Historic and cultural region, northwestern France. The capital was Rouen. It has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Its Celtic population was conquered by the Romans circa 56 BC, when it became part of the province of Lugdunensis. Invaded by Vikings in the 8th century AD, it was ceded to their chief, Rollo, in 911 by Charles III (the Simple) of France. The Vikings became known as Normans, hence the region's name. William, duke of Normandy, united Normandy and England (Norman Conquest, 1066) and became William I (the Conqueror) of England. Normandy became a province of France in 1450 and was divided into several departments after the French Revolution. It was the site of the World War II Allied invasion of German-occupied France in 1944 (see Normandy Campaign). The region has retained its rural character despite the growth of towns along the lower Seine valley.
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Normandy (Normandie, Norman: Normaundie) is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is situated along the coast of France south of the English Channel between Brittany (to the west) and Picardy (to the east) and comprises territory in northern France and the Channel Islands. The territory is divided between French and British sovereignty. The continental territory under French sovereignty covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions: Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie. The Channel Islands (referred to as Iles Anglo-Normandes in French) covers 194 km² and comprise two bailiwicks: Guernsey and Jersey, both under British rule.
Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie) consists of the French départements of Seine-Maritime and Eure, and Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie) of the départements of Orne, Calvados, and Manche. The former province of Normandy comprised present-day Upper and Lower Normandy, as well as small areas now part of the départements of Eure-et-Loir, Mayenne, and Sarthe.
The name of Normandy is derived from the settlement and conquest of the territory by Vikings ("Northmen") from the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. For a century and a half following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman rulers, but following 1204 the continental territory was ultimately held by France.
The population of Normandy is around 3.45 million people. The continental population of 3.26 million accounts for 5.5% of the population of France (in 2005).
Basse-Normandie is predominantly agricultural in character, with cattle breeding the most important sector (although in decline from the peak levels of the 1970s and 1980s). The bocage is a patchwork of small fields with high hedges, typical of western areas. Haute-Normandie contains a higher concentration of industry. Normandy is a significant cider-producing region, and also produces calvados, a distilled cider or apple brandy. Other activities of economic importance are dairy produce, flax (60% of production in France), horse breeding (including two French national stud farms), fishing, seafood, and tourism. The region contains three French nuclear power stations.
When Caesar invaded Gaul there were nine different Gallic tribes in Normandy.
In the late 3rd century, barbarian raids devastated Normandy. Coastal settlements risked raids by Saxon pirates. Christianity began to enter the area during this period. In 406, Germanic tribes began invading from the West, while the Saxons subjugated the Norman coast. The Roman Emperor withdrew from most of Normandy.
The fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking leader Rollo (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks Charles the Simple through the Treaty of Saint Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for his homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. "Northman") origins.
The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romantic language and intermarried with the area’s previous inhabitants and became the Normans – a Norman French-speaking mixture of Scandinavians, Hiberno-Norse, Orcadians, Anglo-Danish, and indigenous Franks and Gauls.
Rollo's descendant William, Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066 in the Norman Conquest culminating at the Battle of Hastings while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants.
Tancred's sons William Iron Arm, Drogo of Hauteville, Humphrey of Hauteville, Robert Guiscard and Roger the Great Count conquered the Emirate of Sicily and additional territories in Southern Italy and carved out a place for themselves and their descendants in the Crusader States of Asia Minor and the Holy Land.
14th century Norman explorer Jean de Béthencourt established a kingdom on the Canary Islands. Béthencourt received the title King of the Canary Islands but recognized Henry III of Castile, who had provided aid during the conquest, as his overlord.
In 1204, during the reign of King John of England, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under Philip II of France while insular Normandy (the Channel Islands) remained under English control. In 1259, Henry III of England recognized the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris. His successors, however, often fought to regain control of mainland French Normandy.
The Charte aux Normands granted by Louis X of France in 1315 (and later re-confirmed in 1339), like the analogous Magna Carta granted in England in the aftermath of 1204, guaranteed the liberties and privileges of the province of Normandy.
French Normandy was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years' War in 1345–1360 and again in 1415–1450. Afterwards, prosperity returned to Normandy until the Wars of Religion when many Norman towns (Alençon, Rouen, Caen, Coutances, Bayeux) joined the Protestant Reformation and battles ensued throughout the province. In the Channel Islands, a period of Calvinism following the Reformation was suppressed when Anglicanism was imposed following the English Civil War.
From the 1660s onwards, France engaged in a policy of expansion in North America. Normans continued the exploration of the New World : René Robert Cavelier de La Salle travelled in the area of the Great Lakes of the United States and Canada, then on the Mississippi river. Territories located between Quebec and the delta of Mississippi were opened up, in other words French Louisiana.
Although agriculture remained important, industries such as weaving, metallurgy, ceramics, sugar refining, shipbuilding were introduced and developed.
In the 1780s, the economic crisis and the crisis of the Ancien Régime struck Normandy and led to the French revolution. Bad harvests, technical progress and the effects of the Eden Agreement signed in 1786, affected employment and the economy of the province. Especially, Normans laboured under a heavy fiscal burden.
In 1790 the five departments of Normandy were instituted.
The Normans reacted little to the many political upheavals which characterized the 19th century. Careful, they accepted overall the changes of régime (First French Empire, Bourbon Restoration, July Monarchy, French Second Republic, Second French Empire, French Third Republic).
And a new activity dynamized the seaside: tourism. The 19th century marks the birth of the first seaside resorts.
Franco-Prussian War : the Prussians entered Normandy, animating more than ever nationalisms, the feeling of a revenge to be taken developed and reached its ultimate and dramatic consequences by 1914 (World War I).
During World War II, following the armistice of 22 June 1940 continental Normandy was part of the German occupied zone of France. The Channel Islands were occupied by German forces between 30 June 1940 and 9 May 1945.
During the Second World War, the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches under the code name Operation Overlord were a massive invasion of German-occupied France by Allied troops. Caen, Cherbourg, Carentan, Falaise and other Norman towns endured many casualties in the Battle of Normandy, which continued until the closing of the so-called Falaise gap between Chambois and Montormel, then liberation of Le Havre.
This led to the restoration of the French Republic, and a significant turning point in the war. The remainder of Normandy was only liberated on 9 May 1945 at the end of the war, when the Occupation of the Channel Islands ended.
The region is bordered along the northern coasts by the English Channel. There are granite cliffs in the west and limestone cliffs in the east. There are also long stretches of beach in the centre of the region. The bocage typical of the western areas caused problems for the invading forces in the Battle of Normandy. There are meanders of the Seine as it approaches its estuary which form a notable feature of the landscape.
The highest point is the Signal d'Écouves (427m) in the Suisse Normande.
Normandy is sparsely forested: 12.8% of the territory is wooded, compared to a French average of 23.6%, although the proportion varies between the departments. Eure has most cover (21%) while Manche has least (4%), a characteristic shared with the Islands.
The Channel Islands, although British crown dependencies, are considered culturally and historically a part of Normandy.
Although the British surrendered claims to mainland Normandy and other French possessions in 1801, the monarch of the United Kingdom retains the title Duke of Normandy in respect to the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands (except for Chausey) remain Crown dependencies of the British Crown in the present era. Thus the Loyal Toast in the Channel Islands is La Reine, notre Duc ("The Queen, our Duke"). The British monarch is understood to not be the Duke of Normandy in regards of the French region of Normandy described herein, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris of 1259, the surrender of French possessions in 1801, and the belief that the rights of succession to that title are subject to Salic Law which excludes inheritance through female heirs.
Rivers in Normandy include:
And many coastal rivers :
The principal cities (population at the 1999 census) are Rouen (518,316 inhabitants in the metropolitan area), the capital of Upper Normandy and formerly of the whole province; Caen (370,851 inhabitants in the metropolitan area), the capital of Lower Normandy; Le Havre (296,773 inhabitants in the metropolitan area); and Cherbourg (117,855 inhabitants in the metropolitan area).
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Fish and seafood are of superior quality in Normandy. Turbot and oysters from the Cotentin Peninsula are major delicacies throughout France. Normandy is the chief oyster-cultivating, scallop-exporting, and mussel-raising region in France.
Normandy is a major cider-producing region (very little wine is produced). Perry is also produced, but in less significant quantities. Apple brandy, of which the most famous variety is calvados, is also popular. The mealtime trou normand, or Norman break, is a pause between meal courses in which diners partake of a glassful of calvados, and is still observed in many homes and restaurants. Pommeau is an apéritif produced by blending unfermented cider and apple brandy. Another aperitif is the kir normand, a measure of crème de cassis topped up with cider. Bénédictine is produced in Fécamp.
Apples are also used in cooking: for example, moules à la normande are mussels cooked with apples and cream, bourdelots are apples baked in pastry, partridges are flamed with reinette apples, and localities all over the province have their own variation of apple tart. A classic pastry dish from the region is flan Normand a pastry-based variant of the apple tart.
Other regional specialities include tripes à la mode de Caen, andouilles and andouillettes, salt meadow (pré salé) lamb, seafood (mussels, scallops, lobsters, mackerel…), and teurgoule (spiced rice pudding).
Normandy dishes include duckling à la rouennaise, sautéed chicken yvetois, and goose en daube. Rabbit is cooked with morels, or à la havraise (stuffed with truffled pigs' trotters). Other dishes are sheep's trotters à la rouennaise, casseroled veal, larded calf's liver braised with carrots, and veal (or turkey) in cream and mushrooms.
Normandy is also noted for its pastries. It is the birthplace of brioches (especially those from Évreux and Gisors) and also turns out douillons (pears baked in pastry), craquelins, roulettes in Rouen, fouaces in Caen, fallues in Lisieux, sablés in Lisieux. Confectionery of the region includes Rouen apple sugar, Isigny caramels, Bayeux mint chews, Falaise berlingots, Le Havre marzipans, Argentan croquettes, and Rouen macaroons.
Normandy is the native land of Taillevent, cook of the kings of France Charles V and Charles VI. He wrote the earliest French cookery book named Le Viandier. Confiture de lait was also made in Normandy around the 14th century.
The traditional provincial flag of Normandy, gules, two leopards passant or, is used in both modern regions.
The historic three-leopard version (known in the Norman language as les treis cats, "the three cats") is used by some associations and individuals, especially those who support reunification of the regions and cultural links with the Channel Islands and England. Jersey and Guernsey use three leopards in their national symbols. The three leopards represents the strength and courage Normandy has towards the neighbouring provinces.
The unofficial anthem of the region is the song "Ma Normandie".
After the division of 1204, French literature provided the model for the development of literature in Normandy. Olivier Basselin wrote of the Vaux de Vire, the origin of literary vaudeville.
Among notable Norman writers in French are Jean Marot, Rémy Belleau, Guy de Maupassant, Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, Gustave Flaubert, Octave Mirbeau and Remy de Gourmont. The Corneille brothers, Pierre and Thomas, born in Rouen, were great figures of French classical literature.
David Ferrand (1591-1660) in his Muse Normande established a landmark of Norman language literature. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the workers and merchants of Rouen established a tradition of polemical and satirical literature in a form of language called the parler purin. At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century a new movement arose in the Channel Islands, led by writers such as George Métivier, which sparked a literary renaissance on the Norman mainland. In exile in Jersey and then Guernsey, Victor Hugo took an interest in the vernacular literature. Les Travailleurs de la mer is a well-known novel by Hugo set in the Channel Islands. The boom in insular literature in the early 19th century encouraged production especially in La Hague and around Cherbourg, where Alfred Rossel, Louis Beuve and Côtis-Capel became active. The typical medium for literary expression in Norman has traditionally been newspaper columns and almanacs. The novel Zabeth by André Louis which appeared in 1969 was the first novel published in Norman.
Romanticism drew painters to the Channel coasts of Normandy. Richard Parkes Bonington and J. M. W. Turner crossed the Channel from Great Britain, attracted by the light and landscapes. Théodore Géricault, a native of Rouen, was a notable figure in the Romantic movement. The competing Realist tendency was represented by Jean-François Millet, a native of La Hague.
From the 1860s, plein-air painters, who worked outside the studio, were attracted to Normandy by the ease of railway access from Paris and the development of a market among the growing number of affluent tourists visiting the coasts of Calvados. Eugène Boudin's paintings of fashionable seaside scenes are typical of this period.
Claude Monet's waterlily garden at Giverny is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, and his series of views of Rouen Cathedral are major works of Impressionism. It was Impression, Sunrise, a painting by Monet of Le Havre, that led to the movement being dubbed "Impressionism".
The Société normande de peinture moderne was founded in 1909. Among members were Raoul Dufy, a native of Le Havre, Albert Marquet, Francis Picabia and Maurice Utrillo. Also in this movement were the Duchamp brothers, Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp.
The Norman language, a regional language, is spoken by a minority of the population in the continent and the Islands, with a concentration in the Cotentin Peninsula in the far West (the Cotentinais dialect), and in the Pays de Caux in the East (the Cauchois dialect). Many place names demonstrate the Norse influence in this Oïl language; for example -bec (stream), -fleur (river), -hou (island), -tot (homestead).
Architecturally, Norman cathedrals, abbeys (such as the Abbey of Bec) and castles characterise the former Duchy in a way that mirrors the similar pattern of Norman architecture in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066.
Domestic architecture in upper Normandy is typified by half-timbered buildings that also recall vernacular English architecture, although the farm enclosures of the more harshly landscaped Pays de Caux are a more idiosyncratic response to socio-economic and climatic imperatives. Much urban architectural heritage was destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in 1944 - post-war urban reconstruction, such as in Le Havre and Saint-Lô, could be said to demonstrate both the virtues and vices of modernist and brutalist trends of the 1950s and 1960s. Le Havre, the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret, was added to Unesco’s World Heritage List in 2005.
Vernacular architecture in lower Normandy takes its form from granite, the predominant local building material. The Channel Islands also share this influence - Chausey was for many years a source of quarried granite, including that used for the construction of Mont Saint-Michel.
The south part of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne is filled with bourgeois villas in Belle Époque style with polychrome façades, bow windows and unique roofing. This area, built between 1886 and 1914, has an authentic “Bagnolese” style and is typical of high-society country vacation of the time.
The Cathedral of Sées and the adjoining Museum of Religious Art and Vestments attract pilgrims and tourists alike. The "Musilumières" (a sound and light show inside the cathedral) take place every night in summer.
The Chapel of Saint Germanus (Chapelle Saint-Germain) at Querqueville with its trefoil floorplan incorporates elements of one of the earliest surviving places of Christian worship in the Cotentin - perhaps second only to the Gallo-Roman baptistry at Port-Bail.
Christian missionaries implanted monastic communities in the territory in the 5th and 6th centuries. Some of these missionaries came from across the Channel. The influence of Celtic Christianity can still be found in the Cotentin.
By the terms of the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, Rollo, a Viking pagan, accepted Christianity and was baptised. The Duchy of Normandy was therefore formally a Christian state from its foundation.
The cathedrals of Normandy have exerted influence down the centuries in matters of both faith and politics. Henry II, King of England, did penance at the cathedral of Avranches on 21 May 1172 and was absolved from the censures incurred by the assassination of Thomas Becket. Mont Saint-Michel is a historic pilgrimage site.
Since the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State there is no established church in mainland Normandy. In the Channel Islands, the Church of England is the established church.
Many saints have been revered in Normandy down the centuries, including: