When a Langmann went Viking

(From Geschichte der Religion Jesu Christi by Friedrich Leopold Graf zu Stolberg; Band 33, and translated from the German by Rudolf Langmann)

At the time when Robert (972-1031) was king of France there happened a new invasion by Norman Vikings. Quickly had the waring between the duke of Normandy and the rebellious counts of Blois and Chartres attracted a large army of heathen Danes to Bretagne.

The war between duke Richard and the counts of Blois had been going on for several years and the cause was as follows: Eudes II Count Blois had married Richard's sister, but Mathilde, as she was named, sadly died at a young age, and as she had no children duke Richard demanded that the important county of Dreux, which he had given as a wedding gift, be returned to him.

The count Blois did not feel to do so. The two sires were equally powerful, and as far as the latter was concerned he knew how to double or triple his strength by entering into wise alliances.

Richard built a stronghold on the banks of the river Aure and with the massive garrison he left there often struck at the city of Dreux which was not armed and not prepared for the attacks. The whole county, as can easily be understood, was not spared. Count Blois now decided to counter attack but his army was beaten on the marsh outside the fort. This, however, did not discourage the valiant Eudes. To the contrary; the battle between the two sides continued with a growing bitterness and the count was able by and by to enroll so many other noblemen into his alliance and to create more and more enemies for his opponent that Richard began to fear that he would be the loser in the end.

In his dilemma Richard turned to his old fellow countrymen, the Danes, and under two commanders or kings named Olav and Langmann a more than forty thousand man strong army landed on the coast of Brittany; and that they still were the same old Normans they proved by attacking, plundering and burning down half of the city of Dole, which really belonged to their friend and ally.

The news of the landing of an army of heathen norsemen on the coast of France quickly spread fear and horror throughout the land. Now the mere mention of the name of the barbarian horde brought back the saddest of memories. The greatest anxiety was shown by king Robert. He foresaw that even as the war between Richard and Eudes had come to an end, the norsemen driven by murderous greed would continue their rampage, and he expected them to advance further and further into the heartland of France where they could be turning half of the country into a battlefield and continue the bloodbath.

In order to rid the country as quickly as possible of the much feared guests Robert ordered the two French nobles to mediate. Richard soon tired of his countrymen, and Eudes on his part was fearfully awaiting an attack on his own county. Both gladly accepted the appointment as mediators, and king Robert thereby displayed so much wisdom and royal worth that within a few days the peace was settled. The county of Dreux fell back to the duke of Normandy, but the city and fortress of the same name continued to belong to the counts of Blois.

As soon as the peace was settled and ratified by both sides the Normans were informed that since the duke no longer required their service they now had the choice of either peacefully sailing back home or witness that all of France united would rise against them. Since this ultimatum was accompanied by a substantial monetary gift, most of which was contributed by Robert, the norsemen chose the first option and one of the Danish kings, Olav, let himself be baptized before leaving the coast of France. In accepting the sacrament he took the name Robert.

The year was 1018.

Notes: Lankmann = Langmann in old German records, Saxon Viking; Eudes = Odo, i.e. Otto; Olav = Olav II Haraldsson (St.Olav), King of Norway (abt.995-1030)