Countess Lucy

Who Was Countess Lucy?

History has come to ignore the fact that there was an established Viking nobility in England prior to the Norman Conquest. The assumption that any person of importance after the Battle of Hastings must be from the Norman or Saxon nobility is a serious error that perpetuates to our day.

Research that I did in 1995 suggests that Countess Lucy held estates on the Lincolnshire Wolds and we find her associated with the endowment of the fine church opposite the castle at Old Bolingbroke. The Doomsday Book records that her estates were in the name of Ivor Taillebois. She married Taillebois a few years after the Battle of Hastings and it is plane to see that her inheritance within the Danelaw could only be acquired by enforced marriage to a Norman. As to whether she was married prior to Taillebois is conjecture but the loss of Viking nobility around this time either through war or murder at the hands of the Normans is well known and the Battle of Hastings was not the one battle that gave England away as the English history books try to imply.

Close to Old Bolingbroke is the village of Lusby. In the 11th Century the rural density hereabouts was extremely high by national average and one must search for a reason. The Wolds face south to the sun and more particularly lie close to the old Roman port that became known as Wainfleet. The haven is now silted up but it is not hard to see that this was, at the time, one of England's premier trading ports. The Muslims had complete control of the Mediterranean. It was this, together with the technological masterpiece known as the longship, that gave the Vikings a great advantage in east-west trade via the North Sea, the Baltic and the Russian rivers to the Black Sea and the caravan routes of the Silk Road to the empires of the east.

"Countess" is the female equivalent of "Earl" and it in turn derives from the Old Nordic "Jahl" meaning "Chief". So Countess Lucy inherited the position of chief amongst her peoples who had settled on the Wolds of Lincolnshire and were Viking in character having administered the region for in excess of three hundred years giving rise to such modern words as "law" and "by-law".
The bad press given to Viking civilization by the Saxon Chronicle and the Norman overlords has somewhat twisted the achievements of the Viking peoples in Eastern England and to its shame Lincolnshire does nothing to promote this side of its ancestry despite a plethora of Viking place names.

On the authority of the Vicar of Saint Peters, Lusby (circa 1995) I am informed that the village was at the time of Countess Lucy called "Lucyby". This indicates a political need to "normanification" of place names and indeed it would be rather strange for a Viking countess to marry a Norman so soon after the loss of her male family at their hands unless that marriage was politically enforced. We must remember that the Saxon nobility spent a lot of their youth in Normandy prior to the landing. The rapidity with which they surrendered the crown at Berkhampstead suggests complicity that would have been totally unacceptable to the nobility of the freedom loving Danelaw. Indeed events in Eastern and Northern England for many years after 1066 suggest that a strong resistance movement held forth in ex-Viking territories and it is from this that the spirited freedom-loving Britain results not from the acquiescent Saxon whose defensive "Burgh" system was organized such that overlordship could pass readily to a conqueror whereas the democratic "Things" of the Danelaw management structure were aiming at the very opposite type of civil management. The subsequent establishment of feudalism was thus a resulting factor of Saxon betrayal.

Whilst the name "de Lucy" is said to hail from Norman France this would appear not to be the case with Countess Lucy. Her line, like my family, came from the village of Lusby on the Lincolnshire Wolds. That was the centre as the old church may one day reveal. The Doomsday Book records the name as Lozzebie but that could be a spelling error of the Norman clerks or it could reflect the Viking pronunciation. Those of us with the name "Lusby" are often nicknamed "Luzzer" at school and "Old Luzzer" could well have been the Viking Patriarch who settled on the Wolds once he retired from trading with his longships out of Wainfleet. The "by" means "town" in Scandinavian but if normanification was the political order of the day it could have been replaced with the prefix "de" to achieve the same family/place result. So we arrive at "de Lucy" and other derivatives from this area such as "de Lacy". BUT the DANE-LAW was and still is so strong that the inheritance could not be usurped by conquest. Only by inter-marriage could the Viking estates pass and that meant that some linguistic changes had to be made to comply with the political correctness of the time.

If one researches the names of the Earls of Lincoln then the lineage from Viking origins becomes obvious. It ends with a famous beheading and confiscation of the estates into the Norman royal household and that is where they reside today within the estates of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England. That lineage comes through Countess Lucy who would appear to have been very much the victim of fate with her three neatly arranged marriages into the Norman nobility. If Turold the Sheriff of Lincoln was indeed her father as recent research suggests it is extremely convenient to Norman claims that his parents are unknown. Why are the parents of such an important figure "unknown"? I would suggest it is because he too was a Viking. Realizing the legal complexities within the Danelaw with its strong code of law the Norman nobility had to find an alternative to conquest to alienate the Viking lands. The name "Turold" comes from "Thorold" and Thor is very much a Viking god of strength. The name is unlikely to be given to a Saxon or a Norman frankophile. So what was a Viking doing in charge of the administration of Lincoln after the Norman victory? One can only surmise that as the legal guardian (possibly not the father) of the child who inherited upon the death of her father the title of "Countess" he obtained his station in return for giving her hand in child marriage to the Conqueror's approved henchman, Ivor Taillebois. Nothing else fits. In reality she was Countess Luzzer of Luzzerby but that did not sound very flattering in Norman French.

Some of us would appreciate a little more effort going into the historical Danelaw contribution to the renowned character of modern day Britains. The sea connection runs deep in our collective soul.

Stan Lusby
50 Haven Street
New Zealand