Normandy

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Normandy (Normandie in French) is a maritime province of France, located on its northwestern side, along the English Channel.

Normandy is surrounded by other provinces : Picardie (to the north), Ile de France (to the east, with Paris as its capital), Maine (to the south, with Le Mans as its capital) and Bretagne (to the west).

Today Normandy is divided into two regions : Upper Normandy with Rouen as its capital, and Lower Normandy with Caen as its capital.

History

The name of the province means "land of the northmen" (nordmannen), ie. the Vikings who conquered the land in year 911. Previously, Normandy was a part of the Neustrian county, partition of the Carolingian empire : Neustrie, Austrasie, Aquitaine, etc...

Before Romanization in year 52 BC, Normandy was populated by Belgian Celts known as Gauls. The Roman Empire settled several towns as Rouen (Rotomagus), Lillebonne (Juliobona), etc... and a network of military roads.

A main historical event occurred in year 911 when the Viking jarl (duke) Rollo received from the King of France a part of the present Normandy, in exchange of his homage to the king, of his christian religion adoption and of its protection of the Normandy against other Vikings. In 931, Rollo, coming to the aid of the Vikings in Brittany, seized for himself the Cotentin peninsula, establishing the western boundary of the fiefdom.

Another main historical event occurred in year 1066 when the Duke of Normandy William the Conqueror invaded England (the last successful invasion of England indeed). As one of the consequenses of the conquest, became Normandy a matter of several wars between the two kingdoms of England and of France : war between the French Capetians and the English Plantagenets, Hundred Years War.

Normans participated actively to the medieval Crusades and created the Kingdom of Norman Italy, based in Palermo, Sicilia.

A last main historical event occurred in year 1944 with the D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, the first major landing of Allied ground troops and the beginning of the operations necessary to oust the Nazis from occupied Europe.

Economy

Several harbours are located in the Normandy : Dieppe, Fécamp, Antifer, Le Havre, Rouen, Caen and Cherbourg (ferries to Great Britain, fisherman harbour, transatlantic liners, general cargo, crude oil, French navy).

The second most visited site by tourists in France is the Mont Saint Michel, at western border of Brittany. Close to Paris, the Norman coast is a sea & beach resort (Deauville, Le Touquet, Houlgate).

The climate in Normandy is mild (Gulf Stream) and rainy, thus enabling a whealthy agriculture : racing horses, chease (Camenbert, Pont Lévêque, Livarot), milk, cream, apple brandy Calvados, etc...

The Norman industry is mainly located in the Seine river valley.

Others

Normandie-Niemen is the name of a special fighter squadron of the French Air Force which served on the Russian front of World War II, under Soviet control.

SS Normandie is the name of the largest and fastest transatlantic liner of its time, launched in 1932 by the French Line and destroyed by fire in the New York harbour in 1942.