Viking Siege of Paris: Marriage for Peace (Part 2)

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Viking Siege of Paris: Marriage for Peace (Part 2)

In Part 1 of Viking Siege of Paris, the first Viking attack on Paris was unveiled with the mention of famous Viking leaders like Ragnar Lothbrok or King Horik. This part 2 will focus on the second attack on Paris and how it ended up with political marriage. 

In 884, King Charles the Fat of Germany and Italy took over the throne of Frankia which was torn into pieces because of war. 

One year later, history repeated itself and the Vikings once again brought terror to Paris through the flow of the Seine river. Under the command of Earl Siegfried the Sinric, the Vikings brought the most elite warriors to Paris, Rolf the Ganger or Rollo. Rollo was described to be a huge man. He was so big that no horse could carry him and he was called the Walker. 

To the Franks, the first Viking attack was a big lesson. The first time was a mistake of ill preparation and the second time would be a choice. The Franks spent years improving their defence system. Frankish rulers at this time paid much attention to fortify Paris. 

Viking Second Attack on Paris

The Vikings first demanded tribute from Count Odo the Protector of Paris. But the Franks refused. Siegfried decided to apply the past military tactics leading the ships up the flow of the Seine. 

But they failed to reach Paris because the Franks had built two shallow bridges that prevented the Vikings ships from reaching the city of Paris. The towers were even heavily guarded by men of Count Odo and other Parisian nobles. 

The Vikings again asked for tribute and got refused for the second time. There, they began to attack on the Grand Châtelet on the right bank. They used mangonels and catapults to throw large stones and javelins into the city.

Norse warriors started to climb up the walls. However, the Franks would not just sit and watch their city being taken over. They poured boiling oil and wax over the climbing warriors. The climbing tactics failed and the Vikings retreated for one night for the upcoming attacks. 

Viking climbed up the wall of Paris

Vikings climbed up the wall of Paris

In the next morning, they woke up only to see the Franks had rebuilt the walls. The Vikings then decided to attack the gate of the city. But they only tried in vain. 

In 886, the Vikings attempted to burn down the wooden bridge without success. However, the bridge was finally destroyed because of flood and heavy rain. 

The Vikings then split into two groups: one attacking the neighbouring land while the other carried on sacking Paris. The historians believed that the Viking warriors were weakened at this point. Count Odo took this opportunity and asked for help. The Vikings who were holding the siege were attacked from the back. 

Viking Earl Siegfried knew that the Vikings could not hold any longer and he asked for an amount of silver and left the siege in April.

One figure that was yet to be mentioned was Rollo. He stayed with his men in Paris. After many conflicts with the Parisians, Rollo and his men managed to kill Count Henry of Saxony taking the city in the summer. Help was sent to Count Odo in October. This group of armed warriors quickly weakened the Vikings who had been fighting for months around Paris. 

Rollo the Duke of Normandy

Rollo statue - Rollo the Duke of Normandy

In 911, Rollo returned to the land of Frankia to raid and sack. But this time, with some negotiations with Charles the Simple, the Franks finally settled down this territorial attacks with political marriage. Rollo then married Gisela daughter of Charles. The Frankish king offered Rollo the city of Rouen. But the two quickly broke up and Rollo remarried his former wife Poppa. 

Around the 11th century, the County of Rouen became the Duchy of Normandy. 

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