Stephen of Rouen' s <i>Draco Normannicus</i> : A Norman Epic


  • Irene Harris


When the Normans of the 1Oth to 12th centwies celebrated their achievements they wrote in the gesta tradition, singing the deeds of their vigorous leaders who carved out a settlement in Neustria and then went on to conquer the English. One particular branch of these gesta histories has been traced by Elizabeth van Houts. In this particular sequence, a chronicle begun by Dudo of St. Quentin was continued by William of Poitiers, William of Jumieges and Robert of Torigny, who was a monk at Bee in the 1130s. Because Robert did not continue his chronicle beyond the death of King Henry I, van Houts has called these chronicles 'a history without an end'lThere is, however, a final chapter to the saga of the Normans in Neustria. It is the Draco Normannicus, a poem written in the 1160s by a younger contemporary of Robert's at Bee, Stephen of Rouen. The Norman chronicles provided Stephen with his sources for a reworking of Norman history, in which he places the deeds of Henry II against the backdrop of the gesta of the k:ing's Norman forebears2