How's Bretland doing? Hopefully we'll see an Anglo-norse britain!
The name of the last chapter focusing on England "The British Crisis of the 10th Century" was not an accident, to say the least: Guthrum's Anglia and the death of multiple Wessexian kings in the span of few decades, including OTL's Alfred the Great, among many other shenanigans in Mercia and Northumbria and even Wales, Strathclyde, Alba, and Ireland, will severely alter British history, arguably even more so than what we've seen so far in the Carolingian Empire, or rather the remnants of it. We'll go back to them in the update regarding the Normans and the eventual map update to finish Chapter 1 once and for all.
Suffice to say that some minor butterflies from OTL England that I haven't mentioned so far are also heavily altering Scandinavia, Christianization, for example being accelerated through Guthrum/Jeremiah's conversion to and his son Oskytel's upbringing with Christianity, the former in a bid to secure his Anglian possessions, the latter forming a genuine belief. This ironically preserved the role of Anglo-Saxon missionaries of OTL while keeping the Danish link between Oskytel and his ancestral lands of Scandinavia alive. Anyhow, there is, of course, stuff regarding domestic policies and changes as well, but I don't want to spoil anything yet :p
 
ADDENDUM 1.V: Odo's Illness
Excerpt: Discussion of: Mental Maladies in the Medieval Era, Closer Examination of the Derangement of Odo of Lotharingia – "Alavar Anthropological Magazine", Amaterrahmane Abican (AD 1956)

Mental maladies have always existed, something that is undisputed among serious scholars. From the boanthropic Nebuchadnezzar II of the Chaldean Empire, the infamously paranoid and megalomaniac Gaius Caligula of Rome, to the poet-king Christopher III of Anglia, believed to have suffered from “intense melancholia”, the history of humanity has always been a history of figures of human flesh with all its failings. […] How this topic was approached changed over recorded history, however. […]

The dominant stream in the medieval view on mental health was the […] humoral theory, also known under other names, a medical concept generally dominating medical discourse since antiquity when it was first developed in the Corpus Hippocraticum to explain general body processes and as a concept to explain pathological procedures. The Greek physician Aelius Galenus, who tried to summarize the entire medical knowledge of his time in the 3rd century AD and followed the ideas of the Hippocrates and Aristotle, had assigned a pair of primary qualities to the “four humors”, blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm, established by Hippocrates. The four humors were henceforth assigned the four phases of life and the four Classical elements air, fire, earth, and water. […] The humoral theory was further developed and perfected in late Saffarid Iraq and Shirzadid/Farighunid Iran [1] under Avafal (Abu Ya’far Ibn Nawfal) and Isma’il Ibn Khalaf al-Zaranji respectively. [2] […] After the establishment of cellular pathology as the main school of medicine […], it was scientifically outdated in aetiology, diagnostics, and therapy. […]

Odo of Lotharingia, king of Lotharingia and later Neustria, Francia, and Aquitania between 894 and 911 AD, is a frequently brought up peculiar case of evident mental ailment in times where the concept of mental anthropology [3] has not developed yet. He was mentioned with a focus on his later years in contemporary sources and, in larger numbers, in chronicles written in hindsight. What all of these historic sources agree on is that Odo was born as an initially illegitimate child to Lothair II and his mistress Waldrada. Waldrada, however, eventually married her lover and consequently legitimized their descendants after the suspicious death of Lothair II’s wife Teutberga of Arles whose bond to her husband was strained at best. After maturity, Odo was supposedly a deeply religious man who didn’t share the more violent and vicious disposition of his older brother Hugh whose temperament is also subject to several examinations by later chroniclers and scholars. After all, Odo turned out to be good-willed and exceptionally affectionate according to all examined documents, but weak and, more importantly, erratic. Indeed, this erratic behavior is first erupted with the fratricide to end the legitimation crisis of Neustria. This was not unexpected; the chronicles of Bishop Hermann of Metz who was a near-contemporary to the events succeeding the death of Lothair II and the subsequent reign of his heirs described the brotherly relationship as “full of malice” and that Odo, the father of Emperor Lothair III for whom he was writing the chronicle, “did not love his brother as brother, but rather as a rival”. There is evidence that Waldrada might have influenced him against Hugh in the early years of the marriage to Lothair II, though she may have later repented. This is implied in a passing remark in the Annals of St. Vaast. In no way did she cause much ire because of that behavior during her husband’s reign in Lotharingia and Neustria, which might stem from the potentates’ willingness to split the realm once more between two more localized seats of power. […] Another reason for the murder of his brother was subsequently the resistance of the noblemen of Neustria to the recognition of their king after the failed marriage to Itta of Maine whose father Lambert III of Maine played an important role in the power dynamics of the kingdom.

Nonetheless, Odo was left in little doubt about the sinfulness of this betrayal, for, if Hermann of Metz is to be trusted, the killing was met with universal disgust despite Hugh’s inability to foster much amity among the Neustrian potentates. Odo might, Bishop Hermann thinks, have been morally pardoned had he at first wondered why his act provoked such disgust. Henceforth, the fratricide caused much pressure from the clergy of whom Archbishop Fulk of Rheims seemed to have escalated this difficult situation politically: […] Odo was pressured under the threat of excommunication to perform penance for causing the death of his kinsmen, at his palace of Attigny in the Ardennes. There, according to the Annals of St. Vaast, King Odo “wore a cilice and removed himself from power in a self-imposed exile [for] weeks. [The] king asked for mercy upon his soul, for the Lovingkindness and tender mercies of God, blot out his transgressions into the wrong”. While propagandistic in nature upon a more critical examination of these annals, it is widely accepted that Odo repented from his mortal sins out of a genuine concern for his secular legacy and his personal afterlife. The aforementioned Hermann of Metz, having always tried to paint the father of the ruler of the once reunited Frankish Empire in a favorable light, went so far as to state that Odo, faced with extreme pressures, reverted to what a modern reader might interpret as a short period of mental catatonia: “On Good Friday of this same year [897], the king [Odo of Lotharingia] in simple garment fell silent after making a good confession; in which he greatly mourned the death of Hugh, his brother and king of Neustria. For while he should have been partaking of communion on this day, he did not move nor act, for he was struck with penitence, and only after three days he [Odo] told a religious priest of good reputation about his sins once more under great compunction. […] He did not wish to impose any further penance upon him, provided that he returned to the path of the faithful and away from the wicked”. These medieval sources indicate at the very least that the authors were well aware of the probable causes of mental ailment in general, and Odo’s melancholy in particular, Hermann blaming the king’s “severe” alcohol intake and grief. The historiography of that event in later centuries saw little change in this somber characterization of Odo and the ruinous effects of his assassination on his health. In 1721, Lonard d'Cortisse did still describe that fateful event in 896/897 as a “grim” moment in the life of Odo and the Carolingian sphere as a whole, a description other historians such as Arvid Husgen would support in 1882 by representing Odo in his years after 897 as a monarch who has already lost his grip on the severity of his situation and subsequently reality as a whole, plagued by the irredeemable sin he has committed.

Juxtaposed with contemporary resources, however, it becomes evident that this somber mood of Odo only lasted for some time before successfully returning to the matters of state. He received homages from at least twenty-two different counts and dukes of Neustria and Lotharingia between 897 and 906, of which the homage of Adalhelm II of Troyes was the most widely reported as his descendants’ desire for power became noticeable. Furthermore, he successfully attained the royal titles of Francia and Aquitania under lucky circumstances in the name of his son Lothair III who will go on to vastly overshadow his father’s impact on the Carolingian system of rulership and the fragmentation of power under his rule. Indeed, it seems that Odo has recovered from the melancholic episode of 897 relatively quickly, but some sources and later commentaries disagree on the admittedly simplified characterization of the post-897 years of Odo’s reign: his wife Théodrate of Troyes, a distinctly determined woman of which contemporary historiography unpredictably took a keen interest in describing, increasingly took a firm hand over the matters of state. After all these initial hardships of his childhood and early years as reigning king, Odo in the end ruled with a happy hand for these few years as he relied on his educated and experienced advisers and his aforementioned wife Théodrate whose presence in the court was a welcome change after the troubles of her father-in-law Lothair II.

From 908 at the latest, however, he was temporarily deranged once more and from 910 Odo became incapable of ruling. In 909, his physical health reportedly began suffering from recurring cycles of extensive physical weakness and periodic headaches which hindered his rule across his domain, as the matters of state began to further burden him with additional stresses. What finally lead to what the modern sciences would describe as a nervous breakdown was the death of his youngest son Pepin, “the favorite of Christendom” as the Annals of St. Vaast described the infant, by a collapsing church roof. “[…] The king fell to the ground, paling with fear, trembling, in complete shock, he screamed "my son!" and he threw himself down to a silent prayer; he wept, sobbed, called for help for the mortally wounded son. He implored the mercy of God and the forgiveness for his sins for days in a manner that struck fear in the court and left the matters of state in ruin; […] the king’s son, Lotharius, third of his name, son of Odo who was the son of Lotharius, second of his name, who was the son of the first Lotharius and so on, convened in the Year of our Lord 911 and led the council of nobles and churchmen who declared the king to be deposed in the face of the former king’s resignation from the physical.” as the 12th-century monk and reliable chronicler Odelerius of Ripoll remarked. This, however, stands in conflict with the known coronation of Odo and his son Lothair as kings of Aquitania after the death of Pepin, suggesting either that the death of Pepin happened at a later date than commonly assumed or that the effect of the death on Odo is wildly exaggerated. As one of the unresolved mysteries of medieval historiography, the discussion on dates can be set aside for a closer examination of the nature of this inertia of Odo during the last months of his life. Few truly contemporary or near-contemporary accounts discuss the matter sufficiently, those that do at least reason the forced abdication of Odo in favor of his son Lothair suggest Odo barely responded to his children and wife and the members of the court and state at large. “They (visitors) could obtain no word or sign by the king” as Hermann of Metz described the situation. This naturally caused a power vacuum which was quickly defused by the cunning Lothair III. This paper agrees with the commonly suggested trigger of the death of his son Pepin, though what mental malady he exactly suffered from remains unknown: Hysteria remains an unlikely cause as passive inertia is only rarely encountered in those affected by it, and he never appeared to be delusional in contemporary sources despite his later epithet suggesting otherwise. The symptoms of Odo’s prolonged periods of melancholy and inertia were very different to those of his kin who were commonly accepted to have been hereditarily predisposed to physical maladies such as epilepsy; his lively early life makes it unlikely that he inherited this insanity from any branch. […] Indeed, this paper suggests that environmental factors such as the tumultuous early upbringing, the difficulty of Odo to manage social relations, especially concerning his own brother, early substance abuse in the form of alcoholism, as suggested in the Annals of St. Vaast, combined with the stresses of administration of early feudalism overshadowed potential biological factors. This is also supported by scarce contemporary sources who all ascribed the mental maladies of Odo as a result of trauma and not directly as a consequence of “sin” itself. […]

In summary, the anachronistic belief that there was some general superstition in this era that all mental illness stemmed from sinning and were ordained by God to punish the sufferers, is questioned after a thorough review of contemporary sources; accusations for sinning in the face of God against Odo of Lotharingia are few in contemporary sources and only begin to accumulate in chronicles decades and centuries after his death, oftentimes to paint this ruler or the dynasty as a whole in a negative light. […]


Louis_III_et_Carloman_furent_couronn%C3%A9s_rois_en_879_par_l%27archev%C3%AAque_de_Sens_Ans%C3%A9gise%2C_dans_l%27abbaye_b%C3%A9n%C3%A9dictine_Saint-Pierre-et-saint-Paul_de_Ferri%C3%A8res_en_G%C3%A2tinais.png


Description: Anachronistic depiction of the coronation of Odo of Lotharingia and Hugh of Neustria, dated around 1250 AD.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] A lot of light will be shed on the Middle East in the map update, but for now, the Shirzadids are a Daylamite Shia dynasty enjoying an initially rapid rise as capable generals under the Zaydi Alids of Tabaristan until they overthrew them and subsequently expanded into Iran. A consequent rapid decline and collapse of this bloodline due to dynastic infighting left a unique power vacuum which was then filled, largely through very lucky circumstances, by the Farighunids (who existed under the same name IOTL), who employed a significant amount of Turkic mamluks. These cunning mamluks will sooner or later further change the power dynamic in the region…
[2] Avicenna’s legacy of OTL is shared between these two TTL figures.
[3] Psychology.
 
mental anthropology
I appreciate the subtle changes in vocabulary

These cunning mamluks will sooner or later further change the power dynamic in the region…
No doubt they will...

While propagandistic in nature upon a more critical examination of these annals, it is widely accepted that Odo repented from his mortal sins out of a genuine concern for his secular legacy and his personal afterlife.
his wife Théodrate of Troyes, a distinctly determined woman of which contemporary historiography unpredictably took a keen interest in describing, increasingly took a firm hand over the matters of state.
Good to see this realistic TL again :)
 
Oh no, Odo! That being said, I'm really intrigued by the author and magazine combo at the top, as well as the Farighunids (are they Shiites?)

And above all, glad to see this back!
 
I appreciate the subtle changes in vocabulary
I figured that, even though I can't make up a language due to the almost 1200 years of slowly but steadily diverging linguistic developments, I should at least recognize that scientific terminology would change significantly. That said, I wish I was a bit more creative regarding such more general terms that from the modern POV emerged a while ago.
Good to see this realistic TL again :)
Very kind of you, thanks a lot! On that note, I have to say that this timeline (and any timeline for that matter) is inherently not realistic because it didn't happen IOTL, most try to stay grounded in reality (but even then, there were several curveballs in history), so it's usually a mix of looking at trends IOTL and trying to imagine how the butterflies would affect this world. After some point (usually half a century after the initial PoD or even less time), the world has diverged so far from our own that most figures there are made-up ones, political and societal changes usually follow these branching paths of history. I know you didn't mean to imply that, I just wanted to make sure that everybody understands that I don't write this TL with the belief that this is 100% what would have happened in a scenario where Charles the Bald dies early. ;)
Oh no, Odo! That being said, I'm really intrigued by the author and magazine combo at the top, as well as the Farighunids (are they Shiites?)

And above all, glad to see this back!
The Farighunids of TTL have the same ancestry as the OTL Farighunids (click here for a short Wikipedia entry which, be warned, doesn't do the area a lot of justice) which ruled from Guzgan at the crossroads of Khorasan and Transoxiana. IOTL, the dynasty coalesced a lot of power relatively quickly in the second half of the Iranian Intermezzo, though fell apart just as quickly when they were forced to recognize Samanid suzerainty over their land. ITTL, as mentioned in the map update regarding Iran, however, the Sunni Persian Saffarids managed to enter Iraq and made the Abbasid Caliphate a pseudo-vassal in a complicated relationship marked by codependency of a larger Iranian state. This kinda halted the Samanids from the get-go and allowed the Sunni Farighunids, which enjoyed consistently cordial relations with the various Saffarid amirs, to thrive and prosper. As no state lasts forever, however, the Saffarids decline and fall in due time with the power vacuum filled by a bunch of new warlords including the Shia Shirzadids which were then succeeded by the Farighunids who managed to exploit another subsequent collapse. As I said, I hope to shed way more light and details on it in the map update which should be the update following the next one (regarding what the Normans are up to since the establishment of Normandy ITTL which is slightly shifted to the East to include parts of Picardie but is missing some of the less worthwhile lands under the ill-fated Dukes of Lisieux, more on them, well, soon™).
The other stuff you've mentioned is about stuff in the far future of TTL whose foundations have yet to be established, but you certainly had a good eye. ;)
 
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ADDENDUM 1.VI: The Normans on the Seine, Part 1
Excerpt: Normandy – "Neustrian History", Anonymous; Datalinks Archive (AD 2025)

Etymology
The name “Normandy” descents from the Old Neustrian “Normendie”, which itself is a composite of the word “normant”, Norman, and the suffix -ie. The modern word “Norman”, in turn, originates in the Latin sources of the Carolingian era in which “nortmanni”, “northmanni”, or “nordmanni” can be regularly found when these surviving fragments of the past document the social, political, economic, and physical change these people have brought for Neustria. It has its origins in Old Norse, where norðmaðr or norðmenn defines people who live in or descent from the Nordic countries (norðrlönd). For some time, these two words were used in the kingdoms of medieval Bretland as a synonym for noregsmaðr, “Norwegian”, to geographically differentiate between the newcomers of Scandinavia Proper and Denmark, though this distinction subsided with the establishment of the Anglian kingdom. Henceforth, “Norman” was used without a particular geographical constraint. In the context of most modern scholarly works, however, the differentiation between the “Normans” of Neustria following Rollo’s ascension as Earl of the Normans and the more ambiguous “Norse” or “Vikings” was introduced out of pragmatic considerations in academic discourse. […]

Rollo
Rollo (Rou, Hrólfr, or Göngu-Hrólfr) is the Franco-Latin name of a Viking who commanded the last great raid of the Vikings on the Seine in 907. Some historians identify him with Hrolf Ganger (also called Gånge Rolf in Scandinavia) of the later Icelandic sagas, but this assignment is now considered obsolete under the prevailing academic opinion. Rollo's early history is fairly uncertain, especially his origins, though his place of birth is according to the compelling ruling opinion located in Scandinavia. His early upbringing and arrival in Bretland remain undisclosed. Indeed, contemporary mentions of Rollo are few and far between, even for the local standards of the timeframe. In any case, whatever the unclear date of his birth (though assumed to be in the late 840s) may be, he first appeared around 880/881 in the earliest Dano-Anglian sources as “Rollo” or “Rolphus”, though a certain “Dacian” named “Rodolphus” found in the few surviving fragments of the Vita Ieremiae regis Angliae of Swithwulf of Rochester is assumed to mean Rollo, as an early companion of High King Jeremiah I. Whether Rollo was indeed a Dane or can claim descent through one of the Scandinavian jarldoms remains unclear. [1] In Bretland, he is assumed to have been a participant in the Battle at Athelney of 881 in which the Great Army decisively defeated the Anglo-Saxons and multiple skirmishes with Pagan raiders in the Kingdom of York, after which he once more disappears from historic records in contemporary sources. […] His name is subsequently only uttered in near-contemporary sources, of which the Annals of St. Vaast, the source temporally and physically closest to Rollo, do not even mention him by name. Rather, he is simply referred to as princeps Normannorum. […]

His disappearance in the affairs of Bretland and reemergence on Neustrian shores in the years following the death of Jeremiah I after 890 remain shrouded in mystery, in particular, Rollo’s motivations for his departure remain unknown, as the few references in contemporary Dano-Anglian and Anglo-Saxon sources do imply that Rollo played at least some role of note in the matters of the Great Army and the emerging High Kingship of Jeremiah and his descendants, the chronicler Seulf of Rheims went so far as to imply an intimate bond between Rollo and Jeremiah I. Whether Rollo feared the dissolution of the Dano-Anglian Kingdom at the hands of the Mercians or West-Saxons or was outmaneuvered in the witan will likely remain subject to scholarly speculation, though the lack of references of any kind to Rollo’s presence in the sources during the time of the witan around Oskytel I suggests that the former remains the more likely scenario. [2]

In any case, Rollo’s presence in Neustria is attested after 890. In either 891 or 897, he concluded a peace treaty with the bishop of Rouen in order to spare the city of Rouen and its hinterland. This non-aggression agreement conceded the Seine valley to Rollo who, however, abruptly left Rouen in the wake of a potential retaliation of king Odo I who reversed this treaty. After this incident, Rollo left the town probably for Anglia, though this is uncertain. It was probably in the future County of Rouen where his son William Lackland was born to a certain Elftrudis, a concubine of Rollo speculated to be of West Saxon origin, though married more danico, according to Danish customs, a Christian at a time when Rollo was still pagan. He returned after the turn of the century to raid the coasts of Neustria. He is believed to have partaken in the succession struggle between the Breton Count Felecan of Cornouaille and the Duke Riwallon II of Vannes, descending from the Tad ar Vro Nominoë, in 902/903 which is widely regarded to have contributed to the creation of the later Norman County of Nantes. [3] […] Some historians […] defend the thesis of an earlier arrival of Rollo in Neustria, a presence which lasted long enough for the Norsemen to establish contacts with the representatives of the Carolingian power, in particular the later viceroys of Maine, and the Church. Rollo certainly did develop local alliances with the potentates in place, in such a way that by 907, he was chosen as the main addressee of the Neustrians, even though he reportedly only called himself primus inter pares. He specifically concluded the Treaty of Chartres with the Neustrian viceroy Wipert I of Maine and Count Wolfker I of Lisieux, which elevated Rollo to become “the Earl of the Normans” and Count of Rouen. […] Rollo was henceforth baptized and since then has called himself Wipert in official documents, though “Rollo” and “Rodolph” still appear in fragmentary usage. After the baptism, he received an area on the lower reaches of the Seine as a fief. The area initially ceded to Rollo in 907 is the origin of the later county of Rouen. The belief that the Duchy of Normandy had its origins here, however, is anachronistic, and not found in the historical sources which imply a reality in which Rollo did not even acquire any comital powers from the absentee emperor Lothair III.

The installation of Rollo in Rouen however does not inaugurate the Scandinavian settlement of Normandy, it rather functioned as maintenance and reinforcement of established trends. Indeed, according to some scholars, Danes might have already settled at the mouth of the Seine, not to mention the regular and independently ongoing settlements on the coasts of Cotentin and Pays de Retz, at the dismay of the Counts/Dukes of Lisieux. Rollo would go on to “divide the land between his knights and other foreigners from outre mer (oversees)”, the Annals of St. Vaast specify. Given the contemporary toponymy of the region, the settlers settled near the coasts and in the Lower Seine. But this migration is not replacing the old inhabitants of the region; the country is far from having been deserted by the local population. It had fled the clashes, but once peace was restored and the new lords installed, life evidently resumed its normal course. One also mustn’t assume that the Normans formed one coherent group with a clear hierarchical structure, Rollo in particular, possibly shaped by his prior ventures in Anglia, never put too much trust in another, be it his own descendants, other Normans, or the Franks of Neustria. Indeed, it is speculated by some scholars that his second son Ragnarr has been exiled from the father’s own suspicion of his ill-will towards the current status quo and distribution of power, favoring his older brother William Lackland. Some of the so-called comites, the Norman companions of Rollo who have consistently challenged his already limited comital powers, were frequently punished by Rollo, though they never ceased undermining his or his descendant’s position. [4] After the Treaty of Chartres, Rollo definitely did continue his looting expeditions and his, ultimately unsuccessful, attempts at territorial extensions of his county. This soured the relations with the viceroys of Maine and Count Wolfker I of Lisieux, halting a westwards extension of the County of Rouen into the relatively sparsely populated County of Lisieux at the cost of some skirmishes destabilizing the peace within Neustria. Nonetheless, his position as Prince of the Normans and Count of Rouen was once again confirmed in a royal assembly in Le Mans in late 920, though he ultimately died shortly before November 921 after another expedition against the Count of Lisieux was kicked off after the execution of Frankish knights in the service of the Duke of Maine. Chroniclers of the time disagree on the exact circumstances of this extreme measure and their accounts are usually propagandistic in nature; the Widonid ally Bishop Richard of Soissons, for example, jokingly laments in a letter that the emperor “sits on arms, ashamed” (super arma sedens verecunda) over Rollo’s actions, alluding to Vergil’s “sitting on savage arms” (saeva sedens super arma) of the Aeneid. […]

Elftrudis’ origins are elusive and ultimately unknowable due to the lack of historic sources. Later legitimization attempts of the House of Hrólfrsson trace her to the royal house of Wessex, though this link is disputed among modern scholars. It is true that her son William Lackland bore a Frankish name, which implies that either the origins of Elftrudis can be found in Neustria or, likelier, that the later Count William Lackland adapted this name during his later life. It nonetheless reliably indicates that Rollo’s connection with the mysterious Elftrudis at the time of William’s birth was not regarded as an endowed, fully valid marriage with consequences under inheritance law; but Elftrudis is still attested as nobilissima femina, which has helped modern research to a hypothetical classification among the Wessexian earls, but in any case indicates an origin that was completely appropriate for the bride of a Norman prince, if rare in this timeframe. Elftrudis is assumed to have died before the Treaty of Chartres, as Rollo married Adelais, illegitimate daughter of Wipert I of Maine, as part of the agreement. By her, Rollo had another son, Ragnarr.


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William Lackland
Not much is known about the early life of William Lackland and the (near-)contemporary accounts that do exist usually tend towards hagiography rather than genuinely credible reports. It is assumed that his birth name might have been Ingvar, but his adaptation of the Frankish name William early in life followed the medieval pattern of constructing sometimes artificial kinship to other bloodlines to foster their own political ambitions. […] He was likely baptized a Christian before his father by Bishop Guy (or Wito, depending on chronicle) of Rouen at the behest of Elftrudis. […] Nevertheless, it is undisputed that William Lackland was a pious Christian, unlike his father. Growing up in the town of Rouen under the wing of his mother and bishop Guy of Rouen, and later in the court of his father, the boy with an idiosyncratic background quickly integrated himself into Christian customs of his new homeland at the cost of his Scandinavian ties, which quickly became a matter of ridicule among the comites of his father who found William Lackland to be to francophile. While this account might be biased against the House of Hrólfrsson in order to undermine the legitimacy of the Norman County, his brother Ragnarr’s upbringing in Bayeux away from Rollo’s court near the core of county of Lisieux where Norman settlement is the most advanced might suggest a kernel of truth to the anecdote. […] [5]

With the death of his father in 920/921, the young and “well-spoken” son of Rollo was quickly instated as new earl of the Normans at an assembly of Normans and Bretons which elected William as their new count. Barely elected, he commends himself to Emperor Lothair III, a choice confirmed at the royal palace of Gravigny (Gravinneinse palatium) near Évreux in November 921 where his comital title to Rouen was reluctantly recognized by the viceroy of Maine. This ignores his half-brother Ragnarr, a fact that has not given rise to as much comment among chroniclers and historians alike as might have been expected. Some, indeed, have been content simply to describe what happened with William and forego Ragnarr’s existence, implying that there was indeed nothing very remarkable about this constellation; and even such explanations as the ones having been offered here do not seem to treat the matter as though it presented any great difficulty. It has been suggested, for example, that William Lackland had a special right to Normandy because, as almost all the near-contemporary accounts state, Normandy had been promised to him, that is, he had been designated as the future Count of Rouen. Ragnarr, in the meantime, was banished from Rouen and thus Normandy, seeking his luck in the Saxon principalities of Bretland. This custom certainly did not repeat itself in other Norman principalities where the inheritance was divided equally among the eligible sons so far as that could be done without dividing any allodial land. Furthermore, any explanations are at times augmented with the suggestion that though William Lackland had to have Rouen as his hereditary right, Rollo had a freer hand with Ragnarr, since there was nothing to bequeath onto him. In any case, in the pages of the Historia Normannorum of the 11th century, myth-making in nature and conflicting in allegiance, William Lackland is described as a cunning and pious son of a warrior who however lost touch with his Scandinavian roots, letting his ties of kinship to the other Norman leaders of the area decay in favor of better ties to the distrustful Neustrian sovereigns. This does not mean that William Lackland was particularly popular or unpopular among both foundations of his authority, it certainly did not resolve the issues the passing of his father left to the Earl of the Normans. This royal assembly at Gravigny reportedly also dealt with the unclear territorial boundaries of Humfrieding Lisieux and Rouen, as Wolfker I of Lisieux struggles with establishing his military and administrative sovereignty over the Cotentin and lands near Brittany which answer mostly to the Norman Count and the Breton Prince and not to the owner of these allodial lands. Emperor Lothair III, who at this time resided in Paris and Soissons before moving to Lotharingia, surely did not intervene in comital affairs such as the one between Rouen and Lisieux, and the only Lotharo-Neustrian Charter which mentioned “Willermus” denounced the violence in this corner of Neustria by the Counts of Lisieux against Norman settlements in the Cotentin. […]

While the Norman settlements in the Cotentin were indeed unruly, they didn’t necessarily answer to the Count of Rouen either. The best Lackland and his men could probably hope to encounter beyond Bayeux was indifference, but as the early sources show mostly, they were regarded with outward hostility and distrust by the Neustrians and the Normans of the Cotentin. Resistance to their presence did not subside after Rollo's death either. William was repeatedly challenged not only by Wolfker I of Lisieux and Adolph I of Flanders [6] but also by his compatriots; little to no information about the leaders of most Norman raids on the lands governed by Rouen survived, most were probably organized by what we might call adventurers, local chieftains and opportunists motivated by varying degrees of material gain and the defense of it. A particular Norman suggestively named Roland whose actual name was certainly Riulf entered the chronicles, however, which the contemporaries took a keen interest in describing. This Roland took control of the Corvalle settlement at the Cotentin peninsula and seized Bayeux in 924 where Wolfker I was unable to defend the region. Adalhard of Maine was forced to intervene in the same year when he besieges the Vikings for a month and received hostages from them. He, however, concedes Bayeux and the Cotentin to them, which they had devastated in return for a vague promise of conversion to Christianity which likely was never kept. […]

Wolfker I passed away in 928 in “seemingly natural circumstances” […], succeeded by his already mature son Humfried V who, according to the Historia Normannorum, is equal to William Lackland, as shrewd and valiant as his nemesis in Rouen. Indeed, perhaps sensing that the tides are turning against the young county of Lisieux, Humfried V sought to renew his allegiance to the potentates of Neustria, in particular the Duke Adalhard of Maine, acting as de facto viceroy for the empire of Lothair III, to whom he renewed his oath of allegiance. He also found friends in those dissatisfied with the land bestowed upon the companions of the deceased Rollo, in particular the comites of Cotentin, who by now have sworn allegiance to Riwallon II of Brittany, and those in the Pays de Caux, consumed by a revolt against William Lackland who was deemed to be working against the interests of the settling Normans, enhanced by aggressions from Count Adolph I of Flanders and the Count of Blois Hugh II. While the Normans managed, by resorting to the military aid of Scandinavian troops, to maintain power and rebuild a solid state, William Lackland’s ability to govern like true princes, asserting their authority and taking over the administrative heritage of Charlemagne, was continuously questioned. Although peace and security returned to the Seine Estuary, only the bishop of Rouen returned to his episcopal city, and while the abbeys remained vacated, despite the donations of William Lackland. […] Subjects of William Lackland in 925, earl of the Normans after all, also increasingly swore their loyalty to Humfried V of Lisieux who promised tax breaks and land for those who betray their old lord. This, combined with bolder Breton raids into Maine, sparked an intervention by the half-brother-in-law Adalhard of Maine against the Count of Lisieux who seemingly conspired with Bretons and pagan Normans against the authority of Maine. Not much has been delivered of this intervention in 929/930; a general state of turmoil ruled on the Channel for these years, which included a failed invasion and assassination of Adolph I of Flanders who was succeeded by his brother Baldwin III. William Lackland has been “banished” from Rouen at least twice, though the details are uncertain. It is commonly assumed that Adolph I was able to occupy the town, but this answer remains unsatisfactory due to contradicting historic accounts. In any event, future king Adalhard of Maine certainly enforced some peace in the Normandy, invoking the support of the Scandinavian leaders, William Lackland, Roland of Corvalle, and Asward of Nantes [7], the latter two devastating Neustria beyond the Oise in the years following 926. Richard of Soissons indicates that Roland had died in an attempt to loot the abbey of Fleury following an intervention by a monk who apparently had scolded him for his looting and ordered him to leave the premises, though this account is most likely fictional. In any case, Roland leaves the chronicles of history in the years after 931. The negotiations that begin after these chaotic years turn to the advantage of William Lackland, who might have successfully imprisoned Humfried V during the skirmishes, whose rights to Rouen were once more confirmed and who received in addition to the Seine Estuary, which he already controlled, the Carolingian county of Bessin. On the other hand, Asward, who had not yet "received land in Gaul", continued to ravage the possessions between the Seine and the Loire of Duke Adalhard of Maine who had to deal with him in another punitive campaign into Brittany. It is delivered that Humfried V of Lisieux, in return for his freedom, wrote the following to William Lackland:

I’ll yield to you the county of Bayeux, for you to possess even from the Seine all the way to the sea. But I shall hold the lands on this side of the Seine which includes the Hiémois, and I shall satisfy my will from these. Let us, however, be in harmony, as count and count should be, in perpetuity. […]

To finalize the peace, William Lackland married the younger sister of Humfried V, Agnes, in a ceremony attended by many. The County of Lisieux, in the end, was shattered; neutered in terms of size and prestige, losing power and relevance, while Rouen was able to fully establish itself as a Neustrian county recognized by the potentates of the country. William Lackland, while seemingly lacking the intellect to govern all of his allodial lands properly, has henceforth ultimately proven his authority to be earl of the Normans. While some opposition continued to linger on, in particular from Brittany where raids into the Cotentin continued, this second, longer phase of William Lackland’s reign is marked by relative calm, contrasting a destabilizing Neustria after the death of Emperor Lothair III. […]

There is no evidence that William Lackland was a participant in the Election of Soissons in 937 which sparked the Years of the Two Kings. […] It is, however, apparent that William Lackland was an enthusiastic supporter of the pretender Odo I, in accordance with his extensive ties into the clergy which aligned itself with the Carolingian legacy. […] Indeed, Theobald I of Campania, himself an ardent opponent of King Adalhard I, gifted him several monks to reinvigorate the abandoned Jumièges Abbey whose former inhabitants have fled to Haspres in the years of semi-regular Viking raids in the Seine Estuary, though a full restoration would only begin in the following century. […] During this age of strife, in 938 or 939, he celebrated the birth of his son Wipert named after the baptismal name of his father Rollo, his son was later facetiously given the nickname “Longlegs”.

At the same time, William Lackland began to install faithful allies into various castles of the Seine-Normandy and thus organized the defense of his county after a failed raid into Brittany against the Normans of the Loire. He, however, paradoxically participated in a punitive raid against Brittany with Adalhard I of Maine and the very Count Asward I, he previously fought, in yet another campaign against Duke Gurvand II of Britanny, successor to Riwallon II, which however failed and ended with the death of Asward I of Nantes at the hands of Breton forces. The death of Asward I, however, closed the distance between the houses of Rouen and Nantes. The new Count Richard I “Fairhair” Aswardsson of Nantes acted cordially which ended the preceding decades of conflict. In 944, this friendship was put to test in a minor war between three counts who fought over Nantes: Richard I himself, supported by Rouen, and the Breton Count Judicael of Rennes, and finally Count Fulk III of Anjou, supported by the Counts of Blois [8]. The most important clash of armies took place at Ingrandes on the Loire, where Richard I reportedly maimed Fulk III, consequently leading to a council of bishops trying to excommunicate him. In addition to the depredations made by Richard I, however, this council bemoaned the disturbance of the adherence to the Benedictine Rules by the monks and notes the desolation of a lot of monasteries near the Loire as a consequence of the constant state of warfare in the region. Richard I only narrowly escapes excommunication by liberal donations to the Abbeys of Redon and Saint-Florent-le-Vieil and perform penance to the archbishop of Rheims and a council of clerics of the region that had been convened for an unrelated synod regarding the diocese of Dol in the preceding century and its lack of obedience to the Metropolitan of Tours, among other issues related to Breton clerical matters [9]. […]

William Lackland’s long reign was ultimately tarnished in 949 with the death of Count Arnulf I of Laon whose successor Louis III he was embroiled with in a struggle over the Castle of Mortagne which he intended to give his son Wipert together with the remainder of the Artois, a region which intermittently subordinated itself to Flemish and Norman demands. Within the Neustrian feudal nobility, William Lackland used to be a supporter of the Carolingians and allied himself with Odo I and his kin, the Herbertians of Vermandois and Senlis and the Counts of Laon, against the Widonids. This aggression against his former allies forced conciliatory King Adalhard I to intervene and peacefully resolve the issue. […] In his attempt to settle the long-standing issue with the Counts of Flanders, headed by Baldwin III’s son Bruno I, however, fearing the concession of the Artois back to the margraviate of Flanders, William Lackland rose up in rebellion alongside some minor nobles such as Herbert IV, Count of Vermandois. Around 949, Bruno I was captured by Norman forces and given over to William Lackland, who placed the count in his custody. After about a year in his custody, however, King Adalhard I negotiated his freedom by offering William Lackland the city of Laon which William Lackland then gave to his son Wipert I. This, however, led to another uprising by Louis III of Laon who was circumvented in this deal. After the king came into conflict with the lower nobility, both William Lackland and Bruno used this to gain power for themselves; the Count of Laon was once more supported by the opportunistic Flemish Count Bruno I who invaded Normandy. Bruno I landed in the port of Boulogne in the Summer of 950, in the dominion of William Lackland, who presumably was welcomed by the locals. […] With the support of his cousin Lambert I of Hainaut, he attacked Eu and Fécamp and was able to conquer it. Wipert I, together with his father, however, was able to flee the Flemish and escape to Bayeux. In the meantime, his possessions were confiscated by Bruno I, and afterward given to Adalhard I in an attempt at appeasement and come back into good favors. […] This unclear situation lasted for a year until Bruno I, in the meantime, met the growing threat from the Normans by murdering William Lackland in 952 at a meeting on an island on the Somme near Laviers, ostensibly to negotiate a reconciliation. He was buried in the Abbey of Saint-Bertin. […]

Bruno I of Flanders was widely condemned and forced to flee Neustria into Frankish exile. With the death of William Lackland, a count who never truly controlled the land he was bestowed with, leaving behind a teenage son, the future of the Normandy on the Seine seemed uncertain. [10]


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SUMMARY:

921 :
Rollo, Earl of the Normans, passes away. He is succeeded by his son William Lackland.
952: William Lackland is assassinated by Count Bruno I of Flanders.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] As IOTL, solid arguments can be made for both the Danish and Norwegian solutions.
[2] Could make for a curious in-universe alternate timeline, a world where the descendants of this Rollo rule a united England. An interesting thought, wouldn’t you say?
[3] Not exactly like OTL, but I’ll elaborate on it in the map update which should be the next one.
[4] That is similar to OTL, though ITTL there is no allegedly “unsavory” marriage to a Gisela (of which we know very little to begin with) to be ridiculed by this timeline’s chroniclers.
[5] The major divergence within this timeline’s history of Normandy. While sharing the same name as William Longsword IOTL, William Lackland lacks a lot of talents brought forth of his OTL early upbringing, slowly but steadily alienating him from multiple pillars of his power.
[6] Son of TTL’s Baldwin II and Ezzonid Richenza of Lower Lorraine.
[7] Born in the Kingdom of York in the last years of the previous century, this Viking leader of Norwegian origin became active on the Loire for similar reasons as OTL Ragenold of Nantes, taking control of the Loire estuary and seizing Nantes in the process. Like OTL, the Counts of Anjou and the Duke of Maine who claimed the title of Count of Nantes are unable to defend the region. Similar to OTL, it is part of a broader process of Norse settlers who had settled in Morbihan, Cornouaille, the Dol region in Brittany among other places. Unlike OTL’s Ragenold, however, Asward is trying to establish himself, in the model of his Anglo-Norman ancestry, as a Christian ruler of a second Normandy on the Loire. Another minor butterfly is the lack of Wessexian/English support for the Breton counts and dukes against the incoming Normans, though their involvement was admittedly a bit more complex. Whether Asward’s endeavor is going to be successful or not will be seen in the future.
[8] Ironic, given that IOTL a massive struggle between the Counts of Anjou and Blois erupted in that timeframe.
[9] For context, preceding the initial PoD of this timeline by several years, three new dioceses were set up by Nominoë out of the formerly four in a bid to secure his power away from the wary or impervious Frankish bishops who were subsequently replaced with Breton prelates with far-reaching consequences. The “new” diocese of Dol in particular (it is a subject to scholarly debate whether or not it existed beforehand already, but that is another matter) was set up as an archdiocese which unilaterally ceased to report to Tours, leading to a complicated situation of a diocese claiming to be headed by an archbishop and overseeing four or seven Breton dioceses with the remainder of Christendom not recognizing this authority. IOTL, attempts had been made to mitigate the issue up until the 11th century, and I would expect no solution for this issue until then ITTL either. The whole story of Dol is definitely at least a bit more complicated than that, but I think that this update is already lengthy enough, so I figured that I shouldn’t bore you with the particulars. A peculiar piece of history, I’d say.
[10] Due to the length of this entry, I decided to split the short chronology of Normandy so far and to do a smaller update dealing with the future of Normandy up until where we left off with the coronation of Hugh I as Holy Roman Emperor. The more chaotic history of TTL's Normandy on the Seine is only now leading to the most obvious divergence from OTL with the early end of the House of Normandy ITTL. This also gives me a bit more time to deal with the map update to finish Chapter 1, but I hope you can forgive me for going a bit overboard with this short summary of how the continental side of the Channel is developing compared to OTL.
 
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I presume the phrasing "Normandy on the Seine" is used because there's competition with "Normandy on the Loire" for the short name?
 
Always glad to see this update -- and to see the full fall of this abortive House de Normandie!
To be fair, most of these developments were hinted at previously, especially the nickname of William Lackland was supposed to make it clear that he's not really analogous to OTL's William Longsword. And, on another note, the House of Hrólfrsson does yet have a living male claimant and the descendants of the initial companions of Rollo to satisfy, so this bloodline is not yet lost. ;) Thanks for the feedback!

I presume the phrasing "Normandy on the Seine" is used because there's competition with "Normandy on the Loire" for the short name?
Short Answer: Yes. Longer Answer: You'll see in the next update that the Norman settlement patterns and how it affects Neustrian (and Breton) comital politics are vastly different from OTL, due to changes in England and Scandinavia. This doesn't mean we'll see a Scandinavian Channel, to be sure, as the few arrivals from the North Sea that did permanently settle down assimilated relatively quickly; its impact is more so a more thorough upheaval of how OTL French politics worked at this time rather than "just" a new duchy on the Seine that will "just" export a lot of, what would nowadays be considered to be, mercenaries who themselves will go on to "just" transform other corners of Europe. I kinda wanted to a more extensive look into the Normans of TTL's France as changes there will quickly lead to even more massive shifts elsewhere, hence why nomenclature ITTL might start to get a bit (more) confusing.
 
ADDENDUM 1.VII: The Normans on the Seine, Part 2
Excerpt: Normandy – "Neustrian History", Anonymous; Datalinks Archive (AD 2025)

Wipert Longlegs
Wipert II of Rouen, called “Longlegs” in contemporary chronicles, was born in May 938 or 939 at Fécamp. He was the son of William I “Lackland”, Count of Rouen and Jarl of the Normans, and Agnes of Lisieux, the Humfrieding wife of William I. It is assumed that the epithet given to Wipert was coined by William Lackland as a nickname given to his heir. Contemporary chroniclers such as Seulf of Rheims reason that it was a reference to the exceptional height of Wipert Longlegs who towered over his contemporaries. […] It is reported that in his youth he was skillful with weapons, however physically frail and frequently haunted by illness. Furthermore, he is also said to be lazy and of weak character which the Neustrian king and some nobles took advantage of to stir up discord in the region. […]

Wipert Longlegs was still a child when William Lackland was assassinated in 952 by Bruno I of Flanders, so he was unable to prevent the Flemish Count from occupying much of the Normandy on the Seine. To further complicate the situation for the young Earl of the Normans, the politically isolated and severely weakened Humfried V of Lisieux was able to find a supporter in Count Godfrey I of Montreuil, a distant relative to the Unroachings [1], in a last attempt to revitalize his allodial lands and secure it against further Norman incursions. This alliance is notable because Godfrey I of Montreuil at this time rebelled with Herbert IV, Count of Vermandois, who himself is allied with Lambert IV, the youngest son of the current king of Neustria, Adalhard I, in his rebellion against his father and older brother Wipert II [2]. […] This revolt started shortly after the death of William Lackland when King Adalhard I decided to continue to bequeath the County of Rouen, including the castle of Sées that lay within the lands his son Lambert IV was supposed to inherit, to Longlegs as part of an agreement struck by Agnes of Lisieux and the clergy of Normandy. At this point, Lambert IV, who already was dissatisfied with the division of power and constantly feuded with his father and older brother about it, was encouraged to rebel by many lay aristocrats, including the unruly Bruno I of Flanders whose claims were also ignored by the unexpected decision of Adalhard I, who saw potential profit in his assumption of power in Maine and Normandy. At this point, the young teenager Wipert Longlegs of Rouen was already betrothed to Hedwig, infant daughter to heir-apparent Wipert II, as part of the aforementioned political agreement, though Hedwig would go on to die in 955 before they could be married. This put Longlegs firmly in the political camp of Adalhard I. […] When Longlegs became Count of Rouen, he transferred his “honors” to his late father’s faithful allies and continued to entrust the local administration and defense of the vast domains of Rouen to other emerging noble families. For example, Bayeux and the Cotentin came under the control of the viscount, or “lieutenant count,” Onfroy, an ally of the late William Lackland through his wife, Orielda, herself speculated to be an illegitimate daughter of Rollo and thus a half-sister to Lackland. Onfroy became viscount of Bayeux and later Montsort, and by 958 count of the latter castle. […] Onfroy, shortly before his death in the late 970s, left the county for Le Mans to arrange a marriage between Rothilde, a daughter of Lambert IV, and his son Emeric, who was left behind Bayeux to govern it. [4]

The Parisian support of the Norman Earl was only nominal, however, and Lambert I of Hainaut [3] continued to occupy and pillage the East of the County of Rouen. This happened in absence of Bruno I who remained in exile, hosted by his Saxon maternal cousin Duke Liudolf II. Bruno I, however, returned in 954 to pay penance in front of Adalhard I of Neustria, though he was once more exiled in the following year to Arles this time, after siding with Lambert IV. There he may have arranged the marriage of his son Baldwin IV to the Carolingian Frederuna, daughter of King Louis III of Aquitania, though this link remains controversially discussed among genealogists. […] In any case, during this timeframe, Wipert Longlegs may have nominally submitted himself to the Danish king Asbjørn Wetfeet [5] for a short time in an attempt to gain the loyalty of arriving Danish settlers or mercenaries, though the sources are unclear as to whether it was a serious endeavor on behalf of the Normans. […] Against the opposition of the Normans, who received support from the Danish king, Lambert IV allied himself with his rival, the count of Vermandois, for a time, keen to drive out Longlegs to Bayeux in the hopes of carving out an appanage for himself around Rouen as the aging Adalhard I neared his death, though not with the intent to drive out the Normans completely. For Bayeux and the Cotentin Peninsula west of it were regions in which the Neustrian potentates had always exercised little influence, a matter only slightly alleviated by the Counts of Lisieux, and where Norman contributions to the administration of the kingdom were always welcome. The expansion of Normandy westwards was insofar never the issue except for the already declining Counts of Lisieux, but the various enemies of the Norman Earls did take offense when the richer, more populated, and ultimately more important areas in the East and South were subjugated by the Normans. In 954 already, he might have assumed the title dux Normannorum, perhaps to spite his older brother’s claim to the Dukedom of Maine, a legacy of the Carolingian Duchy of Neustria, though his actual control might have been limited to the Artois up to Fécamp as he never took control of Rouen. The rebellion of Lambert IV reached its end when the troublesome Prince was captured by Normans at Rouen in late 955 and handed over to Adalhard I. Presumably Wipert Longlegs held him captive at his provisional court in Laon. […] Around the same time Longlegs may have reached maturity and was able to return to the East of Normandy, where he assumed the title of duke Lambert IV had already used for himself.

As for Louis III of Laon, the second of three, with the exception of the Counts of Laon, illegitimate Carolingian lines which have claimed Neustria as their homeland, the Counts of Vermandois, the Counts of Laon, and the Dukes of Upper Lorraine, Louis III initially continued to fight for the cause of Lambert IV, though with his subordination to his older brother Wipert II, Louis III found himself on the losing side of the attempted feudal reshuffling of Neustrian allodial lands. In a bid to restore himself to Laon and return to good graces with the Counts of Rouen, he offered his recently widowed daughter Richende, a deal Wipert Longlegs’ mother Agnes had accepted on behalf of her son after the death of the original bride Hedwig in the previous year. Between 950 and 955, when she was only 15 to 18 years old, Richende married Count Nibelung II of Vexin, one of the most powerful rulers in Normandy, though Nibelung II died during the invasion of Bruno I of Flanders. With him she had two children, making the successor of Nibelung II, Godfrey I, a stepson to Longlegs. […]

With the passing of Adalhard I of Neustria in 956 and the subsequent co-rulership of the brothers Wipert II, or Wipert I in the Neustrian royal chronology, and Lambert IV and their adventures into Lotharingia, peace returned to Normandy for a short while. Indeed, by 960, even Humfried V, the hotspot for opposition to Rouen in the North, succumbed to illness and made way for the formal inheritance of the county of Lisieux into Rouen, from which the historic misconception that Lisieux was ever elevated into a dukedom developed: Seulf of Rheims called Longlegs “dux Normannorum et princeps Lexoviensis”, Norman Duke and Count of Lisieux, though the chronicles of Odelerius of Ripoll have shortened this title to “dux Normanniae et Lexoviae”, Duke of Normandy and Lisieux/Lieuvin, by the 12th century already. This historical misconception is oftentimes repeated even in scholarly sources is perhaps a consequence of the creation of the Lexovian appanage created for Gilbert I of Lisieux by his half-brother Duke Godfrey II the Old in the early 11th century, laying the foundations of the second House of Normandy-Lieuvin which eventually would go on to rule the duchy. […]

Issues for Wipert Longlegs begin in 958 when the young and negligent ruler is befallen with a “digestive sickness” in addition to an unrelated “painful sickness” he already suffered for much of his life. Unfortunately, contemporary records of the count’s symptoms are few, and speculation ranges from ileitis [6] to autotoxicity [7] to tubercular disease of the intestine. Ileitis in particular is a persuasive solution to the mysterious “painful sickness” Longlegs suffered from according to contemporary accounts; It can explain the permanent ill-health Longlegs has been associated within contemporary sources, and he may have inherited it through his mother Agnes of Lisieux as her father Wolfker I is said to have suffered from a visible perianal condition that agonized him for much of his life, an affliction that can be traced back to ileitis as well. Ileitis as an explanation is contested, however, another relatively common symptom of the disease, if it emerges before adulthood, is usually stunted growth, something Longlegs did not suffer from. […] No matter the actual disease, Longlegs’ passive style of rule and extensive influence of his mother Agnes of Lisieux which chroniclers and later historians did take interest in further exploring is most definitely at least partly a consequence of the ill health of Wipert Longlegs.

His health took a turn for the worse in 960 when frequent fevers struck him, reportedly praying to God in the few times he had the strength to do so for the substitution of this ailment for some other less agonizing maladies. […] His prayers were not answered; Wipert Longlegs died aged only 21 or 22 in 960, leaving behind only a daughter who died shortly after birth in the same year. With him, the Hrólfrsson Dynasty of Normandy on the Seine ended. [8]

In modern historiography, the short and ultimately inconsequential rule of Wipert Longlegs is seen in contrast with his surrounding environment of decisive and strong-willed characters vying for control in the formative years of Europe transitioning into the High Medieval Period. […] Longlegs’ uneventful rule was […] a boon to the kings and other lords of Neustria as the Norman earl, rather than having his vassals try to expand their estates in Neustria as his predecessors Rollo and William Lackland did, Longlegs’ vassals were pacified by years of domestic strife and action on the Lothringian and Breton front. It must be understood, however, that this “pacification” was only temporary, however, as Longlegs’ rule also contributed to a sizable demographic shift among the military class of the emerging dukedom of Normandy on the Seine and a subsequently volatile situation among the petty lords and potentates of the vast estates of the County of Rouen who are increasingly unable to provide financially or through land grants of any kind for the puisné, those heirs born after the eligible successors to their holdings. […]


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Lambert IV
[…] In any case, the return of Lambert IV into the good graces of his older brother and his distinction in service to the Neustrian Crown against Aquitania, Lotharingia, and Francia throughout the 950s and 960s put some mounting pressure onto King Wipert I of Neustria. […] The legal institution of the appanage is in the process of being legally developed at that time, framed by the emerging rule of primogeniture in Neustria, i.e. the succession of the most senior male descendant of the most senior line, breaking away from the traditional Frankish custom of dividing or attempting to divide the kingdom equally among all the sons. The revolts of Lambert IV proved the need to provide for the puisné, princes and princesses, who were excluded from the governmental succession due to the indivisibility of the country, through the transfer of land and people with limited sovereign rights (usually without true sovereignty and limited inheritance rights for the subsequent heir). Land grants were not the only way to satisfy the entitlement of the non-ruling princes, and in the future will be mostly fulfilled through the approval of pensions. The size of the appanage and the financial position of the appanaged princes and princesses in general was determined in the individual states partly by state laws, partly by special extralegislatory grants, and partly by house laws. That said, Neustria in the 10th century did not have many established precedents, hence why Lambert IV and his relationship with the ruling kings is a popular subject of study in Neustrian political history. […] In the case of Lambert IV, in particular, both his father Adalhard I and his brother Wipert I appeared to have initially attempted to sideline Lambert IV completely, though Wipert I ultimately conceded co-rulership to the stubborn Lambert IV who was bestowed a neutered Maine with Wipert I remaining in Paris. […]

The early death of Wipert Longlegs with no successors in delivered Lambert IV, and King Wipert I for that matter, from a bothersome figure and provided an opportunity for the enduring ambitions of the scheming Lambert IV to rival his brother’s power. [9] For Longlegs may have not left behind a child, but he did leave behind Richende of Vermandois, widowed twice and only in her mid-20s, matching Lambert IV’s second surviving son Alric I [10], an unmarried boy about to reach the age of majority himself whose previous betrothal to an unnamed daughter of the Count of Campania fell through when it didn’t suit the political needs of both parties anymore. Lambert IV subsequently seized this chance under the eyes of his brother, who campaigned in Lotharingia at this time, to neuter the bloated County of Rouen and regain certain advantageous territories, such as Ponthieu and Amiens among several abbeys, though forced to appease the many sons of Herbert IV of Vermandois (and half-brothers to Richende). Nonetheless, Richende was successfully married to Alric I who now ruled by jure uxoris the County of Rouen, stylizing himself as Duke of Normandy as his father did when he ruled in Rouen for a short period of time, shifting the balance of power in Neustria once more. […] Lambert IV appears to have thought of taking the Normandy on the Seine for himself, and perhaps even using this base of power to challenge his brother’s crown, but he was bound by oath to preserve the peace in absence of his brother and there was no window of opportunity to secure the support of the clergy and the upper and lower nobility of the country. […]


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Alric I
The ascension of Alric I, who is accused of ruling as a mere puppet for Lambert IV, was almost immediately challenged by some of the lower Norman nobility. But Lambert IV and the struggles of the previous Counts of Rouen have tired the region of the strife and already pacified many potential rivals such as Baldwin IV of Flanders who satisfied himself with the estates he had annexed up to the Canche River. Enguerrand I of Blois, partaking in an alliance with the Bretons, proved to be the main issue for Alric; Évreux fell to Enguerrand I in March 964, but Alric I recaptured the town with the help of Onfrey I of Bayeux and repelled the invasion force in the following year. The skirmishes continued until 966 when King Wipert I forced a peace settlement at Gravigny but still was forced to concede the town in 969 as part of a dowry to the son of Enguerrand I, Hugh III. […] This major concession showcases the weakness of Alric I’s hold over the Normandy on the Seine. By granting a key town in dowry to Enguerrand I, it is not a far-reaching assumption that Alric I’s grasp on Évreux was already tenuous.

Alas, peace returned to the land when a new equilibrium of powers was instated when the king and his diligent brother campaigned against the Carolingians in Francia. Alric I, a blank slate in contemporary chronicles which report of him with no flattering but also no ill-will, used this time to reassert ducal authority over the lands he did control and began to isolate himself from Neustrian politics and its petty wars. At first, military force was used; […] The towns of Lisieux and Eu were fortified with defensive walls in the 970s. […] Another way was the reinvigoration of monasticism in the region. Under Alric I, the church of Fécamp was reconstructed and the first significant step toward reasserting monasticism around Rouen was taken with the restoration of the monastery of Saint Taurin in 971, though this must be seen in context with the ongoing succession dispute between his father Lambert IV and Alric I’s cousin Guy I whose royal election was perceived to have been coerced by many. [11] Nonetheless, Norman monastic property in the decades before the turn of the millennium did see some limited monastic endowment and expansion across Normandy, though a lot of these monastic lands remained undeveloped due to lack of funding and acted autonomously from Rouen at most and answered to the dioceses of the Neustrian core. [12] This is unlike the monastic development in Campania, where deficiencies in comital and ducal administration were compensated with extensive grants to establish new monasteries, serving as the foundation for the authority of the Counts of Campania. [13] This is a consequence of comital authority gaining a (perceived) right to intervene in monastic affairs, especially when political issues were at stake, in return for protection, access to broader sources of funds, personnel, and library collections among other things. While this earned the Campanian counts, among other lay potentates, the ire of the monastic reformers of Mechelen and St. Flor, it allowed them to exceed what could have been expected politically and economically of the individual counties. […] Conversely, Alric I unintentionally created the seeds for the spread of the Florian Principles across his demesne. […]

Despite Alric I’s relatively young age, he proved himself to be a capable administrator and a point of anchorage for the history of the Normandy on the Seine as he successfully managed to coalesce the duchy after the end of the first House of Normandy while remaining on good terms with the potentates of Neustria, a feat all his predecessors did not manage to achieve over longer periods. Scholars agree that his reign’s success was a causal reaction to the decades of assimilation or purging of antagonistic forces to the emerging Norman duchies by the predecessors of Alric I, his inoffensive appearance in contemporary chronicles suggests that he also made no enemies in the Church and his Widonid kin in Maine or Paris. [14]


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SUMMARY:

960 :
Wipert Longlegs, Earl of the Normans, passes away prematurely. He leaves a power vacuum behind which the Norman nobility is unable to fill, subsequently leading to the turbulent ascension of Alric I, nephew of King Wipert I of Neustria, to the emerging Duchy of Normandy.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] This dynasty’s main spotlight IOTL and ITTL was their rule in Friuli and (ITTL only attempted) kingship in Italy, though this Frankish dynasty did originate in OTL Hauts-de-France or modern Belgium and left behind some kin there in both timelines. Awfully similar to the Widonids, just that the Unroachings of Neustria always only played a negligible role in regional politics.
[2] Wipert II/I (the former being the enumeration within the Widonid Dynasty, the latter the numeration of kings of Neustria named Wipert of which there have so far been only this one Wipert) of Neustria is not Wipert II “Longlegs” of Rouen/Normandy. I’m sorry that it will get confusing again, I purposefully avoided calling Longlegs just “Wipert” for that reason.
[3] He too shouldn’t be confused with the aforementioned Lambert IV, the future Duke of Maine (and intermittently Normandy as well, as this update will show), younger brother of Wipert II and son of King Adalhard I. Hainaut will end up on the Neustrian side of Lotharingian politics as outlined in BEYOND 2.VIII for this century at least, though Lambert I of Hainaut will remain only a minor figure.
[4] A larger Normandy on the surface doesn’t translate directly into a stronger Normandy. The last two updates can be summarized as “Weaker Norman Earls and more interventions from outside led to the overfeudalization of Normandy ITTL”. This makes for a lot of issues down the line, though definitely not in the sense of a Norman screw.
[5] More to him in the next very big update to end the addendums and thus Chapter 1. Suffice to say that his epithet stems from his very active foreign policies.
[6] Crohn’s disease.
[7] Autoimmune disease.
[8] Loosely modeled after OTL Alfred the Great’s ailments. Not as much of a Normandy screw as one might think initially, to the contrary. But that is prime Chapter 2 material.
[9] Longlegs, surrounded by observant but grudging strongmen, proclaimed "Death creates nothing." To which Lambert IV responds "Your death will create an opportunity."
[10] A corruption of the name “Aethelric”.
[11] You see that the effect of TTL’s France losing on Aquitania is not affecting the domestic affairs of that time too much beyond the details for now. Indeed, it is a godsend in disguise for the kingdom so far in that there are fewer headaches in trying to exert their influence South of the Loire for the ruling Widonids and a subsequently different web of alliances in the Aquitanian polities falling back onto the Kings in Paris in case the Carolingian kings become too irritating for the Aquitanian potentates.
[12] While the pace of this return of monasticism ITTL is similar to OTL, IOTL it served to set the foundations to establish at least some parts of the future Norman sovereignty after 1066, similar to what happened in Champagne which is outlined in the sentence following this footnote. ITTL, however, with the early end of an independent Norman house, monasticism is not only thoroughly linked with Neustrian episcopal policies, but the lands also remain relatively undeveloped and oftentimes vacant due to a depleted treasury which is further strained by a weaker Norman central authority.
[13] Similar to OTL, in fact, Champagne and Normandy are oftentimes compared IOTL because the development of monasteries in these two regions was remarkably similar despite vastly different political and social environments.
[14] Aged 37 around 981, he is still ruling as of the current date of this timeline, hence the rather abrupt end to this addendum. The next update will be the final one for Chapter 1, a map of Europe and her immediate surroundings in 981 AD with a lot of mini-updates for the individual regions and how they are faring. Most of the work goes into writing the explanation of what has happened during the last century in the background and why the map looks like that. I'm already clocking in at 13k words while only really finished with the first third of these explanations, so it might take some time again for that final entry. I’m sorry that this timeline is updated so irregularly, it’s just that I happen to be preoccupied with some ugly stuff in real life which takes time to resolve, if at all. That said, I always look forward to continuing working on it as I have a lot of ideas, though I'm admittedly having some issues in deciding how I handle some topics for this timeline. I might therefore reach out to you, the reader, in the future for some opinions. As always, thanks for all the feedback, I appreciate it!
 
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Glad to see this return! Asbjorn Wetfeet is one hell of a sobriquet -- interested to see what he and the Norman noble sons with no inheritances get up to...
 
Glad to see this return! Asbjorn Wetfeet is one hell of a sobriquet -- interested to see what he and the Norman noble sons with no inheritances get up to...
He earned his nickname while in Norway:
"To his disadvantage, Gamle [High King of Norway] had almost no political connections to Denmark, so he wasn’t informed in time about the preparations for a Danish invasion of Norway. He was visiting Freidarberg when the Danish fleet surprisingly arrived in the area. He could only muster a small band of fighters while the Danes and followers of Egil [Eriksson, son of Erik Bloodaxe and pretender king of Norway] outnumbered them. The sagas will propagandize that Gamle Olafsson threw off his armor and rushed shirtless into the battle to inspire courage in his followers by example. Hoping to make use of his limited numbers, he focused his fighters' attacks on enemy commanders in order to render the enemy army leaderless. Gamle’s gambit didn’t work in the Battle of Freidarberg of 957, however, and Gamle’s severe wounds created confusion and chaos in the Vikener army, forcing the retreat of the forces of Gamle Olafsson. But just as the battle was won, Egil Eriksson was hit badly by an arrow, and he too died from his injuries. Most of the Norwegian jarldoms thereafter accepted the rule of the brother of Egil, Gudrød Eriksson as High King of Norway, though under the patronage of his brother-in-law Asbjørn Wetfeet who earned his nickname in this battle, partaking at the front of the battle barefoot after previously being stuck in the mud."
A short excerpt from the next update, Wetfeet's nickname is obviously inspired by other rather curious epithets of the region of OTL such as Harald Greycloak or Sweyn Forkbeard, a mix of half-legendary and half-serious origins. Regardless, he is kinda filling the role of Harald Bluetooth with some minor differences across the board, nonetheless an important figure for early medieval Scandinavia ITTL.
 
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The map update takes a bit longer to be developed than initially expected, partially because the map itself is taking quite a lot of time to make (researching stuff like cities and coastlines at the time), and partially because the explanations for each region depicted on the map is reaching 30.000 words (and I have yet to write on Eastern Europe, though). Combine this with some real-life hurdles, I think you can see why it took so long for any kind of update. I've been thinking of releasing each entry as an individual update to the timeline, but I think it would miss the point of this chapter's famed final update, which was oh-so teased before. For now, I will have to leave you with just this unofficial teaser of an illustration used for the overview of the Islamic world so far, which quite radically diverged from our own, though it is admittedly not particularly visible from this genealogical tree alone. In any case, this post was made to reassure people that this timeline is definitely not abandoned and this minuscule teaser should serve as some kind of reassurance for that. Until then!
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EDIT: There is a mistake in Umayyad Caliph Hisham III's years of reign (he's unsurprisingly not a time-traveller), he instead reigned from 959 to 973, a fixed version will be uploaded with the map update.
 
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This has been a fascinating timeline. While I'm still working my way through it, the idea of a longer lasting Frankish Empire is very interesting, and this is the only timeline that I've seen tackle it, and has done so in interesting ways.
 
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