Norman Rule in Normandy, 911-1144

Mark Hagger

A magisterial survey of Normandy from its origins in the tenth century to its conquest some two hundred years later.
Date Published :
June 2020
Publisher :
Boydell and Brewer
Illustration :
8 black and white, 6 line drawing
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781783275380
Pages : 824
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.25 inches
Stock Status : Available


This book provides a comprehensive revision and analysis of Normandy, its rulers, and governance between the traditional date for the foundation of the duchy, 911, and the completion of the conquest led by Count Geoffrey V of the Angevins, 1144. It examines how the Norman dukes were able to establish and then to maintain themselves in their duchy, providing a new historical narrative in the process. It also explores the various tools that they used to promote and enforce their authority, from the recruitment of armies to the use of symbolism and emotions at court. In particular, it also seeks to come to terms with the practicalities of ducal power, and reveals that it was framed and promoted from the bottom up as much as from the top down. In around 911, the Viking adventurer Rollo was granted the city of Rouen and its surrounding district by the Frankish King Charles the Simple. Two further grants of territory followed in 924 and 933. But while Frankish kings might grant this land to Rollo and his son, William Longsword, these two Norman dukes and their successors had to fight and negotiate with rival lords, hostile neighbours, kings, and popes in order to establish and maintain their authority over it.
This book explores the geographical and political development of what would become the duchy of Normandy, and the relations between the dukes and these rivals for their lands and their subjects' fidelity. It looks, too, at the administrative machinery the dukes built to support their regime, from their toll-collectors and vicomtes (an official similar to the English sheriff) to the political theatre of their courts and the buildings in which they were staged. At the heart of this exercise are the narratives that purport to tell us about what the dukes did, and the surviving body of the dukes' diplomas. Neither can be taken at face value, and both tell us as much about the concerns and criticisms of the dukes' subjects as they do about the strength of the dukes' authority. The diplomas, in particular, because most of them were not written by scribes attached to the dukes' households but rather by their beneficiaries, can be used to recover something of how the dukes' subjects saw their rulers, as well as something of what they wanted or needed from them. Ducal power was the result of a dialogue, and this volume enables both sides to speak.

Mark Hagger is a reader in medieval history at Bangor University.


Settlement and Survival: Normandy in the Tenth Century, 911-996
Expansion: Normandy and its Dukes in the Eleventh Century, 996-1087
Sibling Rivalry: Normandy under the Conqueror's Heirs, 1087-1144
Holier Than Thou: The Dukes and the Church
Sovereigns, Styles, and Scribes
Lonely at the Top: The Duke and his Executive Authority
The Duke and the Court: The Display and Experience of Power
The Chief Purpose of our Government: The Dukes and Justice
Movements, Messengers, Mandates, and Minions
Accounting for Power: Ducal Finance
Strength in Depth: The Dukes and their Knights, Castles, and Armies


Establishes a new benchmark for studies of medieval princely government and power, drawing fresh insights from outwardly unrewarding sources and adding much greater depth to the history of ducal Normandy.


Makes a significant and welcome contribution to our understanding of the development of ducal rule and is likely to become an authoritative statement on the topic..[A] magisterial work.


Hagger provides a solid and illuminating study of Norman rule-political, feudal, and cultural-from the Viking conquest in 911 to the Angevin absorption in 1144. Highly recommended.


Deliberately avoiding theoretical concepts and questions in favor of the practicalities of his topics, Hagger brings to the study his deep knowledge of the primary sources . . . It is this grasp of practicalities that is the strength of Norman Rule in Normandy, 911-1144.


More from this publisher