Normandy, an ancient N. W. province of France, extending along the English channel, from a point S. of the mouth of the Somme to the bay of Cancale, bounded N. and W. by the English channel, E. by Picardy and Isle-de-France (from which it was partly divided by the Bresle, the Epte, and the Eure), and S. by Perche, Maine, and Brittany, the upper Sarthe and the lower Couesnon forming a part pf the dividing line. The province is mostly level and fertile, producing grain, flax, and fruit, and an excellent breed of horses; the bays and rivers abound in fish. Rouen was the capital of the province and the chief town of the division of Upper Normandy, and Caen was the chief town of Lower Normandy. The early Gallic inhabitants were subdued by the Romans, who included the territory in the province of Gallia Lugdunensis Secunda. It was comprised within the limits of Neustria under the domination of the Merovingian kings, and received the name of Normandy from the Northmen, who occupied it in the beginning of the 10th century.
In 912 Charles the Simple gave his sanction to the conquests made by the Northmen, and Rollo, their chief, received the title of duke of Normandy. The new duchy soon rose to be one of the most prosperous provinces of France. William the Bastard, son of Robert the Devil, sixth successor of Rollo, became in 1066 the conqueror and first Norman king of England. On his death (1087) England and Normandy were separated, the latter reverting to Robert Courteheuse, while William Rufus seized upon the former. Henry I. Beauclerc ruled over both, but his daughter Matilda was only duchess of Normandy. Her son, Henry II., accomplished another reunion, which lasted until the reign of King John. This prince was summoned before the court of peers at Paris, as a vassal of the French king, on the charge of having murdered his nephew Arthur of Brittany, and sentenced to forfeit his duchy, which was seized immediately by King Philip Augustus; but it was twice again held by the English, first under Edward III., and a second time, from 1417 to 1450, under Henry V. and Henry VI. Under Charles VII. of France it was finally rescued from the English by Dunois; and although the title of duke of Normandy was still occasionally used, the duchy thenceforth was an integral portion of the kingdom of France, and one of its most prosperous and enterprising provinces.
In 1790 it was divided into the departments of Seine-Inferieure, Eure, Calvados, Orne, and Manche. - See " History of Normandy and of England," by Sir Francis Palgrave (4 vols., 1851-'64). Pugin, Turner, and other artists and writers have treated of the archaeological and architectural treasures of Normandy; while the picturesque characteristics of nature and of popular custom and life have been described by many writers, including Jules Janin, La Normandlc (Paris, 1864); George Musgrave, "A Ramble through Normandy " (London, 1855); and J. F. Campbell, "Life in Normandy " (London, 1872).