Here, we have an extract from Abbo’s work entitled, ‘Wars of Count Odo … The Vikings had some female family members with them on the campaign, and the women began heckling their men for retreating. Its strategic importance came from the ability to block ships' passage with its two low-lying foot bridges, one of wood and one of stone. Shortly after Count Heinrich’s departure, Sigfred returned to Paris and added his men to the siege. The Viking assaults also came under fire from Frankish heavy weapons. The system he established had successfully repulsed a lot viking attack at the mouth of the river Seine, but in the year 834 the attacks by Danish Vikings in Friesland and Dorasion couldn’t be held back. "Well before the great Viking siege of Paris, more than 300 islands dotted the length of the Seine River, reduced over the centuries by human impact and natural changes to slightly more than 100. [17], The Vikings left a force around Paris, but many ventured further to pillage Le Mans, Chartres,[17] Evreux and into the Loire. [18] The besieged forces sallied forth and to obtain supplies. In or around 841, Ragnar had been awarded land in Turholt, Frisia by Charles the Bald, but he eventually lost the land as well as the favour of the king. For protection from barbarians migrating into Gaul, the Celts living along the banks of the Seine at Lutetia relocated to the two largest islands in the river, named the Ile de la Cité and the Ile de St-Louis. The combined Viking forces first sacked Rouen, after which they advanced against Pont-de-l’Arche, a fortified bridge on the Seine River 10 miles southeast of the city. The Vikings attacking the Grand Chatelet formed a testudo. The first Viking attack against Charlemagne’s empire came in 799. They used their longships not only at sea, but also to penetrate large land masses by rowing them upriver. Believing the Viking camp on the right bank abandoned, Abbot Ebolus from the St. Denis Monastery sallied across Grand Pont with a small troop of soldiers intending to destroy the camp and free his despoiled home. Centuries before tourists thronged to the City of Lights, the globetrotting Vikings also traveled to Paris—although there was nothing romantic about their visits. Rather than demanding tribute from Paris, Rollo and Sigfred initially requested free passage up the Seine River. When it became apparent the Vikings were threatening Paris itself, preparations began in earnest. This put Paris within easy striking distance. Despite this, Gauzlin continued negotiations and reached a separate agreement with Sigfred. The agreement stipulated that the church would pay Sigfred 60 pounds of silver to vacate the Abbey of St-Germain-des-Prés and quit the siege of Paris. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the skills of siege-engine building in Europe largely fell into disuse, and only the crudest forms existed. Their Western contemporaries typically referred to Scandinavian pirates and raiders as the Norse or the Danes. While Christian combatants, for the most part, left churches and holy sites unmolested, the pagan Norsemen harbored no such inhibitions. Both Count Odo and Bishop Gauzlin were in the thick of the fighting. In January 886 they tried to fill the river shallows with debris, plant matter, and the bodies of dead animals and dead prisoners to try to get around the tower. The chief ruler in the region around Paris (the Île-de-France) was the duke of Francia (also the Count of Paris), who controlled the lands between the Seine and Loire. In late March, Odo and Gauzlin were forced  to enter into negotiations with the Viking leaders; however, the negotiations with Odo fell apart when the Vikings made an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap him during the talks. The Danish Viking Reginheri, one of the figures scholars link to the legend of Ragnar Lothbrok, led a violent series of attacks on what is now France and sieged Paris, which was then an island city, in the year 845. A mighty Viking fleet sailed up the Seine River and laid siege to Paris in 885. Eight feet thick at the base, the walls tapered to six feet at the top. After Rouen, West Frankish King Charles the Bald sent an army to protect the Abbey of Saint Denis, but Reginheri's raiders routed this force and hanged 111 of their priso… Odo then slipped through Viking-controlled territory to petition Charles for support; Charles consented. Vikings armed with swords and axes assailed the towers guarding the two bridges. As they drew closer to Paris, the locals began fleeing their homes to safety deeper inland or taking shelter behind the walls of Paris on the Ile de la Cité, bringing their valuables and foodstuffs with them. photo: wikipedia If you love Paris, thank the Vikings. The fire ships rammed into “a high heap of stones, so that no harm came to the bridge,” wrote Abbo. The following morning, the Vikings launched a strong attack against the vulnerable wooden tower, which was defended by just a dozen Franks. These men would have handled mundane tasks such as standing watch and hauling supplies. The Viking forces were led by a Danish chieftain named "Reginherus", or Ragnar, who traditionally has been identified with the legendary saga character Ragnar Lodbrok. The Vikings set sail towards Paris, leading behind some ships huge siege towers built by Floki to climb the walls of the city. The defenders formed a small shield wall bristling with swords at the bridgehead and braced for a fight to the death. Once having started a family, the majority of former Vikings settled down to farming, the primary means of earning a living in Scandinavia. Their camp was protected by stone and earth ramparts and a deep ditch bristling with sharpened stakes. He undertook another assault against the Grand Chatelet, but it was repulsed. In his Edict of Pistres in 864, the King of West Francia detailed the need to strengthen key locations in France against the raids. “Spewing flames, these ships began to drift from east to west; they were guided and pulled by taut ropes along the river bank,” wrote Abbo. The territory under his control was known as the land of the Norsemen, who became known as Normans. He made selling or trading horses with the Vikings a crime punishable by death. When Charles died in 888, the French elected Odo as their king. Odo's brother, Robert I of France, was later elected king as well, in opposition to the Carolingian Charles the Simple. Although the Vikings had attacked parts of Francia previously, they reached Paris for the first time in 845, eventually sacking the city. Under command of the fighting abbot, the defenders conducted frequent nighttime sallies against Viking sentries and outposts and sometimes brought back prisoners who were executed after being questioned. The siege was the most important event of the reign of Charles the Fat, and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France.It also proved to the Franks the strategic importance of Paris, at the time only a small island town. Arriving before Paris on or about November 25, 885, the Vikings under Rollo and Sigfred found their way upriver barred by two low-slung fortified bridges. "[11] Although the Franks tried to block the Vikings from sailing up the Seine, the Vikings eventually managed to reach Paris. Abbo says, “No path to the city was left unstained by the blood of men.” Numerous Frankish monks from the despoiled monasteries fought among the Paris defenders. “Give us your consent that we might go our way, well beyond this city,” they purportedly said. “For very hastily arrows were being sharpened, repaired, forged, and bucklers were all sorted out; even old arms were restored,” wrote Abbo. Well before the great Viking siege of Paris, more than 300 islands dotted the length of the Seine River, reduced over the centuries by human impact and natural changes to slightly more than 100. [17][18] On 27 November the Viking attack included mining, battering rams, and fire, but to no avail. The Vikings eventually began colonizing large swaths of territory in the lands they regularly raided. During the next several days, the Vikings cut down a large tree, which they fashioned into a battering ram mounted on a wheeled frame with overhead cover. [17] According to Joshua J. [17] In May, disease began to spread in the Parisian ranks and Gozlin died. To ease the approach of the rams, one group of Vikings would attack the tower, while others began filling in ditches with debris, animal carcasses, and the corpses of captured Franks. WWII Quarterly, the hardcover journal of the Second World War that is not available in bookstores or on newsstands, and can only be obtained and collected through a personal subscription through the mail. With no new profitable territory to conquer, those Viking war bands yet to gain their fortune turned their attention to the European continent. Yet, he had no idea that the Franks had built the two low bridges, one of stone and the other of wood, which made it impossible for the Vikings’ barques to pass the towers and reach the city of Paris. Count Odo, whose reputation had been enormously enhanced by his role in the defense of Paris, was elected king shortly afterward by the nobles of the realm. Unable to break down the gates, a group of Vikings attacked the base of the tower with picks. Henry, Count of Saxony, Charles' chief man in Germany, marched to Paris. The imperial army arrived in October and scattered the Vikings. Gauzlin, firing a bow from the city wall, was lightly wounded by a Viking arrow. The burning ships sank before they could set the bridge on fire, but the wooden construction was nonetheless weakened. Abbo noted that the Viking arrows were poisoned. In the annals of military history magazines, this is one of those moments. On the third day they set three ships alight and guided them towards the wooden bridge. In the Latin Frankish source, the Viking leader mentioned was Reginheri who was a famous Viking leader in the 8th century. [18] Odo successfully slipped some men through Norse lines to go to Italy and plead with Charles to come to their aid. One of the few eyewitness accounts of the siege of Paris was written by Aboo, a young monk at the abbey of St. Germain-de-Pres. Whether the Vikings had siege engines is subject to debate. When this was denied, they began a siege. [24], The Parisians and Odo refused to let the Vikings down the Seine and the invaders had to drag their boats overland to the Marne to leave the country. He began fortifying the capital and fought the Norsemen continuously until his death in battle against them at Brissarthe. Sigfred demanded a bribe from Charles, but was refused, and promptly led 700 ships up the Seine, carrying perhaps as many as 30,000[3] or 40,000 men. The main goal of a Viking raid was to carry off portable valuables and slaves. Rollo fared much better. But these great fleets were the exception rather than the rule. The Viking Siege of Paris is a famous and significant event. Owing to the shallow draft of their longships and their initial intentions to raid farther upriver, it is highly unlikely that Rollo and Sigfred brought siege artillery with them. The horses allowed them to raid deep inland. It also proved for the Franks the strategic importance of Paris at a time when it also was one of the largest cities in West Francia. Another large body of Vikings landed on the Ile de la Cité and attempted to scale the city walls. Faced with certain death otherwise, the 12 defenders laid down their arms. “The enemy hoped either to burn the bridge or the tower.”. The Franks fortified key coastal locations and conducted regular ship patrols in river estuaries. The History Channel has a historical drama based on the Vikings, which follows the story of Ragnar Lodbrok. 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