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It all began in the very memorable year of 911 when the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, signed off between Rollo and the unfortunately-named King Charles the Simple of West Francia, established the first frontiers of what became the Duchy of Normandy.

Founder of the Duchy of Normandy

Rollo is best known for this, although it was his great-grandson Richard II who first officially used the title Duke of Normandy. The deal cut in 911 was that Rollo would cease his brigandage, beat off any subsequent Viking invasions, and that he and his followers would accept baptism (912) and convert to Christianity, Rollo taking the Christian name Robert in Rouen cathedral.    

Statue de Rollon à Rouen

The Vikings and Normandy

The Vikings are often depicted as violent and rampaging warriors intent on derring-do, booty and skirt (a Viking word). But having done with ravaging and rapine, they would often settle down, intermarry and assimilate the local cultures they had conquered. On the back of farming and trade, there would be a great flourishing of cities and settlements, of Christian art and of building, the evidence of which resides in place names and the many riches of Norman civilisation. The North-men made Normandy.