Richard I, Duke of Normandy
Richard was the great grandfather of William the Conqueror and the grandson of Rollo (c.860 - c.932), also called Hrolf Ganger, the Norwegian Viking who conquered the region, making Normandy the land of the Northmen.
Richard I of Normandy was born 28th August 933, in Fécamp Normandy, France and died 20th November 996, in Fécamp and was the Duke of Normandy from 942 to 996; he is considered the first to actually have held that title. He was called Richard the Fearless (French, Sans Peur).
He was born to William I of Normandy, ruler of Normandy, and Sprota. He was still a boy when his father died in 942. His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a Danish marriage. After William died, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf of Ivry was their son and Richard's half-brother.
Richard was still a boy when his father died, and so he was powerless to stop Louis IV of France when he seized Normandy. Louis kept him in confinement in his youth at Lâon, but he escaped with the assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane (ancestor of families of Harcourt and Beaumont). In 968, Richard agreed to "commend" himself to Hugh, Count of Paris. He then allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders, drove Louis out of Rouen, and took back Normandy by 947. He later quarrelled with Ethelred II of England regarding Danish invasions of England because Normandy had been buying up much of the stolen booty.
Richard was bilingual, having been well educated at Bayeux. He was more partial to his Danish subjects than to the Franks. During his reign, Normandy became completely Gallicized and Christianized. He introduced the feudal system and Normandy became one of the most thoroughly feudalized states on the continent. He carried out a major reorganization of the Norman military system, based on heavy cavalry. He also became guardian of the young Hugh, Count of Paris, on the elder Hugh's death in 956.
He married 1st (960) Emma (not to be confused with Emma of France), daughter of Hugh "The Great" of France, and Hedwiga de Sachsen. They were betrothed when both were very young. She died 19 Mar 968, with no issue.
According to Robert of Torigni, not long after Emma's death, Duke Richard went out hunting and stopped at the house of a local forester. He became enamoured of the forester's wife, Seinfreda, but she being a virtuous woman, suggested he court her unmarried sister, Gunnor, instead. Gunnor became his mistress, and her family rose to prominence. Her brother, Herefast de Crepon, may have been involved in a controversial heresy trial. Gunnor was, like Richard, of Norse descent, being a Dane by blood. Richard finally married her to legitimize their children, including:
Richard II "the Good", Duke of Normandy (996)
Emma of Normandy (c.985-1052) wife of two kings of England.