Norman Identity in Capetian France (1204 - c.1337): The Chronique de Normandie and Établissements de Rouen

  • Alexander Hurlow

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis seeks to challenge two prevailing assumptions within modern scholarship concerning Norman identities. First, that the inability of late-twelfth century Norman historians to continue their historical narratives, and celebrate their new Angevin rulers, signified a people increasingly uncertain of their place in the world, who would soon fade from the historical record. Second, that as a result of this supposedly weakened identity Normandy was reabsorbed within the Capetian royal domain in 1204 with relative ease and Norman identities were quickly subordinated beneath a burgeoning French national identity. This study utilises two previously understudied sources to provide a more nuanced view of the development of Norman identities post-1204. The first, the Chronique de Normandie, is an Old French, thirteenth century continuation of the Gesta Normannorum Ducum. It traces the Trojan origins of the Normans and extends beyond the GND to include the reigns of the Angevin king-dukes, Henry II, Richard I and John. The Chronique survives in eighteen manuscripts scattered across Europe and stands as evidence of a vibrant kaleidoscope of views on Norman identities. The Chronique highlights the continued interest Norman communities displayed in celebrating the recent and distant ducal past throughout the thirteenth and early-fourteenth centuries. Furthermore, the copyists of the Chronique often commemorated heroes and events in ways that contrasted with those of their Capetian counterparts. The second source, the Établissements de Rouen, is a charter of communal privilege, confirmed and reconfirmed after 1204, providing evidence of continued processes of negotiation between centre and periphery. The experiences of the Rouen commune as they struggled to maintain their privileges in the face of increasing Capetian centralisation will be shown to mirror that of wider Norman society. In the absence of a duke as a focal point for identity the preservation of Norman customs and privileges came to embody the identity of the duchy. Taken together the Chronique and Établissements demonstrate that Norman communities continued to promote distinct Norman identities as they rationalised their experiences post-1204.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Oldfield (Supervisor) & Charles Insley (Supervisor)


  • Chronique
  • Identity
  • State Formation
  • France
  • Anglo-Norman
  • Medieval History
  • Normans
  • Normandy
  • Capetian France

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