The Vikings in Normandy:
chronology of the Vikings in Normandy can be encapsulated by a division into two
|From AD 820 to c. AD 920, the Viking incursions on the lower Seine became
more and more frequent, resulting finally in some permanent colonisation.|
|From c. AD 920 to AD 1020 was a consolidation period for Normandy, with
the influx of numerous Scandinavian settlers, before turning increasingly to
the Kingdom of France.|
Timeline showing the Viking raids on the river Seine
||Thirteen ships reach the Seine Bay. A force of Vikings
lands but, having to face the shore guard, they are forced to re-embark,
leaving five of their number dead on the Neustrian shore.
||Asgeir's fleet sails up the River Seine (from 12th May),
takes the city of Rouen (14th May) and
burns it down. The loot is enormous. Aesgir's army continues its
penetration of the Seine, plunders and burns the rich Jumiège
monastery (24th May). The nearby monastery of Fontenelle (the future Saint-Wandrille)
is also assaulted and held to ransom. In this expedition, sixty-eight
captives are taken and then returned on payment of a ransom by the monks
of Saint-Denis (28th May).
||Ragnar's fleet of 120 ships (therefore c. 6000 men) sails
up the Seine and besieges Paris (28th March). Charles the Bald pays 7000
livres in order to spare Paris.
||Asgeir and his men, back on the Seine, this time devastate
the monastery of Fontenelle (13th October) and return there eighty-nine
days later (9th January 852) and, finding nothing to plunder, burn it
||Asgeir and his force raid on foot in the Beauvais region
(Flanders county), from their base in Rouen. Engaged by a Frankish army,
they have to withdraw and camp for the winter on Jeufosse island, securely
controlling the entrance to the Seine. They stay there up to the 5th June.
By the end of this year, a new group of Vikings, mainly Norwegians led by
Sigtrygg (back from Ireland) and Godfrid, sails up the Seine to Jeufosse
to establish their own base there. The Frankish army of Charles the Bald
besieges the island.
||Charles the Bald negotiates with Godfrid, who afterwards
retires. As for Sigtrygg, he stays to plunder and burn numerous places up
||Sigtrygg returns (18th July) to attempt to destroy a
Frankish fort located on the Seine shore on the approach to Paris. He is
reinforced by Björn, leading a powerful fleet (17th August). The two
armies join and carry out a raid in the south of the Seine, as far as
Chartres, where they are stopped by the Frankish army of Charles the Bald.
They have to withdraw to the Seine after heavy losses.
||Again from Jeufosse, which has now become an established
base, Sigtrygg's and Björn's armies attack Paris (January). Chartres is
assaulted again (12th June); on this occasion, revenging the reverse of AD
855, they take it, plunder it, and slaughter all its population. During
the summer they also attack Evreux and many other places, the action
taking place generally around Jeufosse island. Finally, Sigtrygg retires
with his men.
||Björn is joined by a new group of Danes, led by Hasting
(9th January). They lay again into the abbey of Fontenelle, which they
burn down. Leading a mounted force, Björn surrounds Paris and demands a
ransom of the Parisian monasteries. Charles the Bald is defeated when he
reacts and tries again to besiege the Viking base of Jeufosse.
||The attacks from the Seine valley are redoubled. Charles
the Bald is engaged in a struggle with his brother, Louis the German. The
Vikings take advantage of this to attack freely far from their bases:
Bayeux, Laon and Beauvais, where the bishops are executed.
||The Viking chief, Veland, is paid 3000 silver livres by
Charles the Bald to try to drive out the Vikings of the lower Seine.
||From May, Veland besieges Jeufosse island, leading 200
Viking ships. The Vikings of Jeufosse have to retire from the Seine, with
some 100 ships. This fleet then joins Veland's. Taking advantage of
several years of respite, Charles the Bald builds forts which control the
Seine at Pont-de-l'Arche.
||Fifty Viking ships settle at Pîtres
(near Pont-de-l'Arche), on the Seine.
||100 new Viking ships make an incursion into the Seine. They
sail away again after a payment of 5000 livres by Charles the Bald.
||A huge fleet sails up the Seine (one report tells of some
700 ships) to besiege Paris. Losses are severe on both sides. The new
Frankish king, Charles the Big, relieves the city by paying a heavy ransom
to the besiegers.
||Rolf (Rollo/Rollon) imposes himself as chief of the Vikings
settled in the lower Seine region. He repels the Franks, pushing right up
to the doors of the Ile-de-France. He attacks Chartres but, repulsed,
withdraws again to the Seine.
||Seeking to block the lower Seine, which had become a real
"motorway" for the Viking invasions of the Kingdom of Frankia,
the new king, Charles the Simple, concludes an agreement with Rolf at
Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, conceding to him the suzerainty of the territory of
the lower Seine which, de facto, Rolf had already had for several years.
Timeline showing the Viking Raids in Western Neustria
|From AD 836
||Björn and Hasting lead numerous raids in Cotentin
||There are no more resident bishops in Cotentin and
Avranchin nor any ecclesiastical infrastructures in these bishoprics.
Whole areas are deserted by the native population as they become
untenable, particularly in Cotentin.
||The Frankish king, Charles the Bald, concedes Cotentin and
Avranchin to the Bretons, so that they might defend these territories.
|889, 890 and 891
||Respectively, Saint-Lô, Coutances and Avranches are
plundered or burnt down.
||Rolf makes several raids in Bessin
||Vire is plundered.
||Since Brittany is too devastated by the Viking raids, the
Breton sovereignty of Cotentin and Avranchin exists only theoretically.
||Since Rolf is now Jarl of Rouen, and since they refuse to
convert to Christianity, and seek new conquests, many of Rolf's companions
settle in Cotentin and Bessin.
||From Cotentin and Bessin, where they have settled, numerous
Scandinavian forces attack the whole eastern region of Brittany.
||Bessin is added to Rolf's
||Some unsubdued Scandinavian troops of Bessin, united with
native Saxons, devastate the western part of the Seine colony.
||Rolf erect many fortifications (Bayeux, Exmes, Saint-Lô,
Brionne, etc.) to face a huge influx of new Viking contingents, resistant
to his authority in Cotentin (Danes from the Danelaw,
and Hiberno-Norse from Ireland)
and in Bessin (especially Danes from the Danelaw).
||Brittany is totally subdued: on the east by the Normans of
the Seine and on the west by Normans who have settled on the River Loire.
The Normans of the Seine take advantage of this to get a foothold in
Cotentin and Avranchin, and on the Channel
Islands, in order to control the Scandinavian troops which have to
submit to the Jarl of Rouen's authority.
||Cotentin and Avranchin are conceded officially by the King
of France, Raoul, to the Normans of the Seine, who are also appointed to
the protectorate of Brittany.