Richard I, Duke of Normandy

Richard I, Duke of Normandy

Richard I of Normandy (born 28 August 933, in Fécamp Normandy, France died November 20, 996, in Fécamp) was the Duke of Normandy from 942 to 996; he is considered the first to actually have held that title. He was called Richard "the Fearless" (French, "Sans Peur").


He was born to William I of Normandy, ruler of Normandy, and his wife, Sprota. He was still a boy when his father died in 942. His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a Danish marriage. After William died, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf of Ivry was their son and Richard's half-brother.


Richard was still a boy when his father died, and so he was powerless to stop Louis IV of France when he seized Normandy. Louis kept him in confinement in his youth at Lâon, but he escaped with the assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane (ancestor of families of Harcourt and Beaumont). In 968, Richard agreed to "commend" himself to Hugh, Count of Paris. He then allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders, drove Louis out of Rouen, and took back Normandy by 947. He later quarrelled with Ethelred II of England regarding Viking invasions of England because Normandy had been buying up much of the stolen booty.

Richard was bilingual, having been well educated at Bayeux. He was more partial to his Danish subjects than to the French. During his reign, Normandy became completely Gallicized and Christianized. He introduced the feudal system and Normandy became one of the most thoroughly feudalized states on the continent. He carried out a major reorganization of the Norman military system, based on heavy cavalry. He also became guardian of the "young" Hugh, Count of Paris, on the elder Hugh's death in 956.


He married 1st (960) Emma of France, daughter of Robert I of France, Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris. They were betrothed when both were very young. She died after 966, with no issue.

According to Robert of Torigni, not long after Emma's death, Duke Richard went out hunting and stopped at the house of a local forester. He became enamoured of the forester's wife, Seinfreda, but she being a virtuous woman, suggested he court her unmarried sister, Gunnor, instead. Gunnor became his mistress, and her family rose to prominence. Her brother, Herefast de Crepon, may have been involved in a controversial heresy trial. Gunnor was, like Richard, of Norse descent, being a Dane by blood. Richard finally married her to legitimize their children:
* Richard II "the Good", Duke of Normandy (966)
* Robert, Archbishop of Rouen, Count of Evreux, died 1037.
* Godfrey, Count of Eu, died ca 996.
* Mauger, Earl of Corbeil, died after 1033; his alleged grandson (or perhaps great-grandson) was Robert Fitzhamon, an important Anglo-Norman baron.
* Robert Danus, died between 985 and 989
* Emma of Normandy (c.985-1052) wife of two kings of England.
* Maud of Normandy, wife of Odo II of Blois, Count of Blois, Champagne and Chartres
* Hawise of Normandy (b. ca. 978), d. 21 February 1034. m. Geoffrey I, Duke of Brittany
* Beatrice of Normandy, Abbess of Montvilliers d.1034 m. Ebles of Turenne (d.1030 (divorced)
* Papia m. Gilbert de St Valery.
* Fressenda (ca. 995-ca. 1057), m. Tancred of Hauteville.
* Muriella m. Tancred of Hauteville.


Richard was known to have had several other mistresses and produced children with many of them.Known children are:
* Geoffrey, Count of Brionne, (b. ca. 970)

* William, Count of Eu (ca. 972-26 January 1057/58) m. Leseline de Turqueville (d. 26 January 1057/58).


He died in Fecamp, France on November 20, 996 of natural causes.

Depictions in Fiction

"The Little Duke", a Victorian Juvenile novel by Charlotte Mary Yonge is a fictionalized account of Richard's boyhood and early struggles.



*McKitterick, Rosamund. "The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987", 1993.
*Searle, Eleanor. "Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066", 1998.
* [ The Henry Project: Richard I of Normandy]
* [ Genealogy of the Dukes of Normandy]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Richard III, Duke of Normandy — Infobox Person name = Richard III Duke of Normandy caption = birth date = |997dead=dead birth place = death date = death date|1027|2|3|mf=y| death place = NormandyRichard III (997 1027) was the eldest son of Richard II, who died in 1027, and left …   Wikipedia

  • Richard II, Duke of Normandy — Richard II (born 23 August 963, in Normandy, France ndash; 28 August 1027, in Normandy), called the Good, was the son and heir of Richard I the Fearless and Gunnora. He succeeded his father as Duke of Normandy in 996. Richard held his own against …   Wikipedia

  • Duke of Normandy — is a title held or claimed by various Norman, French, English and British rulers from the 10th century until the present, in recognition of their history. The title refers to the region of Normandy in France and several associated islands in the… …   Wikipedia

  • William I, Duke of Normandy — William I Longsword (French: Guillaume Longue Épée , Latin: Willermus Longa Spata , Scandinavian: Viljâlmr Langaspjôt ; 893 ndash; 17 December 942) was the second Duke of Normandy from his father s death until his own assassination. The title dux …   Wikipedia

  • Rollo Duke of Normandy — Rollo Duke of Normandy, also known as The Bloody Brother, is a play written in collaboration by John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, Ben Jonson, and George Chapman. Scholars have disputed almost everything about the play; but it was probably written… …   Wikipedia

  • York, Richard, 3rd duke of — ▪ English noble born Sept. 21, 1411 died Dec. 30, 1460, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, Eng.       claimant to the English throne whose attempts to gain power helped precipitate the Wars of the Roses (Roses, Wars of the) (1455–85) between the houses… …   Universalium

  • Richard I — (Richard Plantagenet) (1157–1199)    Although Richard I was born in Oxfordshire, England, on September 8, 1157, and reigned over England from 1189 to 1199, he grew up in Aquitaine, in southern France, spoke native French and very little English,… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Richard I of England — Richard I redirects here. For others of the same name, see Richard I (disambiguation). Richard the Lionheart King of England (more..) Reign 6 July 1189 – 6 April 1199 Coronation 3 September 1 …   Wikipedia

  • Normandy — • An ancient French province, from which five departments were formed in 1790 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Normandy     Normandy      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Richard I — ( Richard the Lion Hearted, Richard Coeur de Lion ) 1157 99, king of England 1189 99. * * * known as Richard the Lionheart(ed) French Richard Coeur de Lion born Sept. 8, 1157, Oxford, Eng. died April 6, 1199, Châlus, Duchy of Aquitaine Duke of… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.