In 9th Century, Rollo Vikings became the first ruler of Normandy, a region in northern France. He is sometimes called the first Duke of Normandy.
Rollo was born in the mid-9th century in Norwegian or Danish Family.
Viking Raids in Europe
During 800 AD, Saracens of Spain from southwest and Norsemen, or Northmen from northwest attacked Christian countries of Europe.
The European called them Northmen, because they came into Middle Europe from the north.
The Vikings terrorize to all their neighbors.
The Island of Britain and Frank ruled France suffered the most at the hand of Vikings.
The Rise of Rollo Vikings
The Vikings had many able chieftains. One of the most famous was Rollo the Walker.
He was such a giant that no horse strong enough to carry him could be found, and therefore he always had to walk.
However, he did on foot what few could do on horseback.
In 885, Rollo and other Viking chiefs commanded seven hundred ships which left the harbors of Norway.
Soon they sailed to the mouth of the Seine, and started up the river to capture the city of Paris.
Capture of Rouen
Rollo and his men stopped on the way at Rouen, located near the mouth of Seine River.
The citizens had heard of the giant, and when they saw the river covered by his fleet they were dismayed.
However, the bishop of Rouen told them that Rollo could be as noble and generous in peace as well as fierce in battle.
He advised them to open their gates and trust to the mercy of the Viking chief.
Soon Rollo marched into Rouen and took possession of it.
The bishop had given good advice, for Rollo treated the people very kindly.
Soon after capturing Rouen he left the place, sailed up the river to Paris, and joined the other Viking chiefs.
Rollo Vikings attack on Paris
A noted warrior named Eudes ruled Paris. He had advised the Parisians to fortify the city.
So not long before the arrival of Rollo and his companions, two walls with strong gates had been built round Paris.
Soon Vikings found it extremely difficult to capture a strongly walled city.
Rollo and his men built a high tower and rolled it on wheels up to the walls.
Viking soldier manned the top floor of this high tower.
But the people within the city shot hundreds of arrows at the besiegers, and threw down rocks, or poured boiling oil and pitch upon them.
The Vikings thought to starve the Parisians, and for thirteen months they encamped round the city.
At length food became very scarce, and Count Eudes determined to go for help.
He went out through one of the gates on a dark, stormy night, and rode post-haste to the king.
He told him that something must be done to save the people of Paris.
So the king gathered an army and marched to the city.
The Vikings seemed to have been afraid to risk one. They gave up the siege. The King relieved Paris.
Rollo and his men went to the Duchy of Burgundy to loot the finest crops and the best wines.
Rollo second attack on Franks
Perhaps after a time Rollo and his Vikings went home. We do not know what he did for about twenty-five years.
He abandoned his old home in Norway in 911.
Then he and his people sailed from the icy shore of Norway and again went up the Seine in hundreds of Viking vessels.
Of course, on arriving in the land of the Franks, Rollo at once began to plunder towns and farms.
Charles, then king of the Franks, although his people called him the Simple, or Senseless, had sense enough to see that this must be stopped.
Meeting with the King
So he sent a message to Rollo and proposed that they should have a talk about peace.
Rollo agreed and accordingly they met.
The king and his troops stood on one side of a little river, and Rollo with his Vikings stood on the other.
Messages passed between them. The king asked Rollo what he wanted.
“Let me and my people live in the land of the Franks; let us make ourselves home here, and I and my Vikings will become your vassals,” answered Rollo.
He asked for Rouen and the neighboring land.
So the king gave him that part of Francia; and ever since it has been called Normandy, the land of the Northmen.
Rollo Viking Funny Submission
The Frankish king asked Rollo to kiss his foot as the token of his submission.
The haughty Rollo Viking refused.
“Never,” said he, “will I bend my knee before any man, and no man’s foot will I kiss.”
After some persuasion, however, he ordered one of his men to perform the act of homage for him.
The Norseman suddenly seized the horse mounted king’s foot and drew it up to his lips.
This almost made the king fall from his horse, to the great amusement of the Norsemen.
Duke of Normandy Rollo Viking
Becoming a vassal to the king meant that if the king went to war Rollo would be obliged to join his army. He will bring a certain number of armed men—one thousand or more.
Rollo now granted parts of Normandy to his leading men on condition that they would bring soldiers to his army and fight under him.
They became his vassals, as rollo became the king’s vassal.
The lands granted to vassals in this way were called feuds, and this plan of holding lands was called the Feudal System.
The poorest people were called serfs.
Serf were almost slaves and were never permitted to leave the estate to which they belonged.
Normandy under Rollo Vikings
Having been a robber himself, Rollo forbade ravage and plunder.
He made strict laws and hanged robbers. Later his duchy thus became one of the safest parts of Europe.
The Northmen learned the language of the Franks and adopted their religion.
Rollo was the forefather of that famous Duke of Normandy who, less than a hundred and fifty years later, conquered England.
He brought into that country the Norman nobles with their French language and customs.