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Rollo Rules

In the year 911, archbishop Franco baptised Rollo and gave him the name Robert. Rollo let his counts and warriors and his entire armed band be baptised and instructed in the Christian faith. After this he called bishop Franco to him and asked which churches in his own land were thought well of.

Franco named several churches and a monastery.

Then Rollo wanted to give a part of his land to God and to St. Mary and the designated saints, so that they might come to his aid.


"It is fitting that you do this."

And so, for a week Rollo gave very much land to seven different churches. On the eighth day he began to mete out land to the counts in his own name, and to give bountifully to his fideles. At last he took to wife the king's daughter Gisla.

He rebuilt his land, restored it, enjoined on the inhabitants rights and lasting laws that were ratified and ordained by the leaders for the sake of peaceful intercourse. He rebuilt churches, restored sanctuaries that had been torn down by barbar crowds, remade and increased the walls and towers of cities. He subjugated the rebellious Bretons. Then he prohibited anyone to be a thief or a bandit in his land, or to be an accessory to any person of ill will. Finally, for some reason he forbade anyone to carry home plough implements, but rather leave them in the field with the plough, and he forbade anyone to send a guard after a horse or donkey or cow so as not to lose it.


A certain farmer who lived on the villa at Longpaon left his plough utensils in a field and came home to eat as midday approached. His vexed wife started to rebuke him for leaving behind the plough attachments where he had been working, but also she gave him something to eat.

She wanted to teach him a lessons so that he would never again leave his tools in the field, and secretly made for the field as quickly as she could and took away the reins of the yoke and the ploughshare and the plough-coulter.

She returned home as her husband had finished eating. He went to his field but did not find his plough fittings, so he returning home sad and told his complaining wife about it. She told him to run to Rollo and tell him.

He ran speedily to Rollo and told to the duke how his plough fittings had disappeared. At once Rollo called for a certain official and said to him:

"Give this farmer five solidi to replace what he has lost. Mke for the villa as quickly as possible and search out the thief using trial by fire.

The estate steward tried all who lived in the villa with the fire and found none of them guilty of theft. He reported back to duke Rollo. Rollo, calling for archbishop Franco, said:

"Look the one guilty of the theft did not become known to us when tried by fire in the name of God."


"The fire has not yet touched the cuprit."

Rollo to the estate steward:

"Go back and test those who live in the neighbouring villas with the ordeal by fire in the name of Jesus Christ."

The man found no guilty one. Rollo at once called for the ploughman and asked him:

"Who did you tell you had left the plough in the field to?"

The farmer replied:

"To my wife."

She came when called and the duke said to her:

"What did you do with your husband's ploughshare and plough-coulter?"

She denied that she had them. After being cudgled with a broom, she confessed to the theft before everyone. Then Rollo to her husband:

"Did you know that your wife was the thief?"

He to Rollo:

"I knew."

And Rollo:

"You will now die, both of you. Husband, you ought to have chastised her. Wife, you helped in the theft and were unwilling to disclose it."

He at once had them both hung by a noose and finished off. This judgement terrified the inhabitants of the land. No one afterwards dared to steal or to rob on the highway. Thus was the land at rest, without thieves and bandits, and it was still.

As a result, all men, safe under Rollo's authority, were rejoicing in uninterrupted peace and long-lasting rest and were opulent in all goods, not fearing any hostile army.

Two hidden-away warriors lost their lives

King Charles once sent two warriors to his daughter Gisla, who had been joined in sexual union with duke Rollo. However, when Gisla saw her father's warriors, she hid them away in a certain house so that her consort Rollo would not see them. She made them linger there for a very long time, giving them all goods. Rollo's counts marvelled that warriors of king Charles would dally at Rouen and not enjoy duke Rollo's company, so they came to him and said:

"Why have you not informed us what Charles' men said to you?"

Rollo said:

"Where are my father-in-law's ambassadors?"

They replied:

"You are overly fond of your wife and womanish also, for avoiding your presence, they are with your consort."

And so they were saying that Rollo had not had sex with her according to conjugal law. At once the duke got enraged and saw to it that the two hidden-away warriors were arrested and led to the public marketplace and slaughtered there.

Robert, duke of the Franks, heard that the chains of peace that bound the king and duke Rollo of the Normans had been broken by the violent death of the two warriors, and began to oppose Charles and to bring him to nothing and to plunder his lands.

Robert sent an ambassador to Rollo at Rouen, saying:

"With your aid I wish to take the kingship from Charles and chase him from Francia."

Rollo of Rouen replied to the ambassador of the duke of the Franks:

"Now you wish to ride and pass far beyond the law. Simply destroy the king's holdings, I do not want him to take on the rule."

His consort Gisla*, the king's daughter, had already died.

Rollo, patrician of the Normans, devoured by old age and the very great labour of battles, having called together the leaders of the Dacians and the Bretons, gave all the land under his authority to his son William, Poppa's son. And as the leaders placed their hands in the hands of the young man William, Rollo bound them to William by a sworn oath of fidelity.

Rollo lived another year after that. He was now unable to ride a horse due to his failing age and exhausted body, Yet he kept his realm pacified, safe and calm until his death.

* Gisela of France: According to legend or tradition, Gisela (Gisla) was married to Rollo, duke of Normandy in 911. The legend maintains that her father sent two knights to support her in Normandy. but Rollo had the two men captured and killed in front of a crowd. Now, neither the marriage nor Princess Gisela are confirmed in any written historical record.

The offspring of Rollo and his followers became known as the Normans.



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© 2019, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]