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- Son of Rollo of Normandy - Viking Warrior and 1st Duke of Normandy and his wife Poppa
- Born ca 893 C.E.
- 930-935 : 1st Marriage to Sprota
- 936-942 : 2nd Marriage to Liutgard
- 942-Dec-17 : Assassinated -
Longsword was the second Duke of Normandy from his father's death until his own assassination. The title dux (duke) was not in use at the time and has been applied to early Norman rulers retroactively; William actually used the title comes (count).
Little is known about his early years. He was born in Bayeux or Rouen to Rollo and his wife Poppa. All that is known of Poppa is that she was a Christian, and the daughter to Berengar of Rennes, the previous lord of Brittania Nova, which eventually became western Normandy. According to the William's planctus, he was baptised a Christian.
Between 935 and 939, William was married to Leutgarde, daughter of Herbert of Vermandois. He had no legitimate children and his successor, Richard was the son of Sprota who he had apparently married in 930 ‘more danico’.
William succeeded Rollo sometime around 927. It appears that he faced a rebellion early in his reign, from Normans who felt he had become too Gallicised. Subsequent years are obscure. In 939 William became involved in a war with Arnulf I of Flanders, which soon became intertwined with the other conflicts troubling the reign of Louis IV. He was killed by followers of Arnulf while at a meeting to settle their conflict. His son Richard the Fearless, child of his first wife, Sprota, succeeded him. William also left a widow, Liègard (Liutgard), who died in 985.
Assassination of William Longsword
In 939, Herbert supported by Arnulf of Flanders besieged Montreuil and its capture gave him all of Ponthieu and Vimeu between the rivers Somme and Bresle. Herluin II sought the support of Hugh the Great to regain his lands but Hugh refused because he already had an alliance with Arnulf. Herluin then turned to William Longsword for help. Troops from the Cotentin attacked and recaptured Montreuil, slaughtering most of Arnulf’s garrison. But at a price. Herluin had placed his lands under the protection of the Normans and performed homage to William for his help. The Normans were now assured of a buffer between their borders and those of Flanders.
For Arnulf, Hugh the Great and other Carolingian lords the Normans remained undesirable intruders in France and they decided to eliminate William who was becoming too powerful and was increasingly playing a role in the politics of the French monarchy. It was at this moment that Arnulf sent messengers to William Longsword, saying that he wanted to settle their conflict over Montreuil. William went to the meeting on an island in the river Somme at Picquigny, where he was murdered by Arnulf’s men on 18th December 942.
Residence at Falaise
In Falaise France, is a series of statues that pays tribute to the six Norman Dukes from Rollo to William Conqueror. The castle here was the principal residence of the Norman Knights.
Château Guillaume-le-Conquérant Place Guillaume le Conquérant / 14700 Falaise / Tel: 02 31 41 61 44
Children of Longsword and Sprota
His first marriage?
|Offspring of William Longsword, 2nd Duke of Normandy and Sprota (?-?)|
|Richard I, Duke of Normandy (933-996)||<year not a number> Fécamp, Upper Normandy, France||<year not a number> Fécamp, Upper Normandy, France|| Emma de France (c943-968)|
Gunnora, Duchess of Normandy (c936-1031)
Children of Longsword and Liegard (Liutgard)
His second marriage and his widow - no known descendants.
The Planctus of William Longsword
This poem, although it survives only in corrupt and incomplete versions and is largely hagiographic in content, nevertheless is a critical source for early Norman history. It is by far the earliest work written about the Normans from a Norman point of view, and some historical nuggets can be gleaned from it.
Noteworthy descendants include