By 990, the Vikings, through intermarriage and assimilation with the northern French, the Franks, had become French-speaking Christians. Normandy was no longer a Viking colony, but had become a region of France, with the Norse language extinguished. While the Normans recognized the superiority of the king of France, their territory owed only nominal allegiance to the king: they had more authority over their land than the other regions within France. France, destabilized by several centuries of Viking invasions, had become decentralized, fragmenting into separate fiefdoms. The Normans still retained their Viking ancestors’ love of fighting and launched expeditionary campaigns during the early 11th century to southern Italy and Sicily, where they became mercenaries to crusaders. From 1027–35, the Norman dukedom was run by Robert I. His illegitimate son, William, was to become William the Conqueror of England in 1066.
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