Friday, June 16, 2017

Rollo My 34th Great Grandfather

Rollo (Norman: Rou; Old Norse: Hrólfr; French: Rollon; c. 846 - c. 930 AD) was a Viking who became the first ruler of Normandy, a region of France. He is sometimes called the 1st Duke of Normandy. Rollo emerged as the outstanding personality among the Norsemen who had secured a permanent foothold on Frankish soil in the valley of the lower Seine. Charles the Simple, the king of West Francia, ceded them lands between the mouth of the Seine and what is now the city of Rouen in exchange for Rollo agreeing to end his brigandage, and provide the Franks with protection against future Viking raids.


Rollo is first recorded as the leader of these Viking settlers in a charter of 918, and he continued to reign over the region of Normandy until at least 928. He was succeeded by his son, William Longsword in the Duchy of Normandy that he had founded. The offspring of Rollo and his followers became known as the Normans. After the Norman conquest of England and their conquest of southern Italy and Sicily over the following two centuries, their descendants came to rule Norman England (the House of Normandy), the Kingdom of Sicily (the Kings of Sicily) as well as the Principality of Antioch from the 10th to 12th century, leaving behind an enduring legacy in the historical developments of Europe and the Near East.

I wonder what a King of this status would wear in his time?



 Name
The name Rollo is generally presumed to be a latinisation of the Old Norse name Hrólfr - a theory that is supported by the rendition of Hrólfr as Roluo in the Gesta Danorum. It is also sometimes suggested that Rollo may be a latinised version of another Norse name, Hrollaugr.

Rollo is generally identified with one Viking in particular - a man of high social status mentioned in Icelandic sagas, which refer to him by the Old Norse name Göngu-Hrólfr, meaning "Hrólfr the Walker". (Göngu-Hrólfr is also widely known by an Old Danish variant, Ganger-Hrolf.) The byname "Walker" is usually understood to suggest that Rollo was so physically imposing that he could not be carried by a horse and was obliged to travel on foot. Norman and other French sources do not use the name Hrólfr and the identification of Rollo with Göngu-Hrólfr is based upon similarities between circumstances and actions ascribed to both figures.


The 10th century Norman historian Dudo records that Rollo took the baptismal name Robert. A variant spelling, Roul, is used in the 12th-century Norman French Roman de la Rou, which was compiled by Wace and commissioned by King Henry II of England (a descendant of Rollo).

Rollo was born in the latter half of the 9th century; his place of birth is unknown.

The earliest well-attested historical event associated with Rollo is his leadership of Vikings who besieged Paris in 885-886.

Perhaps the earliest known source to mention Rollo's early life is the French chronicler Richer of Reims, who claims (in the 10th Century) that Rollo was the son of a Viking named Ketill. In terms of onomastics, it is interesting that Richer also names - without explicitly linking him to Rollo - a man named Ketill as being the leader of subsequent Viking raids (in 888), against areas on the coast of West Francia, between the Seine and the Loire.

A biography of Rollo, written by the cleric Dudo of Saint-Quentin in the late 10th Century, claimed that Rollo was from Denmark. One of Rollo's great-grandsons and a contemporary of Dudo was known as Robert the Dane. However, Dudo's Historia Normannorum (or Libri III de moribus et actis primorum Normanniae ducum) was commissioned by Rollo's grandson, Richard I of Normandy and - while Dudo likely had access to family members and/or other people with a living memory of Rollo - this fact must be weighed against the text's potential biases, as an official biography. According to Dudo, an unnamed king of Denmark was antagonistic to Rollo's family, including his father - an unnamed Danish nobleman - and Rollo's brother Gurim. Following the death of Rollo and Gurim's father, Gurim was killed and Rollo was forced to leave Denmark. Dudo appears to have been the main source for William of Jumièges (after 1066) and Orderic Vitalis (early 12th century), although both include additional details.

A Norwegian background for Rollo was first explicitly claimed by Goffredo Malaterra (Geoffrey Malaterra), an 11th-century Benedictine monk and historian, who wrote: "Rollo sailed boldly from Norway with his fleet to the Christian coast." Likewise, the 12th-century English historian William of Malmesbury stated that Rollo was "born of noble lineage among the Norwegians".

A chronicler named Benoît (probably Benoît de Sainte-More) wrote in the mid-12th Century Chronique des ducs de Normandie that Rollo had been born in a town named "Fasge". This has since been variously interpreted as referring to Faxe, in Sjælland (Denmark), Fauske, in Hålogaland (Norway), or perhaps a more obscure settlement that has since been abandoned or renamed. Benoît also repeated the claim that Rollo had been persecuted by a local ruler and had fled from there to "Scanza island", by which Benoît probably means Scania (Swedish Skåne). While Faxe was physically much closer to Scania, the mountainous scenery of "Fasge", described by Benoît, would seem to be more like Fauske.

Rollo was first explicitly identified with Hrólf the Walker (Norse Göngu-Hrólfr; Danish Ganger-Hrólf) by the 13th-century Icelandic sagas, Heimskringla and Orkneyinga Saga. Hrólf the Walker was so named because he "was so big that no horse could carry him". The Icelandic sources claim that Hrólfr was born in Møre, western Norway, in the late 9th century and that his parents were the Norwegian jarl Rognvald Eysteinsson ("Rognvald the Wise") and a noblewoman from Møre named Hildr Hrólfsdóttir. However, these claims were made three centuries after the history commissioned by Rollo's own grandson.

There may be circumstantial evidence for kinship between Rollo and his historical contemporary, Ketill Flatnose, King of the Isles - a Norse realm centred on the Western Isles of Scotland. If, as Richer suggested, Rollo's father was also named Ketill and as Dudo suggested, Rollo had a brother named Gurim, such names are onomastic evidence for a family connection: Icelandic sources name Ketill Flatnose's father as Björn Grímsson, and "Grim" - the implied name of Ketill Flatnose's paternal grandfather - was likely cognate with Gurim. In addition, both Irish and Icelandic sources suggest that Rollo, as a young man, visited or lived in Scotland, where he had a daughter named Cadlinar (Kaðlín; Kathleen). Moreover, Ketill Flatnose's ancestors were said to have come from Møre - Rollo's ancestral home in the Icelandic sources. However, Ketill was a common name in Norse societies, as were names like Gurim and Grim. It is also possible that the later sources were attempting to suggest an otherwise undocumented link between the historical figures of Rollo and Ketill Flatnose, by way of little-known, possibly apocryphal figures like Grim, Gurim and the Ketill said to be Rollo's father.

What did he live in??? A Castle??? A House??? 

Bunratty Castle shown above is an example of a Norman manor house. It was constructed about 1270.

Nunney Castle

Both were built by Normans so I would bet he lived in something similar when he was in his homeland.


I must say I am really excited to have a 34th great grandfather who was the first ruler of France. Not because he was a King but the historical value is so interesting and now that I know this, I find myself reading everything I can on him and his reign. 



He is buried at Rouen Cathedral in Rouen, France.




That is amazing!!! I need to put this on my bucket list.




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