Sprota (born c. 910) was the name of a Breton captive who William I, Duke of Normandy took as a wife in the Viking fashion (more danico)[1][2] and by her had a son, Richard I, Duke of Normandy. After the death of her husband William, she became the wife of Esperleng and mother of Rodulf of Ivry.[3][4][5]



The first mention of her is by Flodoard of Reims and although he does not name her he identifies her under the year [943] as the mother of "William’s son [Richard] born of a Breton concubine".[6] Elisabeth van Houts wrote "on this reference rests the identification of Sprota, William Longsword’s wife 'according to the Danish custom', as of Breton origin",[7] and this could apply to someone of native Breton, Scandinavian, or Frankish ethnicity, the latter being the most likely based on her name spelling.[8] The first to provide her name was William of Jumièges.[9][10] The irregular nature (as per the Church) of her relationship with William served as the basis for her son by him being the subject of ridicule, the French King Louis "abused the boy with bitter insults", calling him "the son of a whore who had seduced another woman's husband."[11][12]

At the time of the birth of her first son Richard, she was living in her own household at Bayeux, under William's protection.[4] William, having just quashed a rebellion at Pré-de Bataille (c. 936),[a] received the news by a messenger that Sprota had just given birth to a son; delighted at the news William ordered his son to be baptized and given the personal name of Richard.[10] William's steward Boto became the boy's godfather.[13]

After the death of William Longsword and the captivity of her son Richard, she had been 'collected' from her dangerous situation by the 'immensely wealthy' Esperleng.[3] Robert of Torigni identified Sprota's second husband[b] as Esperleng, a wealthy landowner who operated mills at Pîtres.[4][14]


By William I Longsword she was the mother of:

By Esperling of Vaudreuil she was the mother of:


of Normandy
Theobald I
Count of Blois
of Vermandois
William I
of Normandy
of Vaudreuil
of Paris
Richard I
of Normandy
of Crépon
of Ivry
of Canville
Richard II
of Normandy
of Rouen

the Steward
of Ivrea
Bishop of
of Rouen
Dukes of

Kings of
Fitz Osbern
Earl of
Fitz Osbern
Bishop of


  1. ^ The date of the battle and as such Richard's birth is commonly given as c.936 but according to the Annals of Jumièges (ed. Laporte, p. 53) Richard was baptized in 938. See Van Houts, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, 1992, 1:78-9 n. 5.
  2. ^ Probably also in the Viking or Danish fashion of marriage. See: Searle, Predatory Kinship, 1988, 291 n. 2


  1. ^ Van Houts, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, 1994, 1:xxxviii
  2. ^ Reynolds, Marriage in the Western Church, 1992, 111
  3. ^ a b Philippe, La Normandie an xe siècle, 1845, 6
  4. ^ a b c Crouch, The Normans, 2007, 26
  5. ^ Van Houts, The Normans in Europe, 2000, 4
  6. ^ Fanning and Bachrach, The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 2011, p. 37
  7. ^ Van Houts, The Normans in Europe, 2000, 47 n. 77
  8. ^ Van Houts, The Normans in Europe, 2000, p. 182
  9. ^ Keats-Rohan, 'Poppa of Bayeux and Her Family', 1997, 192
  10. ^ a b Van Houts, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, 1992, 1:78-9
  11. ^ Van Houts, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, 1992, 1:102-3 n. 5
  12. ^ Albu, The Normans in their histories, 2001, 69.
  13. ^ Van Houts, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, 1992, 1:78-9 n. 3
  14. ^ Searle, Predatory Kinship, 1988, 108
  15. ^ Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln, 1984,
  16. ^ Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln, 1989, 694A


Categories: Duchesses of Normandy | 10th-century Normans | 10th-century French people | 10th-century French women | 10th-century Norman women

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