Poppa of Bayeux

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Poppa of Bayeux
Statue de Poppa de Bayeux.jpg
Poppa of Bayeux's statue, Place de Gaulle, Bayeux
Bornc. 880[1]
Bayeux, West Francia
Noble familyHouse of Normandy (by marriage)
Spouse(s)Rollo (perhaps more danico)
IssueWilliam I Longsword
Gerloc (baptismal name Adela)
FatherBerengar II of Neustria or Guy de Senlis
MotherAdelind, Adela of Vermandois or Cunegundis

Poppa of Bayeux (French: [pɔpa d(ə) bɛjø]; born c. 880 AD), was the wife more danico[2]'[3] of the Viking conqueror Rollo. She was the mother of William I Longsword, Gerloc[4][5] and grandmother of Richard the Fearless, who forged the Duchy of Normandy into a great fief of medieval France.[6] Dudo of Saint-Quentin, in his panegyric of the Norman dukes, describes her as the daughter of a "Count Berengar", the dominant prince of that region, who was captured at Bayeux by Rollo in 885 or 889, shortly after the siege of Paris.[7] This has led to speculation that she was the daughter of Berengar II of Neustria.[8][9]

There are different opinions among medieval genealogy experts about Poppa's family. Christian Settipani says her parents were Guy de Senlis and Cunegundis, the daughter of Pepin, Count of Vermandois, and sister of Herbert I, Count of Vermandois.[10] Katherine Keats-Rohan states she was the daughter of Berengar II of Neustria by Adelind, whose father was Henry, Margrave of the Franks, or Adela of Vermandois.[11] Her parentage is uncertain and may have been invented after the fact to legitimize her son's lineage, as many of the fantastic genealogical claims made by Dudo were. Based on her separate more Danico status that differentiates her from Rollo's Christian wife Gisela of France, Poppa's family was unlikely to have been powerful Christian nobility who would have insisted—by force if necessary—on a legal and monogamous Christian marriage for their daughter. Poppa was likely a common woman taken from a non-Christian country with which the Norse had trade contact. [12]

Poppa may have come from as far away as Iran. The Norse were trading, raiding, and capturing slaves (including women for marriage more danico) in less Christian countries as far east as modern Iran and Azerbaijan. The first of the Caspian Expeditions of the Rus occurred sometime in the reign of Hasan ibn Zaid, ruler of Tabaristan between 864 and 884. The Rus' sailed into the Caspian Sea and unsuccessfully attacked its eastern shore at Abaskun.[13] This raid was probably on a very small scale.[14] The second raid took place in 909 or 910[15] and was likewise aimed at Abaskun;[16] just like the previous attack, this expedition was a minor one with only sixteen ships participating in it.[14] The third minor raid took place in 911 or 912.[16]

The Rus' launched the first large-scale raid in 913. A fleet of 500 ships reached the southern shores of the Caspian Sea through the country of the Khazars. In order to secure a peaceful passage through the land of the Khazars, the Rus' promised the Khazars half of their spoils. They sailed down the Dnieper River into the Black Sea, then into the Sea of Azov, then up the Don River past the Khazar city of Sarkel, and then by a portage reached the Volga, which led them into the Caspian Sea.[14]

The Rus' attacked in the Gorgan region around Abaskun, as well as Tabaristan, pillaging the countrysides as they went.[17] An attempt to repel them as they lay in anchor near islands in the southwestern part of the Caspian Sea proved unsuccessful; and they were then able to roam and raid at will. Across the sea they raided at Baku, penetrating inland a distance of three days' journey,[14] and plundering the regions of Arran, Tabaristan, Beylagan, and Shirvan.[16][18] Everywhere they looted as much as they could, taking women and children as slaves. The news of their outrages preceded them as they headed homeward[14] and, in the Volga Delta, the Rus' were attacked by Khazars, as well as by some Christians, apparently with the acquiescence of the Khazar ruler. According to al-Masudi, those who escaped were finished off by the Burtas and Volga Bulgars.[16]

A statue of Poppa stands at the Place de Gaulle in Bayeux.[19]


  1. ^ Christian Settipani & Patrick van Kerrebrouck. La préhistoire des Capétiens: 481–987. P. Van Kerrebrouck, 1993. p 221
  2. ^ Stewart Baldwin (2004-08-02). "Poppa, tenth century, wife of Rollo of Normandy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-29. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  3. ^ Philip Lyndon Reynolds, Marriage in the Western Church: The Christianization of Marriage during the Patristic and Early Medieval Periods (E.J. Brill, Leiden, New York, 1994), pp. 110–111
  4. ^ François Neveux, La Normandie des ducs aux rois: Xe-XIIe siècle, (Editions Ouest-France, 1998), p.125
  5. ^ David Crouch, The Normans: The History of a Dynasty, (A&C Black, 2006), p.5
  6. ^ Eleanor Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840–1066 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988), p. 89
  7. ^ David C. Douglas, 'Rollo of Normandy', The English Historical Review, Vol. 57, No. 228 (Oct., 1942), p. 417
  8. ^ Pierre Bouet, Rollon: Le chef viking qui fonda la Normandie, (Tallandier, Paris, 2016), p. 96
  9. ^ Elisabeth van Houts. The Normans in Europe. Manchester University Press, 2000. p 30
  10. ^ Christian Settipani & Patrick van Kerrebrouck. La préhistoire des Capétiens: 481–987. P. Van Kerrebrouck, 1993. p 221
  11. ^ Stewart Baldwin (2004-08-02). "Poppa, tenth century, wife of Rollo of Normandy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-29. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  12. ^ François Neveux. Claire Ruelle, A brief history of the Normans: the conquests that changed the face of Europe (Robinson, 2008), p. 60-61
  13. ^ Abaskun, first recorded by Ptolemy as Socanaa, was documented in Arab sources as "the most famous port of the Khazarian Sea". It was situated within three days' journey from Gorgan. The southern part of the Caspian Sea was known as the "Sea of Abaskun". See: B.N. Zakhoder (1898–1960). The Caspian Compilation of Records about Eastern Europe (online version).
  14. ^ a b c d e Logan (1992), p. 201
  15. ^ Information about the Rus' raids comes largely from Muslim sources, which use the Islamic calendar. Because the years of the Islamic calendar do not map exactly to the years of the Gregorian calendar, an event dated to a certain year of the Islamic calendar may have occurred in either of the two consecutive years of the Gregorian calendar.
  16. ^ a b c d "Rus". Encyclopaedia of Islam
  17. ^ Gunilla Larsson. Ship and society: maritime ideology in Late Iron Age Sweden Uppsala Universitet, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, 2007 ISBN 9150619152 p 208
  18. ^ Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, Volume 35, Number 4. Mouton, 1994. (originally from the University of California, digitalised on 9 March 2010)
  19. ^ Pierre Bouet, Rollon: Le chef viking qui fonda la Normandie, (Tallandier, Paris, 2016), p.235