The family progenitor was Rognvald, Earl of More. He was known
at that time as Rognvald The Wise. He was granted the Jarldoms of Raumsdal
and More by King Harold Fairhair for his help in battle at Solskiel against
the then rulers of these lands.
His father was a famous Viking, Eystein Glumera.
His wife was Ragnhilda, daughter of Hrolf The Beaked. Rognvald was banished by King Harold Fairhair about 900 AD. He had been raiding in a prohibited area. The King needed to control his fighting men and maintain his leadership over this loose federation of Jarls. Harold Fairhair was the first king of Norway and would one day die in battle at sea. For now, the Sea King would confirm his authority by banishing one of his leading warriors.
Rognvald's wife went before King Harold to intercede on his son Rollo's behalf. These words (in
translation) are quoted by Clarence Pearsall on p.17. The outlawry had been claimed again.
"Bethink thee Monarch it is ill
With such a wolf at wolf to play
Who driven to the wild woods away
May make the King's best deer his prey."
Rognvald's family insignia was a wolf's head. In Norse law, the wolf was the symbol of the
outlaw. In Norse mythology, the Fenris wolf would devour all in the day of destruction of Asgaard,
the home of the gods which contained the hall of the warriors, Valhalla.. The Fenris Wolf of Loki's
brood would be the death of Odin at Ragnarok. (Rognvald traced his ancestry to Odin.) It was also the symbol of devouring remorse. Outlawing "The Wolf" would be destructive to the king's
property and to his peace of mind.
The first family coat of arms was the wolf's head "erased of the field". Descendants use it in a
canton - usually on the upper left. The descendants of Rognvald joined courts in many lands, either
by marriage or by alliances, or by achievements in battle. They abandoned the insignia and family
name in favor of their newer associations.
Rognvald's sons by Ragnhilda were Ivar, Thorir , Heldina and Rollo (Hrolf). His sons by slave
mothers were Hrollauf, King of Iceland and Eyner, Earl of the Orkneys.
In 912 Rollo, son of Rognvald The Wolf, became the first Duke of Normandy in France and
changed his coat of arms from the outlaw wolf to the lion. His Danish name was Hrolfr or Rolf in
Taken from a copy of an engraving of Rollo in the family history
On account of Rollo's great stature, he was known as "Ganger Hrolf" or "Walking Rollo". He was
too large to ride horseback. See the illustration. The figure is holding a two handed broadsword.
Usually a warrior would not have to reach down to grasp it.
As was the custom at the time,men could have more than one wife. Rollo had a pagan wife,
Poppa (daughter of the Count of Berengeria) and two children. Even so, a priest married him to the
daughter of the French King Charles The Simple (Gisela de France) in a christian ceremony.
There were no children of this marriage. In 918, Rollo married his wife Poppa in a christian
ceremony and thus legitimised his son Guilliamme and daughter Gerloc (baptised Adele). Poppa and Rollo had to send Guilliame to be raised by clerics to guarantee his right to succede his father as
Duke of Normandy. Guilliame was later kown as William Longsword.
Rollo was one of the most famous Vikings of his age and had learned well the battle tactics taught
by his father Rognvald The Wolf. This was the era of the beautiful longships. Swords of tempered
steel and mail tunics were just beginning to appear. The Norse god of the forge, Volund and the
Roman one, Vulcan were venerated for the advantages good weapons gave in hand to hand battle.
Catapults and crossbows changed warfare. The English were making advances in weaponry and
learning to mount a better defense against the nearly invincible Viking invaders. Charles The Simple was actually quite clever to enlist a powerful Viking family to defend Normandy against their
former countrymen. Giving them lands and titles and a hereditary place gave stability as well as
defense to his kingdom. Court life required at least an appearance of conversion to the Christian
According to "The Vikings" by Howard La Fey, (National Geographic Press p. 146):
"The Vikings wore their new religion lightly....when Hrolf (Rollo) died, his requiem service
proved that he had not forgotten Thor. In addition to large donations to monasteries for masses to be
sung for his soul's repose, he had ordered the sacrifice of 100 prisoners." See the illustration of his
tomb in Notre Dame Cathedral at Rouen. ("The Vikings" p.145) At this time, the family coat of
arms was the two lions of Normandy.
Tomb of Rollo in Notre Dame Cathedral at Rouen
In "The Normans" by Hazel Mary Marteil (Heineman, New Discovery ed. 1992) Rollo died in
990.His tomb is in Notre Dame Cathedral.
Rognvald, Earl of Mere of the Upplandings,was cousin and Councilor to Harold Fairhair, first King of Norway. King Harold made Rognvald Lord of North and South Mere. Rognvald was the son of Eystein Glumera, the son of Ivar,the son of Halfdan the Old. Rognvald married Ragnhild, daughter of Hrolf the Beaked, surnamed Nephiot Grosshertz, a great Herrse or Baron, of Rumstall.
(The Norseman could have several wives.) By other wives, Rognvald had:
One eyed, bandy legged, short Einar the son of the slave woman was a famous Viking warrior and ancestor of Thorfinn, Eighth Earl of Orkney and the real Macbeth. Einar also was the first to introduce the burning of peats for fuel and is still revered in these islands as "Torf Einar". It was he who avenged his father's murder by the son of King Harald Fairhair by the Viking execution of "blood eagle".
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