Johnson & Hanson Trees
Last Name:
First Name:

Richard I, of Normandy

Richard I, of Normandy

Male 933 - 996  (63 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Richard I  
    Suffix of Normandy 
    Born 28 Aug 933  Fecamp, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 20 Nov 996  Fecamp, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Not to be confused with Richard I of England

      Richard I of Normandy (28 August 933 ? 20 November 996), also known as Richard the Fearless (French, Richard Sans-Peur), was the Duke of Normandy from 942 to 996.[1] Dudo of Saint-Quentin, whom Richard commissioned to write the "De moribus et actis primorum Normanniae ducum" (Latin, "On the Customs and Deeds of the First Dukes of Normandy"), called him a Dux, but this use of the word may have been in the context of Richard's renowned leadership in war, and not as a reference to a title of nobility.[2][3] Richard either introduced feudalism into Normandy, or he greatly expanded it. By the end of his reign, most important Norman landholders held their lands in feudal tenure.[4]

      Richard was born to William I of Normandy, princeps (chieftain or ruler)[5] of Normandy, and Sprota.[1] His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a more danico marriage.[6] He was also the grandson of the famous Rollo. Richard was about 10 years old when his father was killed on 17 December 942.[1] William was told of the birth of a son after the battle with Riouf and other Viking rebels, but his existence was kept secret until a few years later when William Longsword first met his son Richard. After kissing the boy and declaring him his heir, William sent Richard to be raised in Bayeux.[7] After William was killed, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf of Ivry was their son and Richard's half-brother.[8]

      With the death of Richard's father, William I Longsword, in 942, king Louis IV of France seized the lands of the Duchy of Normandy. The king installed the boy Richard in his father's office, and placed him in the custody of the count of Ponthieu.[9] He then split up the Duchy, giving its lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. Louis IV thereafter kept Richard in solitary confinement at Lâon,[10] but the youth escaped from imprisonment with assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane[11] (ancestor to the families of Harcourt and Beaumont).[a]

      In 946, Richard agreed to "commend" himself to Hugh, the Count of Paris. At the age of 14, Richard allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders in France, drove king Louis IV's army out of Rouen, and successfully took back Normandy from him by 947.[12]

      In 962, Theobald I, Count of Blois, attempted a renewed invasion of Rouen, Richard's stronghold, but his troops were summarily routed by Normans under Richard's command, and forced to retreat before ever having crossed the Seine river.[13][14] Lothair, the king of the West Franks, fearful that Richard's retaliation could destabilize a large part of West Francia, stepped in to prevent any further war between the two.[15]

      Afterwards, and until his death in 996, Richard concentrated on Normandy itself, and participated less in Frankish politics and its petty wars. In lieu of building up the Norman Empire by expansion, he stabilized the realm and reunited the Normans, forging the reclaimed Duchy of his father and grandfather into West Francia's most cohesive and formidable principality.[16]

      Richard used marriage to build strong alliances. His marriage to Emma of Paris connected him directly to the House of Capet. His second wife, Gunnora, from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin, formed an alliance to that group, while her sisters formed the core group that were to provide loyal followers to him and his successors.[17] His daughters forged valuable marriage alliances with powerful neighboring counts as well as to the king of England.[17]

      Richard also built on his relationship with the church, restoring their lands and ensuring the great monasteries flourished in Normandy. His further reign was marked by an extended period of peace and tranquility.[17][18]

      His first marriage (960) was to Emma, daughter of Hugh "The Great" of France,[1][19] and Hedwig von Sachsen.[19] They were betrothed when both were very young. She died after 19 March 968, with no issue.[1]
      Richard & his children

      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 Viking descent, being a Dane by blood. Richard finally married her to legitimize their children:[b]

      Richard II "the Good", Duke of Normandy[1]
      Robert, Archbishop of Rouen, Count of Evreux[1]
      Mauger, Count of Corbeil[1]
      Emma of Normandy, wife of two kings of England[1]
      Maud of Normandy, wife of Odo II of Blois, Count of Blois, Champagne and Chartres[1]
      Hawise of Normandy m. Geoffrey I, Duke of Brittany[1]
      Papia of Normandy
      William, Count of Eu
      Orielda (963-1031) wife of Fulk Seigneur de Guernanville, Dean of Evreax [20][21]

      Illegitimate children

      Richard was known to have had several other mistresses and produced children with many of them. Known children are:

      Geoffrey, Count of Eu[1][22]
      William, Count of Eu (ca. 972-26 January 1057/58),[22] m. Lasceline de Turqueville (d. 26 January 1057/58).
      Beatrice of Normandy, Abbess of Montvilliers d.1034 m. Ebles of Turenne[1] (d.1030 (divorced)

      Possible children

      Muriella, married Tancred de Hauteville[1][23][24]
      Fressenda or Fredesenda (ca. 995-ca. 1057), second wife of Tancred de Hauteville.[1][24][25]
      Guimara (Wimarc(a)) (b. circa 986), Wife of Ansfred (Ansfroi) II "le Dane" le Goz, vicomte d'Exmes et de Falaise, Mother of Robert FitzWimarc, Death:Abbey of Montivilliers, Seine-Inferieure, Normandy[26]


      Richard died of natural causes in Fecamp, France, on 20 November 996.[27]
    Person ID I40686  Johnson & Hanson
    Last Modified 12 Dec 2015 

    Father William I LONGSWORD,   b. 901, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Dec 942, Picquigny, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 41 years) 
    Mother Sprota 
    Family ID F14505  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Emma,   d. Aft 19 Mar 968 
    Last Modified 12 Dec 2015 
    Family ID F565995882  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Gunnora, Duchess of Normandy,   b. 936, Rouen, Haute-Normandy, France. Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Jan 1031, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years) 
    +1. Richard II "The Good", Duke of Normandy,   b. 23 Aug 963, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Aug 1026, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years)
     2. Robert II, Archbishop of Rouen, Count of Evreux,   b. 989,   d. 1037  (Age 48 years)
     3. Mauger, Count of Corbeil
     4. Emma, of Normandy, queen consort of England, Denmark and Norway,   b. 985,   d. 6 Mar 1052  (Age 67 years)
     5. Hawise, of Normandy,   d. 21 Feb 1034
     6. Maud, of Normandy,   d. 1006
     7. Papia, of Normandy,   b. 980, Nomandie, Frannce Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1055, Caux, Languedoc, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     8. William, Count of EU
     9. Orielda,   b. 963,   d. 1031  (Age 68 years)
    Last Modified 12 Dec 2015 
    Family ID F14504  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Unknown Mistress 
    +1. Geoffrey, Count of EU, Count of Brionne,   b. 962,   d. 1015  (Age 53 years)
    Last Modified 12 Dec 2015 
    Family ID F565995876  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Richard the Fearless
    Richard the Fearless
    Richard the Fearless as part of the Six Dukes of Normandy statue in the town square of Falaise.