Image of Falais Castle in Normandy

The background

Last updated: 26 August 2008

In the year 911, the French ruler Charles the Simple (the son of King Louis the Stammerer and nephew of Charles the Fat) allowed a group of Norsemen, led by Rollo, to settle in a region of northern France. The aim was to protect the area against future Viking invaders.

The ploy proved successful, and the inhabitants of the region became known as Northmen - from which the name Normandy evolved. The Norsemen intermarried with the indigenous people, and their language blended and evolved with the local dialect.

With its energetic inhabitants and its well-structured system of government, Normandy swiftly became perhaps the most dynamic region of Europe.

Its basis was feudalism, a system whereby the duke granted lands to his followers sufficient to enable them to maintain mounted knights to serve him in war.

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