In Pursuit of the Normans

October half term saw us back in France for family duties so I was delighted to combine it with a bit of history and homeschool!  Unfortunately, during the trip both my camera and Bertie’s mobile decided not to work at the same time and my phone with its pictures was stolen a few days later, sigh.  Still, as someone remarked, it is a good reason to go back!  In the meantime, I have included a few photos from other sources whose web pages are very interesting to visit.

Our route took us via Normandy from where dates the start of Bertie and my belle histoire d’amour all those many years ago!  After catching up with old friends in Caen and Falaise, we made our way to Paris via Rouen.  I remember passing through very briefly in the rain on a school trip, but it was a much more enjoyable visit this time.  We walked for a while around the town before finally finding Rouen Cathedral whose first point of interest for us was being the place where our Little Duke was consecrated, although it would have been an earlier building on the site of the present  one.

We were also looking for the tomb of William Longsword, the father of our Little Duke (otherwise known as Richard the Fearless) as well as William’s father Rollo, who sailed from Norway down the river Seine to invade Paris and was given the section of land known as Normandy (named after these Viking “Northmen”) to get him out of the French king’s way.  Despite my year studying in Normandy, I had never realised before how separate the Normans were from the French, with very different roots and a distinct identity, and it has been fascinating tracing their origins. – you can find Rollo and Richard Lionheart there too

We saw plenty of other interesting tombs in the cathedral, including one of our own kings, Richard the Lionheart, whose story we are reading just now.  It was a real test of my Latin to work out what each tomb said, but Richard handily had his feet resting on a lion!  One photo I am sorry not to have was of rows of various statues, many of them well-known figures such as the apostles and the prophets, but also some rather scary looking ones who looked just like The Silence from Dr Who!  No idea what that was all about…!

Chronologically earlier in our trip but historically later was our visit to the home town of the more well-known descendant of Rollo, William and Richard: William the Conqueror.  Chateau Guillaume-le-Conquerant Falaise was a great place to visit, with a lot of the castle intact and an interesting theme of chess running through it (for LissaLou), a display of types of weapons (for JoJo) and of course the sight of medieval toilets to bring many chuckles!  There is a bit of a biais towards William and against poor Harold that we staunch English folk did not appreciate (!) but I guess allowances must be made…

In the town there is also a statue of William on his horse flanked by the six Dukes of Normandy who preceded him: Rollo, William Longsword, Richard the Fearless, Richard the Good, Richard the Third (didn’t last long enough to get himself a fine name!)and Robert the Magnificent.  Little surprise that such a terrifying looking man caused such havoc and distress for my unfortunate countrymen all those years ago.


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