Part of ancient Gaul, the region was conquered by Julius Caesar and became part of the province of Lugdunensis. It was Christianized in the 3d cent. and conquered by the Franks in the 5th cent. Repeatedly devastated (9th cent.) by the Norsemen, it finally was ceded (911) to their chief, Rollo, 1st duke of Normandy, by Charles III (Charles the Simple) of France. The Norsemen (or Normans), for whom the region was named, soon accepted Christianity. Rollo's successors acquired neighboring territories in a series of wars.
In 1066, Duke William (William the Conqueror), son of Robert I, invaded England, where he became king as William I. The succession in Normandy, disputed among William's sons (Robert II of Normandy and William II and Henry I of England), passed to England after the battle of Tinchebrai (1106), in which Henry defeated Robert. In 1144, Geoffrey IV of Anjou conquered Normandy; his son, Henry Plantagenet (later Henry II of England), was invested (1151) with the duchy by King Stephen of England. It was by this series of events that branches of the Angevin dynasty came to rule England, as well as vast territories in France, Sicily, and S Italy, where the Normans had begun to establish colonies in the 11th cent.
Normandy was joined to France in 1204 after the invasion and conquest by Philip II. Normandy was again devastated during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). The Treaty of Brétigny (1360) confirmed Normandy as a French possession, but Henry V of England invaded the region and conquered it once more. With the exception of the larger Channel Islands, Normandy was permanently restored to France in 1450, and in 1499, Louis XII established a provincial parlement for Normandy at Rouen.
The Protestants made great headway in Normandy in the 16th cent., and there were bitter battles between Catholics and Huguenots. Louis XIV sought to complete the assimilation of Normandy into France, and in 1654 the provincial estates were suppressed. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) led to a mass migration of Huguenots from Normandy and a grave economic setback for the region. In the 18th cent., however, prosperity returned. In 1790 the province, with others in France, was abolished and replaced by the present-day departments. In World War II, Normandy was the scene of the Allied invasion (1944) of Europe. In 1972 the administrative regions of Upper and Lower Normandy were established; they were merged to form the region of Normandy in 2016.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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