In the 1st century BC, Normandy saw one of its first great invasions by the Romans. The area was an important part of the Holy Roman Empire until the 4th century. In the 9th century, the area received its name of Normandy after it was raided by the Vikings, or Norsemen, from whom it took its name.
When Rollo, Earl of Orkney, invaded the territory in 911, he forced the French King, Charles III, or Charles the Simple, to concede Normandy. Rollo, then, became the first Duke of Normandy. In 1066, William, a descendant of Rollo, conquered England, thereby initiating England's claims to the area. The region passed into the royal dynasty of Plantagenet, in the 12th century, and England expanded its claims to continental land when Henry II of England, Duke of Normandy, married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152.
The failure of Philippe Auguste of France to gain possession of Normandy from the English Plantagenets in the following years became one of the primary causes of the Hundred Years War. The people and landscape of Normandy suffered dearly from this long conflict. Normandy was, however, finally secured by France in 1450 and became a semi-autonomous state. Normandy was again the site of heavy fighting in the twentieth century as the Allied forces invaded the region in 1944.
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