jonson, and George Chapman.

[8] Crouch 2002, p. 3


[9] Crouch 2002, p. 3
[10] Crouch 2002, p. 4
[11] Douglas 1942, pp. 427-428

A character, played by Clive Standen, based on the historical Rollo is Ragnar Lothbrok's brother in the History [12] Rollo likely converted to Christianity and adopted the
name Robert (Crouch 2002, p. 8)
Channel television series Vikings.[29]
[13] Douglas 1942, pp. 429-430

See also

[14] Crouch, p. 6
[15] Crouch 2002, pp. 5-6

Clan Rollo

[16] Crouch 2002, p. 8

Dukes of Normandy

[17] Bates Normandy Before 1066 pp. 2021

Normandy

[18] Stewart Baldwin, F.A.S.G., Henry Project:"Poppa

Normans
Viking Age
Vikings

Notes

[1] Rou is the result of a series of French regular phonetic


changes from Hrlfr > Rolf > Rouf to Rou (see Lepelley
1516) and Norman names in -ouf and -ou(t) : I(n)gouf

[19] Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of


Norman Power, 8401066 (University of California
Press, Berkeley, 1988), p. 89
[20] Viking is 'forefather to British Royals". Views and News
from Norway. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
[21] Crouch 2002, p. 25
[22] Douglas 1942, p. 424, fn. 5
[23] Douglas 1942, p. 429, fn. 4
[24] Douglas 1942, pp. 422 and 435

10 FURTHER READING

[25] Crouch 2002, pp. 9 and 298


[26] Christiansen 1998, pp. 69-70 and 201
[27] Crouch 2002, p. 5 (table 1)
[28] Guillaume de Jumiges [ed. van Houts 1992], vol. 1, pp.
68-69
[29] Turnbow, Tina (18 March 2013). Reections of a Viking
by Clive Standen. Hungton Post. Retrieved 19 March
2013.

Sources
Christiansen, Eric (ed. and trans.) (1998). Dudo of
St. Quentin, History of the Normans. Woodbridge,
Suolk: The Boydell Press
Crouch, David (2002). The Normans: the History of
a Dynasty. London: Hambledon and London. ISBN
1 85285 387 5
Douglas, D.C (1942). Rollo of Normandy, English Historical Review, Vol. 57, pp. 414436
William of Jumieges, and van Houts, Elizabeth
(ed.) (1992). The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of
William of Jumiges, Orderic Vitalis and Robert of
Torigni

10
10.1

Further reading
Primary texts

Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of


Orkney. Trans. Plsson, Hermann and Edwards,
Paul. Hogarth Press, London, 1978. ISBN 0-70120431-1. Republished 1981, Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044383-5.

10.2

Secondary texts

Arbman, Holgar (1961). Ancient People and Places:


The Vikings. Thames and Hudson.
Christiansen, Eric (2002). The Norsemen in the
Viking Age. Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Fitzhugh, William W. and Ward, Elizabeth (2000).
Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. Smithsonian Institution Press.
van Houts, Elisabeth (2000). The Normans in Europe. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.
Jones, Gwyn (1984). A History of the Vikings, 2nd
ed. Oxford University Press

Konstam, Agnus (2002). Historical Atlas of the


Viking World. Checkmark Books
McKitterick, Rosamond (1983). The Frankish
Kingdom under the Carolingians, 751987. Longman
Oxenstierna, Eric (1965). The Norsemen. New
York Graphics Society Publishers, Ltd.
Sturluson, Snorri (1992). Heimskringla: History of
the Kings of Norway, translated Lee M. Hollander.
Reprinted Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN
0-292-73061-6

11
11.1

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