Viking index
In the Netherlands
Rorik's headquarters Famous vikings
Viking settlements
Viking mythology
Female vikings
Viking tressure



The scourge of the low lands

The central figure in this period of Dutch history was Rorik. He was a member of an important Danish family and the most part of his adult life he was in battle for the crown of Denmark. The most important historical sources, the Annales Bertiniari and the Annalse Fuldenses are in conflict. According to the first Rorik was a brother to Harald II, while the second claims he was his nephew.

Harald was king in 812-813 as well as from 819-827. In 828 he was run off by fellow kings. From that time he spent his days gathering wealth on the account of the Frisians. Dorestad was Harald's favourite target, as well af of his follower Rorik. In 841 Emperor Lothar hands Harald Walcheren (in the southeast of present day Holland) as a loan. Walcheren's important trading centre Domburg was part of the package.

In 850 Lothar sees no other way than to give Dorestad and all its lands north of the Maas in loan to Rorik. The Frankish kings just gave the Vikings what they wanted so there would be no more riading. Rorik had just ended a very successfull campaign in the North of the Lowlands and the Emperor had no power to stop him.
Harald died in 852 and his son Godfried took over. He travelled, with Rorik, back to Denmark to reclaim the thrown in the war of 854. After they have failed, they started their own empire in Frisia and extend their territory. In 863 Dorestad was riaded for the last time: the city simply ceased to exsist.

The Frisian kings did not really know where they stood. Ubbo, a Frisian warlord, fought on the side of the Danes in Northumbria but in the same year Rorik gets thrown out of Frisia after a successful revolt. He returned to Denmark for a short period only to become a great statesman. He made a treaty with Carles the Bold, king of the West-Frankisch Empire, and at the same time kept good contacts with Louis the German of the East-Frankish Empire. In 870 he returns to Frisia, more powerfull than ever, he now was an official vassal of Charles the Bold. He became a christian for political and not necessarily religious reasons. But after 873 he vanished from historical accounts.
In 882 Godfried the Seaking (whether or not he was Rorik's cousin is not certain) officially became the heir to Rorik's possessions. However, he died in 885 under suspicious circumstances. As the story goes, one of his warlords, Gerulf, was involved. This Gerulf pops back into history sometime after Godfried's death as archfather of the Dutch counts.