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Arnulf I the Great Count of Flanders

Arnulf of Flanders (c. 890–964), called the Great, was a French nobleman and the third count of Flanders. He ruled from 918 until his death. He ruled an expanded County of Flanders, an area that is now northwestern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands.


Arnulf, born c. 890, was the son of count Baldwin II, Count of Flanders and Ælfthryth of Wessex. She was a daughter of Alfred the Great. Through his mother he was a descendant of the Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Through his father he was a descendant of Charlemagne. Arnulf was named after Saint Arnulf of Metz, a of the Carolingian dynasty.

At the death of their father in 918 Arnulf became Count of Flanders. His brother Adelolf succeeded to the County of Boulogne. When Adeloft died in 933 Arnulf took control of Boulogne and Ternois. His nephews were still young so it was probably as their guardian. Later he gave the of Boulogne to his nephew, Arnulf II.

Arnulf I greatly expanded Flemish rule to the south. He took over all or part of Artois, Ponthieu, Amiens, and Ostrevent. Arnulf exploited the conflicts between Charles the Simple and Robert I of France, and later those between Louis IV and his barons. In his southern expansion Arnulf had conflict with the Normans. They were trying to secure their northern frontier. This led to the 942 murder of the Duke of Normandy, William Longsword, at the hands of Arnulf's men. The Vikings became less of a threat during the later years of Arnulf's life. He worked on reforming his county government.

Arnulf's son, Baldwin III died in 962 leaving Arnold a crisis of succession. Baldwin's son Arnulf II 'the Young' was still a child and his succession was disputed. Arnulf offered the king, Lothair of France, Artois, Ponthieu, and Ostrevant in exchange for the king's protection of Arnulf II. His grandson inherited a weakened county of Flanders when he came of age. Arnold died on 27 March 964.


The name of Arnulf's first wife is unknown but he had at least one daughter by her:

  • Name unknown; married Isaac of Cambrai. Their son Arnulf succeeded his father as Count of Cambrai.

In 934 he married Adele of Vermandois, daughter of Herbert II of Vermandois. Their children were:

  • Hildegarde, born c. 934, died 990; she married Dirk II, Count of Holland. It is uncertain whether she is his daughter by his first or second wife.
  • Liutgard (935–962) married Wichmann IV, Count of Hamaland.
  • Egbert, died 953.
  • Baldwin III, Count of Flanders (c. 940 – 962), married Mathilde of Saxony ( 1008). His son Arnulf II succeeded his grandfather, Arnulf I.
  • Elftrude; married Siegfried, Count of Guînes.
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