Normandy: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Map of Normandy
Traditional flag of Normandy

Normandy (French: Normandie, Norman: Normaundie) is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is situated along the English Channel coast of Northern France between Brittany (to the west) and Picardy (to the east) and comprises territory in northern France and the Channel Islands.

Normandy is divided between French and British sovereignty. The continental territory under French sovereignty covers 30,627 km²[1] and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions: Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie. The Channel Islands (referred to as Îles Anglo-Normandes in French) covers 194 km²[2] and comprise two bailiwicks: Guernsey and Jersey, which are British Crown dependencies.

Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie) consists of the French départements of Seine-Maritime and Eure, and Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie) of the départements of Orne, Calvados, and Manche. The former province of Normandy comprised present-day Upper and Lower Normandy, as well as small areas now part of the départements of Eure-et-Loir, Mayenne, and Sarthe.

The name of Normandy is derived from the settlement and conquest of the territory by Vikings ("Northmen") from the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. For a century and a half following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman rulers, but following 1204 the continental territory was ultimately held by France.

During the Battle of Normandy in World War II, Normandy became the landing site for the invasion and liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. This is recognised as the start for the war in Western Europe.

The population of Normandy is around 3.45 million. The continental population of 3.26 million accounts for 5.5% of the population of France (in 2005).

Basse-Normandie is predominantly agricultural in character, with cattle breeding the most important sector (although in decline from the peak levels of the 1970s and 1980s). The bocage is a patchwork of small fields with high hedges, typical of western areas. Haute-Normandie contains a higher concentration of industry. Normandy is a significant cider-producing region, and also produces calvados, a distilled cider or apple brandy. Other activities of economic importance are dairy produce, flax (60% of production in France), horse breeding (including two French national stud farms), fishing, seafood, and tourism. The region contains three French nuclear power stations.



Archaeological finds, such as cave paintings, prove that humans were present in the region in prehistoric times.

Belgian and Celts, known as Gauls, invaded Normandy in successive waves from the 4th century BC to the 3rd century BC.

When Julius Caesar invaded Gaul, there were nine different Gallic tribes in Normandy.[3]

The Romanisation of Normandy was achieved by the usual methods: Roman roads and a policy of urbanisation. Classicists have knowledge of many Gallo-Roman villas in Normandy.

In the late 3rd century, barbarian raids devastated Normandy. Coastal settlements were raided by Saxon pirates. Christianity also began to enter the area during this period. In 406, Germanic tribes began invading from the east, while the Saxons subjugated the Norman coast. The Roman Emperor withdrew from most of Normandy.

As early as 486, the area between the River Somme and the River Loire came under the control of the Frankish lord Clovis.

The fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking leader Rollo (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks Charles the Simple through the Treaty of Saint Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for his homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory which he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. "Northman") origins.

The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romantic language and intermarried with the area's original inhabitants. They became the Normans – a Norman-speaking mixture of Scandinavians, Hiberno-Norse, Orcadians, Anglo-Danish, and indigenous Franks and Gauls.

Rollo's descendant William, Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066 in the Norman Conquest culminating at the Battle of Hastings while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants.


Norman expansion

Norman possessions in the 12th century

Besides the Norman conquest of England and the subsequent conquests of Wales and Ireland, the Normans expanded into other areas.

Tancred's sons William Iron Arm, Drogo of Hauteville, Humphrey of Hauteville, Robert Guiscard and Roger the Great Count conquered the Emirate of Sicily and additional territories in Southern Italy. They also carved out a place for themselves and their descendants in the Crusader States of Asia Minor and the Holy Land.

The 14th century Norman explorer Jean de Béthencourt established a kingdom in the Canary Islands. Béthencourt received the title King of the Canary Islands but recognised as his overlord Henry III of Castile, who had provided aid during the conquest.

Norman families, such as that of Tancred of Hauteville, played important parts in the Crusades.

13th century to 17th century

Animated map of the Hundred Years' War

In 1204, during the reign of England's King John, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under Philip II of France. 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. His successors, however, often fought to regain control of mainland French Normandy.

The Charte aux Normands granted by Louis X of France in 1315 (and later re-confirmed in 1339), like the analogous Magna Carta granted in England in the aftermath of 1204, guaranteed the liberties and privileges of the province of Normandy.

French Normandy was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years' War in 1345–1360 and again in 1415–1450. Afterward prosperity returned to Normandy until the Wars of Religion. When many Norman towns (Alençon, Rouen, Caen, Coutances, Bayeux) joined the Protestant Reformation, battles ensued throughout the province. In the Channel Islands, a period of Calvinism following the Reformation was suppressed when Anglicanism was imposed following the English Civil War.

From the 1660s onwards, France engaged in a policy of expansion in North America. Normans continued the exploration of the New World: René Robert Cavelier de La Salle travelled in the area of the Great Lakes of the United States and Canada, then on the Mississippi River. Territories located between Quebec and the Mississippi Delta were opened up to establish French Louisiana. Colonists from Normandy (in particular Basse-Normandie) were among the most active in New France (Quebec).

Honfleur and Le Havre were two of the principal slave trade ports of France.

18th century and 19th century

Although agriculture remained important, industries such as weaving, metallurgy, sugar refining, ceramics, shipbuilding were introduced and developed.

In the 1780s, the economic crisis and the crisis of the Ancien Régime struck Normandy as well as other parts of the nation, leading to the French Revolution. Bad harvests, technical progress and the effects of the Eden Agreement signed in 1786 affected employment and the economy of the province. Normans laboured under a heavy fiscal burden.

In 1790 the five departments of Normandy replaced the former province.

July 11, 1793, the Norman Charlotte Corday assassinated Marat.

The Normans reacted little to the many political upheavals which characterised the 19th century. Overall they warily accepted the changes of régime (First French Empire, Bourbon Restoration, July Monarchy, French Second Republic, Second French Empire, French Third Republic).

There was an economic revival (mechanization of textile manufacture, first trains...) after the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815).

And new economic activity stimulated the coasts: seaside tourism. The 19th century marks the birth of the first beach resorts.

World War II

Allied invasion of Normandy, D-Day, 1944

During World War II, following the armistice of 22 June 1940 continental Normandy was part of the German occupied zone of France. The Channel Islands were occupied by German forces between 30 June, 1940 and 9 May, 1945.

The town of Dieppe was the site of the unsuccessful Dieppe Raid by Canadian and British armed forces.

During the Second World War, the Allies coordinated a massive build-up of troops and supplies to support a large-scale invasion of Normandy in the D-Day landings under the code name Operation Overlord. The Germans were dug into fortified emplacements above the beaches. Caen, Cherbourg, Carentan, Falaise and other Norman towns endured many casualties in the Battle of Normandy, which continued until the closing of the so-called Falaise gap between Chambois and Montormel, then liberation of Le Havre.

This led to the restoration of the French Republic, and a significant turning point in the war. The remainder of Normandy was liberated only on 9 May, 1945 at the end of the war, when the Occupation of the Channel Islands effectively ended.


A typical Norman village

The historical Duchy of Normandy was a formerly independent duchy occupying the lower Seine area, the Pays de Caux and the region to the west through the Pays d'Auge as far as the Cotentin Peninsula.

The region is bordered along the northern coasts by the English Channel. There are granite cliffs in the west and limestone cliffs in the east. There are also long stretches of beach in the centre of the region. The bocage typical of the western areas caused problems for the invading forces in the Battle of Normandy. There are meanders of the Seine as it approaches its estuary which form a notable feature of the landscape.

The highest point is the Signal d'Écouves (417m) in the Massif armoricain.

Normandy is sparsely forested[4]: 12.8% of the territory is wooded, compared to a French average of 23.6%, although the proportion varies between the departments. Eure has most cover (21%) while Manche has least (4%), a characteristic shared with the Islands.


Former Cistercian Abbey of Gruchet-le-Valasse.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mer et bateaux (Sea and ships), 1883, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Channel Islands

The Channel Islands, although British Crown Dependencies, are considered culturally and historically a part of Normandy.

Although the British surrendered claims to mainland Normandy and other French possessions 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 Crown dependencies 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"). The British monarch is understood to not be the Duke of Normandy in regards of the French region of Normandy described herein, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris of 1259, the surrender of French possessions in 1801, and the belief that the rights of succession to that title are subject to Salic Law which excludes inheritance through female heirs.


The Seine in Les Andelys
The Bresle

Rivers in Normandy include:

And many coastal rivers :


Half-timbered Houses in Rouen
See: Category:Towns in Normandy

The principal cities (population at the 1999 census) are Rouen (518,316 inhabitants in the metropolitan area), the capital of Upper Normandy and formerly of the whole province; Caen (370,852 inhabitants in the metropolitan area), the capital of Lower Normandy; Le Havre (296,773 inhabitants in the metropolitan area); and Cherbourg (117,855 inhabitants in the metropolitan area).


In January 2006 the population of Normandy (including the part of Perche which lies inside the Orne département but excluding the Channel Islands) was estimated at 3,260,000 with an average population density of 109 inhabitants per km², just under the French national average, but rising to 147 for Upper Normandy.


Year Area Labour force in agriculture Labour force in industry Labour force in services
2.30 %
36.10 %
61.60 %
6.50 %
25.00 %
68.50 %
2.20 %
20.60 %
77.20 %
Area GDP (in million of Euros)[8](2006) Unemployment (% of the labour force)[9](2007)
6.80 %
7.90 %
7.50 %

Food and drink

Norman cow

Parts of Normandy consist of rolling countryside typified by pasture for dairy cattle and apple orchards. A wide range of dairy products are produced and exported. Norman cheeses include Camembert, Livarot, Pont l'Évêque, Brillat-Savarin, Neufchâtel, Petit Suisse and Boursin.[10] Normandy butter and Normandy cream are lavishly used in gastronomic specialties.

Fish and seafood are of superior quality in Normandy. Turbot and oysters from the Cotentin Peninsula are major delicacies throughout France. Normandy is the chief oyster-cultivating, scallop-exporting, and mussel-raising region in France.

Normandy is a major cider-producing region (very little wine is produced). Perry is also produced, but in less significant quantities. Apple brandy, of which the most famous variety is calvados, is also popular. The mealtime trou normand, or "Norman hole", is a pause between meal courses in which diners partake of a glassful of calvados in order to improve the apetite and make room for the next course, and this is still observed in many homes and restaurants. Pommeau is an apéritif produced by blending unfermented cider and apple brandy. Another aperitif is the kir normand, a measure of crème de cassis topped up with cider. Bénédictine is produced in Fécamp.

Cider from Normandy

Apples are also used in cooking: for example, moules à la normande are mussels cooked with apples and cream, bourdelots are apples baked in pastry, partridges are flamed with reinette apples, and localities all over the province have their own variation of apple tart. A classic pastry dish from the region is flan Normand a pastry-based variant of the apple tart.

Other regional specialities include tripes à la mode de Caen, andouilles and andouillettes, salt meadow (pré salé) lamb, seafood (mussels, scallops, lobsters, mackerel…), and teurgoule (spiced rice pudding).

Normandy dishes include duckling à la rouennaise, sautéed chicken yvetois, and goose en daube. Rabbit is cooked with morels, or à la havraise (stuffed with truffled pigs' trotters). Other dishes are sheep's trotters à la rouennaise, casseroled veal, larded calf's liver braised with carrots, and veal (or turkey) in cream and mushrooms.

Normandy is also noted for its pastries. It is the birthplace of brioches (especially those from Évreux and Gisors) and also turns out douillons (pears baked in pastry), craquelins, roulettes in Rouen, fouaces in Caen, fallues in Lisieux, sablés in Lisieux. Confectionery of the region includes Rouen apple sugar, Isigny caramels, Bayeux mint chews, Falaise berlingots, Le Havre marzipans, Argentan croquettes, and Rouen macaroons.

Normandy is the native land of Taillevent, cook of the kings of France Charles V and Charles VI. He wrote the earliest French cookery book named Le Viandier. Confiture de lait was also made in Normandy around the 14th century.



The traditional provincial flag of Normandy, gules, two leopards passant or, is used in both modern regions.

The historic three-leopard version (known in the Norman language as les trois chats, "the three cats") is used by some associations and individuals, especially those who support reunification of the regions and cultural links with the Channel Islands and England. Jersey and Guernsey use three leopards in their national symbols. The three leopards represents the strength and courage Normandy has towards the neighbouring provinces.

The unofficial anthem of the region is the song "Ma Normandie".


The dukes of Normandy commissioned and inspired epic literature to record and legitimise their rule. Wace, Orderic Vitalis and Étienne of Rouen were among those who wrote in the service of the dukes.

After the division of 1204, French literature provided the model for the development of literature in Normandy. Olivier Basselin wrote of the Vaux de Vire, the origin of literary vaudeville.

Among notable Norman writers in French are Jean Marot, Rémy Belleau, Guy de Maupassant, Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, Gustave Flaubert, Octave Mirbeau and Remy de Gourmont. The Corneille brothers, Pierre and Thomas, born in Rouen, were great figures of French classical literature.

David Ferrand (1591-1660) in his Muse Normande established a landmark of Norman language literature. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the workers and merchants of Rouen established a tradition of polemical and satirical literature in a form of language called the parler purin. At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century a new movement arose in the Channel Islands, led by writers such as George Métivier, which sparked a literary renaissance on the Norman mainland. In exile in Jersey and then Guernsey, Victor Hugo took an interest in the vernacular literature. Les Travailleurs de la mer is a well-known novel by Hugo set in the Channel Islands. The boom in insular literature in the early 19th century encouraged production especially in La Hague and around Cherbourg, where Alfred Rossel, Louis Beuve and Côtis-Capel became active. The typical medium for literary expression in Norman has traditionally been newspaper columns and almanacs. The novel Zabeth by André Louis which appeared in 1969 was the first novel published in Norman.


Branch of the Seine near Giverny (1897) by Claude Monet

Romanticism drew painters to the Channel coasts of Normandy. Richard Parkes Bonington and J. M. W. Turner crossed the Channel from Great Britain, attracted by the light and landscapes. Théodore Géricault, a native of Rouen, was a notable figure in the Romantic movement. The competing Realist tendency was represented by Jean-François Millet, a native of La Hague.

From the 1860s, plein-air painters, who worked outside the studio, were attracted to Normandy by the ease of railway access from Paris and the development of a market among the growing number of affluent tourists visiting the coasts of Calvados. Eugène Boudin's paintings of fashionable seaside scenes are typical of this period.

Claude Monet's waterlily garden at Giverny is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, and his series of views of Rouen Cathedral are major works of Impressionism. It was Impression, Sunrise, a painting by Monet of Le Havre, that led to the movement being dubbed "Impressionism".

The Société normande de peinture moderne was founded in 1909. Among members were Raoul Dufy, a native of Le Havre, Albert Marquet, Francis Picabia and Maurice Utrillo. Also in this movement were the Duchamp brothers, Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp.


French is the only official language in continental Normandy. English is also an official language in the Channel Islands.

The Norman language, a regional language, is spoken by a minority of the population on the continent and the islands, with a concentration in the Cotentin Peninsula in the far West (the Cotentinais dialect), and in the Pays de Caux in the East (the Cauchois dialect). Many place names demonstrate the Norse and Old English influence in this Oïl language; for example -bec (stream), -fleur (river), -hou (island), -tot (homestead), -dal or -dalle (valley) and -hogue (hill, mound).[11]


Chateau d'Etelan (1494)

Architecturally, Norman cathedrals, abbeys (such as the Abbey of Bec) and castles characterise the former Duchy in a way that mirrors the similar pattern of Norman architecture in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Domestic architecture in upper Normandy is typified by half-timbered buildings that also recall vernacular English architecture, although the farm enclosures of the more harshly landscaped Pays de Caux are a more idiosyncratic response to socio-economic and climatic imperatives. Much urban architectural heritage was destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in 1944 - post-war urban reconstruction, such as in Le Havre and Saint-Lô, could be said to demonstrate both the virtues and vices of modernist and brutalist trends of the 1950s and 1960s. Le Havre, the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret, was added to Unesco’s World Heritage List in 2005.

Vernacular architecture in lower Normandy takes its form from granite, the predominant local building material. The Channel Islands also share this influence - Chausey was for many years a source of quarried granite, including that used for the construction of Mont Saint-Michel.

The south part of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne is filled with bourgeois villas in Belle Époque style with polychrome façades, bow windows and unique roofing. This area, built between 1886 and 1914, has an authentic “Bagnolese” style and is typical of high-society country vacation of the time.


Sées Cathedral and the adjoining Museum of Religious Art and Vestments attract pilgrims and tourists alike. The "Musilumières" (a sound and light show inside the cathedral) take place every night in summer.

The Chapel of Saint Germanus (Chapelle Saint-Germain) at Querqueville with its trefoil floorplan incorporates elements of one of the earliest surviving places of Christian worship in the Cotentin - perhaps second only to the Gallo-Roman baptistry at Port-Bail. It is dedicated to Germanus of Normandy.

Christian missionaries implanted monastic communities in the territory in the 5th and 6th centuries. Some of these missionaries came from across the Channel. The influence of Celtic Christianity can still be found in the Cotentin.

By the terms of the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, Rollo, a Viking pagan, accepted Christianity and was baptised. The Duchy of Normandy was therefore formally a Christian state from its foundation.

The cathedrals of Normandy have exerted influence down the centuries in matters of both faith and politics. King Henry II of England, did penance at the cathedral of Avranches on 21 May, 1172 and was absolved from the censures incurred by the assassination of Thomas Becket. Mont Saint-Michel is a historic pilgrimage site.

Prominent Protestant ministers include Pierre Allix, Jacques Basnages and Samuel Bochart.

Since the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State there is no established church in mainland Normandy. In the Channel Islands, the Church of England is the established church.


Normandy does not have one generally-agreed patron saint, although this title has been ascribed to Saint Michael, and to Saint Ouen.

Many saints have been revered in Normandy down the centuries, including:

People from Normandy

See Category:People from Normandy


See also


  1. ^ Administrative Normandy
  2. ^ [1] Découvertes touristiques CAP BREIZH Les îles Anglo-Normandes
  3. ^ (French)César et les Gaulois
  4. ^ Normandie, Bonneton, Paris 2001 ISBN 286253272X
  5. ^ (French) L’état des régions françaises 2004, page 189
  6. ^ (French)INSEE,Emploi-Chômage
  7. ^ "France in CIA factbook"
  8. ^ (French) INSEE
  9. ^ (French) INSEE
  10. ^ Norman cheeses : History
  11. ^ The Scandinavian Contribution in Normandy [2]

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : France : Normandy

Normandy [1] (French: Normandie) is a region of northern France, bordering the English Channel. Normandy is famed for the D-Day Allied invasion on June 6, 1944.


Normandy consists of two regions: Basse-Normandie, the lower part, comprising the departments of Calvados, Orne and Manche, and Haute-Normandie, the upper part, comprising Eure and Seine-Maritime.

Get in

By Car

From Paris Take the A14 north out of Paris towards Rouen for around 20km, then take the A13 towards Le Havre and Caen. The A13 will take you to the Caen ring road (périphérique). Caen can be a useful base to explore the region.

By Train

Trains leave Paris from Gare Saint-Lazare to Rouen, Caen, Lisieux and Cherbourg. You can catch trains from these places to other destinations such as Deauville, Valognes, Carentan or Bayeux.

By Ferry

Brittany Ferries [2] to Ouistréham, near Caen, from Portsmouth, and to Cherbourg from Portsmouth and Poole . LD Lines to Le Havre from Portsmouth, and to Dieppe from Newhaven.

Travellers from London and South East England may find it quicker and more flexible to use the shorter, and more frequent, ferry services [3], or the Channel Tunnel to Calais, and then drive to Normandy on the good motorway routes across Northern France.

Get around

A (mostly) coastal footpath (the 'GR223') goes all the way from Honfleur on the east to Avranches and then to Mont Saint Michel, on the Brittany border on the west. You can choose to go the whole way if you can walk for a month ! Otherwise select day trips or 2-3 days trips in the most interesting parts: History fans will choose the D-Day beaches, while lovers of spectacular nature (cliffs and coves) will walk around la Cap de la Hague, west of Cherbourg, or choose to walk to Mont Saint Michel.

Discover the Alabaster Coast: Lined up along the Normandy steep coast with its spectacular chalk cliffs, a number of scenic villages invites visitors to explore, discover and enjoy their surroundings: the beaches of Pourville (treat yourself to a serving of excellent oysters!) and Quiberville, Varengeville with its old church perched high up on a rock and its enchanting park «Bois de Moutier«, in Veules les Roses the ancient water mills on France's tiniest river, the Benedictine monastery of Fécamp — or take a walk across the beach to admire the famous chalky pinnacles and arches of Etretat. And don't forget to visit some of the numerous antiquities shops that are known to have surprised many browsers with unexpected finds! In the hinterland there are a lot of beautiful places to discover, for instance the Sâane valley with its moated castle of Imbleville, or the Château de Miromesnil, birthplace of novelist Guy de Maupassant.


Le Tréport near Dieppe

The Normandy Coasts: The white cliffs of the Alabaster Coast in Etretat, the posh resorts of the Cote Fleurie, Deauville, Trouville, Cabourg, Houlgate, and the old city of Honfleur, the beaches of the Cote de Nacre, the D-Day landing beaches of Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, the Cotentin Peninsula, with the lively harbors of Barfleur and St-Vaast in the Val de Saire, and the wild and rugged landscapes around La Hague, and the long stretch of sandy beaches that lead south to the Mont-St-Michel.


Norman cuisine is based around the three main products of the region: seafood, apples and dairy products.

Specialities from the sea include Dieppe sole and Normandy oysters.

Normandy is the home of several world-famous cheeses: Neufchâtel, Pont-L'Evêque, Livarot (also known as the "Colonel"), and the round Camembert of Marie Harel.

Normandy is renowned for its variety of meats, from the delicate flavor of saltmarsh lamb to creamy chicken "à la Vallée d'Auge" and duck "à la Rouennaise".

The creamy omelettes of the Mont Saint Michel, the Vire andouille sausages, tripes cooked "à la mode de Caen", the "boudin" sausages of Mortagne, and the recent introduction to the region of foie gras, are also guaranteed to satisfy the most demanding gastronome.

Local desserts include "bourdelots" or "teurgoule", or such sweets as Isigny toffees or apple sugars from Rouen.


Apples being a major item of produce in the orchards of Normandy, it is not surprising that cider - still or sparkling, dry or sweet, or perry - is a favorite regional tipple. Also derived from Norman apples is the famous calvados apple brandy (the trou normand).

Produced and originating in the region (from the abbey at Fécamp on the coast) is the famous Bénédictine liqueur.

Stay safe

Weather in Normandy can be unpredictable but is often very nice. One of the best seasons to visit Normandy is September.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

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), Seez (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); th;t of Avranches the p. Abrincatinus (Avranchin); that of Seez the p. Oximensis (Hiemois), 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 generalites or intendances: those of Rouen, Caen and Alencon. 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-Inferieure, Eure, Calvados, Manche and Orne.


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 9 11, 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 9 27, and was succeeded by his son William "Long Sword," born of his union more danico with Poppa, daughter of count Berenger; 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 95 8 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 Jumieges, 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-esdunes. 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 Alencon, 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 Abbayeaux-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 io,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 Bremule 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 113 9 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 1 15 2, 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 Ceeur 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 Chateau-Gaillard (1196), and finally the defeat of Philip Augustus by Richard at Courcelles, near Gisors (1198). On the death of Richard at Chalus in 11 9 9 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 Angouleme, 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 Argues, 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 Bretigny (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 1 435 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 Fougeres (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 Havre 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 Alengon 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 Argues 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 1 759 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, Itineraire descriptif, historique et monumental des cinq departements composant la Normandie (1828); John Cotman, Architectural Antiquities of Normandy (2 vols., 1820); Leopold Delisle, Etude sur la condition des classes agricoles en Normandie (reprinted 1906), La Normandie illustree (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 Biographic normande (3 vols., 1886-1888). Publications of the learned societies of the province analysed in the Bibliographie of Robert de Lasteyrie.

(R. LA.)

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Proper noun




  1. Historical region and former province of Northwest France on the English Channell, divided into the regions Haute-Normandie and Basse-Normandie. Its beaches were the site of Allied landings on D-Day (June 6, 1944).



Simple English

[[File:|thumbnail|Flag of Normandy]] Normandy (in French Normandie) is a region in the northern part of France. People from Normandy are called Normans. The name of Normandy is derived from the settlement and conquest of the territory by the "Northmen" (Northmanni in Latin) or Vikings (Danes and Norwegians) of Hrolf the Walker.

The historic region includes two regions of France: Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy; and also the Channel Islands which are not part of France. It's also famous for cheese.

It is especially famous for being the place that the Allies invaded France through, in World War II (See D-Day).

During the Battle of Normandy in World War II, Normandy became the landing site for the invasion and liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

The population of Normandy is around 3.45 million.



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