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Rollo's Vision on a Mount

After Rollo had battled and overthrown thousands of Angles, he hesitated as to what to do next. Meanwhile, the men of the region he had won, subjugated themselves to him through an obligation and a bond of fidelity.

Then, one night when he lay asleep, Rollo in a vision found himself on a mountain. The mountain was higher than any Frankish mountain. He came across a clear and fragrant fountain at the top of it. Polluted by leprosy he bathed in the water and was cleansed. While still at the top he saw many thousand birds of various sorts and colours. But all the birds had red left wings. The birds were everywhere around the mountain foot.

Not even with a penetrating gaze he could see the outer rim of these birds. They spread far and wide. Next they flew in great accord to the fountain he was sitting by at the top. They washed and bathed as birds do in time of rain.

As soon as all had been anointed with that marvellous wetting, they started to eat by turns, amicably, in a common pasture. They formed a harmonious flock altogether. It was free from controversy's strife. The birds went on and build nests from branches they brought to the place themselves.

At last, the birds surrendered willingly to him as an empire.

Rollo woke up soon after the vision and remembered it. Without hesitation he discussed all of it with the greatest leaders among his men, and also with the leaders that had been taken in battle. He asked them what they felt was the secret meaning of the vision.

And then, when all were silent, one of the captives, a man of inspiration, made the meaning clear, as well as he could:

"The mountain of Francia that you seemed to stand on, suggests what rises there.

The fountain at the summit of the mountain, is explained as one of rebirth. You shall understand how horrible and base the deeds you do truly are, for you were corrupted by most of them.

Now, you were washed in that fountain and purged; you were born again and lost your sins.

The swarm of birds with left wings are men of various provinces - they have shield-bearing arms. This vast throng you will one day see brought together as your fideles.

The birds that got wet and washed in the fountain, and went on eating togheter, must be a populace that first had been polluted by much ancient fraud. This has to be washed off in communal living. These men are in for being nourished and having peace. The nests they were building around the mountain, illustrate ravaged town walls to be rebuilt.

Birds of various kinds were obeying you; men of many tracts will obey and serve you."

Much pleased by the explanation of the vision, Rollo released the seer from his bonds. He also released the others he had captured in the war and sent them back to their homes. Glad they were. They even got many presents and gifts.

A story of uncommon nobility and deeds

At that time Alstem was a king of the Angles. He was a good man. Rollo sent envoys to him, instructing them beforehand for it.

Who this Alstem might be has puzzled many historians, but recently it has been resolved he was the Danish leader Guthrum. He got the name Athelstan when he was baptised. He was recognised as king of the East Angles in 880. (WP, "Rollo")

With respectful voices and lowered faces they said to Alstem:

"Rollo, duke of the Dacians, sends faithful service to you and the gift of unshattered friendship to your followers. Through great misfortune in Dacia he was fraudulently banished. The wind blew us this way after we tried in vain to avenge ourselves on our foes. The frozen winter opposed and hindered us. Icy coldness and rivers made into a thick mass of frozen crusts. Before we left we captured and disarmed many who were lined up and battled us.

Sir, we will not pillage your realm. We seek a peace deal so that we can buy and sell for a while. And when spring comes, we are going to depart for Francia."

Hearing this, the king spoke out and bowed with a happy face:

"No region brings forth more extraordinary men, and men actively instructed in arms, than does Dacia. That is for sure.

"Now, many men have told us of the nobility of your lord's kin. We have also heard of the fraudulent treachery of the king against your leader. No one is more just than your lord in deeds, no one greater in arms.

"For now, put away your cares about this matter and be free from all ills. You may sell and buy everywhere in my lands. Please, try to make your lord come to me, for I want to have a good look at him, and to solace him about his ills."

The messengers reported that to Rollo. Boldly and unhesitatingly he went to the king as soon as it was possible. The king came to meet him. The two of them hugged and kissed each another. Then they sat down at a distance from their armies and let the armies depart.

King Alstem was the first to speak: "Let us be joined in a fine alliance. Be always a part of my soul and my companion, for you are potent and of noble stock. I will assist you if I can."

[Gist from Dudo's chapter 7]


Setting Sail towards France in Summer

Rollo was delighted by the words of King Alstem of the Angles, and said:

"Thank you, great king, for these willing boons. I will not stay very long in your realm but go to Francia as swiftly as I am able. There I will remain your friend till the end, united in an alliance of indissoluble esteem."

Allied for good through these words, each returned home. Throughout the winter Rollo saw to it that the needed ships and expenses for the journey were prepared. He gathered warriors in the flower of youth, Angles who had become his followers and were to travel with him.

When summer set it, when lots of red-glowing flowers gently smiled his way and milk-white and fragrant lilies shone in white and purple, Rollo and his fleet set sail. Winds were gentle and the sea calm and smooth. Then a storm broke out all of a sudden. Huge billows were lifted up atop the gaping deep. Ever more lightnings flashed across the sky in the black night.

Their oars cracked, the sails were unable to bear the frenzy of the winds. They became exhausted and had to leave it all to the winds. The ships moved to and fro. Rollo and his men found themselves threatened with sudden death. Then Rollo lay down flat on the ship with outstretched hands and said:

"Restrain these fierce billows and hold back and calm the deep.

[Gist of Dudo's chapter 8]


Taking over Large Parts of the Netherlands and More

The storm and the waves were stilled. In a short while the men deployed the ships and those smashed by the storm and got such a breeze that sailing men wish for. They steered to the shores of the Walgri. Many of these people assailed Rollo unexpectedly right after the storm-battered men and boats had been carried to the shores.

Stirred up in the way he was used to, he went to war against them and won. A great many of these men were slain, and he either captured or put to flight the rest of them.

He kept pillaging the Waal region and tarried there for a long time. Now King Alstem of the Angles recalled his pact and sent him twelve boats loaded with grain and wine and lard, and as many filled with an armed war-band. Rollo was delighted with these gifts, and sent envoys back to king Alstem as an act of thanks. They brought the greatest presents the king, and Rollo sent word that he himself was about to attend the king.

But now the Walgri concluded that Rollo was going to linger in the Waal region for good, because of the abundant supply of grain that had been fetched by him and his men. The Walgri called for Ragnar Longneck, duke of Hesbaye and Hainault, and for Radbod, prince of the Frisia region. With the gathered army of those other districts, the Walgri attacked Rollo.

As he had done so many times before, Rollo went to war without hesitation. He killed many thousands of them and chased Ragnar Longneck and Radbod the Frisian to their own strongholds. Then he ravaged the whole land of the Walgri; and consumed it with fire.

Indignant after these happenings, he swiftly sought out the Frisians and began to ravage their land. Then the Frisian inhabitants of the Zuidersee quickly gathered many people to fight Rollo. Among them were neighbouring people. They all ventured to attack Rollo. It was a sped-up assault.

Rollo and his men bent their knees and thus were wholly covered by their oblong shields against the assailing weapons, Rollo and his men were forming a tight battle array also. Their sword-points glittered - they had been anticipating the combat.

Because the Vikings made up a compact flock, the Frisians thought they were not many. And that is why the Frisians started a war that did not benefit them. The Dacians rushed onwards and killed. They captured many leaders and led a large band of prisoners back to their ships. The remaining Frisians despaired, and from that day on they were subject to tribute and had to obey Rollo's precepts in everything.

Once the tribute of Frisia had been gathered and handed over; Rollo launched the canvas sails high and turned the prows to the lands of Ragnar Longneck. He longed to take revenge on that man, for Ragnar had been battling against him.

Rollo entered the bed of the Schelde and pillaged the land on this side and that side, and then he came upon Ragnar Longneck at a certain abbey called Cond. Ragnar set up many battles against Rollo, but the mighty Rollo won them all.

The land was ravaged; it had to endure the evils of both armies. There was a very powerful famine, because the earth was not tilled by plough. The people of the tract were weakened by scarcity. They were exhausted by hunger and wars. All despaired of living. Many people were robbed of the safety of sustenance.

One day Ragnar lay in ambush, longing to rush on the Dacians, just as the Dacians rushed on him. They surrounded him from different sides and seized him, no matter how well he fought. They led the vanquished man to Rollo.

On that very day Ragnar's men - remaining in coverts in order to capture some of the Dacians - also attacked twelve of Rollo's chief warriors and captured them by means of steady valour.

Now Ragnar's wife, weeping and wailing, called her leaders together, sent for Rollo to return her lord to her in return for the twelve captured counts. Rollo received her envoys and at once sent back to her his words:

"Unless you first hand over my companions to me, Ragnar will not be returned to you, but will lose his head. And what is more, give me all the gold and silver there is in his duchy - the whole tribute payment of that region."

Soon Ragnar's consort, distressed by this mournful message, sent the captured counts back to Rollo along with all the gold and silver she was able to find. With suppliant and intercessory words she sent to Rollo whatever had been granted to the sacred altars, and also the revenue of the duchy. She swore that she neither had more metal nor could she exact any. So he might hand over her husband to her.

Rollo was moved by his inherent compassion and the cries of those who supplicated and besought him. He let Ragnar Longneck come to him and spoke peace-making words that day:

"Duke Ragnar, what wrong had I ever done you when you went to battle along with the Walgri and Frisians against me? If you now desire to vent your rage; the arrows and armed retainers of war are wanting. If you wish to slip away in flight, you cannot escape while entangled in fetters.

As I did with the Frisians, I have retaliated for the evils you brought on me.

In exchange for you, your wife and your leaders have sent me all the gold and silver they were able to find. I will hand over to you half of the gathered tribute and send you back to your wife. Rest after this while growing mild. Let there in no way be discord between me and you, but rather ever-lasting, peaceful friendship."

Ragnar's shins were now released from their fetters. Rollo enriched him with extremely great presents and gifts; handed over to Ragnar half of the despatched tribute and sent him delighted back to his wife right away. Altogether, Rollo took a solid revenge. [All from chapter 9]



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Tales from Dudo of St. Quentin's Norman History, Gesta Normannorum stories,  tales of descendants from Rollo, a Norman dynasty's tales, Dudo of Saint-Quentin stories, Dudon, Norman historian tales from Normandy Normandie, stories from a Medieval classic. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
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