Gunnora D' ARQUES, Duchess of Normandy


Family Links

1. Richard I "Sans Peur" DE NORMANDIE Count of Normandy

2. Hugh DE MORTIMER Bishop of Coustances
3. Jarl Palig, Ealdorman in Devon

Gunnora D' ARQUES, Duchess of Normandy

  • Born: Abt 950, Arques-la-Bataille, Haute-Normandie, France
  • Married (1): Bef 989
  • Died: 5 Jan 1031, Normandie, France

  Research Notes:

Guillaume de Jumièges records that "in domo forestarii...hospiti suo...uxorem suam Sainfriam" rejected the advances of Richard I Comte [de Normandie] and sent “Gunnorem sororem suam” to his bed in her place. She and her three sisters, as well as their husbands, are named by Robert de Torigny. It appears from Dudo de Saint-Quentin and Robert de Torigny that Gunnora was Richard I's mistress before she married him. Guillaume of Jumièges records that Richard married “Gunnor ex nobilissima Danorum prosapia ortam”, in the sentence which follows the record of the death of Richard´s first wife. According to Robert de Torigny, the marriage took place to legitimise Richard and Gunnora's son Robert to permit his appointment as Bishop of Rouen.

The necrology of Saint-Père-en-Vallée records the death "Non Jan" of "Gonnoridis…comitissa Normannie". 1


"Because we have refered to Countess Gunnor on account of Roger de Montgomery's mother, her niece, I should like to write down the story as reported by people of old of how Gunnor came to be Duke Richard's wife. One day when Duke Richard was told of the celebrated beauty of the wife of one of his foresters, who lived at a place called Equiqueville near the town of Arques, he deliberately went hunting there in order to see for himself whether the report he had learned from several folk was true. While staying in the forester's house, the duke was so struck by the beauty of his wife's face that he summoned his host to bring his wife, called Sainsfrida, that night to his bedchamber. Very sadly the man told this to Sainsfrida, a wise woman, who comforted him by saying that she would send in her place her sister Gunnor, a virgin even more beautiful than her. And thus it happened. Once the duke perceived the trick he was delighted that he had not committed the sin of adultery with another man's wife. . . ."

Apart from Sainsfrida, Gunnor had two sisters, Wevia and Duvelina. The latter (Duvelina)*, with the help of the countess, who was a very wise woman, married Turulf of Pont-Audemer. He was the son of someone called Torf, after whome several towns are called Tourville to the present day. Turulf's brother was Turketil, father of Ansketil of Harcourt. Turulf had by his wife Humphrey of Vieilles, father of Roger of Beaumont. The third of Countess Gunnor's sisters (Wevia)* married Osbern de Bolbec, by whom she bore the first Walter Giffard, and then Godfrey, father of William of Arques. . . ."

* The original manuscript, of which several copies survive, did not further identify these sisters, other than as "the latter" and "the third". This resulted in a certain degree of confusion, since Duvelina is actually named third, but had already been described as "the latter". However, in Robert's autographed copy, he has specifically inserted their names, which removes all ambiguity. Thus we have Sainsfrida married to the unnamed forester of (St. Vaast d')Equiqueville, Wevia married to Osbern de Bolbec, and Duvelina married to Turulf de Pont-Audemer. 2

  Marriage Information:

Gunnora married Richard I "Sans Peur" DE NORMANDIE, Count of Normandy, son of Guillaume I "Longuespée" DE NORMANDIE Count of Normandy and Sprota DE BRETAGNE, before 989. (Richard I "Sans Peur" DE NORMANDIE was born on 28 Aug 933 in Fécamp, Haute-Normandie, France and died on 20 Nov 996 in The Monastery At Fécamp, Seine Inferieure, France.)

  Marriage Notes:

Richard & his second wife had eight children (legitimated [before 989] by the subsequent marriage of their parents).

  Marriage Information:

Gunnora also married Hugh DE MORTIMER Bishop of Coustances. (Hugh DE MORTIMER Bishop of Coustances was born in 930 and died in 960.)

  Marriage Information:

Gunnora also married Jarl Palig, Ealdorman in Devon. (Jarl Palig, Ealdorman in Devon died on an unknown date.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands: Gunnora.

2 Gesta Normannorum Ducum, Rogert de Torigni's autographed redaction.

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