. The Viking war leader Rollo, founder of the Norman ducal dynasty, assumed the name Robert when he accepted baptism ca. 911. Although he was technically no more than the first Norman count of Rouen, later writers often referred to “Duke Rollo” or, occasionally, “Robert.”
Rollo’s great-great-grandson, Robert the Magnificent, was the father of William the Conqueror. He became duke in 1027, suspected of having poisoned his brother, Richard 111, and in conflict with his powerful kinsmen Robert, archbishop of Rouen, and Hugh, bishop of Bayeux. William of Belleme soon threatened Robert’s authority along the southern border, and later, in the 1030s, Alain of Brittany struck in the west. Robert the Magnificent met these challenges successfully and gained the southern part of the French Vexin from King Henry I in 1033. In his mid-twenties, Robert resolved to journey on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He died during his return in 1035, leaving the duchy in the unsteady hands of his seven-year-old illegitimate son, William, the future conqueror of England.
Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror’s eldest son, was twice designated heir of all his father’s dominions, but he destroyed that prospect through open rebellion. In exile when his father died in 1087, Robert nevertheless became duke of Normandy. A weak and prodigal ruler, he attempted unsuccessfully in 1088 to overthrow his brother William II Rufus, who had inherited the kingdom of England. In 1096, he joined the First Crusade, pledging the duchy to William Rufus for a loan of 10,000 marks of silver. When he returned in 1100, his youngest brother, Henry, had succeeded Rufus in England. Robert made another unsuccessful attempt to gain the English crown in 1101, then returned to Normandy, only to lose the duchy to Henry 1 in 1106 at the Battle of Tinchebrai. Imprisoned by his brother in Cardiff, Wales, Robert Curthose died in 1134.
[See also: HENRY I; NORMANDY (genealogical table); WILLIAM I THE CONQUERER: WILLIAM II RUFUS]
Bates, David. Normandy Before 1066. London: Longman, 1982.
David, Charles W. Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920.
Douglas, David C. “Rollo of Normandy.” English Historical Review 57 (1942):417-36.
--. William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact upon England. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1964.
Searle, Eleanor. Predatory Kinship and the Creation ofNoiman Power, 840-1066. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.