The Normans

Normans conquering England in 1066

During the 10th century, the Norse ventured further into Europe using the rivers of France to travel on. This led to permanent encampments and in 911 the Duchy of Normandy was established by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. King Charles III of West Francia offered Rollo (aka. Gaange Rolf), a Viking ruler, the coastal lands along the English Channel. In exchange he demanded protection from any further invasions by the Vikings.
Rollo accepted and promised not to invade any other Frankish lands and to protect his own land against the Vikings. He then converted to Christianity and swore loyalty to King Charles. Therefore, he became the first Duke of Normandy.

The contingents Rollo brought with him to settle Normandy included a wide variety of Scandinavians, such as Danes, Norwegians, Swedes and Norse-Gaels. Their descendants adopted Christianity and the local Gallo-Romance language, which resulted in unique dialects in northern France. Since most Norman knights remained poor, the Normandy exported horsemen and made numerous conquests, including the conquest of England in 1066.

Richard the Lion-Heart, one of England’s most famous kings, also descended from the Normans. By 1130 the Normans had expanded their reign in England, southern Italy, Sicily and Tripoli. Later, in 1169, they conquered Ireland and only shortly after, in 1191, Cyprus was also invaded.