Duke of Normandy

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Image:Rollo statue in falaise.JPG
This statue of Rollo the Viking (founder of the fiefdom of Normandy) stands in Falaise, Calvados, birthplace of his descendant William I the Conqueror (the Duke of Normandy who became King of England).

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

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[edit] Rollo the Viking

The fiefdom of Normandy was created in 911 for the Viking leader Rollo (also known as Richard of Normandy). Rollo was descended from Ragnvald Eysteinsson, Earl of More in Norway and his descendants maintained a family tradition that his male-line ancestry descends from the ancient kings of Finland.

Rollo and his Viking allies conquored 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 Normanni) origins.

Rollo's predecessors were styled jarls, a Scandinavian title equivilent to earl. Some later medieval sources called him dux, a Latin term from which is derived the English word "duke". Rollo's son Richard II was the first to assuredly be styled "Duke of Normandy". Although certain titles were used interchangeable 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.

[edit] 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 Engand 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 irreconcialable situation.

After the Death of William the Conquorer, 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.

[edit] International Contention

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 . But English monarchs, and their British successors, continued to use the title Duke of Normandy in reference to the Channel Islands.

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.

English claims to the whole Duchy of Normandy, the throne of France and other French claims were not abandoned until 1801 when George III and Parliament, in the Act of Union, joined the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland and used the opportunity to drop their French claims. By this time, the monarchy itself had been already been abolished in France since 1792.

[edit] Appanage

The Duchy of Normandy was sometimes given out as an appanage for a member of the French royal family, most notably by Philip VI for his eldest son, the future King John II, by John II for his son, the future Charles V, who was, however, usually known as the Dauphin, and by Louis XI for his brother Charles, usually known by his other title of Duc de Berri. The future Louis XVII was also known as Duke of Normandy before his elder brother's death in 1789.

[edit] House of Stuart

The future Stuart King James II of England and Ireland (James VII of Scotland), was created "Duke of Normandy" by King Louis XIV of France on December 31, 1660. This was a few months after James's brother, Charles II, had been restored to the throne in England and Ireland (Charles had already been crowned in Scotland, in 1651). Since upon becoming King of England, Charles would have already claimed the title "Duke of Normandy" (indeed, it was in insular Normandy, specifically in Jersey, that he was first proclaimed king in 1649) - the French king giving the same title to James in respect to mainland Normandy was an important political gesture.

Jacobite claimants to the English throne maintained their claims on French possessions as well until the death of Henry Benedict Stuart in 1807.

[edit] Channel Islands

Although England ceased the claims to inland Normandy and other French claims in 1801, the monarch of the United Kingdom retains the title Duke of Normandy in respect to the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands (except for Chausey) remain a Crown dependency of the British Crown in the present era. Thus the Loyal Toast in the Channel Islands is La Reine, notre Duc ("The Queen, our Duke").

[edit] Salic Law

As Henry II was the son of William the Conqueror's daughter Empress Maud, it seems that Salic law which governed succession in France under the Capetian dynasty - and excludes inheritance through female heirs - was disregarded with respect to the Duchy of Normandy.

As all English monarchs and hereditary claimants to the Duchy of Normandy after William the Conqueror's son Henry Beauclerc inherited the English crown through at least one female ancestor, Henry Beauclerc (who died in 1135) was the last known hereditary Duke of Normandy under Salic Law.

Hypothetically, a legitimate male line descendant of the hereditary Dukes of Normandy might still survive today, tracing his lineage through undocumented male ancestors in some cadet branch of Rollo the Viking’s ancestors. However, as the original fons honorum of the title, namely the monarchs of France, frequently granted the title of as appanage, it seems that French kings regarded the hereditary title Duke of Normandy to be extinct rather than in abeyance.

[edit] Succession of the Dukes of Normandy

[edit] Further reading

  • Onslow, Richard (Earl of Onslow). The Dukes of Normandy and Their Origin. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1945.

[edit] See also

fr:Liste des ducs de Normandie nl:Lijst van hertogen van Normandië ja:ノルマンディー公 no:Hertug av Normandie pl:Książęta Normandii pt:Ducado da Normandia zh:诺曼底公爵

Duke of Normandy

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