Rollo

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Rollo (c. 870 – c. 932), baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norwegian or Danish nobleman and the founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy.

The name "Rollo" is a Latin translation due to the clerics from the Old Norse name Hrólfr, modern Scandinavian name Rolf (cf. the latinization of Hrólfr into the similar Roluo in the Gesta Danorum), but Norman people called him Rouf, and later Rou too (see Wace's Roman de Rou)[1]. He married Poppa. All that is known of Poppa is that she was a Christian, and the daughter to Berengar of Rennes, the previous lord of Brittania Nova, which eventually became western Normandy.

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Historical evidence

Rollo was a Viking leader of contested origin. Dudo of St. Quentin, in his De moribus et actis primorum Normannorum ducum (Latin), tells of a powerful Danish nobleman at loggerheads with the king of Denmark, who had two sons, Gurim and Rollo; upon his death, Rollo was expelled and Gurim killed. William of Jumièges also mentions Rollo's prehistory in his Gesta Normannorum Ducum, but states that he was from the Danish town of Fakse. Wace, writing some 300 years after the event in his Roman de Rou, also mentions the two brothers (as Rou and Garin), as does the Orkneyinga Saga.

Norwegian and Icelandic historians identified Rollo instead with Ganger Hrolf (Hrolf, the Walker), a son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, Earl of Møre, in Western Norway, based on medieval Norwegian and Icelandic sagas. The oldest source of this version is the Latin Historia Norvegiae, written in Norway at the end of the 12th century. This Hrolf fell foul of the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair, and became a Jarl in Normandy. The nickname "the Walker" came from being so big that no horse could carry him.

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