Richard I “The Fearless” of Normandy I

Richard I “The Fearless” of Normandy I

Fecamp, Departement de la Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
Death 20 Nov 996 (aged 63)
Fecamp, Departement de la Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
Burial Fecamp, Departement de la Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
Memorial ID 37360605 · View Source
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Richard I "the Fearless" Duke of Normandy, Leader of the Normans of Rouen, was born in 933 in Fecamp, Normandy, France.

He was the son of William I "Longsword" Duke of Normandy. A minor at the assassination of his father William in 942, it was largely during Richard's long period of rule that what eventually became the duchy of Normandy evolved from what was essentially a pirate principality into a feudal state.

In 960 Richard married Emma of Paris, daughter of Hugh Magnus Count of Paris, Orleans and Vexin, Duke of France for political reasons. He did not love her, and chose not to reside with her. Emma lived a solitary life at Rouen, and died very young in 962.

About 978 Richard married his lifelong love, Gunnor of Crêpon, daughter of Herbastus de Crêpon. It is quite probable that Richard and Gunnor had some of their children prior to Richard's marriage to Emma of Paris. Richard and Gunnor married after Emma's death, thereby legitimizing all the children.

Richard the Fearless rebuilt an ancient ruined abbey at Fécamp, where he had a palace. The church, one of the first of which we have any details, was costly and magnificent for the time. It was adorned by lofty towers, beautifully finished outside and richly ornamented within.

There was one object which excited much speculation. It was a large block of stone placed right across the path which led to the doorway, close enough to be beneath the eaves. Fashioned and located by the order of Richard I, the stone was hollowed out so as to form a huge strong chest, which might be used as a coffin or a sarcophagus. Its initial use, however, was for the living. On each Saturday the chest was filled to the brim with the finest wheat-corn, then a luxury. The poor came to this chest and each filled his measure of grain and also received a dole of money. When Richard died, the purpose of the chest was made clear. 'His last instructions were that the chest should contain his corpse, lying where the foot should tread and the dew descend, and the waters of heaven should fall.' He-

"'Marked for his own, close to those cloistered steps, a burial-place, that every foot might fall with heavier tread, trampling his vileness.'"

Richard I "the Fearless" Duke of Normandy died in 996 in Fecamp, Normandy, France, at age 63 years. He was succeeded by his son, Richard II.

Information Source: The Life, Letters, and Sermons of Bishop Herbert de Losinga by Herbert de Losinga, Edward Meyrick Goulburn, Henry Symonds. (Google Books)
-------------------Richard was born to William I of Normandy, ruler of Normandy, and his wife, Sprota. He was still a boy when his father died in 942. His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a Danish marriage. After William died, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf of Ivry was their son and Richard's half-brother.

Richard was still a boy when his father died, and so he was powerless to stop Louis IV of France when he seized Normandy. Louis kept him in confinement in his youth at Lâon, but he escaped with the assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane (ancestor of families of Harcourt and Beaumont). In 968, Richard agreed to "commend" himself to Hugh, Count of Paris. He then allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders, drove Louis out of Rouen, and took back Normandy by 947. He later quarrelled with Ethelred II of England regarding Viking invasions of England because Normandy had been buying up much of the stolen booty.

Richard was bilingual, having been well educated at Bayeux. He was more partial to his Danish subjects than to the French. During his reign, Normandy became completely Gallicized and Christianized. He introduced the feudal system and Normandy became one of the most thoroughly feudalized states on the continent. He carried out a major reorganization of the Norman military system, based on heavy cavalry. He also became guardian of the young Hugh, Count of Paris, on the elder Hugh's death in 956.

He married 1st (960) Emma (not to be confused with Emma of France), daughter of Hugh "The Great" of France, and Hedwiga de Sachsen. They were betrothed when both were very young. She died 19 Mar 968, with no issue.

According to Robert of Torigni, not long after Emma's death, Duke Richard went out hunting and stopped at the house of a local forester. He became enamoured of the forester's wife, Seinfreda, but she being a virtuous woman, suggested he court her unmarried sister, Gunnor, instead. Gunnor became his mistress, and her family rose to prominence. Her brother, Herefast de Crepon, may have been involved in a controversial heresy trial. Gunnor was, like Richard, of Norse descent, being a Dane by blood. Richard finally married her to legitimize their children:

* Richard II "the Good", Duke of Normandy (966)

* Robert, Archbishop of Rouen, Count of Evreux, le Danois (Danus) died 1037.*

* Mauger, Earl of Corbeil, died after 1033; his alleged grandson (or perhaps great-grandson) was Robert Fitzhamon, an important Anglo-Norman baron.

* Emma of Normandy (c.985-1052) wife of two kings of England.

* Maud of Normandy, wife of Odo II of Blois, Count of Blois, Champagne and Chartres

* Hawise of Normandy (b. ca. 978), d. 21 February 1034. m. Geoffrey I, Duke of Brittany

* Beatrice of Normandy, Abbess of Montvilliers d.1034 m. Ebles of Turenne (d.1030 (divorced)

* Papia m. Gilbert de St Valery.

* Fressenda (ca. 995-ca. 1057), m. Tancred of Hauteville.

* Muriella m. Tancred of Hauteville.

Richard was known to have had several other mistresses and produced children with many of them. Known children are:

* Geoffrey, Count of Brionne, (b. ca. 970)

* William, Count of Eu (ca. 972-26 January 1057/58) m. Leseline de Turqueville (d. 26 January 1057/58).

* Hawise of Normandy (b. ca. 978), d. 21 February 1034. m. Geoffrey I, Duke of Brittany

He died in Fecamp, France on November 20, 996 of natural causes.

Bio by: Lido

  • Maintained by: Plantagenet Princess
  • Originally Created by: Rik Van Beveren
  • Added: 21 May 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 37360605
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  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Richard I “The Fearless” of Normandy I (28 Aug 933–20 Nov 996), Find a Grave Memorial no. 37360605, citing Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp, Fecamp, Departement de la Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France ; Maintained by Plantagenet Princess (contributor 49922906) .