Wednesday, October 9, 2013

William "Longsword" and Sprota

William "Longsword" and Sprota are (in the line I am working on) my 34x Great Grandparents....

I found this at .... most the information is taken from there, but I have edited it ...

William Longsword, 2nd Duke of Normandy (893-942)

Birth: 893
Death: 17 December 942
Father: Rollo of Normandy (860-932)
Mother: Poppa van Bayeux (c870-c910)

Sprota (?-?)
Wedding: 932
Spouse (2):
Liutgard (?-?)

Wikipedia Information on Sprota:

Sprota was the name of a Breton captive who William I, Duke of Normandy took as a wife in the Viking fashion (more danico) and by her had a son, Richard I, Duke of Normandy. After the death of her husband William, she became the wife of Esperleng and mother of Rodulf of Ivry.


The first mention of her is by Flodoard of Reims and although he doesn't name her he identifies her under the year as the mother of "William’s son [Richard] born of a Breton concubine". Her Breton origins could mean she was of Celtic, Scandinavian, or Frankish origin, the latter being the most likely based on her name spelling. Elisabeth van Houts wrote "on this reference rests the identification of Sprota, William Longsword’s wife 'according to the Danish custom', as of Breton origin". The first to provide her name was William of Jumièges. The irregular nature (as per the Church) of her relationship with William served as the basis for her son by him being the subject of ridicule, the French King Louis "abused the boy with bitter insults", calling him "the son of a whore who had seduced another woman's husband."

At the time of the birth of her first son Richard, she was living in her own household at Bayeux, under William's protection. William, having just quashed a rebellion at Pré-de Bataille (c.936), received the news by a messenger that Sprota had just given birth to a son; delighted at the news William ordered his son to be baptized and given the personal name of Richard. William's steward Boto became the boy's godfather.

After the death of William Longsword and the captivity of her son Richard, she had been 'collected' from her dangerous situation by the 'immensely wealthy' Esperleng. Robert of Torigni identified Sprota's second husband[b] as Esperleng, a wealthy landowner who operated mills at Pîtres.


By William I ‘Longsword’ she was the mother of:
Richard I, Duke of Normandy
By Esperling of Vaudreuil she was the mother of:
Rodulf, Count of Ivry
several daughters who married Norman magnates

William I, 2nd Duke of Normandy, AKA: William Longsword:

(FrenchGuillaume Longue-ÉpéeLatinWillermus Longa 

SpataOld NorseVilhjálmr Langaspjót)

Vital Statistics
Son of Rollo of Normandy - Viking Warrior and 1st Duke of Normandy and his wife Poppa
Born ca 893 C.E.
930-935 : 1st Marriage to Sprota
936-942 : 2nd Marriage to Liutgard
942-Dec-17 : Assassinated -


Longsword was the second Duke of Normandy from his father's death until his own assassination. The title dux (duke) was not in use at the time and has been applied to early Norman rulers retroactively; William actually used the title comes (count).

Little is known about his early years. He was born in Bayeux or Rouen to Rollo and his wife Poppa. All that is known of Poppa is that she was a Christian, and the daughter to Berengar of Rennes, the previous lord of Brittania Nova, which eventually became western Normandy. According to the William's planctus, he was baptised a Christian.

Between 935 and 939, William was married to Leutgarde, daughter of Herbert of Vermandois. He had no legitimate children and his successor, Richard was the son of Sprota who he had apparently married in 930 ‘more danico’.

William succeeded Rollo sometime around 927. It appears that he faced a rebellion early in his reign, from Normans who felt he had become too Gallicised. Subsequent years are obscure. In 939 William became involved in a war with Arnulf I of Flanders, which soon became intertwined with the other conflicts troubling the reign of Louis IV. He was killed by followers of Arnulf while at a meeting to settle their conflict. His son Richard the Fearless, child of his first wife, Sprota, succeeded him. William also left a widow, Liègard (Liutgard), who died in 985.

Assassination of William Longsword

In 939, Herbert supported by Arnulf of Flanders besieged Montreuil and its capture gave him all of Ponthieu and Vimeu between the rivers Somme and Bresle. Herluin II sought the support of Hugh the Great to regain his lands but Hugh refused because he already had an alliance with Arnulf. Herluin then turned to William Longsword for help. Troops from the Cotentin attacked and recaptured Montreuil, slaughtering most of Arnulf’s garrison. But at a price. Herluin had placed his lands under the protection of the Normans and performed homage to William for his help. The Normans were now assured of a buffer between their borders and those of Flanders.

For Arnulf, Hugh the Great and other Carolingian lords the Normans remained undesirable intruders in France and they decided to eliminate William who was becoming too powerful and was increasingly playing a role in the politics of the French monarchy. It was at this moment that Arnulf sent messengers to William Longsword, saying that he wanted to settle their conflict over Montreuil. William went to the meeting on an island in the river Somme at Picquigny, where he was murdered by Arnulf’s men on 18th December 942.

Residence at Falaise

In Falaise France, is a series of statues that pays tribute to the six Norman Dukes from Rollo to William Conqueror. The castle here was the principal residence of the Norman Knights.
Château Guillaume-le-Conquérant


The Funeral Monument - Tomb Effigy 
located in the Cathedral of Rouen

The Planctus of William Longsword
This is a poem, although it survives only in corrupt and incomplete versions and is largely hagiographic in content, nevertheless is a critical source for early Norman history. It is by far the earliest work written about the Normans from a Norman point of view, and some historical nuggets can be gleaned from it.

Wikipedia for William Longsword
From Stewart Baldwin on Guillaume "Longue Épée" of Normandy
FMG on GUILLAUME I "Longuespee" Comte de Normandie
History of William Longsword  <-- A Blog with a lot of House of Normans information

Sources and notes
Category: Of Normandy (surname)

Château Guillaume-le-Conquérant 
History of on Wikipedia 

Throne Room recreation?


  1. William I Longsword was my 26th Great Grandfather, from the Moore side of my family. My dad is a Moore and I went back solely on the paternal side. I was able to go as far back as 380 B.C. If you'd like that info, email me at


  2. William I Longsword Duke of Normandy Beauclerc, one of my 27th great grandfathers. Rest in peace. Arnolph Arnulf I de FLANDERS FLEMING, one of my 30th great grandfathers.

  3. Rollo was my 35th great grandfather, William longsword my 34th. My ancestry through thanks for the collection of information.. James Newton


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