Vikings’ war bandits began raiding French northern territories as early as the 9th century. By the early 10th century, Viking settlements had begun cropping up in the region that was later named Normandy.
In 911, the French King Charles III forged an agreement with the incoming and settled Vikings. He gave them Upper Normandy in return for their protection against any further Viking invaders.
In time, the Vikings expanded their dominion to include neighbouring regions as well, often at the expense of the French. They also intermarried with the Franks and evolved their own unique culture which came to be termed Norman, granting Normandy it’s original name as well.
Arrival and Settlement in Normandy
Vikings began attacking the northern shores and rivers in France during the 9th century. This was a period during which Vikings travelled out of Scandinavia for raiding as well as to settle in new regions.
By the early 10th century, the Vikings attacking northern France had established major settlements in the region later termed Normandy. French King Charles III later legalised these settlements by establishing the fiefdom of Normandy under Viking leader Rollo. In return, Rollo and the Vikings settlers were to secure France’s borders against any further Viking incursions.
Expansion of Norman Territories
Initially, the French crown allowed Normans to hold the land which corresponds to modern-day Upper Normandy. Rollo established this Norman county on firm grounds, helping a sizable Viking population find a new home and portioning out parts of lands in Upper Normandy to his people.
To the west of this initial Norman territory was the land of the Breton rulers while to the south, French territories lay. Rollo’s son, William Longsword, expanded the Norman territories both towards the south and the west, effectively enlarging Normandy. In time, the modern-day Upper and Lower Normandy were a part of the Norman-controlled regions in northern France.
Christianization and Feudalism
When the Vikings settled in Upper Normandy they began raiding into regions beyond to expand their territories and they intermarried with the local population. In time, this led to the unique blend of culture which was termed Norman.
Normans were typically Vikings who married into the Frankish population. They also morphed their pagan beliefs with the Catholic faith and effectively became fervent Christians. While religion was an important role in giving a sense of unity to the Normans in Normandy, they were also vassals to the French king.
Consequently, the Normans borrowed the feudal mores of the French aristocracy. The basis of this was laid when Rollo parcelled out land to his people. Eventually, this evolved into a unique hierarchical structure that was feudal but distinct from France. In time, the Normans would take this form of feudalism to England as well during the 11th century Norman Conquest.
Evolution of Norman Language
The Vikings who settled in Normandy originally spoke the Old Norse language. After intermarrying into the Franks, the Old Norse language became mixed with the local Gallo-Romance language. This eventually resulted in a new language, later termed the Norman language, which became a permanent part of the region’s culture.