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Duke of Normandy is a title held or claimed by various Norman, English and French rulers from the 10th century until 1259. The title refers to the region of Normandy in France and several associated islands in the English Channel.

The Founding of the Duchy[]

The fiefdom of Normandy was created in 911 for the Viking leader Rollo. Rollo and his Viking allies conquered a large region of France and besieged Paris until entering vassalage to Charles the Simple, the king of the West Franks through the Treaty of St.-Claire-sur-Epte. In exchange for homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. Northman, Latin Normanorum) origins.

Rollo and his immediate successors were styled as Counts of Normandy; Rollo's great-grandson Richard II was the first to be styled Duke of Normandy. Although certain titles were used interchangeably during this period, the title of "duke" was typically reserved for the highest rank of feudal nobility - those who either who owed homage and fealty directly to kings or who were independent sovereigns primarily distinguished from kings by not having dukes as vassals.

William the Conqueror[]

William the Conqueror added the Kingdom of England to his realm in the Norman Conquest of 1066. This created a problematic situation wherein William and his descendants were king in England but a vassal to the king in France. Much of the contention which later arose around the title Duke of Normandy (as well as other French ducal titles during the Angevin period) stems from this fundamentally irreconcilable situation.

After the death of William the Conqueror, his eldest son Robert Curthose became Duke of Normandy while a younger son, William Rufus, became the English king. A generation later, Henry, Duke of Normandy became King of England which again united the titles.

The Empty Dukedom[]

In 1204, during the reign of King John, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under Philip II while insular Normandy (the Channel Islands) remained under English control. In 1259, Henry III of England recognised the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris. English monarchs continue to use the title Duke of Normandy in reference to the Channel Islands but the title became a largely empty one after the Treaty of Paris, although English monarchs continue to claim posessions in France.

English monarchs made subsequent attempts to reclaim their former continental possessions, particularly during the Hundred Years' War. In addition to claiming to be Duke of Normandy, after Henry V entered the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, English and British monarchs claimed the throne of France itself. During this time, English monarchs included "King of France" near the top of their list of titles and included the Royal Arms of France in their own armorial achievements.

The Dukes of Normandy[]

  • Rollo 911 - 927.
  • William I Longsword 927 - 942.
  • Richard I 942 - 996.
  • Richard II, the Good, 996 - 1027
  • Richard III, 1027 - 1028
  • Robert I, 1028 - 1035
  • William II the Conqueror 1035 - 1087
  • Robert II 1087 - 1106
  • Henry I Beauclerk 1106 - 1135.
    • William III (under his father, Henry I)
  • Stephen 1135 - 1144.
  • Geoffrey Plantagenet 1144 - 1150.
  • Henry II 1150 - 1189.
  • Richard IV Coeur de Lion (Richard Lionheart) 1189 - 1199.
  • John 1199-1216 (possession of mainland Normandy lost in 1204.)
  • Henry III 1216 - 1259. He signed the Treaty of Paris in 1259, recognising French control of mainland Normandy; subsequently English and British monarchs have borne the title "Duke of Normandy" only as it pertains to the Channel Islands.)

See Also[]