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From Rollo and Poppa to the De Senlis family

This is somewhat of an update to my previous post on Rollo as my ancestor.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/tracing-my-past-back-to-rollo/

This particular investigation and discussion pertains mainly to genealogy/ancestry and  history of the real Rollo and his family. It has little or anything to do with Rollo’s character in the Vikings Saga other than to point out that Rollo did have loyal Viking followers and supporters as well as probably some Frankish ones as well. He may have cut his ties with family and could be considered a traitor in some ways but he did have men who backed him and would continue to back his family. This group of men and their families would remain loyal supporters all the way through to Rollo’s descendant, William the Conqueror. The descendants of these men would follow William to England. In return for their loyalty they would receive great wealth and land, and become leading English Nobility in those early days of  William and his sons.  Among these men were Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane  (ancestor to the families of Harcourt and Beaumont).  I mentioned these men in my previous post and am returning to them now as I feel that one of them plays an important part in a mystery from another branch of my ancestors and also provides a clue or key to the mystery surrounding Rollo’s wife, Poppa of Bayeux. (For my personal thoughts on how the history might relate to Michael Hirst’s creative and imaginative version of events in the Vikings Saga, you can scroll all the way to the end to read more on that.)

 

That man would be Bernard DeSenlis, the one specifically mentioned as a companion of Rollo’s.  After  researching some of the DeSenlis ancestry and  further investigation of Poppa’s possible genealogy, I personally believe that the Bernard DeSenlis mentioned as Rollo’s companion provides a link between those mentioned in Poppa’s genealogy and the DeSenlis family that shows up in my family ancestry.  While there is no definitive proof or documentation, and the link seems to get broken or at least very twisted somewhere along the line, my personal thought is that the DeSenlis line probably goes back to Poppa’s connection.  There often comes a point where you have to do your own research, weigh all of the evidence you have collected and make a choice as to what information you trust the most, what to you makes the most sense and then go with that line of reasoning. When you get to this point, you should also make it very clear to anyone else you are sharing the information with, that from this point on back you are basing your reasoning on suppositions and limited research. From this point on, you are making a hypothesis based on the limited evidence and resources available to you. Make it extremely clear that these are only your personal beliefs and thoughts. This is the case for me from this point back with the DeSenlis family and with family connections for Poppa.  My purpose here is not to provide concrete verifiable evidence because as far as I know, there is none at this time. What we have are a lot of pieces of circumstantial evidence that when pieced together may provide a possible or plausible theory.

First, we need to look at the varying versions of Poppa’s existence and genealogy.  The first version, the more widely accepted one is that she was the daughter of  “Count Berengar”, the dominant prince of that region, who was captured at Bayeux by Rollo in 885 or 889. This has led to speculation that she was the daughter of Berengar II of Neustria.  

It is speculated that her Father was Berengar II of Neustria. Berengar II (died 896) was the Count of Bayeux,  Rennes and Margrave of the Breton March from 886 until his death a decade later.  In 874, Brittany’s internal politics were thrown into turmoil when King Salomon was murdered by a rival. The resulting surge of Viking attacks made possible by the power vacuum was narrowly held at bay by a hasty Breton-Frankish alliance between Alan the Great of Vannes and Berengar of Rennes. Between 889-90, the Seine Vikings moved into Brittany, hard on the heels of the Loire fleet that Alan and Berengar had successfully driven out (this latter force had broken up into several small flotillas and sailed west). Alain again joined forces with Berengar of Rennes and led two Breton armies into the field. Finding their retreat down the Marne blocked, the Vikings hauled their ships overland to the Vire and besieged Saint-Lo, where the Bretons virtually annihilated the fleet.  Berengar is speculated to have married the daughter of Gurvand, Duke of Brittany, by which relationship he attained the countship of Rennes. This would make him brother-in-law of Judicael, Duke of Brittany. He is thought to be the Berengar of Bayeux whose daughter Poppa was captured in a raid and married to Rollo of Normandy. Various reconstructions make him father, grandfather, or great-grandfather of Judicael Berengar, later Count of Rennes.  As I’ve pointed out, this is the generally accepted version even though there is no definitive or verifiable proof. Because of that lack of proof, it may very well be possible that some alternate version holds just as much validity as this one. 

Poppa of Bayeux

Poppa of Bayeux

The alternate version of her existence and genealogy is provided by Robert Sewell as follows in excerpts from his document provided at  http://www.robertsewell.ca/poppa.html

The ancestry of Poppa, wife of Rolf the Ganger, 1st Duke of Normandy, seems to have two versions. It now appears that Poppa was a daughter of Gui, Count of Senlis and not a daughter of Count Berenger of Bayeux.  This makes Poppa, through her mother, a great granddaughter of King Bernard of Italy (b. 797, d. 818; King of Italy 813 – 817) King Bernard was a grandson of Charlemagne.

For the entire document please use the above link. For our purposes, I am providing the portion of the document that links Poppa to the DeSenlis name or family. 

Poppa, Wife of Ganger Rolf     According to Dudon, William Longue Épeé of Normandy had as his ‘avunculus’ (maternal uncle) Count Bernard of Senlis, the friend and consellor of Hugh the Great. The Chronicon Rothomagense (Labbe Bibliotheca Manuscriptorum Nova, I, p. 365) ano 912 confirms this and stated that Rolf married the daughter of Count Gui de Senlis, so if Bernard were the son of Gui, he would be the ‘avunculus” of William. Dudon, however calls Poppa the daughter of Count Berenger, but Dudon is not highly trustworthy. The name Bernard belongs in the family of the Counts of Vermandois, descended from Bernard, King of Italy. A Count Bernard, probably Bernard de Senlis is called be Flodoard (Annales ano 923, p. 15) the ‘consobrinus’ (cousin germain by the female side) of Herbert II Count of Vermandois.

     The Belgian érudit, J. Dhondt, in his “Études sur la Naissance de Principautés Territoriales au France pp. 119/120 n.) (Bruges 1948), suggests that Gui Count of Senlis married a sister of Herbert I Count of Vermandois (see p. 6 anti) and had issue Bernard Count of Senlis and probably Poppa, wife of Rolf.

 Pepin de Peronne, son of Bernard, King of Italy
Died after 846
His children included:

  • Herbert I Count of Vermandois, died between 900 and 904. His son:
    • Herbert II Count of Vermandois, died in 943
  • a daughter who married Gui, Count of Senlis. Their children:
    • Bernard Count of Senlis, adherent of Hugh the Great
    • Poppa who married Rolf, Count of Rouen

What this alternative version does is directly tie the previously mentioned Bernard DeSenlis to Poppa as her brother. It would make sense then that as Poppa’s brother, he would possibly become an ally of Rollo or at least a supporter of Rollo’s children. It would also make sense that he would continue to be allied with Rollo’s family such as in protecting Rollo’s grandson Richard I at the later time. In addition, this would provide some reason for ongoing connections, alliances or links between Rollo’s descendants and the DeSenlis families.  From my personal stand point or view, this version of Poppa’s lineage seems just as plausible or feasible as the other version mentioned. This alternate version makes the connection to the DeSenlis family and in doing so also connects the offspring of Poppa and Rollo to Hugh the Great and the future Capetian dynasty which Rollo’s grand daughter, Adelaide of Aquitaine married into.  Bernard DeSenlis was an adherent of Hugh the Great, who would have been a relative to him. During the battles to rescue and restore Rollo’s grandson Richard to his rightful control of Normandy, Hugh the Great eventually became involved in the fight and sided with the Normans.  One other thing this alternate version does is place Poppa as a descendant of Charlemagne and by doing so, place her as a distant relative of Charles the Simple.  Just because they were distant relatives did not necessarily mean they would have been on the same side or allied to each other in any way. In fact, it may have been the opposite case and might have posed some problem when Rollo made his treaty with Charles. Rollo and Charles signed the treaty of  St. Claire in 911.  At that time he would have already been with Poppa for some time and had both of his children by her.  This would mean that he already had a somewhat firm  alliance with the Count of Senlis and most likely with Herbert I Count of Vermandois along with his son Herbert II.  I mention this because at a later point in time, Herbert II would be an opposing force against Charles. He was just as adamant and vocal about his heritage from Charlemagne and Charles most likely was. Eventually, he was responsible for capturing Charles and holding him prisoner for three years. Later Herbert allied with Hugh the Great and William Longsword, duke of Normandy against King Louis IV, who allocated the County of Laon to Roger II, the son of Roger I, in 941. If you look at the descendants of Charlemagne, you will begin to understand that they were all descendants and proud of their ancestry but they were all competing and vying against each other for control and domination of the various parts of Francia.  As one of those descendants, Herbert I of Vermandois and his family were at odds with the current ruling factions of the time as well as with Baldwin of Flanders. Herbert controlled both St. Quentin and Péronne and his activities in the upper Somme river valley, such as the capture and murder (rather than ransom) of his brother Raoul in 896, may have caused Baldwin II to have him assassinated in 907. These were people who would probably have no qualms about developing some kind of alliances or under the table agreements with a Viking raider such as Rollo who may have been willing to assist a cause in return for some type of reward- monetary or otherwise… for example a spare daughter to use as security, seal a bargain and set up some ongoing continued alliance that might prove benefitial to both parties.

Sometime later when Dudo of Saint Quentin was rewriting the history of Normandy for Richard I, he may have chosen to downplay or omit completely some aspects of the history. 

Dudo does not appear to have consulted any existing documents for his history, but to have obtained his information from oral tradition, much of it being supplied by Raoul, count of Ivry, a half-brother of Duke Richard. Consequently, the Historia partakes of the nature of a romance, and on this ground has been regarded as untrustworthy by such competent critics as Ernst Dümmler and Georg Waitz. Other authorities, however, e.g.,J. Lair and J. Steenstrup, while admitting the existence of a legendary element, regard the book as of considerable value for the history of the Normans.

Although Dudo was acquainted with Virgil (Aeneid) and other Latin writers, his Latin is affected and obscure. The Historia, which is written alternately in prose and in verse of several metres, is divided into four parts, and deals with the history of the Normans from 852 to the death of Duke Richard in 996. It glorifies the Normans, and was largely used by William of Jumièges, Wace, Robert of Torigni,William of Poitiers and Hugh of Fleury in compiling their chronicles.

My last thoughts on Poppa’s genealogy and her relationship with Rollo are that it is probably closer to the second version than the first if you compare the other connecting threads and limited evidence.  If you look at the length of her relationship with Rollo prior to his receiving Normandy, you also begin to get a slightly different picture of Rollo and his ability to take this land offer and forge it into a Kingdom. He was involved with Poppa and her family from about 885 on and did not sign the agreement with Charles until after 911. What this gives us is not a Lone wolf, or man who is unfamiliar with Frankish customs and culture but rather a well seasoned warrior with close to 20 years of experience in with other Frankish territories and rulers.  Over that 20 years, he had most likely become well versed in Frankish affair and politics.  For what ever reason, Dudo chose to play down and omit that portion as well as play down the relationship or existence of Poppa’s connection in all of it. Then Dudo also chose to add in the somewhat doubtful relationship of Gisela, daughter of Charles without giving her much more credibility or history than he did for Poppa. Of course part of this could be due to the fact that Dudo was recounting the history to a male audience and was not so much concerned about the role of any women involved in the history. He most likely played down Poppa’s relationship because she was a wife more danico and it was not thought to be a valid Christian marriage even though the children were recognized as legitimate offspring of the Father.

As for the relationship or existence of Gisela of France, there is always the possibility that Rollo did marry her in the Christian way to seal the treaty.  It was not an uncommon practice back then to have both the more danico wife and the Christian one.  If as  mentioned, she died childless then her relationship and marriage to Rollo would have ended up being of little consequence as far as Dudo’s representation of history went.  I suppose if we look at it realistically, none of Charles’ other daughters receive much recognition either other than just being listed as his daughters. In fact none of his other children seem to be of much consequence other than his son, Louis IV of France. On a side note of interest, Louis’ Mother was Eadgifu of Wessix, grand daughter of Alfred the Great.  My thought on Gisela is that Dudo perhaps included her to tie in the connections to France and used her as a way to offset the presence of Poppa. By including Gisela, Dudo is in a way promoting the idea of Rollo having a Christian Royal wife and thereby putting down or negating Poppa’s ties or importance.  He was after all attempting to make the Normans look better in the eyes of other countries such as France at that time. The last thing he would have wanted to do during this time is bring up any reference or mention of Poppa’s possible connections to the earlier events and disputes that took place between territories vying for control of Frankish regions and previous rebellions against Kings of Francia. 

 

The De Senlis connection

 

Now that we have explored Poppa’s existence and her possible connections to the DeSenlis family, we can go on to the other mystery and broken link in the DeSenlis family.  That broken link shows up with Simon DeSenlis I of my family history. 

Simon de Senlis

Simon I de Senlis (or Senliz), 1st Earl of Northampton and 2nd Earl of Huntingdon jure uxoris born 1068 died between 1111  and 1113 was a Norman nobleman.

Simon DeSenlis

In 1098 he was captured during the Vexin campaign of King William Rufus and was subsequently ransomed. He witnessed King Henry I’s Charter of Liberties issued at his coronation in 1100. He attested royal charters in England from 1100–03, 1106–07, and 1109–011. Sometime in the period, 1093–1100, he and his wife, Maud, founded the Priory of St. Andrew’s, Northampton. He witnessed a grant of King Henry I to Bath Abbey on 8 August 1111 at Bishop’s Waltham, as the king was crossing to Normandy. Simon de Senlis subsequently went abroad and died at La Charité-sur-Loire, where he was buried in the new priory church. The date of his death is uncertain.

He reportedly built Northampton Castle and the town walls.  He also built one of the three remaining round churches in England, The Holy Sepulchre, Sheep Street, Northampton).

Simon 1st De Liz Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Holy Sepulchre 1 Holy_Sepulchre_Cambridge 2 Northampton-Holy Sepulchre

Simon was the third son of Laudri de Senlis, sire of Chantilly and Ermenonville (in Picardy), and his spouse, Ermengarde.

He married in or before 1090 Maud of Huntingdon, daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, Northampton, and Huntingdon, by Judith, daughter of Lambert, Count of Lens. They had two sons, Simon II de Senlis, Earl of Huntingdon-Northampton, and Waltheof of Melrose, and one daughter, Maud de Senlis, who married (1st) Robert Fitz Richard (of the De Clare family), of Little Dunmow, Essex.

Following Simon’s death, his widow, Maud, married (2nd) around Christmas 1113, David I nicknamed the Saint, who became King of Scots in 1124. David was recognized as Earl of Huntingdon to the exclusion of his step-son, Simon; the earldom of Northampton reverted to the crown. Maud, 2nd Countess of Huntingdon, the Queen of Scots, died in 1130/31.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_I_de_Senlis,_Earl_of_Huntingdon-Northampton

There is little information given about his ancestry other than that his Father was Laudri De Senlis, born at 

BIRTH 1018 Senlis, Oise, Picardy, France

DEATH 1080 Senlis, Normandy, France

Laudri’s wife is named Ermengarde and no other information is documented for her.  There is some documentation of Laudri’s Father being a Foulques De Senlis, born 988, died 1050.

Simon was born in 1068, after William’s take over of England but his family must have been of some importance and there must have been some connection between his family and William’s otherwise William would not have offered his niece, Judith in marriage to Simon. During William’s take over of England and prior to that, he was no different from  other leaders or rulers of the time in that he used marriage alliances to his advantage as reward to those loyal to him, and at times to ensure loyalty among those he might have doubts about.  He first arranged marriages for his sister Adelaide of Normandy, then went on to arrange marriages for her daughter, Judith of Lens. William initially arranged the marriage of Judith to Waltheof of Northumbria- that may have been a case of ensuring the loyalty of Waltheof and gaining some control over Waltheof’s lands in Northumbria… unfortunately, that arrangement did not prove quite as successful as he may have planned. Waltheof eventually proved to be disloyal and William had him executed in 1076. This left Judith a widow with young children and some extremely valuable landholdings and titles in doubt or up for grabs. William rather quickly set about arranging another marriage for her to Simon De Senlis. Judith refused to marry Simon and she fled the country to avoid William’s anger. William  temporarily confiscated all of Judith’s English estates. Simon later married Judith’s daughter Maud and took over the Earldom of Huntington.  At the time of his marriage to Maud, he had already received land and title in the creation of Earl of Northampton. This would certainly suggest that he was not just some knight standing in line waiting for William to hopefully notice him and reward him with something, anything as recognition. There had to have been some reason or connection for William to bestow the first title and lands on him and then turn around and again reward him with either his niece or great-niece and Huntington.  As I mentioned, Simon was too young to have been among those who arrived with William to do first battle and conquer England so there must have been some other important connection between Simon’s family to William which William deemed of enough importance or value to reward Simon in such way.

Simon De Senlis  was not just some lowly unknown knight or nobleman of little wealth or station that William happened to run into and hand over a landholding and title to even before his marriage into William’s family. As early as 1080- 1084 he was already Earl of Northampton and was responsible for building Northampton Castle. Northampton Castle was one of the most famous Norman castles in England. It was built under the stewardship of Simon e Senlis, the first Earl of Northampton, in 1084. It took several years to complete, as there is no mention of it in the Domesday Book, a great survey of England completed in 1086. The castle site was outside the western city gate, and defended on three sides by deep trenches. A branch of the River Nene provided a natural barrier on the western side. The castle had extensive grounds and a large keep. The gates were surrounded by bulwarks made of earth, used to mount artillery. The castle was ‘obliterated’ by the arrival of a railway branch of what is now the West Coast Main Line in the 19th century, the station of which was built on the castle site and the construction of the original Northampton Castle railway station.

 800px-Northampton_Castle_Bastion 800px-Postern_Gate_of_Northampton_Castle_2013 Northampton_Castle_Postern

All of this information regarding Simon’s early adult years leads me to believe that Simon and his family were already held in some high esteem or regard by William. Simon was not born until mid 1060s  but by the time he was in his late teens or very early twenties he was already made Earl of Northampton and put in charge of constructing this Castle and defenses for this Earldom holding of William. This does not speak of some lowly or relatively unknown prize winner in William’s raffling off of rewards…

In order to find some connection to further back, we can look at the city of Senlis, France  and its history.  The monarchs of the early French dynasties lived here, attracted by the proximity of the Chantilly Forest and its venison, and built a castle on the foundations of the Roman settlement. In 987 the archbishop of Reims, Albéron called together an assembly, and asked them to choose Hugh Capet as king of France. However, the monarchs of France soon abandoned the city, preferring Compiègne and Fontainebleau. New life was given to the city in the 12th century, and ramparts were built. The popularity of the city later fell, and it slipped into decline. Today it remains an attraction for tourists for its long history and its links to the French monarchy.

Senlis ruins

Senlis ruins

Senlis Cathedral

Senlis Cathedral

Senlis2

stock-photo-ruins-of-royal-castle-in-senlis-castle-was-place-of-election-of-hugh-capet-in-completely

stock-photo-ruins-of-royal-castle-in-senlis-castle-was-place-of-election-of-hugh-capet-in-completely

Senlis fell under the ownership of Hugh Capet in 981. He was elected king by his barons in 987 before being crowned at Noyon. Under the Capetian rule, Senlis became a royal city and remained so until the reign of Charles X. A castle was built during this period whose remains still lie today. The city reached its apogee in the 12th and 13th centuries as trade of wool and leather increased, while vineyards began to grow. With an increasing population, the city expanded and required the construction of new ramparts: a second chamber was erected under Phillip II that was larger and higher than the ramparts of the Gallo-Romans. A municipal charter was granted to the town in 1173 by the King Louis VII. The bishop of Senlis and the Chancellor Guérin became close advisors to the King, strengthening Senlis’ ties to the French royalty. In 1265, the Bailiwick of Senlis was created with its vast territory covering theBeauvais and the French Vexin. In 1319, the town crippled by debt, was passed to the control of the royalty. Senlis became devastated by the Hundred Years’ War, but managed to escape destruction despite being besieged by the Armagnacs.

Hugh Capet was married to Rollo’s grand-daughter, Adelaide of Aquitaine and as a result of this connection, DeSenlis families of Senlis probably had some continuing loyalties and alliances or connections to Normandy through her. There is no verifiable proof however to link Simon any further back to the original De Senlis family connected to Rollo and Poppa.  All we can do is form our own theories and conjectures based on the amounts of circumstantial evidence.

Another version gives Simon a somewhat different  parentage and ancestry.

SENLIS or ST. LIZ, SIMON de, Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon (d. 1109), was son of a Norman noble called Randel le Ryche. According to the register of the priory of St. Andrew at Northampton (Monast. Angl. v. 190), he fought with his brother Garner for William the Conqueror at Hastings. But there is no mention of him in Domesday book, and it seems more probable that he did not come to England till about the end of the reign of William I (Freeman, Norman Conquest, iv. 604). According to the legends preserved in the pseudo-Ingulph and the ‘Vita Waldevi,’ Simon was given by the Conqueror the hand of Judith, the widow of Earl Waltheof of Huntingdon; but Judith refused to marry him on account of his lameness. Simon then received the earldom of Northampton and Huntingdon from the king, and eventually married Matilda or Maud, the daughter of Waltheof and Judith. The marriage is an undoubted fact, but probably must be placed, together with the grant of the earldoms, not earlier than 1089. According to the ‘Vita Waldevi,’ Simon went on the crusade in 1095, but he appears to have been fighting on the side of William Rufus in Normandy in 1098, when he was taken prisoner by Louis, son of the king of France (Freeman, William Rufus, ii. 190). He was also one of the witnesses to the coronation charter of Henry I in 1100 (Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 102). Afterwards he went on the crusade. He died in 1109, and was buried at the priory of La Charité-sur-Loire. Earl Simon built Northampton Castle, and founded the priory of St. Andrew, Northampton, according to tradition, about 1084, but more probably in 1108 (Monast. Angl. v. 190–1). By his wife, Matilda, Simon had two sons—Simon, who is noticed below, and Waltheof (d 1159) [q. v.], who was abbot of Melrose. A daughter Maud married Robert FitzRichard of Tonbridge.

There are some  ancestry and genealogy sources that list Simon as son of Ranulf “The Rich” De St. Liz. According to these sources, Ranulf was born about 1030, died 1080. His wife Ermengarde  was born circa 1033. They had one son, Simon De Senlis/De St. Liz. These other sources list Ranulf’s father as Foulques Senlis who was born circa 955.  These accountings would match somewhat closely the information listed for Simon’s Grandfather being one Foulques De Senlis. The discrepancy comes in Simon’s Father either being Laudrie or Ranulf. Both versions give his Mother’s name as Ermangarde. It’s possible that Laudrie and Ranulf are the same person and there is just a discrepancy or some confusion over Laudri’s name being either Laudri or Ranulf. This confusion could stem from mixing up the two differing versions of Simon’s ancestry.

Some researchers have attempted to link Simon to a different Ranulf the Rich. These researchers have used Ranulf (Ranulph) “The Rich” DeMeschines (Viscount De Bayeux) (1021-1089) as the Father of Simon De Senlis. The problem with this connection is that these are two different Ranulph the Riches. Ranulph “The Rich” DeMeschines, Viscount De Bayeux is documented as having married Alice/Alix of Normandy who was an illegitimate daughter of Richard III of Normandy. If you look into the documented history for Ranulf, Viscount of Bayeux there is no connection to Simon DeSenlis or the DeSenlis family.

Ranulf, Viscount of Bayeux was known better as Ranulf de Briquessart (or Ranulf the Viscount) (died c. 1089 or soon after) was an 11th-century Norman magnate and viscount. Ranulf’s family were connected to the House of Normandy by marriage, and, besides Odo, bishop of Bayeux, was the most powerful magnate in the Bessin region.  He married Margaret, daughter of Richard Goz, viscount of the Avranchin, whose son and successor Hugh d’Avranches became Earl of Chester in England c. 1070.  This Ranulf died in 1089 and his son was His son Ranulf le Meschin became ruler of Cumberland and later Earl of Chester. The Durham Liber Vitae, c. 1098 x 1120, shows that his eldest son was one Richard, who died in youth, and that he had another son named William.  He also had a daughter called Agnes, who later married Robert (III) de Grandmesnil (died 1136). 

Another source of evidence to support Simon De Senlis’ Father as Laudri or Landri De Senlis comes from the  Dictionary of the nobility, containing the genealogies, the history …, Vol. 3, p. 65; Lords and Viscount de Senlis, Senlis Bouteiller, by Stephen Pattou, 2003, p. 2

Spouses / Children:
Ermengarde

  • Guy I of Senlis, called “The Tower”, lord of Chantilly .. +
  • Hubert de Senlis, canon of Notre-Dame de Paris
  • Simon I SENLIS (ST. LIZ), Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton +

 Landri of Senlis, knight, lord of Chantilly Ermenonville

  • Married:
  • Died: Between 1070 and 1080

   Landry Senlis, I. name, Knight, Lord & Ermenonville Chantilly, married, in the reign of King Philip I, a lady named Ermengarde, where he had three sons who inherited his property after his death in the year 1080: – -1. Gui, which follows – 2. Hubert, Canon of Notre-Dame de Paris, named in the title of 1119 – 3.Simon, who went to England, where he was the branch of the Counts Hu [n] Huntingdon & Northampton, reported below.

   Marriage Information:

Landry married Ermengarde.

 

I know this is probably getting confusing for many of you who may not be as interested or familiar with genealogy. I will try to simplify and clarify the confusing matters a little as well as get into why this is important in tracing Simon DeSenlis back further to the DeSenlis families connected to Rollo and Poppa.  In researching family histories this far back where this is little documented evidence or proof, it becomes somewhat more like a crime scene investigation or suspect profiling! You need to pay close attention to all of  various clues that show up in different versions or documents pertaining to the person, the family, events of the time and even to those others they might be associated with. You need to be more detective/ researcher and less record keeper/copier, scribe or sheep. 

The basic facts we are certain of are that one Simon DeSenlis was born about 1065-68 and died between 1109-1113. His life after 1080 was well documented and accounted for. More than one source or account lists his parents as Laudri/Landry DeSenlis and wife Ermangarde so it is reasonable to make a connection and assumption for this being Simon’s family line. 

 I am not so much interested in the concrete absolute facts because I know there are few if any of those. What I am looking for is more of a plausibility or feasibility factor or link that would show  a possible connection between Simon DeSenlis’ family and William’s family back to Rollo and Poppa’s generation. I believe that I have already provided evidence that ties Simon and his immediate family to some closer connection with William. 

There are some sources that mention Simon’s Father and possibly a brother arriving in England with William on his initial invasion in 1066. The brothers are not listed in the Domesday book so it could be assumed that they both returned to Normandy after the initial battles. Laudri’s information lists him as being Knight, Lord & Ermenonville Chantilly with his eldest son, Gui presumably inheriting that title. The second son, Hubert went to the Church as Canon of  Notre-Dame de Paris. As a third son, Simon would most likely have had to look elsewhere for title, wealth or lands. If the family had connections to William, this would have been an opportune time for William to assist the family in carving out a destiny for young Simon. Laudri may have aided William and participated in the invasion of England with him but as he already had lands and title, he might have been happy to return home after that first invasion. He may have seen no reason to stay on in England during those early years. Simon was born during these early years of the conquest so it is possible that rather than seek reward or title for himself in England that he did not need or want, Laudri chose instead to have William bestow any reward or favor on this third son who would be in need of title and wealth.  Laudri’s place of birth and death are listed as Senlis, Oise, Picardie, France. As I have mentioned previously, there is some confusion as to Laudri’s name being Laudri or possibly as in some other sources, Ranulf… all of the other information for the two different names is the same (except for the faction that tries to connect Ranulf to Ranulf of Bayeux and we have already discussed that confusion!)

Laudri’s Father is listed as Foulques De Senlis in more than one source and there is some documentation of a Foulques DeSenlis born 988 died 1050 with a son listed as Landry DeSenlis.  This foulques was also listed as living in Senlis, Oise, Picardie.  Foulque’s Father is listed as Rothold DeSenlis born abt 958 and died before 1045 at Senlis. Bear with me please… we are almost at our point of interest or possible connection to Rollo and Poppa!

Rothold’s Father is listed as Bernard II DeSenlis, born about 919 died abt 1000 at Senlis. Now, it does stand to reason that if there was a Bernard II, then there must have been a Bernard I of Senlis? This brings us back to the Bernard of Senlis mentioned in the beginning of this discussion… You know, the one Bernard DeSenlis that I mentioned early on in connection to Rollo and Poppa. Let’s refresh some of our dates here for this to begin to make some sense. Rollo was born about 850, died abt 827-830. Poppa was born around 870 and died abt 930. Let’s also go back to that alternate version of Poppa’s genealogy- you know the one where it lists her as being a daughter of  one Gui, Count of Senlis and sister of a Bernard of Senlis… Hopefully you are beginning to see some connection?  This name of Gui shows up again in the later generation of Simon’s family where Simon’s older brother is named Gui or Guy so it may be an indication of a generational name being passed down.

Bernard II DeSenlis has listed as his Father, a Bernard I born 875 and died sometime after 928 in France. All of the various genealogies listed become quite sketchy and extremely muddy at this point and it’s difficult to sift through all of the irregularities and possibilities for confusing supposed family members. Most of the versions do however, seem to connect Bernard II and his Father, Bernard I back eventually to the same families and lineages mentioned in the alternate version of Poppa’s genealogy. If we sort through all of the possible inaccuracies and look for common threads, those common threads of similar names, locations and titles give us a fairly good idea of Poppa’s general family connections to the houses, dynasties or territories of early Francia such as Senlis, Vermandois, Chantilly, Soissons, Champagne but not Bayeux.   Some history alludes to the idea that Poppa was “captured” during a battle at Bayeux so perhaps that is how she got connected to Bayeux. It may have been a case where Poppa was with Rollo during this campaign that took place some time between 887 and 889. She may have already been his wife or concubine and some might have assumed that if she was not a Dane, she must be a captive or slave of his. And, realistically she may have initially been in a position of hostage/captive or security of some sort to ensure payment or alliance from her family. The problem or question that ever remains is just which family… 

To put the history, the possible family connections and how they might have come about into some perspective, it might help to look at Rollo’s earliest known history in Francia and some maps of the areas involved. During 885/86 Rollo was involved in a siege of Paris. The siege was not successful but rather than fight the Viking group, King Charles the fat instead encouraged and allowed the group to travel down the Seine to ravage Burgandy which was in revolt at the time. When the Vikings withdrew from France the next spring, he gave them 700 livres (pounds) of silver as promised. In some context, this shows that the Frankish rulers were not above using Viking raiders to their own benefit and advantage in setting them up to attack territories that might be some threat to them. They were more than willing to enter into agreements or alliances with these groups and use them as a sort of paid mercenary group to thwart their own personal enemies or oppositions.  If King Charles was not above this type of action, it would stand to reason that other local leaders would be willing to do the same.  The Viking raiders were not unfamiliar with the leaders of Francia. They were an ongoing, fairly constant presence in the area as far back as prior to 845. By 885 when Rollo’s group began their siege of Paris, bribery and payoffs to the raiding groups was a common practice and one might even assume that by this time each groups’ rulers, leaders and politics were well-known to each other. 

The siege of 885 lasted through 885 and well into 886. During that time, various Viking groups would venture out to other areas including  Le Mans, Chartres,  Evreux and into the Loire. This would have put them in the areas of  Senlis, Champagne, Picardie, Soissons and other places associated with Poppa’s family connections. Their time spent on the river Seine would have taken them through areas around Brittany and Bayeux, thus putting them in the middle of the unrest going on there as a result of King Saloman’s murder in the late 870s.  Some time in late 886 or 887, Rollo’s group did leave Paris but that does not mean he left Francia. From most accounts, he remained in Francia throughout this time raiding in different parts. If he spent this amount of time in the area, he most likely began to settle himself there, develop a name and reputation for himself and build some alliances even though those alliances may have been shaky at first and been a result of his “working” relationship or associations based on the business of mercenaries or being paid not to raid…

If you look at the locations on maps, you will see the close proximity of all the places and how the leading families may have formed uneasy alliances or waged wars against each other in land disputes.

This ancient map shows the areas of Vermandois in relation to areas of what would eventually become Rollo’s land of Normandy. Bayeux is situated on the coast within that area. It also shows the close vicinity of Bayeux to Neustria and Brittany or Bretagne.

map of ancient france

This map shows the region of Picardy in relation to Paris and to Normandy, as well as the Champagne area.

france

This is a detailed map showing the separate lands or holdings within Picardy with Senlis being the closest to the borders of what would become Normandy. 

Picardie_adm

Finally, this map shows a better representation of  Senlis in relation to Rouen and Paris.

Senlis on map with Rouen and Paris

I have stated numerous times through out this discussion that there is no absolute conclusive evidence or proof for either Poppa’s family connections or in later generations, Simon DeSenlis’ family connections. My main intent  in this article is merely to suggest that  possibility or plausibility for Poppa’s alternative family connections and that those connections lead to the possible and plausible connection to the DeSenlis family.  Perhaps one day there will be some concrete definitive answer to the puzzles of this history and ancestry, most likely though it will remain an ongoing mystery that people with connections to these lineages will continue to debate. The progresses made in the field of genealogical DNA testing may eventually provide some answers to possible  blood line connections or matches. I have submitted my DNA sample for testing and waiting for results but I really do not expect those results to give any conclusive evidence or answer to this particular puzzle. I think that for the most part, this history and ancestry will remain subjective and dependent on each individual’s personal perspective on the history and people involved. 

My last thoughts on all of this more factual accounting of history have to do with the fiction and fantasy aspect of it. These thoughts are for the Vikings Saga fans of Rollo’s character… We have seen the beginning of Rollo’s arrival in the Frankish world according to Michael Hirst’s version and creative take on the events. Hirst has given us what I believe so far, is a combined version of Poppa and Gisla where Gisla takes prominence and gains some identity or credit rather than Poppa. How that relationship plays out is yet to be seen. We will see this in season 4. What we will also hopefully see is the development of Rollo’s alliances and friendships with those Viking men who remain with him, and with those men of Francia that he must eventually make friends or alliances with in order to succeed in creating and building Normandy. I am reasonably certain that we will most probably not see any actual characterization of one such as Bernard DeSenlis- that in my humble little mind would just be too much to hope for or expect. What I do hope to see is some unfolding is some combination of people in a character that might represent varied facets or bits of actual history.

Roland's role in the story

During the last episodes of season 3, we were vaguely introduced to a character named Roland who we know little about as yet.  Huw Parmenter will be returning as Roland in season 4 and I am anxious to see how his character of Roland fits into the story as Rollo’s life begins in Francia.  From what little we were able to discern or conclude of him in season 3, he is one of Odo’s soldiers and there seems to be some connection between him and Gisela. What that connection might be is a mystery right now. At this point we have no idea what Roland’s story really is? Is he a future villain or foe of Rollo, is he a future friend? What is his connection to Gisela, Charles and Odo… is he some family or relative, or is he some lovesick champion or supporter of Gisela?  What we have seen briefly is him carrying out Odo’s orders, a few subtly foreshadowing scenes of him with Gisela, Charles and Odo but no real definitive clues as to his future role. 

gisla has trouble tearing herself away from the scene even as this man Roland urges her to leave

gisla has trouble tearing herself away from the scene even as this man Roland urges her to leave

and here again we have a long pause on Roland

and here again we have a long pause on Roland

do and roland visit the camp to find out why they have not left yet

Odo and roland visit the camp to find out why they have not left yet

roland, a man to keep an eye on in the future

roland, a man to keep an eye on in the future

Roland's story

Roland’s story is yet to come so we can only make guesses as to what his part in the story will be. These are just my personal thoughts on how his story might play out. I could be completely wrong on this, so please do not hold me to this guess! Roland’s name and his current position within the Royal court suggest some nod, tribute or imaginative illusive reference to a historical legendary figure of Roland who was a military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. You can read more about the history and legend of Roland in a previous post:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/prussia-saxony-and-roland-part-2/

Perhaps our character of Roland will become a future friend or ally for Rollo… It stands to some reason that Rollo is going to need some Frankish alliances or friends. He has already made comments in far previous episodes that he understands the importance of alliances… he made such comment in a discussion with Floki about Aethelwulf. If Hirst is setting Roland up as this type of relationship with Rollo then Roland could be a representation of some of those early Frankish men such as Bernard DeSenlis. The DeSenlis line had ties to Charlemagne so would fit into some representation that Roland might possibly portray depending on how Hirst decides to tell the story! He has already set up sort of connection in his combining of Poppa and Gisela. If he presents Roland as some family connection to Gisela rather than some thwarted loved interest, then by making Roland an ally we would see the representation or connection mentioned in history about Bernard DeSenlis being a relative of Poppa’s and of him being one of Rollo’s comrades or companions from the earliest year. If he then carried the story forward, this would feasibly set Roland up as having some role as events of the future might play out in Normandy. As I’ve said, these are just my personal thoughts and wishful thinking about Roland’s character- I would love to see it play out in this way as some underlying tribute or nod to my family connection and version of the history!

 

 

From Treveri to Trier, From Celts to Vikings!

In my previous family history post, I took you on a very brief tour of Trier’s history. I originally planned to leave it at that but I was so intrigued with it’s long history that I decided to find out more. I am going to share it here in a more in depth post because the story of Trier is so interesting and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves when people think about great cities of history! I also think that Vikings fans may be interested in one of the visits that a group of Northmen paid to the city in 881. We will look at that visit and it’s result later.  Before you begin reading, I will warn and advise you that this has become a lengthy post! It is a more detailed and extensive history than some of you might like but it is also is not nearly as long and in depth as it could have been! I have tried to edit as much as possible but given the massive history surrounding Trier, I find myself thinking it unfair to leave out certain parts or deem some portion unimportant. If you simply can not bring yourself to read through all of it, I have broken it up into sections with subtitles which you can scroll down through in search of what might interest you the most.  I really do hope you will take the time to read the entire article though.

Index of Subsections:

Pre-history and Celtic origins

Early Roman Connections: From  Treveri  tribes to Roman citizens

Romans take over and Imperialism sets in

The Constantine Connection

Constantine’s little personal problem…his wife Fausta

Saint Helena’s connection

Trier after Rome’s demise: From Augusta Treverorum to Treves

The Vikings pay their visit to Trier!

 

 

Pre-history and Celtic origins

First let’s look at the rich history of this city that was at one time thought of as one of the most important cities of the Roman and then the Frankish Empire. The following Roman era map shows Trier by it’s Roman name of Augusta Treverorum and lists it as a Roman city. In red, you will find the Celtic tribe of Treveri in that area.

800px-Germania_70_svg

The Celtic Treveri tribe inhabited the lower valley of the Moselle from around 150 BCE, if not earlier,  until their eventual absorption into the Franks. Their domain lay within the southern fringes of the Silva Arduenna (Ardennes Forest), a part of the vast Silva Carbonaria, in what are now Luxembourg, southeastern Belgium and western Germany;  its centre was the city of Trier (Augusta Treverorum), to which the Treveri give their name. Celtic in language, according to Tacitus they claimed Germanic descent. 

Although they quickly adapted to  Roman material culture,  the Treveri had a tenuous  relationship with Roman power. Their leader Indutiomarus led them in revolt against Julius Caesar during the Gallic Wars;  much later, they played a key role in the Gaulish revolt during the Year of the Four Emperors.  On the other hand, the Treveri supplied the Roman army with some of its most famous cavalry,  and the city of Augusta Treverorum was home for a time to the family of Germanicus, including the future emperor Gaius (Caligula).  During the Crisis of the Third Century, the territory of the Treveri was overrun by Germanic Alamanni and Franks and later formed part of the Gallic Empire.

Modern reconstruction of Treveran dwellings near Altbburg

Modern reconstruction of Treveran dwellings near Altburg

The name Treveri   has been interpreted as referring to a “flowing river” or to “crossing the river”. Rudolf Thurneysen proposes to interpret it as a Celtic trē-uer-o, followed by Xavier Delamarre with the element trē < *trei ‘through’, ‘across’ (cf. Latin trans) and uer-o ‘to cross a river’, so the name Treveri could mean ‘the ferrymen’, because these people helped to cross the Mosel river. They had a special goddess of the ford called Ritona and a temple dedicated to Uorioni Deo. treuer- can be compared with the Old Irish treóir ‘guiding, passage through a ford’, ‘place to cross a river’. The word uer- / uar- can be related to an indo-European word meaning ‘stream’, ‘river’ (Sanskrit vār, Old Norse vari ‘water’), that can be found in many river-names, especially in France : Var, Vire, Vière or in place-names like Louviers or Verviers. The city of Trier (French: Trèves) derives its name from the later Latin locative in Trēverīs for earlier Augusta Treverorum.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treveri

The Treveri tribe was described by early Romans as the most renowned of the Belgae tribes who were referred to as being part of the Gauls.

Map_Gallia_Tribes_Towns

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgae

According to the Roman consul Aulus Hirtius in the 1st century BCE, the Treveri differed little from Germanic peoples in their manner of life and savage behaviour.  The Treveri boasted of their Germanic origin, according to Tacitus, in order to distance themselves from “Gallic laziness” (inertia Gallorum). But Tacitus does not include them with the Vangiones, Triboci or Nemetes as “tribes unquestionably German”.  The presence of hall villas of the same type as found in indisputably Germanic territory in northern Germany, alongside Celtic types of villas, corroborates the idea that they had both Celtic and Germanic affinities.  The Germanic element among the Treveri probably arrived there in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE.   Strabo says that their Nervian and Tribocan neighbours were Germanic peoples who by that point had settled on the left bank of the Rhine, while the Treveri are implied to be Gaulish.

Jerome states that as of the 4th century their language was similar to that of the Celts of Asia Minor (the Galatians). Jerome probably had first-hand knowledge of these Celtic languages, as he had visited both Augusta Treverorum and Galatia.  Very few personal names among the Treveri are of Germanic origin; instead, they are generally Celtic or Latin. Certain distinctively Treveran names are apparently none of the three and may represent a pre-Celtic stratum, according to Wightman (she gives Ibliomarus, Cletussto and Argaippo as examples).

Before Ceasar’s invasion, the central city of the Treveri was at a place named  Titelberg.  Titelberg  is the site of a large Celtic settlement or oppidum in the extreme south west of Luxembourg. In the 1st century BC, this thriving community was probably the capital of the Treveri people. The site thus provides telling evidence of urban civilization in what is now Luxembourg long before the Roman conquest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titelberg

800px-Titelberg_01 800px-Titelberg003 800px-Titelberg018

 

Early Roman Connections: From  Treveri  tribes to Roman citizens

 The Treveri had a strong cavalry and infantry, and during the Gallic Wars would provide Julius Caesar with his best cavalry. Under their leader Cingetorix, the Treveri served as Roman auxiliaries. However, their loyalties began to change in 54 BCE under the influence of Cingetorix’ rival Indutiomarus. According to Caesar, Indutiomarus instigated the revolt of the Eburones under Ambiorix that year and led the Treveri in joining the revolt and enticing Germanic tribes to attack the Romans. The Romans under Titus Labienus killed Indutiomarus and then put down the Treveran revolt; afterwards, Indutiomarus’ relatives crossed the Rhine to settle among the Germanic tribes.  The Treveri remained neutral during the revolt of Vercingetorix, and were attacked again by Labienus after it. On the whole, the Treveri were more successful than most Gallic tribes in cooperating with the Romans. They probably emerged from the Gallic Wars with the status of a free civitas exempt from tribute.

In 30 BCE, a revolt of the Treveri was suppressed by Marcus Nonius Gallus, and the Titelberg was occupied by a garrison of the Roman army. Agrippa and Augustus undertook the organization of Roman administration in Gaul, laying out an extensive series of roads beginning with Agrippa’s governorship of Gaul in 39 BCE, and imposing a census in 27 BCE for purposes of taxation. The Romans built a new road from Trier to Reims via Mamer, to the north, and Arlon, thus by-passing by 25 kilometres the Titelberg and the older Celtic route, and the capital was displaced to Augusta Treverorum (Trier) with no signs of conflict. The vicinity of Trier had been inhabited by isolated farms and hamlets before the Romans, but there had been no urban settlement here.

Following the reorganisation of the Roman provinces in Germany in 16 BCE, Augustus decided that the Treveri should become part of the province of Belgica. At an unknown date, the capital of Belgica was moved from Reims to Augusta Treverorum. A significant layer of the Treveran élite seems to have been granted Roman citizenship under Caesar and/or Augustus, by whom they were given the nomenJulius.

During the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius and Claudius, and particularly when Drusus and Germanicus were active in Gaul, Augusta Treverorum rose to considerable importance as a base and supply centre for campaigns in Germany. The city was endowed with an amphitheatre, baths, and other amenities,  and for a while Germanicus’ family lived in the city.  Pliny the Elder reports that Germanicus’ son, the future emperor Gaius (Caligula), was born “among the Treveri, at the village of Ambiatinus, above Koblenz“, but Suetonius notes that this birthplace was disputed by other sources.

Towards the end of the first century ad, the Treveran elite noblemen made the mistake of joining in a revolt against Rome. The revolt was quickly put down  and more than a hundred rebel Treveran noblemen fled across the Rhine to join their Germanic allies; in the assessment of Jeannot Metzler, this event marks the end of aristocratic Treveran cavalry service in the Roman army, the rise of the local bourgeoisie, and the beginnings of “a second thrust of Romanization”.  Camille Jullian attributes to this rebellion the promotion of Reims, capital of the perennially loyal Remi, at the expense of the Treveri.  By the 2nd and 3rd centuries, representatives of the old élite bearing the nomen Julius had practically disappeared, and a new élite arose to take their place; these would have originated mainly from the indigenous middle class, according to Wightman. This would have been a Roman way of eliminating feelings of loyalty or heritage to the ancient Treveri tribe and replacing it with loyalty to Rome.   The Treveri tribes also suffered from their proximity to  the Rhine frontier during the Crisis of the Third Century. Frankish and Alamannic invasions during the 250s led to significant destruction, particularly in rural areas; given the failure of the Roman military to defend effectively against Germanic invasion, country dwellers improvised their own fortifications, often using the stones from tombs and mausoleums.  While these smaller rural concentrations of Treveri were being decimated by that Germanic invasion, the city of Augusta Treverorum was becoming an urban centre of the first importance, overtaking even Lugdunum (Lyon). During the Crisis of the Third Century, the city served as the capital of the Gallic Empire under the emperors Tetricus I and II from 271 to 274. The Treveri suffered further devastation from the Alamanni in 275, following which, according to Jeannot Metzler, “The great majority of agricultural domains lay waste and would never be rebuilt”. It is unclear whether Augusta Treverorum itself fell victim to the Alamannic invasion.  Other  historical sources state that the city was destroyed during that time and that Emperor Diocletian recognized the urgency of maintaining an imperial presence in the Gauls, and established first Maximian, then Constantius Chlorus as caesars at Trier; from 293 to 395, Trier was one of the residences of the Western Roman Emperor in Late Antiquity. It’s position required the monumental settings that betokened imperial government.

 Romans take over and Imperialism sets in

My personal thought on these events is to wonder if Rome’s failure to protect those outlying Treveri was actually part of some plan to better eliminate those more distant and possibly less loyal groups. In a way, these events led to a more complete demise of the original Treveri tribes and people who would look at themselves as Treveri first and Roman citizen second.  As for the city of Augusta Treverorum falling victim to the invasions,  it seems to have recovered quickly. Those residents that survived the attack would from that point on  be Roman and Christian in their loyalties and beliefs.  From 285 to 395, Augusta Treverorum was one of the residences of the western Roman Emperor, including Maximian, Constantine the Great, Constantius II, Valentinian I, Magnus Maximus, and Theodosius I;  from 318 to 407, it served as the seat of the praetorian prefecture of Gaul. By the mid-4th century, the city was counted in a Roman manuscript as one of the four capitals of the world, alongside Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople.   New defensive structures, including fortresses at Neumagen, Bitburg and Arlon, were constructed to defend against Germanic invasion. After a Vandal invasion in 406, however, the imperial residence was moved to Mediolanum (Milan) while the praetorian guard was withdrawn to Arelate (Arles).

 

A mint was immediately established by Constantius, which came to be the principal mint of the Roman West.  A new stadium was added to the amphitheater, to stage chariot races. Under the rule of Constantine the Great (306–337), the city was rebuilt and buildings such as the Palastaula (known today as the Constantine Basilica) and the Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen), the largest surviving Roman baths outside Rome, were begun under Constantius and completed c 314 constructed.  by his son Constantine, who left Trier in the hands of his son Crispus. In 326, sections of the imperial family’s private residential palaces were extended and converted to a large double basilica, the remains of which are still partly recognisable in the area of the Trier Cathedral (Trierer Dom) and the church “Liebfrauenkirche“.  A demolished imperial palace has left shattered sections of painted ceiling, which scholars believe once belonged to Constantine’s young wife, Fausta, whom he later put to death.

450850501_81dffdc34e_zkapitel1_01kapitel3_05

Basilica of Constantine

Basilica of Constantine

Trier Rekonstruktion_der_Palastaula

Trier Rekonstruktion_der_Palastaula

trier basilica

trier basilica

03-23 Trier Cathedral Ceiling

Trier Cathedral ceiling

03-23 Trier Cathedral Interior

Trier Cathedral Interior

The Constantine Connection

From Constantine’s time in Trier onward, the city was the seat of the Gallic prefecture (the Praefectus Praetorio Galliarium), one of the two highest authorities in the Western Roman Empire, which governed the western Roman provinces from Morocco to Britain. Constantine’s son Constantius II resided here from 328 to 340. Roman Trier was the birthplace of Saint Ambrose ca. 340, who later became the Bishop of Milan and was eventually named a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church long after his death in 397. It became a city of great importance and occasionally, great scandal- as in the events surrounding it’s Royal household.  I am not going to go into Constantine’s early life or his climb to the level of Emperor… this is long enough as it is!

Constantine’s share of the Empire consisted of Britain, Gaul, and Spain. He therefore commanded one of the largest Roman armies, stationed along the important Rhine frontier. After his promotion to emperor, Constantine remained in Britain, driving back the tribes of the Picts and secured his control in the northwestern dioceses. He completed the reconstruction of military bases begun under his father’s rule, and ordered the repair of the region’s roadways.  He soon left for Augusta Treverorum (Trier) in Gaul, the Tetrarchic capital of the northwestern Roman Empire.  The Franks, after learning of Constantine’s acclamation, invaded Gaul across the lower Rhine over the winter of 306–307 AD.  Constantine drove them back beyond the Rhine and captured two of their kings, Ascaric and Merogaisus. The kings and their soldiers were fed to the beasts of Trier’s amphitheater in the adventus (arrival) celebrations that followed.

2661-Trier-Roman-Amphitheatre-26
old roman baths in trier

Public baths (thermae) were built in Trier by Constantine. More than 100 metres (328 ft) wide by 200 metres (656 ft) long, and capable of serving several thousands at a time, the baths were built to rival those of Rome.   Constantine began a major expansion of Trier. He strengthened the circuit wall around the city with military towers and fortified gates, and began building a palace complex in the northeastern part of the city. To the south of his palace, he ordered the construction of a large formal audience hall, and a massive imperial bathhouse. Constantine sponsored many building projects across Gaul during his tenure as emperor of the West, especially in Augustodunum (Autun) and Arelate (Arles).  According to Lactantius, Constantine followed his father in following a tolerant policy towards Christianity. Although not yet a Christian, he probably judged it a more sensible policy than open persecution,  and a way to distinguish himself from the “great persecutor”, Galerius. Constantine decreed a formal end to persecution, and returned to Christians all they had lost during the persecutions.

Because Constantine was still largely untried and had a hint of illegitimacy about him, he relied on his father’s reputation in his early propaganda: the earliest panegyrics to Constantine give as much coverage to his father’s deeds as to those of Constantine himself.  Constantine’s military skill and building projects soon gave the panegyrist the opportunity to comment favorably on the similarities between father and son, and Eusebius remarked that Constantine was a “renewal, as it were, in his own person, of his father’s life and reign”. Constantinian coinage, sculpture and oratory also shows a new tendency for disdain towards the “barbarians” beyond the frontiers. After Constantine’s victory over the Alemanni, he minted a coin issue depicting weeping and begging Alemannic tribesmen—”The Alemanni conquered”—beneath the phrase “Romans’ rejoicing”. There was little sympathy for these enemies. As his panegyrist declared: “It is a stupid clemency that spares the conquered foe!”

Constantine’s little personal problem…his wife Fausta

Let’s set aside the rest of Constantine’s achievements and accomplishments and look at his personal life a bit. His personal residence became the city of Augusta Treverorum so naturally much of his personal life took place there. In the year 303 he married his first wife, Minervina and had one son, Crispus by her. In 307, he set her aside as part of a treaty or alliance with  Roman Emperor Maximianus and agreed to marry Maximianus’s daughter, Fausta.   In 310 Maximian died as a consequence of an assassination plot against Constantine. Maximian decided to involve his daughter Fausta, but she revealed the plot to her husband, and the assassination was disrupted. Maximian died, by suicide or by assassination, in July of that same year.

sculpture/bust of Fausta

sculpture/bust of Fausta

Empress Fausta was held in high esteem by Constantine, and proof of his favour was that in 323 she was proclaimed Augusta; previously she held the title of Nobilissima Femina. However three years later Fausta was put to death by Constantine, following the execution of Crispus, his eldest son by Minervina, in 326. The two deaths have been inter-related in various ways; in one, Fausta is set jealously against Crispus, as in the anonymous Epitome de Caesaribus, or conversely her adultery, perhaps with the stepson who was close to her in age, is suggested. Fausta was executed by suffocation in an over-heated bath, a mode of assassination not otherwise attested in the Roman world. David Woods offers the connection of overheated bathing with contemporaneous techniques of abortion,  a suggestion that implies an unwanted, adulterous pregnancy according to Constantine’s biographer Paul Stephenson.

The Emperor ordered the damnatio memoriae of his wife with the result that no contemporary source records details of her fate: “Eusebius, ever the sycophant, mentions neither Crispus nor Fausta in his Life of Constantine, and even wrote Crispus out of the final version of his Ecclesiastical History (HE X.9.4)”, Constantine’s biographer Paul Stephenson observes.   Significantly, her sons, once in power, never revoked this order.  Her sons became Roman Emperors: Constantine II, reigned 337 – 340, Constantius II reigned 337 – 361, and Constans reigned 337 – 350. She also bore three daughters Constantina, Helena and Fausta. Of these, Constantina married her cousins, firstly Hannibalianus and secondly Constantius Gallus, and Helena married Emperor Julian.

 

The reason for this act remains unclear and historians have long debated Constantine’s motivation. Zosimus in the 5th century and Joannes Zonaras in the 12th century both reported that Fausta, stepmother of Crispus, was extremely jealous of him. She was reportedly afraid that Constantine would put aside the sons she bore him. So, in order to get rid of Crispus, Fausta set him up. She reportedly told the young Caesar that she was in love with him and suggested an illegitimate love affair. Crispus denied the immoral wishes of Fausta and left the palace in a state of a shock. Then Fausta said to Constantine that Crispus had no respect for his father, since the Caesar was in love with his father’s own wife. She reported to Constantine that she dismissed him after his attempt to rape her. Constantine believed her and, true to his strong personality and short temper, executed his beloved son. A few months later, Constantine reportedly found out the whole truth and then killed Fausta.

This version of events has become the most widely accepted, since all other reports are even less satisfactory. That Fausta and Crispus would have together  plotted treason against Constantine is rejected by most historians, as they would have nothing to gain considering their positions as favourites of Constantine. In any case, such a case would not have been tried by a local court as Crispus’ case clearly was. Another view suggests that Constantine killed Crispus because as a supposedly illegitimate son, he would cause a crisis in the order of succession to the throne. However, Constantine had kept him at his side for twenty years without any such decision. Constantine also had the authority to appoint his younger, legitimate sons as his heirs. Some reports claimed that Constantine was envious of the success of his son and afraid of him. This seems improbable, given that Constantine had twenty years of experience as emperor while Crispus was still a young Caesar. Similarly, there seems to be no evidence that Crispus had any ambitions to harm or displace his father. So while the story of Zosimus and Zonaras seems the most believable one, there are also problems relating to their version of events. Constantine’s reaction suggests that he suspected Crispus of a crime so terrible that death was not enough. Crispus, his wife Helena and their son, also suffered damnatio memoriae, meaning their names were never mentioned again and deleted from all official documents and monuments. The eventual fate of Helena and her son is a mystery. Constantine did not restore his son’s innocence and name, as he probably would have on learning of his son’s innocence. Perhaps Constantine’s pride, or shame at having executed his son, prevented him from publicly admitting having made a mistake.

It is beyond doubt that there was a connection between the deaths of Crispus and Fausta. Such agreement among different sources connecting two deaths is extremely rare in itself. A number of modern historians have suggested that Crispus and Fausta really did have an affair. When Constantine found out, his reaction was to have both of them killed. What delayed the death of Fausta may have been a pregnancy. Since the years of birth for the two known daughters of Constantine and Fausta remain unknown, one of their births may have delayed their mother’s execution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fausta

 Constantine eventually removed himself from the city of  Augusta Treverorum  in later years and spent his later years in Constantinople, which he considered his capital and permanent residence. He died there in 337.  Constantine had known death would soon come. Within the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantine had secretly prepared a final resting-place for himself.  It came sooner than he had expected. Soon after the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill.   He left Constantinople for the hot baths near his mother’s city of Helenopolis (Altinova), on the southern shores of the Gulf of İzmit. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. Seeking purification, he became a catechumen, and attempted a return to Constantinople, making it only as far as a suburb of Nicomedia.  He summoned the bishops, and told them of his hope to be baptized in the River Jordan, where Christ was written to have been baptized. He requested the baptism right away, promising to live a more Christian life should he live through his illness. The bishops, Eusebius records, “performed the sacred ceremonies according to custom”.  He chose the Arianizing bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, bishop of the city where he lay dying, as his baptizer.   In postponing his baptism, he followed one custom at the time which postponed baptism until after infancy.  It has been thought that Constantine put off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible. Constantine died soon after at a suburban villa called Achyron, on the last day of the fifty-day festival of Pentecost directly following Pascha (or Easter), on 22 May 337.

Saint Helena’s connection

After Constanine’s death, the city of  Augusta Treverorum  once more became a royal or imperial residence. Constantine’s son Constantius II resided here from 328 to 340. Roman Trier was the birthplace of Saint Ambrose ca. 340, who later became the Bishop of Milan and was eventually named a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church long after his death in 397.  From 367, under Valentinian I, Trier once more became an imperial residence (lasting until the death of Theodosius I in 395) and remained the largest city north of the Alps. It was for a few years (383 – 388) the capital of Magnus Maximus, who ruled most of the western Empire.   Besides Constantine’s heirs and successors retaining close ties to the city of Trier, one other person of his family did as well. That would be his Mother, Helena! No discussion of Rome’s connection and tie to Trier would be complete without a mention of Helena and her gifts to the city.  Apparently, she was  so fond of the city that in later years, her head would return to reside there?

CaputSHelenae_0578a

Helena’s head relic in the crypt of Trier cathedral

Saint Helena ( c. 250 – c. 330) was the consort of the Roman emperorConstantius Chlorus and the mother of the emperor Constantine the Great. She is an important figure in the history of Christianity and the world due to her major influence on her son and her own contributions in placing Christianity at the heart of Western Civilization. She is traditionally credited with a pilgrimage to Syria Palaestina, during which she is claimed to have discovered the True Cross

Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder_-_Saint_Helena_with_the_Cross_-_Google_Art_Project

Helena’s birthplace is not known with certainty. The 6th-century historian Procopius is the earliest authority for the statement that Helena was a native of Drepanum, in the province of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Her son Constantine renamed the city “Helenopolis” after her death around 330, which supports the belief that the city was her birthplace.  The Byzantinist Cyril Mango has argued that Helenopolis was refounded to strengthen the communication network around his new capital in Constantinople, and was renamed simply to honor Helena, not to mark her birthplace.  There was also a Helenopolis in Palestine  and a Helenopolis in Lydia.  These cities, and the province of Helenopontus in the Diocese of Pontus, were probably both named after Constantine’s mother.  G. K. Chesterton in his book ‘A Short History of England’ writes that she was considered a Briton by the British, a tradition noted by Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose 12th century Historia Regum Britanniae reports that Helena was a daughter of the British King Coel.

The bishop and historian Eusebius of Caesarea states that she was about 80 on her return from Palestine.  Since that journey has been dated to 326–28, Helena was probably born in 248 or 250. Little is known of her early life.  Fourth-century sources, following Eutropius‘ “Breviarium,” record that she came from a low background. Saint Ambrose was the first to call her a stabularia, a term translated as “stable-maid” or “inn-keeper”. He makes this fact a virtue, calling Helena a bona stabularia, a “good stable-maid”.   Other sources, especially those written after Constantine’s proclamation as emperor, gloss over or ignore her background.   There is great debate over her actual marital status with Constantine’s father, Constantius.  Some would assert that she was his legitimate wife, others assume that she was most likely his concubine or common law wife. What ever the case, she gave birth to the future emperor Constantine I on 27 February around 272.  At the time, she was in Naissus (Niš, Serbia).   In order to obtain a wife more consonant with his rising status, Constantius divorced Helena some time before 289, when he married Theodora, Maximian’s daughter under his command. (The narrative sources date the marriage to 293, but the Latin panegyric of 289 refers to the couple as already married).  Helena and her son were dispatched to the court of Diocletian at Nicomedia, where Constantine grew to be a member of the inner circle. Helena never remarried and lived for a time in obscurity, though close to her only son, who had a deep regard and affection for her.

Constantine was proclaimed Augustus of the Roman Empire in 306 by Constantius’ troops after the latter had died, and following his elevation his mother was brought back to the public life in 312, returning to the imperial court. She appears in the Eagle Cameo portraying Constantine’s family, probably commemorating the birth of Constantine’s son Constantine II in the summer of 316.  She received the title of Augusta in 325 and died around 330 with her son at her side. She was buried in the Mausoleum of Helena, outside Rome on the Via Labicana. Her sarcophagus is on display in the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum, although the connection is often questioned, next to her is the sarcophagus of her granddaughter Saint Constantina (Saint Constance). Her skull is displayed in the Cathedral of Trier, in Germany.

Helena's sarcophagus in the Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican Museum, Rome

Helena’s sarcophagus in the Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican Museum, Rome

Constantine appointed his mother Helena as Augusta Imperatrix, and gave her unlimited access to the imperial treasury in order to locate the relics of Judeo-Christian tradition. In 326-28 Helena undertook a trip to the Holy Places in Palestine. According to Eusebius of Caesarea she was responsible for the construction or beautification of two churches, the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and the Church on the Mount of Olives, sites of Christ’s birth and ascension, respectively. Local founding legend attributes to Helena’s orders the construction of a church in Egypt to identify the Burning Bush of Sinai. The chapel at Saint Catherine’s Monastery—often referred to as the Chapel of Saint Helen—is dated to the year AD 330.   Helena left Jerusalem and the eastern provinces in 327 to return to Rome, bringing with her large parts of the True Cross and other relics, which were then stored in her palace’s private chapel, where they can be still seen today. Her palace was later converted into the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. This has been maintained by Cistercian monks in the monastery which has been attached to the church for centuries.   According to one tradition, Helena acquired the Holy Tunic on her trip to Jerusalem and sent it to Trier.

Early British and Anglo-Saxon history claimed that Helena was Briton.  In Great Britain, later legend, mentioned by Henry of Huntingdon but made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth, claimed that Helena was a daughter of the King of Britain, Cole of Colchester, who allied with Constantius to avoid more war between the Britons and Rome.  Geoffrey further states that she was brought up in the manner of a queen, as she had no brothers to inherit the throne of Britain. The source for this may have been Sozomen’s Historia Ecclesiastica, which however does not claim Helena was British but only that her son Constantine picked up his Christianity there.  Constantine was with his father when he died in York, but neither had spent much time in Britain.

The statement made by English chroniclers of the Middle Ages, according to which Helena was supposed to have been the daughter of a British prince, is entirely without historical foundation. It may arise from the similarly-named Welsh princess Saint Elen (alleged to have married Magnus Maximus and to have borne a son named Constantine) or from the misinterpretation of a term used in the fourth chapter of the panegyric on Constantine’s marriage with Fausta. The description of Constantine honoring Britain oriendo (lit. “from the outset”, “from the beginning”) may have been taken as an allusion to his birth (“from his beginning”) although it was actually discussing the beginning of his reign.

 

Before we leave the “blessed” St. Helena and her contributions to Trier, I have some last blasphemous thoughts on the woman… First of all, there are a few theories and speculations that she may have been involved or partially responsible for the death of daughter in law, Fausta.  It has been said by some that it Helena who suggested the means of death for Fausta. From all accounts, Constantine was quite close, possibly overly attached to his Mother and would have listened to her advice. Add to Fausta’s immoral actions, the fact that she may have lied about Crispus and thereby been responsible for his fate. Prior to this event, there had never been any hint of ill feelings, disloyalty or mistrust between Constantine and Crispus. From all accounts, he seemed to be a much beloved and trusted son, and most likely- grandson. All I am suggesting is that the most saintly Helena may not have been so saintly in some of her own actions and feelings! That supposed Saintliness of this woman brings me to my last thought on her and Constantine. Interestingly and conveniently, it is also around this time that Helena is sent off on her tour of Christian lands.

Constantine and his Mother were, for much of their lives, pagans who did not discover or convert to Christianity until their later years.  Constantine was one who, for the most part used the religion to his benefit or advantage. In his earlier years he promoted tolerance towards them mainly in order to keep the peace in his lands. That persecution business was a bloody, messy and expensive affair- best to avoid it if at possible. When it came to the point where Christianity was becoming quite popular and hard to control, he decided to take matters into his own hands… he chose to embrace it and thereby gain some control over it.  One evidence of his using it to his own advantage and not necessarily being quite so firm in his inner beliefs was his refusal to be baptized until the end of his life.   In postponing his baptism, he followed one custom at the time which postponed baptism until after infancy.  It has been thought that Constantine put off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible. In this way, what ever he had done prior to his baptism and acceptance of the one true God could not be used or held against him- either by God or by the earthly Christian Church!  He spent many of his years as ruler trying to convince the Christians that he was on their side in order to gain control of the situation and the church. Constantine was an ultimate power broker and would have used any means within his personal arsenal, including his family… which his previous actions in dealing with wife and son proved.

 

Imagine if you will, this scenario… Constantine as Augustus of Rome is dealing with this whole Christianity situation and has to come up with some plan to really seal the deal in convincing the world of his sincerity. His Mother, Helena is residing at the family home with not a whole lot to do… She’s a highly devoted Mother- possibly overly devoted as Constantine is her only child. Besides all of his headaches of running the empire, he has a much younger wife and family to contend with as well. Helena is most likely not one to just sit idle, content or peaceful in her retirement years. She may be bored, and possibly a bit of an interfering Mother in law? Helena meddles in the family affairs one too many times and the result is disaster for the entire family- especially daughter in law Fausta and grandson Crispus. Shortly after all of this mess, Helena sent off on an extended vacation of sorts. Now, this whole sordid affair would have not put the family in such a good light with the Christians whom Constantine was trying to impress. He needs to make some serious amends and do something of such a great and grand level that the Christians are going to forget all about his messy little family scandal.

What he does is actually quite genius in terms of Public Relations repair.  Constantine appointed his mother Helena as Augusta Imperatrix, and gave her unlimited access to the imperial treasury in order to locate the relics of Judeo-Christian tradition. In 326-28 Helena undertook a trip to the Holy Places in Palestine. According to Eusebius of Caesarea she was responsible for the construction or beautification of two churches, the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and the Church on the Mount of Olives, sites of Christ’s birth and ascension, respectively. Local founding legend attributes to Helena’s orders the construction of a church in Egypt to identify the Burning Bush of Sinai. The chapel at Saint Catherine’s Monastery—often referred to as the Chapel of Saint Helen—is dated to the year AD 330.  His act of sending his Mother off on this extended vacation/shopping trip was beyond successful in a variety of ways.  First, it got Helena out of his hair for awhile so he could focus on immediate damage control. It showed and promoted the idea that Helena was a pious Christian woman and that if  there was any doubt about her involvement in the scandal, she was willing to do pilgrimage to atone for her possible sins. Everyone completely forgot about that mess with Fausta and Crispus when Helena returned home a few years later laden with truly spectacular gifts for the Church.  Those gifts included everything from parts of the “True Cross”, pieces of Jesus’ tunic, to nails of crucifixion, earth from the holy land and rope that held Jesus to the cross.  Helena’s public relations tour proved even more successful than Constantine could ever have imagined or hoped for. Her gifts are viewed by some scholars as the introduction of idol worship and the beginnings of the mass marketing scheme of Relics! All of Constantine’s and Helena’s past indiscretions were quickly swept under the rug as the Church began to realize just how much wealth these gifts could bring if promoted in the right way.

Trier after Rome’s demise: From Augusta Treverorum to Treves

Unfortunately all good things eventually come to an end and Trier’s end could easily have come with the demise of the Roman Empire at the end of the fifth century. Roman Trier had been subjected to attacks by Germanic tribes from 350 onwards, but these had been repulsed by Emperor Julian. After the invasions of 407 the Romans were able to reestablish the Rhine frontier and hold northern Gaul tenuously until the end of the 450s, when control was finally lost to the Franks and local military commanders who claimed to represent central Roman authority. During this period Trier was captured by the Franks (possibly in 413 and 421), as well as by the Huns under Attila in 451. The city became definitively part of Frankish territory  in 475. It is important to note here too that upon the city becoming a Frankish one, the name would have changed from Augusta Treverorum to Treves- the French or Frankish name for the city.  As a result of the conflicts of this period, Trier’s population decreased from an estimated 80,000 in the 4th century to 5,000 at the beginning of the 6th century. This change of rulers and decrease in population did not reduce Trier’s importance or value and it did not bring about the end of Trier.

map with Treves marked

By the end of the 5th century, Trier was under Frankish rule, first controlled by the Merovingian dynasty, then by the Carolingians  As a result of the Treaty of Verdun in 843, by which the grandsons of Charlemagne divided his empire into three parts, Trier was incorporated into the Kingdom of Lorraine (Lotharingia). After the death of Lothair II, ruler of Lorraine, Trier in 870 became part of the East Frankish Empire, later called Germany, under Henry .  Because of it’s connection to Helena and the early church, Trier was a valued and important Christian city for the devoutly Christian empires over the next centuries.  When Constantine promoted tolerance and allowed for Christianity’s acceptance, he in some ways laid the foundation for Trier’s survival and revival in the later Frankish empire years.  The Frankish empires would eventually found a great many more  abbeys and monasteries within the city. And, the Frankish would add to the relics kept there as well.  Benedictine abbey St. Matthias in the south of Trier. Here, the first three bishops of Trier, Eucharius, Valerius and Maternus are buried alongside the apostle Saint Matthias.  This is the only tomb of an apostle to be located in Europe north of the Alps, thus making Trier together with Rome in Italy (burial place of St. Peter the apostle) and Santiago de Compostela in Spain (tomb of St. James) one of three major places of pilgrimage in Europe.   By early in the 10th century, Trier would become somewhat of a Papal city in that it was under the direct control and guardianship of  the Archbishops. In 902,  The Archbishop of Trier was, as chancellor of Burgundy, one of the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, a right which originated before the 12th century, and continued until the French Revolution. From the 10th century and throughout the Middle Ages, Trier made several attempts to achieve autonomy from the Archbishopric of Trier, but was ultimately unsuccessful. In 1212, the city received a charter from Emperor Otto IV, which was confirmed by Conrad IV. In 1309, however, it was forced to once again recognise the authority of the Archbishop, who was at that time the imposing Baldwin of Luxembourg, son of the Count of Luxemburg.   The Church deemed Trier as a highly valued commodity and would go to great lengths to keep it under their jurisdiction and control.

The Vikings pay their visit to Trier!

881 vikings set sights on Treves

Of course, we now already know of Trier’s importance and value to the church due to it’s connections to Constantine and Helena, but what might cause the Church to take such steps as to putting the city under it’s direct control, authority and protection? Ahhhh for that, you would have to know the events taking place during the years leading up to that control, those years that spelled disaster for so many cities. Those years would of course be the years of Viking raids, which so many of you are most interested in. I do want to take a moment here to note my appreciation for those of you have stuck through all of this extensive ancient history just to get to the part about the Vikings!

During the mid 800s, the Danes and Northmen offered Frankish residents some reprieve from raids as they were busy in their attempts to conquer England.  Around 880, Alfred the Great was successful in brokering a treaty with Guthrum and peace was temporarily achieved in England. This event sent many of the Danes back across the sea to areas of Frankish domain. Where previously, they were content with quick grab and go ship raids, this time they returned as landsoldiers and were equipped with horses.   Flanders took heavy blows  (Gent, Terwaan, Atrecht, Kamerijk).  Louis III  defeated the Vikings in 881  near Saucourt at the river Somme. This battle was described in the Song of Ludwig (Ludwigslied). According to the Fulda Annals Louis’ army killed 9.000 Danes. Consequence of this was that the Vikings returned to Flanders and Dutch Limburg. From Asselt (north of Roermond) they raided towns in Germany (Cologne, Bonn) and Limburg (Liége, Tongeren). In their attack on  Trier they were resisted by the bishops Wala and Bertulf of Trier and by count Adelhard of Metz.  Following the Trier example other cities began to defend themselves effectively. While Trier did survive  the attack in 881, much of the city (including most of the churches and abbeys) was destroyed. Because Trier’s Bishops were so instrumental in the city’s resistance and defense, they were probably looked on with much favor by the Pope and by one  Carolingian Emperor who may be familiar to us as Vikings fans and followers. That would be Charles the Fat, not be confused with Charles the Bald or Charles the Simple… all of whom in combination probably make up the character of Charles in Hirst’s version of Viking history!

Charles the Fat (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles III, was the Carolingian Emperor from 881 to 888. The youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, Charles was a great-grandson of Charlemagne and was the last Carolingian to rule over a united empire.  Over his lifetime, Charles became ruler of the various kingdoms of Charlemagne’s former Empire. Granted lordship over Alamannia in 876 following the division of East Francia, he succeeded to the Italian throne upon the abdication of his older brother Carloman of Bavaria who had been incapacitated by a stroke. Crowned Emperor in 881 by Pope John VIII, his succession to the territories of his brother Louis the Younger (Saxony and Bavaria) the following year reunited East Francia. Upon the death of his cousin Carloman II in 884, he inherited all of West Francia, reuniting the entire Carolingian Empire.  Usually considered lethargic and inept – he is known to have had repeated illnesses and is believed to have suffered from epilepsy – he twice purchased peace with Viking raiders, including at the famous siege of Paris in 885. Nevertheless, contemporary opinion of him was not nearly so negative as modern historiographical opinion. Purchasing peace back then was a fairly common and acceptable means of dealing with the Vikings and avoiding all out war with them.

The 885 siege of Paris referred to here would have been the siege that involved Rollo in history along with the leader of the attack, a man named Sigfred. According to historical accounts, In 885, a huge fleet led by Sigfred sailed up the Seine, for the first time in years, and besieged Paris. Sigfred demanded a bribe again, but this time Charles refused. He was in Italy at the time and Odo, Count of Paris, sneaked some men through enemy lines to seek his aid. Charles sent Henry of Saxony to Paris. In 886, as disease began to spread through Paris, Odo himself went to Charles to seek support. Charles brought a large army and encircled the army of Rollo and set up a camp at Montmartre. However, Charles had no intention of fighting. He sent the attackers up the Seine to ravage Burgundy, which was in revolt. When the Vikings withdrew from France next spring, he gave them 700 pounds of promised silver. Charles’ prestige in France was greatly diminished.  What is important in this above account is the mention that Sigfred demands a bribe again. This would suggest or imply that Charles was already familiar with Sigfred and had dealt with him previously.  It is that previous involvement that leads us  back to the lowlands and Trier.

We need to go to back to the Viking attacks of 881 which included the attack on Trier in order to find that previous connection to Sigfred and perhaps even Rollo as well if Rollo was traveling with Sigfred’s raiding parties for any length of time. Reminder here- this is the Rollo of history, not Hirst’s version of Rollo!

In the early 880s, the remnants of the Great Heathen Army, defeated by Alfred the Great at the Battle of Ethandun in 878, began to settle in the Low Countries.  Charles held an assembly at Worms with the purpose of dealing with the Vikings. The army of the whole of East Francia was assembled in the summer under Arnulf, Duke of Carinthia, and Henry, Count of Saxony. The chief Viking camp was besieged at Asselt. Not long after Charles opened negotiations with the Viking chiefs, Godfrey and Sigfred. Godfrey accepted Christian baptism and agreed to become Charles’s vassal. He was married to Gisela, daughter of Lothair II. Sigfred was bribed off. Despite the insinuations of some modern chroniclers, no contemporary account criticises Charle’s actions during this campaign.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Fat

Godfried choose to stay. He became a vassal of the emperor and, after being baptized, married Gisela, daughter of Lothar II, the first king of Lorraine. Siegfried was paid off with 2.000 punds silver and gold and took off to the north with 200 ships. The emperor Charles felt threatened by Godfried and his (Godfried’s) brother in law Hugo (who was Gisela’s brother). In June 885 Godfried was invited for talks in Spijk, near Lobith. This turned out to be a conspiracy and Godfried was murdered. Hugo was made blind and transferred for the rest of his life to the monastery of Prüm. Here the monk Regino wrote the story of his downfall.

http://www.viking.no/e/netherland/index.html

In looking at these two events, we can now see the connection between Sigfred and Charles. We can also see a reason why Sigfred may have chosen to attack Paris in 885… possibly partially for revenge on what had happened to his partner, Godfried, and perhaps with the assumption that Charles would again pay him off to leave. In that assumption, Sigfred was partially correct- it just took longer than expected.  The attack began in November of 885 and dragged on until around May of 886. Both sides suffered great losses- more from illness than actual fighting. Morale was low on both sides.   Sigfred decided to cut his losses. He asked for 60 lbs of silver and left the siege in April. Rollo and his men remained and continued the battle through the summer when Charles finally returned, not to fight but to encourage Rollo and his army to move on to Burgundy which was in revolt at the time and would provide much easier conquest. When Rollo finally decided to leave France the next spring, Charles paid him 700 lbs of silver which he had promised the earlier summer. I would assume or guess that Charles just needed additional time to come up with the payment so he sent Rollo off to greener pastures while he set about collecting the money to get rid of him.  It was shortly after these events that Charles and the Carolingian dynasty began to fall apart! Odo would eventually get his chance at ruling (it would not last long!) Another Charles would take the throne, and Rollo would return for another more successful campaign… as far as we know, Sigfred retired somewhere to enjoy his shares of plunder and riches.

Trier survives and prospers under protection of the Church whether they want to or not!

 

Braun&Hogenberg_Trier_1572

Braun&Hogenberg_Trier_1572

Trier cathedral

Trier Cathedral

 

 

Trier survived the Viking attacks and the fall of the Carolingian Dynasty as well by remaining attached to the church and the Holy Roman Empire though it made numerous attempts to disentangle itself and gain independent autonomy. In retrospect looking back at all of the turmoil of the medieval years, they were probably better off being under that protection of the Church and Papal authorities. It allowed the city to prosper well into the middle ages and beyond.  In 1309, Archbishop Baldwin of Luxemburg was given control of the city and although he was extremely young at the time, only 22, he was the most important Archbishop and Prince-Elector of Trier in the Middle Ages. He was the brother of the German King and Emperor Henry VII and his grandnephew Charles would later become German King and Emperor as Charles IV. He used his family connections to add considerable territories to the Electorate of Trier and is also known to have built many castles in the region. When he died in 1354, Trier was a prospering city.

The city would remain prosperous and under  control of the church and Holy Roman Empire until the 1600s when the  Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648),set in motion more than two centuries of warfare for Trier as well as other parts of what is now Germany. From that point on, Trier would find itself besieged and battled over. During the thirty years war it was occupied several times by French troops. They besieged and occupied Trier in 1632, 1645, 1673 (the French Army stayed until 1675 and destroyed all churches, abbeys and settlements in front of the city walls for military reasons; the city itself was heavily fortified).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Trier

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the visit to ancient Trier and learned something more about it’s many connections to history!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: To the Gates from the French side

 

 

Before we head back to the gates of Paris, a few general items of interest!  First is an excellent interview with Clive Standen on his role as Rollo and his insights on the show in general! It’s a great interview and he points out some of the same things that I try to make clear here.

Clive Standen4

Clive Standen4

rollo in fur

Rollo

 

Here is an excerpt from the interview where he discusses dealing with limited, sometimes boring historical facts and weaving them into an interesting story as it applies to Rollo’s history and story. 

The Vikings were very oral culture so much of the history of them was written by a lot of the cultures that they came into contact with and, in many cases, conquered, and was written long after that contact. So since they didn’t really document their society in the way we normally expect, any show or any kind of narrative that portrays them has to fill in some pretty big gaps, and I was just wondering if you give me some insight into how that happens on this series. Is that something that Hirst talks to you guys about, how he chooses to flesh the history out and how aware are you of when something is more strictly historical versus when he’s using narrative license?

Sometimes you get the best stories from the sagas. This is a time when there was no TV, and entertainment was based around stories and some of the sagas are larger-than-life. But you can base a story on a saga which gives you something that was written about the time or if not, very close to the time.

But the thing is that Michael–and we are all the same page with this—just as the Vikings didn’t really write much down, as you said, and the history was written by the invaded, there are a lot of historians that have got different agendas as well. Just looking at Rollo: there are four or five different people writing on Rollo. Dudo of St Quentin was one of the biggest writers of the history of Rollo. He was writing 400 years after the events; he was also writing for the (then) Duke of Normandy who he was trying to write a lineage for and protect that lineage and somehow conveniently talks—or glides over– certain aspects of Viking society. Dudo has an agenda to try to make Rollo an impressive historical figure.

So sometimes what we can take from history is we can take the actual events and the things that make this figure famous in history and the things they actually accomplished but the real person, for an actor and a script writer, you’ve got to dissect that and flesh it out. So you have to take some sort of artistic license in the character. But you know it is fascinating to think that we know where someone ended up and the big plot points of how they got there from the history books, but as an actor and writer–it’s very hard to explain—you have the A and the Z but you have to fill in the B and C and D, everything in between. It’s up to the actor to fill in the middle and to make it a full story where you can actually take everybody’s different accounts and try to build on that.

I don’t know if I making any sense at this point. I’m just trying to make the point that you can’t just read Wikipedia, read a little bit about Rollo, and then go “That’s not the Rollo history because I read it on Wikipedia. There’s a greater thing happening when you start to get all of the stories and documentation together and then you yourself have to pick apart what was the propaganda what someone’s agenda and look more deeply is. Which is what we should do on social media as well when people start reading people’s posts and likes and you assume something is true because someone has posted it without thinking what someone’s agenda was in posting it. It’s no different when you start researching history.

http://www.denofgeek.us/tv/vikings/245382/vikings-season-3-interview-clive-standen

If you follow along this theory and line of thinking, it would apply to the character of Gisla as well. When you looker further and deeper into the limited information about this Gisela, you have to think to yourself, Why is there not more information on this woman? Who made the decision way back in the past to basically erase her from history and leave doubt as to whether she even existed. Some have suggested that Michael Hirst should have went with the story of Poppa, Rollo’s concubine or Dane wife- that she would be more interesting and closer to historical facts. I disagree. I think the story of Gisla and what might have or could have happened with her makes for a far more interesting story. Gisla also gives Hirst the tie in to Paris and to Charles. I think we need to look at Gisla as a combination of Poppa and Gisela.  Personally, I can’t wait to see Hirst’s version of hers and Rollo’s story!

 

Our next bit of  interest is the preview for this week’s episode in which Ragnar makes his status clear to everyone. Also for those who might be concerned about Floki, he is still around! Obviously, a few people have pissed Ragnar off by possibly questioning his decisions or his authority. 

If you watch the beginning of the video, you see a group swimming under the bridge of Paris… in a historical account of Ragnar Lodbrok’s siege of Paris, there is mention of how they did eventually set a bridge on fire by burning boats underneath it!

If anyone thought that this siege would be simple or quick and that our Vikings would easily win, they will be sadly mistaken. The sieges of Paris were well documented and they were long drawn out battles with neither side truly being able to claim victory. Yes, Ragnar’s group did manage to get into the city and even occupy it for a time so I suppose you could consider that a victory of sorts. The Vikings eventually withdrew from the city after being paid off by the Franks. I have already covered much about the historical attacks on Paris and their results in a previous post on the Importance of Rollo. You can read that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/vikings-the-importance-of-rollo/

Now on to our current topic, The gates of Paris and beyond. I say beyond because as usual, there is so much else going besides the truly epic battle! I did cover much of the lead up to this battle and the wall portion of it in the last post concerning Floki’s bout with hopefully temporary madness… https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/vikings-the-madness-of-floki/

As I mentioned in the last post, you really need to watch the episode to truly appreciate the entire battle. My assorted pictures and recaps do not even begin do it the credit it so well deserves. It was a massive undertaking on all parts!

inside Paris

Let’s look at how the people of Paris reacted and survived,  from the lowliest of poor serfs to the one sitting at the top one his throne the entire time while his daughter fought his battle for him! First of all, when Count Odo and his minions announce closing time for the City, they are deadly serious! If you were out there milking your cow, weeding your garden, doing your laundry or what ever else you might have been so concerned about that you didn’t bother to pay attention and run like hell for those gates, so sorry for you…Cause no matter how hard you bang on that gate you’re not getting in! We’ll say some nice prayers in your name after the siege is over…

Count Odo giving last orders to his men

Closing time at the gates of Paris

Closing time at the gates of Paris

Noooooooooooooo don't leave us out here to be slaughtered people begging for mercy to be let in

The gates were firmly closed and we can only hope that maybe those poor stragglers found somewhere to hide out of the way. Because, really our main intent is to get into the city, not worry about poor defenseless serfs… unless they make the mistake of getting in our way! If any of them are left alive after the battle, we’ll pick them up on our way out- but only if they’re young women and children- sorry but those are who bring the most gold on the slave market.

the city of Paris behind it's walls and gates  where are those poor stragglers!

the city of Paris behind it’s walls and gates where are those poor stragglers!

What was going on inside the city? As one could easily imagine, all out panic was taking over for most of the residents. They all gathered in the church for protection and prayer…

they arrive prepare yourselves inside the city chaos reigns as well among the citizens

the masses have gathered in the church for protection and prayer

the masses have gathered in the church for protection and prayer

Where was their mighty ruler during the entire time of the raid? Ahhhh yes, that supreme ruler of all was in his great hall, sitting alone on his throne hiding behind that bizarre mask again. Those damn masks are beginning to bug me. They seem to be a recurring item of some importance but I can find no detail, description or explanation of such a ritual anywhere? If anyone figures it out, please let me know so it doesn’t end up driving me nuts! Anyway, this time I think he is literally hiding behind the mask so if anyone wanders in, they won’t see him shaking and crying like a baby!

while terror reigns outside the king sits on his throne alone the king in his strange mask

The question has to be asked here. Is this man really as pathetic as he’s looking so far? Well, he does have the one thing going for him… he is the King, even if he is turning out to be a milk toast, puppet type King.  As far as who he is in history, he seems to be a combination of Charles the Fat, Charles the Bald and Charles the Simple. It should be pretty clear from their various nicknames, how their citizens felt about them by this point in history. This was towards the end of their particular dynasty, the Carolingian dynasty and frankly the people were a little tired of  all of them. I believe our King Charles is portraying some of the characteristics given to Charles the Fat who was described as spineless and incompetent. It really makes not much difference, by this time in history they were all similarly regarded and could have been interchangeable! As I said, he is the King and even if he is generally a puppet being used by others, if he should come up with his own lame idea in the future and decide to implement, no one can really stop him. And, he most likely will come up with his lame plan to pay the Vikings off to get rid of them.  For the moment though, he is sitting on his throne cowering while his daughter Gisla takes charge!

Gisla watched the Vikings arrive but would not stand by idly waiting for their destruction.

gisla watches the pagans come gisla watches in fear gisla sees the boats arrive

Gisla knows her people need a leader and they need inspiration. They’re certainly not going to get it from her Father, and I think she has a thought in her mind to show Odo up as well… She goes to the one place that she knows her people will take guidance and inspiration from. She goes to the church because her people are devoutly religious and they will be inspired by their faith. During this time, the Christians were devoted to their relics of faith. They firmly believed in the miraculous powers of such relics, despite the fact that most of said relics were fakes that the church approved of and even encouraged at times for the amounts of followers and wealth they brought to the church. Very rarely there might be some actual documented proof of a miracle or divine vision surrounding such articles, and really all it took was for one person to suddenly recover from illness, win a losing battle or such to inspire people to believe in the miracles of Christ and his Saints.

Gisla has one such relic close at hand… she has the Sacred Banner of St. Denis, the Oriflamme!

the sacred banner of saint Denis in the church Gisla resorts to her own inspiration for her people

Just what is the Oriflamme, the Banner of St. Denis and why would her people be so willing and ready to fight for it?

100px-Oriflamme_svg

Battle_of_Poitiers oriflamme

Battle_of_Poitiers oriflamme

The Oriflamme (from Latin aurea flamma, “golden flame”) was the battle standard of the King of France in the Middle Ages. It was originally the sacred banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, a monastery near Paris.  In French, the term “oriflamme” has come to mean any banner with pointed ends; by association with the form of the original.

The Oriflamme was mentioned in the eleventh-century ballad the Chanson de Roland (vv. 3093-5) as a royal banner, first called Romaine and then Montjoie.  According to legend, Charlemagne carried it to the Holy Land in response to a prophecy regarding a knight possessing a golden lance, from which flames would burn and drive out the Saracens.  This suggests that the lance was originally the important object, with the banner simply a decoration, but this changed over time.

When the Oriflamme was displayed on the battlefield it indicated that no quarter was to be given, its red colour being symbolic of cruelty and ferocity.

Although the azure ground (from the blue cope of St. Martin of Tours) strewn with gold fleur-de-lis remained the symbol of royalty until the 15th century, the Oriflamme became the royal battle standard of the King of France, and it was carried at the head of the king’s forces when they met another army in battle. In the fifteenth century, the fleur-de-lis on the white flag of Joan of Arc became the new royal standard replacing both the symbol of royalty and the Oriflamme on the battle field.

Gisla heard the story of how the banner was sacred because it presumably had been dipped in the blood of St. Denis…

Paris Cathédrale_Notre-Dame Portail de la_Vierge. St. Denis

Paris Cathédrale_Notre-Dame Portail de la_Vierge. St. Denis

According to Christian tradition, Saint Denis  is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred, with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, in connection with the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after 250 AD. Denis is said to have picked his head up after being decapitated, walked ten kilometres (six miles), while preaching a sermon of repentance the entire way, making him one of many cephalophores in hagiology. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as patron of Paris, France, and as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis

The medieval Christians believed and practiced  mysticism and what they considered Holy magic or miracles just as firmly and as passionately as the Norse did with their Pagan religion. To them, yes there might be only one true God but there were any number of Holiest Saints whom they believed held almost as much power as their God. So, it really was not all that different from the Norse belief in many Gods for different purposes. If they all could have seen it in this way, things would have been so much easier!

Now, back to Gisla and her plan…

Gisla kind of backed the Bishop into a corner and forced him to bless her Banner in front of all of the citizens in the church so they would know the importance of it. Really, how was he going to say no to such a blessing with all of those people waiting?

not wanting to risk a riot in his church the bishop goes along with gisla's request

Then she did the most courageous thing that proved her worthy of leading and eventually caught the attention of one Rollo… She took that blessed banner and marched to the top of the wall where the fighting was at it’s worst and bloodiest. She spoke to the men, encouraged them and raised the Banner of St. Denis over them to remind them of what they fought for and why. This young woman was not a milk toast whiny woman, in her own way she was a warrior! She believed in her people, in her country and she would stand with her men and face the battle whether others agreed or not, such as Count Odo…

When Gisla arrived on the wall, I have a feeling that Odo’s thoughts were probably, “Ohhhh Great, WTF is she doing up here! If she gets herself killed, it will be my fault and if she survives, she looks like the hero instead of me!”

Odo is shocked and pissed at the sight of gisla climbing up to the top of the walls

Odo is shocked and pissed at the sight of gisla climbing up to the top of the walls

Gisla will not let fear stand in the way of what she feels she needs to do

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

these men are as inspired by her courage and her speech as the vikings are by speeches of Odin

these men are as inspired by her courage and her speech as the vikings are by speeches of Odin

Gisla did not back down and run to hide behind a mask. She stayed up there on that wall yelling her encouragement and watching the entire battle. She may not have fought with a weapon but she fought with what she had, her words! The men drew strength and courage from her  brave presence there.

Show no mercy fight on fight on for Paris

Show no mercy fight on fight on for Paris

Fight to the Death

Fight to the Death

As I said, she stood up there and watched the whole battle, yelling her encouragement the whole time… her presence did not go un-noticed by the Vikings either. At least one Viking became so thoroughly distracted by the sight of her that he forgot to pay attention to the job at hand.

Gisla has inspired the men to fight with a new vengeance rollo's first sight of gisla

Yes, unfortunately our Rollo was the one completely distracted by the sight of Gisla on the wall…  Gisla was also watching him.

gisla watching rollo intently

rollo makes the mistake glancing up from his battel to see gisla watching him

rollo distracted by sight of gisla

That momentary distraction almost cost Rollo his life… I am pretty sure he will be a little pissed at himself and her for it?

rollo's distraction2

the result of rollo's distraction... he and his ladder are pushed away from the wall rollo's fall rollo's plunge into the water rollo's near death experience so similar to Siggy's demise

No need for anyone to worry… he did survive the fall and I am sure he will be having some words with Gisla about all of this at some later point!

As for the overall battle, we do have to give Count Odo credit. He was in charge and led a well organized and prepared defensive campaign whether we like him or not. He did his job and supervised both the battle at the gates and on the walls. While we are speaking of Odo, let us just have a very quick refresher on who he is in history?

Odo was the eldest son of Robert the Strong, Duke of the Franks and Marquis of Neustria, belonging to the branch known as the Robertians. After his father’s death in 866, Odo inherited his father’s title of Marquis of Neustria. Odo lost this title in 868 when King Charles the Bald appointed Hugh the Abbot to the title, but regained it following the death of Hugh in 886. After 882, he held the post of Count of Paris. Odo was also the lay abbot of St. Martin of Tours.

Odo married Théodrate of Troyes and had two known sons, Arnulf (born probably about 885) and Guy (born probably about 888), neither of whom lived past the age of fifteen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_of_France

Historically, Odo was in charge of the defense of Paris during the siege of Paris that took place in 885-886 and involved the Vikings, Sigfred, Sinric and Rollo.

With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.

To the frustration of the Parisians who had fought for a long time to defend the city, Charles stopped short of attacking the Viking besiegers, and instead allowed them to sail further up the Seine to raid Burgundy (which was in revolt), as well as promising a payment of 700 livres (pounds; 257 kg). Odo, highly critical of this, tried his best to defy the promises of Charles, and when Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks.

 

Odo  What in Heaven's name is all that other racket out there

We have not really discussed the charge of the gates yet but it went much like the battle at the wall. No blame or accusations here against Lagertha and her group. They fought exceptionally well considering the circumstances and had a good plan. They did succeed in getting through the gates with the help of some interesting inventions of slimey Erlandeur’s along with  the additional muscle and horse power of Sigfrid! They were just unprepared for the surprise counter attack planned by Odo’s forces inside the inner gate. There was a great slaughter there when the Viking group became trapped within the hall.

Erlandeur the inventor

back at the gates  why is this scum still standing

back at the gates why is this scum still standing

Sigfrid the giant initializes the next stage of drill bit operation

Sigfrid the giant initializes the next stage of drill bit operation

Sigfrid the extra horsepower

Sigfrid the extra horsepower

 

Ahhh I know we are talking about this mainly from the French perspective but I do feel a need here to point out that one Sigfred was indeed a real historical player in a siege of Paris.  I know I have included some of this information previously but it bears repeating as it does deal with Odo, as well as with Rollo!

Danish Vikings under Sigfred and Sinric  sailed towards West Francia again in 885, having raided the north-eastern parts of the country before. Sigfred demanded a bribe from Charles, but was refused, and promptly led 700 ships up the Seine, carrying perhaps as many as 30,000 or 40,000 men.  The number, the largest ever recorded for a Viking fleet in contemporary sources, originates from Abbo Cenuus. Although an eyewitness, there is general agreement among historians that Abbo’s numbers are “a gross exaggeration,”[8] with Abbo being “in a class of his own as an exaggerator.” Historian C. W. Previté-Orton has instead put the number of ships at 300,  and John Norris at “some 300.”  Although the Franks tried to block the Vikings from sailing up the Seine, the Vikings eventually managed to reach Paris.  Paris at this time was a town on an island, known today as Île de la Cité. Its strategic importance came from the ability to block ships’ passage with its two low-lying foot bridges, one of wood and one of stone. Not even the shallow Viking ships could pass Paris because of the bridges.  Odo, Count of Paris prepared for the arrival of the Vikings by fortifying the bridgehead with two towers guarding each bridge. He was low on men, having no more than 200 men-at-arms available (also according to Abbo Cenuus),  but led a joint defence with Gozlin, Bishop of Paris  (the first “fighting bishop” in medieval literature), and had the aid of his brother, Robert, two counts and a marquis.

The Vikings arrived in Paris on 24 or 25 November 885, initially asking for tribute from the Franks. When this was denied, they began a siege. On 26 November the Danes attacked the northeast tower with ballistae, mangonels, and catapults. They were repulsed by a mixture of hot wax and pitch. All Viking attacks that day were repulsed, and during the night the Parisians constructed another storey on the tower.[17][18] On 27 November the Viking attack included mining, battering rams, and fire, but to no avail. Bishop Gozlin entered the fray with a bow and an axe. He planted a cross on the outer defences and exhorted the people. His brother Ebles also joined the fighting.[17] The Vikings withdrew after the failed initial attacks and built a camp on the right side of the river bank, using stone as construction material. While preparing for new attacks, the Vikings also started constructing additional siege engines.[19] In a renewed assault, they shot a thousand grenades against the city, sent a ship for the bridge, and made a land attack with three groups. The forces surrounded the bridgehead tower, possibly mainly aiming to bring down the river obstacle. While they tried setting fire to the bridge, they also attacked the city itself with siege engines.

Map of Paris in the 9th century (on Île de la Cité)

For two months the Vikings maintained the siege, making trenches and provisioning themselves off the land. In January 886 they tried to fill the river shallows with debris, plant matter, and the bodies of dead animals and dead prisoners to try to get around the tower. They continued this for two days. On the third day they set three ships alight and guided them towards the wooden bridge. The burning ships sank before they could set the bridge on fire, but the wooden construction was nonetheless weakened.  On 6 February, rains caused the river (still filled with debris) to overflow and the bridge supports gave way. The bridge gone, the northeast tower was now isolated with only twelve defenders inside. The Vikings asked the twelve to surrender, but they refused, and were all subsequently killed.

The Vikings left a force around Paris, but many ventured further to pillage Le Mans, Chartres,  Evreux and into the Loire.  Odo successfully slipped some men through Norse lines to go to Italy and plead with Charles to come to their aid. Henry, Count of Saxony, Charles’ chief man in Germany, marched to Paris.  Weakened by marching during the winter, Henry’s soldiers made only one abortive attack in February before retreating. The besieged forces sallied forth and to obtain supplies. Morale of the besiegers was low and Sigfred asked for sixty pounds of silver. He left the siege in April. Another Viking leader, Rollo, stayed behind with his men.  In May, disease began to spread in the Parisian ranks and Gozlin died. Odo then slipped through Viking-controlled territory to petition Charles for support; Charles consented. Odo fought his way back into Paris and Charles and Henry of Saxony marched northward.  Henry died after he fell into the Viking ditches, where he was captured and killed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(885%E2%80%9386)

As I mentioned, things went badly at the gates. The few who survived were lucky to have gotten out of there alive. Lagertha’s survival was due to Kalf’s quick thinking and realizing that it was a trap. He dragged her out of there, while sleazy Erlandeur made his own dash for the back of the crowd!

Lagertha's group realizing they're trapped Lagertha her stubborn self will not listen so Kalf does what he has to and drags her back out of the way. Sleazy erlandeur sees the danger and runs to the back

The Viking group eventually realized they were defeated and chose to retreat in order to fight another day. Inside the walls of Paris, Charles and Odo inspected the remaining carnage left behind. Charles showed his truest distain and his disgust…

King Charles finally leaves his throne after the battle is finished to view the results

King Charles finally leaves his throne after the battle is finished to view the results

 Now that I see them up close they do not appear so threatening why they seem almost human.

Now that I see them up close they do not appear so threatening why they seem almost human.

Count Odo is pleased with himself and of course both he and the King consider this a great success…little do they realize that the Vikings are more determined now than ever-or at least two of them, Ragnar and Rollo are. Both men commented later that they were determined to conquer Paris! Rollo mentioned in discussion with Ragnar about what to do next. Rollo is determined to get back inside that city… perhaps his idea of plunder is flesh rather than gold, flesh as in that of one Gisla?  Ragnar mentioned it in his conversation with his beloved and departed Athelstan!  “I wish you were here.  Paris is every bit as beautiful as you said. I am determined to conquer it now!”

Ohhhhh Damn! I did just mention that Rollo is determined to get back inside that city, didn’t I? Here is new preview of the next episode!

http://www.tvguide.com/news/vikings-rollo-paris-raid/#ooid=RvZDRqdDqWZMk5QQ8Ilxlr_FveB9xvys

 

 

 today we came so close  next time we will not make the same mistakes!

today we came so close next time we will not make the same mistakes!

ragnar to athelstan I wish you were here Paris is every bit as beautiful as you said.  I am determined to conquer it now

ragnar to athelstan I wish you were here Paris is every bit as beautiful as you said. I am determined to conquer it now

 

For the moment though, the Parisians are celebrating their victory. Naturally, Charles and Odo take full credit for this defeat of the Pagans. Charles looks good in his people’s eyes even if he did nothing but hide for the entire duration of the battle. And, if Charles looks good then Odo should reap the benefits of this… or that is his plan anyway. 

charles and Odo take all of the credit for the defeat of the pagans

charles and Odo take all of the credit for the defeat of the pagans

Gisla arrives at the celebration with her sacred banner, then proceeds to congratulate her Father on his great success. Though, when she is paying him such tribute, she seems a bit sarcastic about it… probably knowing full well that he was cowering in the corner while she was out there leading and encouraging his men!

gisla enters with her sacred banner

gisla enters with her sacred banner

gisla is a bit sarcastic in her congratulations of her Father's success

gisla is a bit sarcastic in her congratulations of her Father’s success

gisla encourages the people to give charles his due credit

gisla encourages the people to give charles his due credit

Something else is going on here behind the scenes and I am thinking that Gisla should probably be a little concerned about her future or her fate? Realistically, Gisla is a princess, and  while she is strong willed and determined, she is not in complete control of her future. Her Father, as weak willed as he is, still has the final say in her destiny… Much like Ragnar Lothbrok states in the future, “I am King and I have the final say!”  Odo has already stated openly that he expects to marry Gisla as his reward for this defeat. Charles is wishy washy and now owes Odo big time for this success…

Odo is up to something. He has some other agenda and plan going on behind some backs. While Count Odo is paying lip service and adding his voice to the praise of his King, he seems focused on something or someone else.

odo adds his voice to the tribute but seems focused on something else

odo adds his voice to the tribute but seems focused on something else

Who is this woman? And what does she have going on with Count Odo…

Odo's attention is on this woman.

Odo’s attention is on this woman.

What ever their secret is, they seem to be in agreement on something!

Odo and the new mysterious woman seem to be in agreement on something

Odo and the new mysterious woman seem to be in agreement on something

Ahhhhh if you think the Vikings or the Saxons  are full of intrigue, secret agendas, deceptions and sins, they have nothing on the French! These people may be devoutly holy on the surface but their devious plotting and exploits exceed anything that Ecbert or Ragnar could think of! Personally, I am looking forward to seeing a bit more of their less than holy behaviors in the future!  I know many of you are only concerned about the Viking side of things, but in order for the Viking groups to survive in the future, they will need to know how to maneuver their way through all of these other mazes of  ruling dynasties. Attack, plunder and run only work for so long… then you need to settle down someplace and defend yourself against those new raiders and pillagers who take your place.  As our Vikings have just discovered, they have a lot yet to learn about other places and people. And, as Ragnar says, “It is good to follow Odin but it is better with knowledge!”

 

Now, I have just one last thought for the night and it does not concern France at all. There is one other thing that has happened while we’ve all been in Paris. As most of us know, Porunn has been suffering great difficulties in adjusting to her injury and to her new Motherhood. She has been struggling, trying to hold things together in her mind and heart for some time now. My personal thought is that her struggle has been going for far longer than any of us may realize or comprehend. Perhaps it is due to her years a slave. We do not know what she may have endured during those years that would leave a mark on her mind. In fact, we know very little about her at all other than that she was a slave. Bjorn met her as a teen. Who really knows how long she was a slave, where she came from, who she was before? Does she have a hidden past that she remembers and it ever haunts her? All we know is that as a teen, Bjorn chose her, wanted her, thought he loved her. Maybe he did, but that was young untried love, they have both grown some and I think she knows he doesn’t love her. She may not even truly love him… We don’t really know, what we do know is that she is not coping well with Motherhood. She has finally reached her personal breaking point and left Kattegat without baby Siggy.  She left in the middle of the night with no word to anyone. Aslaug awoke in the morning to a crying Siggy and no Porunn.

in Kattegat someone is wandering

Porunn is wandering on her own somewhat unstable path Porunn takes a last look at the village of Kattegat

Aslaug was puzzled at first and then realized what had happened.  Baby Siggy is now in the care of Aslaug. I think she will be safe and well cared for, and perhaps it is fitting for the child to now be raised by Aslaug. The baby was named after Siggy, who died trying to save the other children of Aslaug.  I hope that Aslaug will care for this little girl with love and realize the significance of this gift the Gods have suddenly given her.

aslaug awakes to a crying baby Siggy aslaug seems to realize what Porunn has done

I do worry and pray for the fate and the destiny of Porunn, who has now become a wanderer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: The importance of Rollo!

Ragnar and Rollo legacy

Before we begin, I do want to give credit and thanks to two people who helped me with research and information! A huge thanks to Diane Duggan of our Vikings Aftermath group on facebook, and to Starfishlady, one of my followers here. I could not have put this all together without your help and input!  I also want to warn ahead of time that this article is lengthy and involves a great deal of historical information! It is a historical look at the people and events, as well as a look at how Michael Hirst has incorporated those events into the show.

 

Most of  my Vikings Saga followers are probably well aware that my heart and my allegiance is with Rollo. While I understand the  significance of  Ragnar Lodbrok’s story,  I feel that Rollo should be given his own well deserved credit in the overall history of the Vikings. Yes, Ragnar’s story and legacy is one of great glory, reputation, and fame as well as importance in the beginning of the Vikings era. I agree with Michael Hirst’s reasonings in using him as a starting point in this grand saga.

If we look at Ragnar in history, we see that he was at the beginning of the Viking conqests over other lands. His fame and his story is well known by everyone with any interest in this time period or in the Vikings. But, as our Rollo has stated, it’s always about Ragnar! Why does Ragnar always get the fame and the glory, the favor of the Gods? Well, today I am going to share with you the fame, the glory, the reputation of Rollo in history. I am also going to share my thoughts and reasons why I think that Rollo’s story and his connection to Ragnar in Hirst’s version of this epic saga is so important and actually makes some sense!

first of all, my thoughts on how Rollo’s connection to Ragnar in our Viking world makes sense in a way. After that, we will look at the history, the legacy of Rollo in history. You will then understand the importance of Rollo!  As I mentioned, Ragnar Lodbrok was the beginning of the Vikings conquests. Rollo appeared much later in history but was just as important to the Viking legacy. I am quite sure that as a historian, Mr. Hirst is well aware of Rollo’s significance and chose to introduce and present him as Ragnar’s brother for ease of storyline purposes and timelines. By connecting the two as brothers, Hirst has  provided for an interesting parallel between the two men and their very different paths to fame.  In my personal opinion, he has also provided another interesting long term story arc of their separate legacies one day coming full circle. I can only hope and pray that he gets the chance to show us this future! The full circle I am referencing is that in history, the descendants of Ragnar Lodbrok merge with descendants of Rollo to one day rule England.   I did touch on this in my previous post about the Seer’s prophecies. For now, I can only hope that Mr. Hirst devotes time and attention to Rollo’s destiny, his fame, his contributions and does not just gloss over it to once again reserve the attention for Ragnar!

Rollo pours his heart, his resentment and frustration out to the Seer. He speaks of how his brother Ragnar has always been favored by the Gods and has had all of the fame, the glory and favor of their people as well.

I love him he is my brother. He has forgiven me, taken me back and still I am filled with bitterness and resentment of him

I love him he is my brother. He has forgiven me, taken me back and still I am filled with bitterness and resentment of him

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/vikings-paris-the-princess-will-crown-the-bear/

I did not travel all this way back in time and remain here for so long just to be a part of Ragnar’s  story. That was never my true intent or reason.  His story and his legacy are interesting but, as I’ve pointed out, he has already received his fair due of fame and reputation…and besides, in the end his story does not end well, at least for him personally. No, I came back to help ensure that Rollo achieves his greatness and receives his own due share of credit, reputation and fame! There was some doubt in the beginning whether this Rollo being presented to us was actually the same Rollo of history. Realistically, who could blame some time travelers who witnessed his early behaviors for their concern and their doubt as to this man’s ability to achieve such greatness. I admit that even I had my doubts in the beginning.

I have been with him since the beginning, watched him fall to his lowest depths of drunkness and betrayals, watched him continuously make mistakes along the way, and wondered to myself how this man could be the one who would go so far in the future? I have seen him at his very worst, and yet again at his very best… and those time at his best, I could see that glimmer of greatness within him. It is what kept me holding on to my faith in him, it is what Siggy saw in him as well and why she tried so hard to push him to his limits. Without Siggy pushing him, he probably would not be where he is today, standing at the gates of Paris waiting to meet his destiny and his new path!

Some of Rollo’s more difficult moments…

rollo barely alive

rollo barely alive

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

rollos strikes a blow rollo in chains siggy bluntly revives a drunken rollo floki calling the gods to rollo

Rollo and Bjorn fight for life and for death

Rollo and Bjorn fight for life and for death

rollo tries to drink away his anguish

rollo tries to drink away his anguish

the deepest pain and grief within rollo comes out as he pleads with bjorn to end his suffering

Some better moments that show the man Rollo really is

Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man

Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man

The early days of Rollo

rollo watches the others leave

rollo watches the others leave

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo and torstein bjorn and rollo3

rollo is left with the task of attempting to help bjorn through this

rollo is left with the task of attempting to help bjorn through this

lagertha to rollo you've looked after him as if he was your own

lagertha to rollo about Bjorn… you’ve looked after him as if he was your own

All of Rollo’s difficulties and struggles have made him the man he is now. Now, he is a man ready to embark on a new life. The time will soon come for him choose this new path that will separate him from his past, from his family and his friends. Do I think he is ready now to embrace this destiny that lies ahead for him? Yes, I believe he is. Will it be easy, no of course it will not be an easy road. It will still be filled with obstacles to overcome but I think he is strong enough now to face those hurdles and make the most of his future.  The time is coming when we will all face choices on who to follow, what path to take… I have made my decision, I will remain with Rollo. I will swear my allegiance to him and to his new alliance because I believe in his destiny, and ummm ohhh yeah, I want to be comfortable for awhile! I also do not want to be in Saxon England during the next few years and I really have no ties to Kattegat now that Siggy is gone.  I hate to say this, but if any of you have the choice, you might want to stay clear of England for a while too… it gets pretty messy over there on both the Saxon and the Vikings side! There are after all so many other places you could choose to go with Vikings during this long time period. And, as I’ve mentioned, many members of this group will most likely soon head out towards their own destinies. Yes, some of them such as Bjorn and his brothers will eventually return to England to revenge their Father but will return to their homelands rich and famous. I believe that one of the group, Floki, might just head out towards his own destiny? We all know he is having some difficulties right now and perhaps needs some time to rethink his life’s purpose… As we know, Floki is not really a warrior, first and foremost he is a ship builder, a dreamer and perhaps an explorer?

floki and iceland

floki flies Floki sit down remember you can't swim floki beserker as usual floki being sarcastic about going back to england to work for a christian king

floki's floating towers  unfortunately they burn quite easily

floki’s floating towers unfortunately they burn quite easily

I only mention this because I did recently find an interesting small side note about an explorer named Floki! Mr. Hirst has already played so much with our timeline of events, that there is really no reason he could not incorporate this  fact into the story! We know that our Floki is not happy right now. He is devoted and dedicated to the old Gods and the old ways and Iceland would be a perfect place for him to head to!

In the year 815, Floki of Rogaland set out from the Faergoe Isles and discovered Iceland.

http://www.thevikingmuseum.com/timeline.html

The recorded history of Iceland began with the settlement by Viking explorers and their slaves from the east, particularly Norway and the British Isles, in the late 9th century, since Iceland was uninhabited long after the rest of western Europe was settled. Recorded settlement has conventionally been dated back to 874 CE, although archaeological evidence indicates Gaelic monks had settled Iceland previously. The land was settled quickly, mainly by Norwegians who may have been fleeing conflict or seeking new land to farm. By 930, the chieftains had established a form of governance (Althing), making it one of the world’s oldest parliaments. Also towards the end of the tenth century Christianity came to Iceland due to the influence of the Norwegian king, Olaf Tryggvason. During this time Iceland remained independent, a period known as the Old Commonwealth and Icelandic historians began to document the nation’s history in books referred to as Sagas (Icelandic for story or history). In the early thirteenth century internal conflict (Age of the Sturlungs) weakened Iceland which eventually became subjugated to Norway through the Old Covenant (1262–4), effectively ending the Commonwealth. Norway in turn was united with Sweden (1319) and then Denmark (1376). Eventually, all of the Nordic states were united in one alliance, the Kalmar Union (1397–1523), but on its dissolution Iceland fell under Danish rule. Denmark then imposed a strict trade monopoly in the 17th and 18th centuries, much to the detriment of the Icelandic economy. Iceland’s subsequent poverty was aggravated by natural disasters. During this time the population declined.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Iceland

 

 

Now that my decision is made, I need to make some preparations. One of those preparations is forcing myself to commit to the Christian religion… well, at least on the surface anyway! Rollo is not yet ready for this conversion but he will eventually see the benefit and advantage of it for himself and his new kingdom. Yes, you heard me correctly, Rollo will soon be ruling his own little kingdom… Perhaps you’ve heard of it, it’s called Normandy! Normandy translates into land of Northmen!

Here is why Rollo will be swayed to convert, at least as I’ve mentioned, on the surface.  According to historical accounts, he converted enough to be acceptable but still held on to his old beliefs… shortly before his death, he was hedging his bets as to the after life.  He donated 100 lbs. of gold to the church for God, and he sacrificed 100 prisoners to Odin!

Before we look closer at Rollo’s real history, let’s look quickly at the attack on Paris that brings Rollo to his future.  For this we need to look at two different versions of the attack because Michael Hirst has combined the lives of Ragnar and Rollo. Both Ragnar Lodbrok and Rollo were involved in attacks on Paris so it’s difficult to surmise which version will be played out, or possibly it will be some combination of both events.

First of all a quick refresher on Paris!

paris at night2 the walls of paris

The Romans occupied what would become known as Paris (after its first settlers) from AD 212 to the late 5th century. It was at this time that a second wave of Franks and other Germanic groups under Merovius from the north and northeast overran the territory. Merovius’ grandson, Clovis I, converted to Christianity, making Paris his seat in 508. Childeric II, Clovis’ son and successor, founded the Abbey of St-Germain des Prés a half-century later, and the dynasty’s most productive ruler, Dagobert, established an abbey at St-Denis. This abbey soon became the richest, most important monastery in France and became the final resting place of its kings.

The militaristic rulers of the Carolingian dynasty, beginning with Charles ‘the Hammer’ Martel (688–741) were almost permanently away fighting wars in the east, and Paris languished, controlled mostly by the counts of Paris. When Charles Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne (768–814), moved his capital to Aix-la-Chapelle (today’s Aachen in Germany), Paris’ fate was sealed. Basically a group of separate villages with its centre on the island, Paris was badly defended throughout the second half of the 9th century and suffered a succession of raids by the ‘Norsemen’ (Vikings).

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/paris/history#48328

In the 9th century, the city was repeatedly attacked by the Vikings, who sailed up the Seine on great fleets of ships. They demanded a ransom and ravaged the fields. In 885-886, they laid siege to Paris for a year, and tried again in 887 and 889, but they were unable to conquer the city, protected by the Seine and the walls on the Île de la Cité.  The two bridges, vital to the city, were additionally protected by two massive stone fortresses, the Grand Châtelet on the right bank, and the Petit Châtelet on the left bank, which were built on the initiative of Gauzlin, the bishop of Paris. The Grand Châtelet gave its name to the modern Place du Châtelet, on the same site.

At the end of the 10th century, a new dynasty of kings, the Capetians, begun by Hugh Capet in 987, came to power. Though they spent little time in the city, they restored the royal palace on the Île de la Cité, and built a church where the Sainte-Chapelle stands today. Prosperity returned gradually to the city, and the right bank began to be populated. On the left bank, they founded an important monastery, the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The Kings of the Merovingian dynasty were buried inside the church of Saint-Germain-des Prés, which was rebuilt in the 11th century. The monastery next to it became famous for its scholarship and illuminated manuscripts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Paris

arrows rain down on the boats

 

 

Ragnar Lodbrok’s attack on Paris

Here is a basic version of Ragnar’s attack on the city.  Just so you are not too confused, Ragnar’s attack involved King Charles the Bald, while Rollo’s later attacks would involve Charles the Fat and Charles the Simple! Also remember that this the historical account of Ragnar’s activities not Hirst’s version of it.

In March 845,  a fleet of 120 Danish Viking ships containing more than 5,000 men entered the Seine under the command of a Danish chieftain named “Reginherus”, or Ragnar. This Ragnar has often been tentatively identified with the legendary saga figure Ragnar Lodbrok, but the historicity of the latter remains a disputed issue among historians.  In or around 841, Ragnar had been awarded land in Turholt, Frisia by Charles the Bald, but he eventually lost the land as well as the favour of the king. Ragnar’s Vikings raided Rouen on their way up the Seine in 845,  and in response to the invasion, determined not to let the royal Abbey of Saint-Denis (near Paris) be destroyed,  Charles assembled an army which he divided into two parts, one for each side of the river. Ragnar attacked and defeated one of the divisions of the smaller Frankish army, and took 111 of their men as prisoners and hanged them on an island on the Seine.  This was done to honor the Norse god Odin, as well as to incite terror in the remaining Frankish forces.

Map of Paris in the 9th century. The city was concentrated on Île de la Cité, an island on the Seine.

The Vikings finally arrived in Paris on either Easter Sunday, 28 March, or Easter Day, 29 March, entered the city and plundered it. During the siege, a plague broke out in their camp. The Norse had been exposed to the Christian religion, and after first praying to the Norse gods, they undertook a fast, acting on the advice of one of their Christian prisoners, and the plague subsided. The Franks could not assemble any effective defence against the invaders, and the Vikings withdrew only after being paid a ransom of 7,000 livres (French pounds) of silver and gold by Charles the Bald, amounting to approximately 2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb). Considering Ragnar’s earlier loss of land by Charles, the substantial payment may also have been regarded as some form of compensation for Ragnar’s loss, and the invasion itself as an attack of revenge. In any case, this would be the first of a total of thirteen payments of so-called Danegeld to Viking raiders by the Franks (although the term itself is not expressly known to have been used at this particular point). While agreeing to withdraw from Paris, Ragnar pillaged several sites along the coast on the return voyage, including the Abbey of Saint Bertin.

What is interesting to note with Ragnar’s attack is the aftermath and how it could relate to our version of the events? Ragnar supposedly admitted that he saw a vision or appearance of a dead Saint or Christian? Just a thought, but could a vision of Athelstan possibly play a part in all of this… and not the living but the dead conquer Paris? Hmmm might Floki see this apparition as well and be scared out of his senses?

Although many Vikings had died in the plague during the siege of Paris, Ragnar lived to return home to King Horik. According to a story originating from a member of Cobbo’s embassy, Ragnar, having attacked the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, then in the outskirts of medieval Paris, and which Cobbo later visited, attributed the plague to the power of Saint Germain of Paris. While Ragnar showed the gold and silver he had acquired to Horik and boasted about how easy he thought the conquest of Paris had been, he reportedly collapsed crying while relating that the only resistance he had met was by the long deceased saint. As Ragnar and several of his men died not long after, the king was so frightened that he ordered the execution of all the survivors, and the release of all his Christian captives. This event, in part, led Horik to receive Archbishop Ansgar, “Apostle of the North”, on friendly terms in his own kingdom.

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

a sheer wall topped by well trained archers

Rollo’s attack on Paris

Rollo’s involvement in an attack on Paris came some 40 years later than Ragnar’s. His attack does however include the history that Hirst is presenting us with as far as the attack and Rollo’s future outcome from the attack. This attack involved Charles the Simple, Count Odo, and ultimately the Princess Gisela. Another thing to keep in mind here is that this attack was the first of two that Rollo would be involved in. This attack took place in 885-886 with King Charles the Fat. Charles the Fat died in 888 and Count Odo was elected King…

The Siege of Paris of 885–86 was part of a Viking raid on the Seine, in the Kingdom of the West Franks. The siege was the most important event of the reign of Charles the Fat, and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France. It also proved to the Franks the strategic importance of Paris, at the time only a small island town. The siege is the subject of an eyewitness account in the Latin poem Bella Parisiacae urbis of Abbo Cernuus.

With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.

To the frustration of the Parisians who had fought for a long time to defend the city, Charles stopped short of attacking the Viking besiegers, and instead allowed them to sail further up the Seine to raid Burgundy (which was in revolt), as well as promising a payment of 700 livres (pounds; 257 kg). Odo, highly critical of this, tried his best to defy the promises of Charles, and when Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(885%E2%80%9386)

Later on in 911, Rollo decided to make another attempt at the city… he was determined and possibly felt he had learned from earlier mistakes. By this time, Charles the Simple had taken control of the throne.

In 911, a group of Vikings led by Rollo besieged Paris and Chartres. After a victory near Chartres on 26 August, Charles decided to negotiate with Rollo, resulting in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. For the Vikings’ loyalty, they were granted all the land between the river Epte and the sea, as well as Brittany, which at the time was an independent country which France had unsuccessfully tried to conquer. Rollo also agreed to be baptised and to marry Charles’ daughter, Gisela.

One last bit of clarification on Hirst’s version of history as opposed to actual history… This concerns our fellow, Count Odo.

In Hirst’s version he appears as counselor and defender of Paris, as well as hopeful would be suitor to the Princess Gisela. In our world, Odo is dealing with King Charles the Simple as his ruler…

Charles III (17 September 879 – 7 October 929), called the Simple or the Straightforward (from the Latin Carolus Simplex), was the King of Western Francia from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919–23. He was a member of the Carolingian dynasty.

Charles was the third and posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer by his second wife, Adelaide of Paris.  As a child, Charles was prevented from succeeding to the throne at the time of the death in 884 of his half-brother Carloman. The nobles of the realm instead asked his cousin, Charles the Fat, to rule them.  He was also prevented from succeeding the unpopular Charles, who was deposed in November 887 and died in January 888, although it is unknown if his deposition was accepted or even made known in West Francia before his death. The nobility elected as king Odo, the hero of the Siege of Paris, though there was a faction that supported Guy III of Spoleto. Charles was put under the protection of Ranulf II, the Duke of Aquitaine, who may have tried to claim the throne for him and in the end used the royal title himself until making peace with Odo.

In 911, a group of Vikings led by Rollo besieged Paris and Chartres. After a victory near Chartres on 26 August, Charles decided to negotiate with Rollo, resulting in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. For the Vikings’ loyalty, they were granted all the land between the river Epte and the sea, as well as Brittany, which at the time was an independent country which France had unsuccessfully tried to conquer. Rollo also agreed to be baptised and to marry Charles’ daughter, Gisela.

Also in 911, Louis the Child, the King of Germany, died, and the nobles of Lotharingia, who had been loyal to him, under the leadership of Reginar Longneck declared Charles their new king, breaking from Germans who had elected Conrad of Franconia king.  Charles had tried to win their support for years, for instance by marrying in April 907 a Lotharingian woman named Frederuna, and in 909, his niece Cunigunda married Wigeric of Lotharingia. He also defended the country against two attacks by Conrad, King of the Germans. Queen Frederuna died on 10 February 917 leaving six daughters and no sons.  so the succession was uncertain. On 7 October 919 Charles married again to Eadgifu, the daughter of Edward the Elder, King of England, who bore his son, the future King Louis IV of France.

A quirky side note to the history and marriage of Charles the Simple. He married Eadgifu, the daughter of Edward the Elder King of England…Edward the Elder was the son of our baby Alfred who is still in the arms of his Grandfather Ecbert! It just shows what happens when one plays with the timeline of history!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Simple

Odo places the blame on others

Odo places the blame on others

you once refused my offer of marriage  my hope is that once I have successfully managed this defense of Paris you will reconsider

you once refused my offer of marriage my hope is that once I have successfully managed this defense of Paris you will reconsider.

if you save paris I will forever be in your debt

In actual history, Odo of France dealt with the earlier King, Charles the Fat and was eventually elected King for a time.

For his skill and bravery in resisting the attacks of the Vikings at the Siege of Paris, Odo was chosen by the western Franks to be their king following the removal of emperor Charles the Fat. He was crowned at Compiègne in February 888 by Walter, Archbishop of Sens.

 

Denier of Odo of France

Odo continued to battle against the Vikings and defeated them at Montfaucon, but he was soon involved in a struggle with powerful nobles who supported the claim of Charles the Simple to the Frankish throne.

In 889 and 890 Odo granted special privileges to the County of Manresa in Osona. Because of its position on the front line against Moorish aggression, Manresa was given the right to build towers of defence known as manresanas or manresanes. This privilege was responsible for giving Manresa its unique character, distinct from the rest of Osona, for the next two centuries.

To gain prestige and support, Odo paid homage to the Eastern Frankish King Arnulf of Carinthia. But in 894 Arnulf declared his support for Charles, and after a conflict which lasted three years, Odo was compelled to come to terms with his rival and surrender a district north of the Seine to him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_of_France

Siege_of_Paris_(885–886)

Siege_of_Paris_(885–886)

Odo did play a part in one of Rollo’s earlier attempts to conquer Paris.

With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.

To the frustration of the Parisians who had fought for a long time to defend the city, Charles stopped short of attacking the Viking besiegers, and instead allowed them to sail further up the Seine to raid Burgundy (which was in revolt), as well as promising a payment of 700 livres (pounds; 257 kg). Odo, highly critical of this, tried his best to defy the promises of Charles, and when Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks.

What Hirst has done is combine Charles the Fat and Charles the Simple into one character and put Count Odo in a position of  villain type against Charles the Simple. Odo seems to be in disagreement with Charles over the handling of this attack and he wants Gisela’s hand in marriage. How it all plays out remains to be seen. In our world, Charles does not look well and perhaps in the version that Hirst presents to us, Odo will become King now rather than at the earlier point of after Charles the Fat.

 

Are you totally confused yet? Yes, you are… I can see your eyes crossing now! Well, we’re finished with that confusion for now!  We will just content ourselves with the fact that Rollo has arrived in Paris and will play out his destiny. And, just what is his real history, his destiny, his future? Now we will find this out.

NORMANDY-MAP Normandy-map2 william_possessions

 

 

Portrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

Portrait of Rollo’s destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

 

For our purposes, I am going to go with the more traditional and accepted version of his history because there are a number of variations and versions of his early beginnings. According to the many versions, our Rollo has been everywhere from Norway, Scotland, France and Iceland!

History and Legacy of Rollo

Rollo (c. 846 – c. 932), baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse Viking who was founder and first ruler of the Viking principality which soon became known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy, and following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, kings of England.

Rollo was a powerful Viking leader of contested origin. Dudo of Saint-Quentin, in his De moribus et actis primorum Normannorum ducum,[4] tells of a powerful Danish nobleman at loggerheads with the king of Denmark, who had two sons, Gurim and Rollo; upon his death, Rollo was expelled and Gurim killed. Dudo’s chronicle, commissioned for Richard I, was finished, sometime after 1015,  for Richard II, whose sister, Emma, married the Danish King Cnut, in 1017. William of Jumièges also mentions Rollo’s prehistory in his continuation of Dudo’s work, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, but states that he came from the Danish town of Fakse.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

What we know is that after the attack of Paris in 911, which he again failed at… he decided instead to try his luck with Chartres.

The following is an excerpt from   The Normans From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth. Rollo’s destiny actually begins here with his success at Chartres.

Rollo at chartres in history of Normandy

 

rollo at chartres 2

In the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (911) with King Charles, Rollo pledged feudal allegiance to the king, changed his name to the Frankish version, and converted to Christianity, probably with the baptismal name Robert.  In return, King Charles granted Rollo land between the Epte and the sea as well as parts of Brittany  and according to Dudo of St. Quentin, the hand of the King’s daughter, Gisela, although this marriage and Gisela herself are unknown to Frankish sources. He was also the titular ruler of Normandy, centered around the city of Rouen. There exists some argument among historians as to whether Rollo was a “duke” (dux) or whether his position was equivalent to that of a “count” under Charles.

Rollo with Gisela and Charles of France

Rollo with Gisela and Charles of France

According to legend, when required to kiss the foot of King Charles, as a condition of the treaty, he refused to perform so great a humiliation, and when Charles extended his foot to Rollo, Rollo ordered one of his warriors to do so in his place. His warrior then lifted Charles’ foot up to his mouth causing the king to fall to the ground.

After 911, Rollo stayed true to his word of defending the shores of the Seine river in accordance to the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. However, he also continued attacks on Flanders.

After Charles was deposed by Robert I in 922, Rollo considered his oath to the King of France at an end. It started a period of expansion westwards. Negotiations with French barons ended with Rollo being given Le Mans and Bayeux and continued with the seizure of Bessin in 924. The following year the Normans attacked Picardy.

Rollo began to divide the land between the Epte and Risle rivers among his chieftains and settled there with a de facto capital in Rouen. Over time, Rollo’s men intermarried with the local women, and became more settled into French Catholic culture as Normans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

 

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar's thoughts

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar’s thoughts

In our world, our version of Rollo’s history, we’ve seen Rollo as he comes to understand the things that will prove to be his genius later on in building his new legacy.

 

rollo's genius at realizing what he had

As I’ve mentioned before, the relationship between Rollo and Gisela is debatable and doubtful but for the story purpose it does provide for his entrance and adaption to French society. In the other histories I’ve read of him, his wife is not mentioned , or she is referred to as Poppa who was a concubine or Dane-wife. Some history cites Poppa as a captured wife, so she might not have provided him with the connections or respect that he needed in order to navigate this Frankish domain.  Given his accomplishments in building this new empire, I think that someone such as this Gisla or Gisela must have had some hand in guiding him and easing his way in this new and unfamiliar to him new world. In history, because  Gisela did not remain a part of the Royal dynasty in any way, and she did not bear any children to Rollo, she would most likely have been easy to forget and overlook in future tellings of both histories.

I did speak in my previous post about Gisela, her doubtful history and some possible reasons why she might have chosen to marry Rollo. I do just want to add here that in history, she would never have been in line for the crown of her Father. All monarchs in Frankish history were required by law and tradition to be male. So, even if she were an only child of Charles, she would not have succeeded him on the throne.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Frankish_queens

Rollo meets his destiny. Photo credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group on facebook

Rollo meets his destiny. Photo credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group on facebook

The princess will crown the Bear

In this excerpt from The Normans from Raiders to Kings, it only mentions that he took a local wife and he along with his fellow Northmen that followed him all adapted to the French culture.

rollo retains old ways but carves new ones

 

rollo founded an impressive legacy for his son

Rollo had two children who would continue his legacy far into the future.

His son, William Longsword would eventually put the newfound empire in jeapordy by rubbing everyone around him the wrong way! Fortunately, his son Richard the fearless did much better!

William I Longsword (French: Guillaume Longue-Épée, Latin: Willermus Longa Spata, Old Norse: Vilhjálmr Langaspjót), (c. 893 – 17 December 942) was the second ruler of Normandy, from 927 until his assassination.

He is sometimes anachronistically dubbed “Duke of Normandy“, even though the title duke (dux) did not come into common usage until the 11th century.[2] William was known at the time by the title count (Latin comes) of Rouen. Flodoard—always detailed about titles—consistently referred to both Rollo and his son William as principes (chieftains) of the Norse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_I_of_Normandy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I,_Duke_of_Normandy

When his father died, Louis IV of France seized Normandy, installed the boy Richard in his father’s office, then placed him in the care of the count of Ponthieu. The king then split the lands, giving lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. Louis kept Richard in confinement at Lâon, but he escaped with the assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane (ancestor of families of Harcourt and Beaumont).

In 946, Richard agreed to “commend” himself to Hugh, Count of Paris. He then allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders, drove Louis out of Rouen, and took back Normandy by 947.

In 962 Theobald I, Count of Blois, attacked Rouen, Richard’s stronghold, but his army was defeated by the Normans and retreated never having crossed the Seine.[12][13] Lothair king of the West Franks stepped in to prevent any further war between the two.

Afterwards, and until his death in 996, Richard concentrated on Normandy itself, and participated less in Frankish politics and petty wars. In lieu of building up the Norman Empire by expansion, he stabilized the realm, and united his followers into a cohesive and formidable principality.

Richard used marriage to build strong alliances . His marriage to Emma connected him to the Capet family. His wife Gunnor, from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin, formed an alliance to that group, while her sisters form the core group that was to provide loyal followers to him and his successors. His daughters provided valuable marriage alliances with powerful neighboring counts as well as to the king of England.

He also built on his relationship with the church, restoring their lands and ensured the great monasteries flourished. His reign was marked by an extended period of peace and tranquility.

 

Rollo’s daughter, Gerloc (Norse name) or Adele did well for herself and the House of Normandy. Any Father would be proud of her.

Gerloc (or Geirlaug), baptised in Rouen as Adela (or Adèle) in 912, was the daughter of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, and his wife, Poppa. She was the sister of Duke William Longsword.

In 935, she married William Towhead, the future count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine. They had two children together before she died on 14 October 962:

Gerloc’s daughter went on to be a Queen of France!

Adbelahide or Adele or Adelaide of Aquitaine (or Adelaide of Poitiers) (c. 945 or 952 – 1004)  was the daughter of William III, Duke of Aquitaine and Adele of Normandy, daughter of Rollo of Normandy.

Her father used her as security for a truce with Hugh Capet, whom she married in 969. In 987, after the death of Louis V, the last Carolingian king of France, Hugh was elected the new king with Adelaide as queen. They were proclaimed at Senlis and blessed at Noyon. They were the founders of the Capetian dynasty of France.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_of_Aquitaine

This is just the very beginning of the dynasty that our Rollo would be the founder of. Eventually, his descendants would be found in Royal houses stretching from France, England, and Spain on to the Holy Roman Empire!

 

I know that this has been rather a massive overload of historical information at one time and I do apologize for that! I do hope though that if you have stuck it out and read it all, you have come to realize just how important Rollo was.  Perhaps you now agree with me in that he deserves his share of recognition and credit! I believe I have stated my case and proved my point that Rollo deserves just as much credit, recognition and story time as Ragnar Lodbrok does!

For a better understanding of Normandy, I would highly suggest you read the book, The Normans From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth. It gives a detailed account how those earliest founders of Normandy carved out a dynasty that spanned the continent!

Normans from raiders to kings

There is much more to the Norman story than the Battle of Hastings. These descendants of the Vikings who settled in France, England, and Italy – but were not strictly French, English, or Italian – played a large role in creating the modern world. They were the success story of the Middle Ages; a footloose band of individual adventurers who transformed the face of medieval Europe. During the course of two centuries they launched a series of extraordinary conquests, carving out kingdoms from the North Sea to the North African coast.

In The Normans, author Lars Brownworth follows their story, from the first shock of a Viking raid on an Irish monastery to the exile of the last Norman Prince of Antioch. In the process he brings to vivid life the Norman tapestry’s rich cast of characters: figures like Rollo the Walker, William Iron-Arm, Tancred the Monkey King, and Robert Guiscard. It presents a fascinating glimpse of a time when a group of restless adventurers had the world at their fingertips.

 

Rollo_statue_in_falaise

Rollo_statue_in_falaise

1024px-Grave_of_Rollo_of_Normandy

Grave_of_Rollo_of_Normandy

 

portrait of Rollo in history

portrait of Rollo in history

My last thoughts on all of this is on the views and comments that many have made regarding the possible eventual demise of Ragnar Lothbrok. A great number of people insist that if Ragnar dies, they would no longer be interested in the continuation of the show. Their belief is that Ragnar/Travis Fimmel is the heart of the story and the show, that his death would be an end of the saga.  My personal thought… In any long running series, as in history, people will leave, rulers will die or be replaced. It is up to the creator, the writers, the performers and the followers to ensure a continuation of such an epic saga. I stated in the beginning of this article that Ragnar is just the beginning of a long line of Vikings that contributed so much to overall history. I think that given the opportunity and the story time, many others are fully capable of grabbing our attention, our hearts and our loyalties to continue following their adventures through time.  Eventually, Ragnar must die and Travis Fimmel must depart but I firmly believe that others such as Bjorn/Alexander Ludwig, Rollo/Clive Standen, Floki/Gustaf Skarsgard, Lagertha/Katheryn Winnick have already proven that they can give excellent performances and hold our interest in their character’s futures.  This is an ensemble series full of a variety of stories that goes much further than just the story of Ragnar Lodbrok.  If and when Ragnar meets his death, do you still not want to know what becomes of all those others in the story and in history? For me, I want to know what does happen to Floki, what his destiny is, I want to see Lagertha’s future play out, I want to see Ragnar’s sons grow up and carve their own legacies. I even want to see baby Alfred grow up into the greatness that Ecbert envisions for him. And, yes most of all I want to see Rollo’s path to fame and his own future power!