County of Rouen

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County of Rouen
Normandy's historical borders in the northwest of France
Capital Rouen
Languages Latin
Norman French
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Feudal monarchy
Count of Rouen
 •  911–927 Rollo (first)
 •  927-942 William I
 •  942-996 Richard I (last)
Historical era Middle Ages
 •  Receives Upper Normandy from Charles 911
 •  Rollo converts to Christianity 912
 •  Middle Normandy added 924
 •  Cherbourg Peninsula added to Normandy 933
 •  Elevated to Duchy 996[1]
 •  Conquers England 1066
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of the West Franks
Duchy of Normandy Blason duche fr Normandie.svg
Today part of  France

The County of Rouen was a medieval Viking fief and the forerunner of the Duchy of Normandy. In 911, Charles III, (King of France and known as 'Charles the Simple') made peace with the Viking leader Rollo in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. The treaty granted Rollo the County of Rouen. Between the creation of the County and the later creation of the Duchy of Normandy, many Vikings settled in the region, leaving an enduring legacy in the form of the Cauchois dialect and the ethnic makeup of the Cauchois Normans.


The Vikings first began raids of the area in the late 8th century. Permanent Scandinavian settlement occurred before 911, when King Charles reached an agreement surrendering the County of Rouen to Rollo, a Viking leader. The lands around Rouen became the core of the later Duchy of Normandy.[2] Normandy may have been used as a base for Late 10th Century Scandinavian attacks on England, contributing to the tension and conflict between the two regions.[3]

While Danish raids on England continued, the raiders forced Æthelred, King of England, to take refuge in Normandy in 1013 and Danish King Swein Forkbeard became recognized as King of England. Following Swein's death in 1014, Aethelred returned home. However, Swein's son, Cnut the Great, contested Æthelred's return. Æthelred died unexpectedly in 1016 and Cnut ascended the throne. Æthelred's wife Emma and their two sons, Edward the Confessor and Alfred Aetheling, went into exile in Normandy. Emma then became Cnut's second wife.[4]

After Cnut's death in 1035, the English throne fell to Harold Harefoot, Cnut's son from his first wife, while Harthacnut, his son from Emma, became King of Denmark. England remained unstable as Alfred returned in 1036 to visit his mother, and perhaps to challenge Harold's rule. One story implicates Earl Godwin of Wessex in Alfred's death, while another story implicates Harold. Emma went into exile in Flanders until Harthacnut became king following Harold's death in 1040, and his half-brother Edward followed Harthacnut to England. Edward was proclaimed king after Harthacnut's death in June 1042.[5][lower-alpha 1]


  1. Although the chronicler William of Poitiers claimed that Edward's succession was due to Duke William's efforts, this is highly unlikely, as William was at that time practically powerless in his own duchy.[1]



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