1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Normandy

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15621411911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 19 — NormandyRobert Latouche

NORMANDY, a province of old France, bounded on the N.E. by the river Bresle, which falls into the Channel at Treport and separates Normandy from Picardy, and then roughly by the Epte, which divides the Vexin into two parts. From the confluence of the Epte and Seine to Ivry, the boundary between Normandy and the Ile-de-France is artificial; it is afterwards practically determined by the course of the Eure and the Sarthe. But from there to the sea Normandy is separated by no natural boundary either from Maine or afterwards from Brittany; it lies fairly regularly in the direction from E. to W. The boundary between the coast of Normandy and that of Brittany is formed by the mouth of the Couesnon. Normandy is washed by the English Channel and lies opposite to England. The northern part of the coast consists of cliffs, which cease at the mouth of the Seine, the estuary of which is 12 km. wide from Havre to Trouville; the coast of Calvados consists of rocks and beaches; that of the peninsula of Cotentin is sandy on the eastern side and granite on the west; in the north it forms between the point of Barfleur and the cape of La Hague a kind of concave arc in which lies the harbour of Cherbourg.

Historical Geography.—In the time of Caesar the country which has since gone to form Normandy was inhabited by several tribes of the Gauls, the Caleti, who lived in the district of Caux, the Veliocassi, in the Vexin, the Lexovii, in the Lieuvin, the Unelli in Cotentin; these are the only ones whose names have been preserved for us by Caesar. At the beginning of the 5th century, when the Notitia provinciarum was drawn up, Normandy corresponded to the Provincia Lugdunensis Secunda, the chief town of which was Rouen (Civitas Rotomagensium); it included seven civitates with that of Rouen: those of Bayeux (C. Bajocassium), Lisieux (C. Lexoviorum), Coutances (C. Constantia), Avranches (C. Abrincatum), Séez (C. Sagiorum) and Evreux (C. Ebroicorum). For ecclesiastical purposes it formed the ecclesiastical province of Rouen, with six suffragan sees. For civil purposes, the province was divided into a number of pagi: the civitas of Rouen formed the pagus Rotomagensis (Roumois), the p. Caletus (pays de Caux), the p. Vilcassinus (Vexin), the p. Tellaus (Talou); that of Bayeux the pagus Bajocassinus (Bessin), and the Otlinga Saxonia; that of Lisieux the pagus Lexovinus (Lieuvin); that of Coutances the p. Corilensis and p. Constantinus (Cotentin); that of Avranches the p. Abrincatinus (Avranchin); that of Séez the p. Oximensis (Hiémois), the p. Sagensis and p. Corbonensis (Corbonnais); and that of Evreux the p. Ebroicinus (Evrecin) and p. Madriacensis (pays de Madrie). It is to the settlement of the Normans in the country that Normandy owes its name; from the 10th century onwards it formed a duchy, roughly coextensive with the ecclesiastical province of Rouen. Under the feudal regime, the energy of the Norman dukes prevented the formation of many powerful lordships, and there are few worthy of note, save the countships of Eu, Harcourt, Le Perche and Mortain.

The duchy of Normandy, which was confiscated in 1204 by King Philip Augustus of France, formed in the 16th century the gouvernement of Normandy; the extent of this gouvernement did not, as a matter of fact, correspond exactly to that of the duchy, for Le Perche, which had been part of the duchy, was annexed to the gouvernement of Maine, while the Thimerais, which had belonged to the countship of Blois, was joined to the gouvernement of Normandy. In the 17th century this gouvernement was divided into three généralités or intendances: those of Rouen, Caen and Alençon. For judicial purposes Normandy was under the jurisdiction of the parlement of Rouen, created in 1499. Since 1791 the territory of the old duchy has composed, roughly speaking, the departments of Seine-Inférieure, Eure, Calvados, Manche and Orne.

History.—The prosperity of Normandy in Roman times is proved by the number and importance of the towns which existed there at that time. The most important was Lillebonne (Juliobona), chief town of the Caletes, the Roman antiquities of which are famous. The evangelization of Normandy did not take place before the 3rd century: the first bishop of Rouen, about 260, seems to have been St Mallonus; it is possible, however, that before this date there were a few Christian communities in Normandy, as seems to be proved by the existence of St Nicasius, who was martyred in the Vexin.

The province of Lugdunensis Secunda, which at the end of the 5th century formed part of the kingdom of Syagrius, was conquered by Clovis before 506, and during the Merovingian times followed the fortunes of Neustria. In the 9th century this country was ravaged by the Northmen, who were constantly going up and down the Seine, and later on it was formally ceded to them. During these incursions Rouen was occupied several times, notably in 876 and 885.

The definitive establishment of the Normans, to whom the country owes its name, took place in 911, when by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, concluded between King Charles the Simple of France and Rolf or Rollo, chief of the Normans, the territory comprising the town of Rouen and a few pagi situated on the sea-coast was ceded to the latter; but the terms of the treaty are ill-defined, and it is consequently almost impossible to find out the exact extent of this territory or to know whether Brittany was at this time made a feudal dependency of Normandy. But the chronicler Dudo of Saint-Quentin’s statement that Rollo married Gisela, daughter of Charles the Simple, must be considered to be legendary. In 924 Rollo received from the king of France Bessin and Maine. Although baptized, he seems to have preserved certain pagan customs. The history of Normandy under Rollo and his immediate successors is very obscure, for the legendary work of Dudo of Saint-Quentin is practically our only authority.

Rollo died in 927, and was succeeded by his son William “Long Sword,” born of his union more danico with Poppa, daughter of count Bérenger; he showed some attachment to the Scandinavian language, for he sent his son William to Bayeux to learn Norse. The first two dukes also displayed a certain fidelity to the Carolingian dynasty of France, and in 936 William “Long-Sword” did homage to Louis IV. d’Outremer. He died on the 17th of December 942, assassinated by the count of Flanders.

During the minority of his successor, Duke Richard, King Louis IV., who was making an expedition into Normandy, was captured by the inhabitants of Rouen and handed over to Hugh the Great. From this time onwards the dukes of Normandy began to enter into relations with the dukes of France; and in 958 Duke Richard married Hugh the Great’s daughter. He died in 996. At the beginning of the reign of his son, Richard II. (996–1026), there was a rising of the peasants, who formed assemblies with a view to establishing fresh laws for the management of the forests. This attempt at insurrection, described by William of Jumièges, and treated by many historians, on the authority of the poet Wace, as a sort of democratic movement, was put down with a firm hand. Richard III. reigned from 1026–1027; he seems to have been poisoned by his brother, Robert the Magnificent, or the Devil (1027–1035), who succeeded him. In 1031 Robert supported King Henry I. of France against his brother Robert, who was laying claim to the throne, and in return for his services received the French Vexin. The duke died on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, leaving as his heir an illegitimate son, William, born of his union with the daughter of a tanner of Falaise.

William was very young when his father started for the Holy Land, leaving him under the protection of the king of France. In 1047 Henry I. had to defend the young duke against an army of rebellious nobles, whom he succeeded in beating at Val-ès-dunes. In the following year the king of France was in his turn supported by the duke of Normandy in his struggle against Geoffrey Martel, count of Anjou; the two allies besieged Mouliherne (1048); and the war was continued between the duke of Normandy and the count of Anjou by the siege of Alençon, which was taken by Geoffrey Martel, then retaken by William, and that of Domfront, which in 1049 had to surrender to Duke William.

In 1054 William the Bastard married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V., count of Flanders, in spite of the opposition of Pope Leo IX., who only gave his consent on condition that William and Matilda. should each build an abbey: under these conditions were built the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and the Abbaye-aux-Dames at Caen. The king of France had at first protected William, but before long became alarmed at his ambitions; the first sign of his feeling of rivalry with the duke was the encouragement he gave to the revolt of William Busas, count of Eu and Montreuil, who claimed the ducal crown. In 1054 he invaded Normandy with his brother Odo and this count, but Odo was beaten at Mortemer. In 1058 the king of France, joined by Geoffrey Martel, count of Anjou, tried to revenge himself, but was beaten at the ford of Varaville (1058).

Towards the same time took place the annexation of Maine to Normandy, for a short period only. Herbert II., the young count of Maine, who was a vassal of the count of Anjou, did homage to William the Bastard between 1055 and 1060, perhaps after the defeat of Geoffrey Martel; he promised to marry one of William’s daughters, and betrothed his sister Margaret to the duke’s son, Robert Curthose, on the understanding that, if he died leaving no children, the countship was to fall to William. After his death, the people of Maine revolted (1063), choosing as their lord Walter of Mantes, count of Vexin; but William the Bastard, after one campaign, succeeded in imposing the authority of Normandy. Three years later, William took possession of England, of which he was crowned king in 1066. Normandy now became the scene of William’s quarrels with his son, Robert Curthose, who laid claim to Normandy and Maine, and with the aid of King Philip I. of France succeeded in defeating his father at Gerberoi in 1079.

William the Conqueror died on the 7th of September 1087, and was buried in the church of St Etienne at Caen. After his death his eldest son, Robert Curthose, kept Normandy and Maine, and his second son, William Rufus, became king of England. In 1091 William Rufus made a vain attempt to recover Normandy; but in 1096 Robert departed on a crusade and pledged the duchy to his brother for 10,000 livres. When Robert returned, William Rufus had just died, and his youngest brother, Henry Beauclerc, had already taken possession of the crown. Henry was ambitious of uniting Normandy to England; in 1105, with the aid of Helias, count of Maine, and the son of Geoffrey Martel, count of Anjou, he took and burnt Bayeux, but failed to take Falaise. On the 28th of September 1106, by the help of William, count of Evreux, Robert, count of Meulan, Robert de Varenne, and Helias, count of Maine, he defeated his brother at Tinchebrai, took him prisoner, and seized Normandy. Duke Robert passed the rest of his life in captivity and died in 1134.

From 1106 to 1204 Normandy remained united to England. According to Ordericus Vitalis, whose Historia ecclesiastica is a chronicle of the greatest interest for the history of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries, Henry Beauclerc governed the two kingdoms wisely, checking the nobles, and protecting the Church and the common people. He carried on hostilities against the king of France and William Clito, son of Robert Curthose, whose claim to the duchy of Normandy was upheld by Louis VI., and won an important victory over his opponents at Brémule in Normandy (1119). After the disaster of the White Ship (1121), in which the Atheling William lost his life, Henry’s only surviving child was a daughter, Matilda, widow of the emperor Henry V. In 1127 Matilda married Geoffrey the Fair, eldest son of Fulk V., count of Anjou. After the death of Henry I. in 1135, a struggle arose between Matilda, who claimed the kingdom of England and the duchy of Normandy in the name of her son Henry Plantagenet, and Theobald, count of Champagne, grandson of William the Conqueror on the side of his mother Adela, the candidate of the Normans of Normandy, while the Norman party in England supported Stephen, brother of Theobald. In 1144 Theobald, whose position had been much weakened since the taking of the castle of Rouen, gave up his rights in Normandy to Matilda’s husband Geoffrey, count of Anjou, in favour of Henry Plantagenet. Between 1139 and 1145 Geoffrey, with French and Flemish help, gradually subdued Normandy, and on his death, in 1151, his son Henry Plantagenet was master of Normandy as well as count of Anjou. In 1152, by his marriage with Eleanor, duchess of Aquitaine, the divorced wife of Louis VII. of France, Aquitaine also was secured to himself and his descendants. Finally, in 1153, he was recognized by Stephen of Blois as heir to the throne of England. The duchy of Normandy, though nominally in feudal dependence on the king of France, thus became part of the great Angevin empire, of which the power and resources were more than equal to that of the French kings. The perennial struggle, dating from this period, between the kings of England and France is dealt with elsewhere (see France: History and English History).

From the first the French kings were fully conscious of the menace of the Angevin power. The reign of Louis VII; was occupied by the struggle against Henry II. In 1158 he committed the blunder of concluding a treaty with Henry, by which he was to give his daughter Margaret in marriage to Henry Short Mantle, eldest son of Henry II., with the French Vexin as her dowry. The Vexin was consequently the scene of hostilities in 1159 and 1165. In 1173 Louis VII., resuming the policy of his grandfather and father, took advantage of the strife which broke out in the family of the king of England, and took the part of Henry II.’s sons who were in revolt against their father. He negotiated with Henry Short Mantle, duke of Normandy, as though he were king of England, but owing to his weakness did not gain any serious advantage. In 1173 he abandoned the siege of Verneuil, in 1174 that of Rouen, and was no more successful in 1176.

Philip Augustus (1180–1223) pursued the same policy with greater tenacity and success. He began by taking part against Henry II. with his son and successor, Richard Cœur de Lion, who obtained the throne on the death of Henry II. in 1189. From the point of view of Normandy, the most important events of Richard’s reign were: the truce of Issoudun, by which Philip Augustus kept the Norman Vexin which he had just conquered (1195), the building by Richard of Château-Gaillard (1196), and finally the defeat of Philip Augustus by Richard at Courcelles, near Gisors (1198). On the death of Richard at Chalus in 1199 the position of Philip Augustus was critical. This situation was modified under the reign of John Lackland, Richard’s brother, who had himself crowned duke of Normandy at Rouen (April 25, 1199). Philip Augustus set up in opposition to him, Arthur of Brittany, son of Geoffrey and grandson of Henry II., and the first phase of the struggle between the kings of France and England continued until the treaty of Goulet (1200). But in 1202 Philip made a fresh attempt to seize the continental possessions of the kings of England. An excuse for reopening hostilities offered itself in the abduction, by John, of Isabel of Angoulême, the betrothed of Hugh le Brun, son of the count of La Marche. The barons appealed to Philip Augustus, who summoned John to appear before the royal judges; he failed to appear, and was consequently condemned by default, as a disloyal vassal, to have all the fiefs which he held in France confiscated (April 1202). The confiscation, a purely legal and formal operation, was followed by the actual conquest.

In June 1202 Philip Augustus invaded Normandy and besieged the castle of Arques, near Dieppe; at the same time Arthur of Brittany was taken prisoner by John at Mirebeau in Poitou, and imprisoned in the castle of Falaise, from which he was removed to Rouen and died, probably assassinated by John’s orders. The conquest of Normandy began with the occupation of Château-Gaillard after an eight months’ siege (September 1203–April 1204); the rest of Normandy was taken during the following months, Rouen surrendering in 1204 but obtaining a guarantee of her privileges. The conquest of Normandy by the French was not, however, recognized officially till the treaty of Paris (1259).

Normandy enjoyed a time of comparative prosperity under French rule, up to the time of the Hundred Years’ War. The institution of the Estates of Normandy even assured her a sort of independence. In 1329 the duchy of Normandy was revived in favour of John, son of King Philip VI.

Owing to her geographical position, Normandy suffered heavily during the Hundred Years’ War. In 1346 Edward III., at the instance of Godefroi d’Harcourt lord of Saint-Sauveur, invaded Normandy, landing at Saint-Vast-la-Hougue (July 12); and arriving at Caen on the 25th of July, he laid waste the country as far as Poissy. After the accession of John II. (1350), Normandy was again separated from the crown and given as an appanage to the dauphin Charles. The treaty of London (1359) stipulated for its cession to England, but the provisions of the treaty were modified by those of the treaty of Brétigny (1360), and it remained in the possession of France.

John II. died in 1364, and was succeeded by his son Charles V. One of the chief feudatories of Normandy, Charles the Bad, grandson of Louis X. le Hutin, and a claimant to the crown of France, was in 1365, owing to his continued treachery, deprived of the countship of Longueville, and in 1378 of all his other possessions in Upper and Lower Normandy. The most striking event of the war between the French and English which took place in Normandy during the reign of Charles V. was the siege of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, which was occupied by the English, and only surrendered after a siege of several years.

The opening years of the reign of Charles VI. (1380–1422) were disturbed by a revolt which broke out at Rouen against the aides which the royal government had tried to impose (1381); a cloth-merchant was proclaimed king of Rouen, and Charles was obliged to go in person to Rouen to put down the insurrection. In 1415 the war with England was resumed: an English army of 60,000 men landed on the 14th of August at the mouth of the Seine, took Harfleur on the 16th of September, and finally defeated the army of the king of France at Agincourt. During the following years the whole of Normandy was occupied, Rouen holding out for nearly six months (July 29, 1418–January 13, 1419), and Henry V. of England entrusted the administration of Normandy to a special council. In spite of the moderation of the duke of Bedford’s government, Normandy, ruined by the war, was in a state of great distress, and in the years following the treaty of Troyes (1420) there was a continual resistance offered to the English. This resistance became general after the expeditions of Joan of Arc and the treaty of Arras; at the end of 1435 the whole district of Caux, and in 1436 that of the Val de Vire revolted; Mont-Saint-Michel, which had never been taken by the English, continued to resist, and in order to keep guard over it the English built Granville. But Normandy was not recovered by the French till after the sack of Fougères (1449). Cotentin was reconquered by Richmond (see Arthur, duke of Brittany) and the duke of Brittany; Rouen surrendered on the 29th of October 1449. In face of these successes of the French, an English army was sent into Normandy under the leadership of Thomas Kyriel; it landed at Cherbourg and marched across Cotentin to Bayeux, 'but was met at Formigny (April 15, 1450) by the count of Clermont and utterly routed. Shortly afterwards Caen, and finally Cherbourg, capitulated.

After the French conquest, the history of Normandy is less eventful. In 1465 Normandy was given as an appanage to Charles, brother of King Louis XI., who was deprived of it in 1467. The kings of France tried to win the support of Normandy by certain favours, such as maintaining the provincial Estates and the University of Caen, founded by the kings of England, and transforming the Exchequer of Normandy into a permanent court of justice (1499) which was called the Parlement of Normandy and sat at Rouen in the famous Palais de Justice. Among the measures which contributed to the increase of the prosperity of Normandy should be noted the construction in 1752 of the Hâvre de Grace.

During the 16th century the Protestant Reformation met with some success in Normandy, where the Wars of Religion caused a certain amount of disturbance. The Reforming movement began with Pierre Bar in 1528, and the first apostle of the Reformation at Rouen was Francois Legay, called Boisnormand. In 1562 the town of Rouen was taken by the Calvinists, but retaken in the same year by the Catholics. Caen received the Reformed religion in 1531, and Alençon in 1582. In the massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s day (1572) more than 500 victims were slaughtered by the Catholics.

In spite of the success of Protestant ideas, however, the Catholic party of the League succeeded after 1588 in establishing itself in Normandy, and King Henry IV. had to conquer it by force of arms. The most famous engagements during this expedition were the victories of Henry IV. at Arques and Ivry, but he failed to take Rouen, which was defended by Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma, and only surrendered after the abjuration of the king.

The history of Normandy in the 17th and 18th centuries contains few events of note, except for a few attempts at landing made by the English during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), in 1758 the English admiral Anson attacked Cherbourg, and in 1759 Admiral Rodney bombarded Havre. From 1790 dates the creation of the departments, when Normandy ceased to have a separate political existence, and her history becomes one with that of France.

See G. Depping, Histoire de la Normandie (2 vols., 1835); Fr. Palgrave, The History of Normandy and of England (2 vols., 1851–1857); E. A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England (3rd ed., 5 vols., Oxford, 1877); Joh. Steenstrup, Les Normands (1880); Louis du Bois, Itinéraire descriptif, historique et monumental des cinq départements composant la Normandie (1828); John Cotman, Architectural Antiquities of Normandy (2 vols., 1820); Léopold Delisle, Etude sur la condition des classes agricoles en Normandie (reprinted 1906), La Normandie illustrée (2 vols., 1852–1855); A. Duchesne, Historiae Normanorum scriptores antiqui (1619); E. J. Tardif, Les Coutumiers de Normandie (1881–1896); Edouard Frere, Manuel de bibliographie normande (1858–1860); Artur du Monstier, Neustria pia (1663); N. Oursel, Nouvelle Biographie normande (3 vols., 1886–1888). Publications of the learned societies of the province analysed in the Bibliographie of Robert de Lasteyrie.  (R. La.)