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Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte, France
Dear Mr. Quarterman,
I am sending you this article again because apparently it did not go
through when I sent it to you the first time.
Susan M. Grady
Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte
By Susan M. Grady
Clan Sinclair Association, U.S.A.
This article is based on a visit made to Sr. Clair-sur-Epte, France by Susan
M. Grady and Dr. A. Dane Bowen, Jr. on June 22, 2002. The mayor of St.
Clair-sur-Epte gave them information written in French that was used in the
preparation of this article. I was also given information by Mr. Philippe
In the 9th Century A.D. the Vikings began raiding northern France.
They sailed several times down the River Seine all the way to Paris and
Chartres, destroying towns and sacking churches. The village of St.
Clair-sur-Epte was burned by the Vikings in 885 A.D. In 911 A.D. the
Norwegian Viking Rollo launched a surprise attack on Chartres. King Charles
III, Charles the Simple of France (born 879 A.D. died 929 A.D.; King of
France 893 - 929 A.D.) defeated the Vikings. The Vikings lost 7,000 men.
King Charles decided that he did not want to continue to fight the Vikings.
He decided to sign a treaty with Rollo the Viking (Hrolf the Ganger in Norse
or Rollon in French). Rollo was born in Maer (Moer), Norway in 855 A.D. and
died in 931 A.D. in Rouen, France. He is buried in the Notre Dame Cathedral
in Rouen. Rollo's father was a nobleman, Rognvald of Alesund and More
Norway. Rognvald was also Jarl (Earl) of the Orkney Islands off the
northeast coast of Scotland. Rognvald was born about 830 A.D. and died
between 890 and 894 in the Orkney Islands. Rognvald served King Harald
Harfager (Harold Fairhair) of Norway. King Harald was born in 850 A.D. and
died in 940 A.D. Rollo the Viking was called Hrolf Ganger because he was so
tall and heavy that his horse could not carry him so he had to walk (Ganger).
In 911 A.D. Rollo the Viking and King Charles the Simple signed a
treaty in St. Clair-sur-Epte in the church on the main square the "Place
Rollon." (Today in the "Place Rollon" there is a plaque commemorating the
signing of the treaty. The plaque is in French. It is on the wall at the
bottom of the church. This wall faces the "Place Rollon.") In 912 A.D.
Rollo was baptized a Catholic Christian in a church in Rouen, France by
Archbishop Francon. Rollo agreed to keep other Vikings from settling in
France in exchange for the King of France permitting him and his Vikings to
live in northern France. The area Rollo occupied was called Normandy
After Rollo and King Charles signed the treaty, Rollo was supposed to
kneel down and kiss the foot of the king, who was sitting in a chair, to
indicate to the king that he would serve him (This was called an act of
fealty.). Rollo did not want to kneel down. He remained standing, brought
the foot of the king up to his lips and kissed it, pushing the king over
backwards in his chair so that the king landed on his back in his chair. The
French chronicler Dudon-Saint-Quentin said that Rollo did not do this, but
that Rollo asked his friend to kiss the king's foot and his friend did so.
Another version of the story says that after a warrior swore to serve
a king, the king was supposed to put his arms around the warrior's wrists as
a sign that the warrior had promised to serve his king faithfully. Rollo was
so heavy that his wrists were very large and because of this fact the king
was unable to put his hands completely around Rollo's wrists! It is
interesting to note that Rollo's great-great-great-great grandson, William
the Conqueror, was also tall and heavy. When William died, the people had
trouble making his body fit into his coffin so they could bury him in
L'Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen, France.