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When the Normans made their appearance at the beginning of the eleventh century, South Italy was divided into a large number of small states. Sicily was occupied by the Saracens, Apulia and Calabria by the Byzantines; Gaeta, Naples, and Amalfi were all three republics; Benevento, Capua, and Salerno were the capitals of three Lombard principalities, which were bounded on the north by the Papal State.

In spite of this subdivision caused by the anarchy which had prevailed throughout the south of the peninsula during the ninth and tenth centuries, Byzantine historians imply that South Italy had not changed in any particular and that the Greek Emperors still maintained their predominance. It is indeed true that the continual warfare and constant rivalries between the principal towns of South Italy often led one of the combatants to have recourse to Byzantium; appeals thus made to the sovereign authority of the Emperor no doubt contributed to the maintenance in Constantinople of the idea that the imperial sovereignty was still recognised by provinces which seem in fact to have been absolutely independent. The Byzantine possessions properly so called now consisted only of Apulia, the region of Otranto, and Calabria, and, although the Greek Empire gained much prestige by the reconquest of Italy undertaken by Basil II, yet—even in the territory under its sway—it only exercised a somewhat feeble authority and its power was by no means firmly established.

In spite of the attempt at Hellenisation made in the tenth century, Byzantium only partially succeeded in its efforts to assimilate the inhabitants of the territory taken from the Lombards. Only Calabria and the district of Otranto really succumbed to Greek influence. There was not the same result in Apulia, where Byzantium encountered a very strong and persistent Lombard influence which could neither be crushed nor undermined. It was thus that the Lombards retained the use of Latin, and obliged the Greek Emperors to allow the maintenance of Latin bishoprics in many towns, to tolerate the practice of Lombard law, and to admit native officials into the local administration. Thus the links which bound South Italy to Constantinople were very weak. Byzantium had shown itself incapable of defending the country and giving security.

The position arising from the strength of the native element and the weakness of the central power favoured the development of autonomy in the cities and led to the establishment of real communes. On the other hand, there were many burdens on the inhabitants, and the country was crushed under the weight of taxes and military levies. Thus the advan­tages derived by the populations under Byzantine sway from their sub­mission to the Empire did not seem commensurate with the burdens they had to bear, and there arose a general state of discontent, which at the close of the tenth century found expression in the frequent assassination of Byzantine officials and in constant revolts; these were facilitated by the organisation of local bands—the conterati. It was easy for Byzantium to overcome the first isolated attempts, but her task became more difficult when there arose leaders capable of attracting malcontents, organising their forces, and directing the struggle with the Greeks in a firm resolution to attain the freedom of their country. The first great revolt was that of Melo.

Melo belonged to the Lombard aristocracy. He was a native of Bari, and exerted considerable influence not only in his birthplace but throughout Apulia. Openly hostile to the Byzantines whose yoke he wished to cast off, Melo first sought to rouse his countrymen in 1009. He was secretly supported by the Lombard Princes of Capua and Salerno. This first attempt failed, and the Lombard leader, forced into exile, probably betook himself to Germany, and besought the Emperor Henry II to intervene in the affairs of South Italy. By 1016 he was back in his own country. In that year he entered into negotiations with a band of Norman pilgrims who had come on pilgrimage to the shrine of St Michael on Monte Gargano, and begged for their help in driving out the Greeks. The Norman knights did not accept the offers made to them, but promised Melo that they would encourage their compatriots to join him.

The Norman knights of Monte Gargano may probably be identified with the pilgrims spoken of by the chronicler Aimé of Monte Cassino. According to him, at a time when Salerno was besieged by the Saracens, a band of Norman knights returning from the Holy Land disembarked there. Scarcely had they landed before they fell on the infidels and put them to flight. Amazed at the courage of these unexpected allies, Guaimar IV, Prince of Salerno, and the inhabitants of the city begged them to remain, but the Normans refused. In view of this refusal Guaimar thereupon decided to send back messengers with the pilgrims to raise a body of Norman auxiliaries in Normandy itself.

If we admit the identity of the pilgrims of Salerno with the pilgrims of Monte Gargano, which is almost inevitable, we are led to believe that the meeting of Melo and the Normans was not accidental, but that it was arranged by Guaimar IV, who had already supported the Lombard leader in his rebellion. In any case the body of auxiliaries raised in Normandy on the return of the Norman pilgrims was recruited on behalf of both Melo and Guaimar.

The Lombard envoys easily succeeded in raising a sufficiently powerful body of auxiliaries in Normandy. At this period, indeed, Normandy was pre-eminently the land of adventurers. The frequent emigrations, often referred to, were due not only to a natural tendency of the race but to the existence of a population too dense for the country, part of which was therefore obliged to expatriate itself. Moreover, as a result of the violent quarrels and constant struggles between the nobles, there was always a certain number of men who were obliged, by crime or misfortune, to leave their country. There was no lack of this element in the first band recruited for the Prince of Salerno. The leader who commanded it, Gilbert le Tonnelier (the Cooper, Buatere, Botericus), had incurred the anger of Duke Richard by an assassination. He was accom­panied by four of his brothers, Rainulf, Asclettin, Osmond, and Rodolf.

On their arrival in Italy, the Normans divided into two parties, one of which joined Melo, while the other entered the service of the Prince of Salerno. Melo was awaiting the coming of his Norman auxiliaries before making a fresh attempt to drive out the Byzantines. In 1017, supported by Guaimar IV and by Pandulf (Paldolf) III, ruler of Capua, he attacked Apulia, and soon became master of all the country between the Fortore and Trani. In October 1018, however, the Byzantines destroyed the rebel army at Cannae, and the Catapan Boioannes re-established imperial authority throughout Apulia.

While the vanquished Melo sought the support of Henry II and fled to Germany, where he eventually died, the Normans who had come to Italy entered the service of various nobles. Some remained with Guaimar IV, others were engaged by Prince Pandulf of Benevento, others by Atenolf, Abbot of Monte Cassino, and the rest by the Counts of Ariano. Some of this last party entered the service of the Greeks a little later, and were established at Troia by the Catapan Boioannes.

For some years the Normans played only a secondary part in Italy, content to reap an advantage by turning to their own ends the rivalries which sowed discord between the rulers of the Lombard states. After the death of Henry II (1024), Pandulf III, Prince of Capua, who had been made prisoner by the deceased Emperor, was set free by his successor Conrad. With the help of the Greeks, Pandulf regained his dominions, and soon took advantage of the death of Guaimar IV (1027) and the succession of his son Guaimar V (still in his minority) to extend his dominions at the expense of the neighbouring principalities. Sergius IV, Duke of Naples, realising that his state was threatened by Pandulf, whom Aime refers to as the “fortissime lupe” of the Abruzzi, called to his aid the Normans under Rainulf’s command. He took them into his service,and conceded Aversa and its dependencies to their leader (about 1029).

This was not the first occasion on which the Normans had been granted territory since their arrival in Italy, but none of the settlements thus founded had ever developed. It was Rainulf’s personality which ensured the success of the county of Aversa. He had hitherto played only a secondary part in Italian affairs, but now shewed himself to be a very shrewd and clever politician. He appears to have been the first Norman capable of rising above his immediate personal interest to further the attainment of some future political object. Devoid of scruples, guided only by interested motives, in no way hampered by feelings of gratitude, he possessed all the requisite qualities for arriving at a high political position. Throughout his career he had a marvellous capacity for always attaching himself to the stronger party. In 1034 Rainulf deserted Sergius IV to enter the service of the Prince of Capua, whom he presently forsook in 1037 to join the young Prince of Salerno, Guaimar V. The last-named soon restored the earlier ascendency of the principality of Salerno, thanks to the assistance of the Normans, and his success was crowned in 1038 on the arrival of the Emperor Conrad, who reunited the principality of Capua with Salerno.

The establishment of the Normans at Aversa was followed by a con­siderable influx of their compatriots, a tendency always warmly encouraged by Rainulf. The new arrivals were cordially received at his court, and very soon Aversa became the centre where all adventurers coming from Normandy could forgather; it was a kind of market where those in need of soldiers could engage them.

Among the adventurers who came thither between 1034 and 1037 were the sons of a petty Norman noble, Tancred de Hauteville, whose name was to receive enduring renown from the exploits of his descen­dants. Tancred, who held a fief of ten men-at-arms at Hauteville-la-Guicharde near Coutances, was not rich enough to bestow an inheritance on all his numerous children. By his first wife, Muriella, he had five sons, William, Drogo, Humphrey, Geoffrey, and Sarlo; by his second, Fressenda, he had Robert Guiscard, Mauger, William, Auvrai, Tancred, Humbert, and Roger, to say nothing of daughters. The two eldest sons, William and Drogo, realising the modest future which awaited them if they remained under the paternal roof, resolved to seek their fortunes abroad, and started for Aversa.

Not all the Normans who came to Italy entered Rainulf’s service, numerous parties remaining either in the service of Salerno or in that of Byzantium. The greater number flocked to join the army which the Greek Empire, when threatened by the Sicilian Saracens, determined to dispatch under the command of George Maniaces. During this expedition (1038-1040) difficulties, either with reference to pay or ‘to the division of booty, arose between the Greek general and his Norman and Scandinavian auxiliaries, who finally left the army. The leader of the Norman forces, a Milanese adventurer named Ardoin, joined the Catapan Michael Doceanus, while his troops dispersed, most of them returning either to Salerno or to Aversa.

Ardoin, who was almost immediately appointed topoteretes, or governor, of the district of Melfi, soon realised that the position of the Greeks in Apulia was very precarious, and that there was a magnificent opportunity for bold adventurers such as those he had lately commanded. At that time, indeed, discontent was rampant in Apulia because of the levies in men and money necessitated by the war in Sicily. Profiting by the reduction of the Byzantine forces due to the Sicilian expedition, the Lombards had resumed their agitation, assassinations of Byzantine officials were becoming multiplied, and Argyrus, Melo’s son, was endea­vouring to rouse his compatriots; Ardoin therefore visited Rainulf, who was then regarded as leader of the Normans, and raised a force of three hundred men commanded by a dozen leaders, chief of whom were Pierron, son of Amyas, and the two sons of Tancred de Hauteville, William of the Iron Arm and Drogo, who had both become famous during the Sicilian war. Half of the land to be conquered was to be reserved for Ardoin, the other half to be given to the Normans.

With the help of the Normans, the Lombard rebels won a series of victories, the most important being that of Montemaggiore (4 May 1041). Atenolf, brother of the Prince of Benevento, was then chosen as leader by the insurgents. This choice shews clearly that the Normans were not yet masters, and proves the Lombard character of the insurrection. After the victory of Montepeloso in September 1041, Atenolf was superseded by Argyrus, Melo’s son, in spite of Guaimar’s efforts to be elected as leader (February 1042).

The rebellion came near to being crushed when Maniaces was appointed governor of South Italy in the spring of 1042, but, when he fell out of favour in September of the same year, the Byzantine general crossed the Adriatic to march on Constantinople. He took with him some of the Norman adventurers, who after his death entered the service of the Greek Empire. They were the nucleus of the Norman force which was formed in Byzantium, a force swelled every year by the arrival of other adventurers from Italy. Soon Normans were chosen to fill some of the highest offices at court, and a few years later one of them, Roussel de Bailleul, even aspired to mount the throne of Constantinople.

It was only after the departure of Maniaces that the Normans assumed control of the insurrection. When Argyrus deserted to the Greeks, the Normans took advantage of his treachery to choose the Prince of Salerno as leader. At the same time they divided among their own chiefs the territory at the conquest of which they aimed, and during the following years, under the command of William of the Iron Arm, they pursued the methodical subjugation of the Byzantine provinces. Henceforth the struggle with the Greeks was incessant, and every year the Norman conquest crept further south.

During this period Guaimar remained the ally of the Normans, but his authority was no longer unquestioned. At the death of Rainulf of Aversa in 1045, he was unsuccessful in imposing his candidate, and was obliged to recognise Rainulf II Trincanocte. About the same time William of the Iron Arm died, and his brother Drogo was recognised as leader of the Apulian Normans (1048).

The position of the Normans was not affected by the visit of the Emperor Henry III in 1047; but Guaimar was not so fortunate, as Capua was taken from him and restored to Pandulf III. The years which followed the coming of Henry III were the most active period of the Norman conquest. We know nothing of the details of events, but we can judge what this conquest meant to the unfortunate inhabitants of southern Italy by the adventures of Robert Guiscard, one of the sons of Tancred de Hauteville, a late arrival in Italy.

A fair giant of Herculean strength, with a ruddy complexion, broad shoulders, and flashing eyes—such is the description given by Anna Comnena of the hero who intimidated her father—Guiscard was coldly received by his brothers, and he had an uphill struggle at first, as he passed from the service of Pandulf to that of Drogo. The latter assigned to him the conquest of one of the poorest parts of the country, Calabria, where only a scanty profit could be made. Established first at Scribla in the valley of Crati, subsequently at San Marco, Guiscard led the life of a robber chief, pillaging, destroying the harvests, burning down houses and olive-groves, laying waste the tracts he could not conquer, holding up merchants to ransom, and robbing travellers. Unable to obtain food or horses save by robbery, Guiscard shrank from no violence, and nothing was sacred to him; he respected neither old age, nor women and children, and on occasion he spared neither church nor monastery. In these circumstances Robert gained the reputation of a bold and resolute leader, and his support was soon sought by Gerard, lord of Buonalbergo, who joined him and brought with him two hundred knights. From that day Robert’s fortune was made, and he began to “devour” the earth.

The life led by other Norman chiefs differed in no way from that of Guiscard; we can therefore easily imagine the unhappy lot of the wretched population of South Italy while the Norman conquest was in progress. From their midst there soon arose a clamour of distress and a cry of hate against the oppressors, which reached the Pope, Leo IX. Touched by the complaints of the victims of Norman cruelty, the Pope, who blamed the conquerors above all for making no distinction between the property of God and the property of the laity, determined to intervene. His first visit to South Italy (1049) led to no result. Leo IX then begged for the support of Henry III. On his return from Germany, he received an embassy from the people of Benevento, who, to save their city, handed it over to him (1051). Being therefore more directly interested, and supported moreover by the Emperor, the Pope henceforward intervened much more actively in the affairs of southern Italy.

In these circumstances a widespread plot was organised to assassinate all the Normans on the same day. This attempt failed, only Drogo and some sixty of his companions being massacred (1051). Drogo’s death had considerable importance, because by the position he had acquired he stood for the type of Norman who had succeeded, who maintained a degree of order in his territory and was no longer a mere brigand chief. After his disappearance there was no one with whom the Pope could negotiate. Henceforward anarchy increased, and for some time the Normans were without a leader.

Leo IX determined to have recourse to arms, and collected around him all the native nobles with the exception of Guaimar V, who refused to fight against his allies. The situation was not changed by the assassination of Guaimar (June 1052), for the Normans, led by Humphrey, established Gisulf, son of the dead prince, at Salerno, although their support cost him very dear. The following year (1053), having recruited troops even as far as Germany, Leo IX marched against the Normans, after having come to terms with Argyrus, who represented the Greek Emperor at Bari. His force was defeated at Civitate on the banks of the Fortore, and he himself was taken prisoner (23 June 1053). The conquerors knelt before their august prisoner, but did not release him until he had agreed to all their demands. We know nothing of the agree­ment thus signed.

The death of Leo IX (19 April 1054) was followed by a long period of unrest. Richard, Count of Aversa, nephew of Rainulf I and son of Asclettin, extended his possessions at the expense of Gisulf of Salerno, of the Duke of Gaeta, and of the Counts of Aquino. The Normans still advanced southward; they reached Otranto and Lecce; Guiscard took Gallipoli, and laid the territory of Taranto waste. In Calabria he came to terms with Cosenza, Bisignano, and Martirano. He also attacked the principality of Salerno, and his brother William, appointed by Humphrey as Count of the Principato, conquered the territory which had been granted to him at the expense of the State of Salerno. In 1057 Humphrey died, and Guiscard was called to be his successor (August 1057). He at once appropriated the heritage of his nephews, Abelard and Herman; then, resuming his victorious advance southward, he threatened Reggio. In the region of Monteleone near Bivona he established his brother Roger, who had just arrived to seek his fortune in Italy. Robert had soon to return, because the Norman nobles of Apulia refused to recognise him, and it was by force that the new count taught his rebellious vassals that they had now a master who knew how to make his authority respected.

In these early struggles Robert Guiscard was supported by his brother Roger, who likewise assisted him in a new and vain attempt to take Reggio in the winter of 1058. In the course of that year they quarrelled, and Roger made an alliance with William of the Principato. Roger settled at Scalea and in his turn led the life of a brigand chief, but it was his brother’s territory which suffered most from his depredations. The year 1058 was remarkable for a great famine in Calabria. This is not surprising if we consider the systematic destruction of harvests, the usual procedure of the Normans in war. The general misery caused a revolt, and the Calabrians attempted to take advantage of the quarrel between the two brothers to avoid military service and to refuse tribute; they even came to open resistance and massacred the Norman garrison of Nicastro. Guiscard realised that if the rebellion spread he ran a great risk of losing Calabria, and determined to treat with Roger. He conceded him the half of Calabria whether in his possession or to be acquired, from Monte Intefoli and Squillace to Reggio. By this it must be understood that the two brothers shared equally in each town. At about the same time Gisulf of Salerno determined to treat with Guiscard. The latter thereupon repudiated his wife Auberea, by whom he had a son Bohemond, in order to marry Gisulf’s sister Sykelgaita.

The year 1059 marks an important date in the history of the Normans in Italy—their reconciliation with the Papacy. This reconciliation was due to a somewhat curious evolution in papal policy. The continuation of the struggle with the Normans had been one of the articles of the programme which the party of reform in the Church led by Hildebrand aspired to realise. To attain this much-desired object, the successors of Leo IX—Victor II and Stephen II, encouraged by the future Gregory VII —had recourse to external aid, the former to the German Emperor, the latter to his own brother, Duke Godfrey of Lorraine, on whom he intended to bestow the imperial crown, when his pontifical career was cut short by death. The party of the Roman aristocracy which was hostile to reform now triumphed and proclaimed Benedict X as Pope, while Hildebrand favoured the election of Nicholas II. The approval of this election by the Empress Agnes soon confirmed the legitimacy of Hildebrand’s candidate, and Nicholas II shortly afterwards obtained possession of Rome. This double election deprived the party of reform of all the ground so laboriously gained. Again the Papacy had found itself between the Roman aristocracy and the Empire, and had only triumphed over the former by placing itself in dependence on the latter, and again the legitimacy of the Pope had been established by the recognition of the imperial court. If the work of reform were to be carried out, the Papacy must be rendered independent both of the Emperor and of the Roman aristocracy. The Pope now risked a very grave step: with remarkable political insight he realised the changes which were beginning to appear in the various states of the southern peninsula, and appealed to the only Italian power capable of supporting him—the Normans. To appreciate the audacity of this policy we must remember the reputation of the Normans, which was moreover richly deserved ; they were regarded as freebooters and Saracens.

It seems, however, that the idea of this alliance, which was to lead to such grave results, did not occur immediately to Hildebrand. The Pope required soldiers to oppose the partisans of Benedict X, who were in the field, and, probably by the suggestion of Desiderius, Abbot of Monte Cassino, he applied first to Richard of Aversa, now ruler of Capua. The latter had already acquired a certain respectability, and had become sufficiently powerful to act as the head of a state rather than as a robber chief. He complied with the Pope’s request. Nicholas II had full cause for self-congratulation in his first dealings with the Normans, who enabled him to restore order. Therefore, when in 1059 he promulgated his decree on papal elections, he sought for an ally in view of the dissatisfaction which the proposed measures were certain to excite at the imperial court, and appealed to the Normans. The interview between the Pope and the two Norman chiefs, Richard of Capua and Robert Guiscard, took place at Melfi in August. The Normans had already tried to obtain from Leo IX the recognition of the states they had established; this was now conceded by Nicholas II. The Pope received an oath of fealty from Robert Guiscard and probably also from Richard of Capua; he conferred on the latter the investiture of the principality of Capua, and on the former that of the duchy of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily. We have no record of Richard’s oath, but Guiscard in his undertook to pay an annual tribute to the Pope, and to be faithful for the future to the Pope and the Church. He promised to be the ally “of the Holy Roman Church, so that she might preserve and acquire the rights of St Peter and his dominions,” to help the Pope to retain the see of Rome, and to respect the territory of St Peter. Finally, in the event of an election he bound himself to see that the new Pope was elected and ordained according to the honour due to St Peter, as he should be required by the better part of the cardinals and by the Roman clergy and laity.

By what title did the Pope bestow the investiture of territory which had never belonged to his predecessors? The terms used undoubtedly imply that Nicholas II based his action partly on Charlemagne’s Donation, granting the duchy of Benevento to the Roman Church, and partly, as regarded Sicily, on the theory shortly afterwards expressed by Urban II, that all islands appertained to the domain of St Peter in virtue of the (spurious) Donation of Constantine.

After his recognition at Melfi as rightful Duke of Apulia, Robert Guiscard had to defend himself during the ensuing years against the other Norman chiefs, who at first refused to admit the supremacy of one of their number. The opposition encountered by the new duke caused him most serious difficulties and favoured the return of the Byzantines. In 1060 Guiscard had taken Taranto, Brindisi, and Reggio from the Greeks, and as soon as the last-named place had fallen, he and his brother Roger were irresistibly attracted to Sicily; but events in Italy detained the duke in Apulia. First, there was a revolt of the Norman nobles in the north of Apulia, which favoured a resumption of hostilities by the Greeks. Guiscard thereafter lost Brindisi, Oria, Taranto, and Otranto, and the Byzantines laid siege to Melfi. The duke returned from Sicily, and restored his ascendency during the early months of 1061, finally recapturing Brindisi in 1062. Two years later (1064) some Norman nobles—Geoffrey of Conversano, Robert of Montescaglioso, Abelard (Humphrey’s son), Amyas of Giovenazzo, and Joscelin—entered into negotiations with a representative of the Greek Emperor at Durazzo. With the help of the Byzantines they rose in the spring of 1064. For four years it was with difficulty that Guiscard held his own. Finally, the duke’s victory was assured by the successive defeats of Amyas, Joscelin, and Abelard, and the capture of Montepeloso from Geoffrey of Conversano. Robert now realised that he could only hope to complete the conquest of Sicily when he had no cause to fear a revolt of his vassals in Apulia; consequently, to be sure of their absolute obedience, he must above all deprive them of Greek assistance. The ensuing years were therefore devoted to the task of wresting from the Byzantines their remaining territory. This was more easily done because the Basileus, Romanus Diogenes, was engaged in a bitter struggle with the Turks in Asia. In 1068 Guiscard was victorious at Lecce, Gravina, and Obbiano, and in the summer of the same year he laid siege to Bari. As supplies reached this city by sea, it held out for three years; finally the Norman fleet overcame the Byzantine ships which were bringing reinforcements, and the inhabitants entered into negotiations with Guiscard and surrendered the town (April 1071). The capture of Bari marks the real fall of Byzantine power in Italy; moreover it brought Guiscard another advantage, ensuring him a fortified place of the first rank in the very heart of Apulia, which assisted him greatly in maintaining his authority over his vassals.

Relieved of anxiety regarding Apulia, Guiscard was now again free to deal with Sicily. The capture of the island from the Saracens had been the object of the Normans ever since their arrival at Reggio. Their cupidity was excited by its riches and fertility, and, moreover, the proximity of the Saracens constituted a permanent danger to their possessions. Guiscard, however, was detained during the early years of the conquest by events in Italy, and played a somewhat secondary part in the conquest of Sicily, leaving the principal part to his brother Roger.

The Norman conquest was further facilitated by the quarrels of the Muslim emirs who shared the island; ‘Abdallah ibn Hauqal held Mazzara and Trapani, Ibn al-Hawwas was in possession of Girgenti and Castrogiovanni, and Ibn ath-Thimnah was at Syracuse. Ibn ath-Thinmah, having been defeated by the Emir of Girgenti, called for the help of the Normans, who since 1060 had been vainly endeavouring to take Messina. At Mileto the emir came to terms with Roger, who at a renewed attempt succeeded in laying waste the region of Milazzo. The capture of Messina in the summer of 1061 provided the Normans with a base of operations, but the invaders failed to take Castrogiovanni, nor were they more successful at Girgenti, although they succeeded in establishing themselves at Troina. The death of Ibn ath-Thimnah in 1062 deprived the Normans of a valuable ally, and they had to retire on Messina. In the same year Roger was dissatisfied because Guiscard paid him in money instead of in land, and quarrelled with his brother, so that another war began between them. Only the fear of an insurrection in Calabria brought them to terms. Threatened with the prospect of a revolt, Guiscard consented to share his Calabrian territory with Roger, and the treaty then concluded established a kind of condominium of the two brothers over every town and every stronghold. The struggle with the Saracens was resumed at the end of 1062, and continued during the following year. During this first period the Normans only succeeded in establishing themselves at Messina and Troina, the rest of the island remaining in the hands of the Saracens. In 1063 the latter attacked Troina, but were overwhelmingly defeated near Cerami. In 1064 Roger and Guiscard vainly attempted to take Palermo. The following years the conquest advanced slowly towards the capital. At Misilmeri in 1068 the Normans defeated Ayyub, son of Tamim, the Zairid Emir of Africa, who had been summoned to help the Sicilian Saracens. Ayyub had succeeded Ibn al-Hawwas. After his defeat Ayyub returned to Africa, and the Saracen party became disorganised.

The struggle was interrupted by the siege of Bari, but was resumed immediately after the fall of that city. Guiscard, realising the necessity of having a naval force, had succeeded in equipping a fleet, by the help of which the Normans occupied Catania and then proceeded to blockade Palermo; on 10 January 1072 the city fell into their hands, and, as a result of this success, the Saracens of Mazzara capitulated.

The first stage in this conquest of Sicily closed with the capture of Palermo; for the next twelve years the Normans, having but weak forces at their disposal, could only advance very slowly. As they were masters of Mazzara, Messina, Catania, and Palermo, they encircled the territory of the Emirs of Syracuse and Castrogiovanni in the north, who, however, succeeded in prolonging the struggle for a considerable time.   

Sicily was divided by Guiscard as follows: for himself he retained the suzerainty of the island, with Palermo, half Messina, and Val Demone, while he assigned the rest to Roger. It must be noted that the position in Sicily differed greatly from that of South Italy. In Italy the leaders of the original Norman forces were at first equal among themselves, and consequently they for long refused to recognise Guiscard’s authority, which had to be forcibly imposed. In Sicily, on the contrary, the conquest was achieved by troops in the pay of Guiscard and his brother Roger; consequently, they possessed all rights over the conquered territory, and their vassals received the investiture of their fiefs from them; and both were careful not to bestow too much land on their followers, whereby they made sure that none of their vassals would be powerful enough to rival them.

After the capture of Palermo, Robert Guiscard remained some months there, consolidating his gains. In the autumn of 1072 he had to return hurriedly to Italy, where his Apulian vassals had again taken advantage of his absence to revolt. At the head of the movement were Amyas, lord of Giovenazzo, Peter of Trani, and Abelard and Herman, Humphrey’s two sons; the rebels were upheld by Richard, Prince of Capua, whose power had increased to a remarkable extent since the Treaty of Melfi. He was the protector of Pope Alexander II, who had only been able to maintain himself from 1061 to 1063 by Richard’s aid, and the latter had attempted to force recognition of his suzerainty over all the petty nobles whose possessions surrounded his own. He had been ener­getically supported by Desiderius, Abbot of Monte Cassino, who realised that only a powerful state could restore the peace so incessantly broken by wars between nobles. On the other hand, Alexander II was disturbed by the growth of the Capuan state, which adjoined the papal dominions. He actually came to an open rupture with Richard, who in 1066 revenged himself by laying waste the Papal State up to the very gates of Rome. For a while the Romans hostile to the Pope even thought of electing the Prince of Capua as Emperor. But the latter became reconciled with Alexander II when Godfrey of Lorraine took up arms; we know, however, nothing of the grounds of conciliation. Nevertheless the Pope did not forgive Richard for his aggressive policy, and he tried to excite disorders in the principality of Capua by means of another Norman, William of Montreuil. Thereby Alexander II inaugurated a new policy, to be hereafter pursued by the Papacy, which, not having reaped all the expected advantages from the Norman alliance and being unable to overcome the Normans by arms, applied itself henceforward to reducing them to impotence by inciting one leader against another.

Such, therefore, was the position in the autumn of 1072 when Guiscard returned to Italy. The duke very soon brought his vassals back to obedience, but hardly had he dealt with them when he found himself in difficulties with Gregory VII, the successor of Alexander II. The new Pope, who had inspired the Norman policy adopted by his predecessors, saw with irritation that the Papacy had not derived those benefits from the Norman alliance which had been hoped for, and that as a whole it was Richard and Robert who had reaped advantage from the Treaty of Melfi. Moreover, Gregory VII was particularly annoyed to see the Normans beginning to extend towards the north in the region of the Abruzzi, near Amiterno and Fermo, where several chiefs had established themselvesnotably, Robert, Count of Loritello.

After the first interviews which he had with Robert Guiscard at Benevento (August 1073), Gregory VII, who displayed his usual stubbornness in the negotiations, came to an open breach with the Duke of Apulia. It was probably on the question of the conquest of the Abruzzi that the conference was wrecked. Having broken with Guiscard, Gregory VII turned to the Prince of Capua, who accepted the proposed alliance. Henceforward for some years war was resumed with great energy throughout southern Italy. Guiscard fought in Calabria against his nephew Abelard, in the neighbourhood of Capua with Richard, and meanwhile succeeded in establishing himself at Amalfi (1073).

As a result of these violent conflicts, the anarchy prevailing through­out South Italy reached such a height that the destruction of the Normans became the first condition necessary for the realisation of all the plans which Gregory VII had formed for the succour of the Greek Empire, now threatened by the Muslims. In March 1074 Guiscard and his partisans were excommunicated, and the Duke of Apulia must have feared at the time of the expedition in June of that year that the Pope would succeed in his plans, but the quarrels which arose between the Pope’s allies caused the enterprise to fail dismally. Cencius, the leader of the Roman aristocracy and of the party hostile to the Pope, now offered to make Guiscard Emperor if he would help them to expel Gregory VII. The Duke of Apulia was too well aware how little he could count on the Roman nobles, who were incapable of upholding their candidates, and he did not accept their proposition.

After the agreement between the principality of Capua and the Pope, the hostilities between Robert and Richard continued until 1075, when Guiscard was invited by Henry IV to abandon the papal for a royal alliance. He refused. This circumstance decided the two Normans to combine against the common enemy, and their reconciliation was the prelude to a general coalition between the Normans. Desiderius, Abbot of Monte Cassino, who brought all his influence to the cause of peace, tried to arrange a treaty between Gregory VII and Guiscard, but failed, because the Pope, in spite of the critical position in which he was placed by the breach with the king, refused all the concessions which the Duke of Apulia, taking advantage of the papal necessities, impudently demanded.

Without any further consideration for the Pope, Robert and Richard took up arms and together besieged Salerno and Naples. They also combined their forces to make some successful expeditions into papal territory. At the very moment when Gregory VII was triumphing over Henry IV and obliging him to come to Canossa, Gisulf, Prince of Salerno, the only ally remaining to the Pope in South Italy, was deprived of his states by Guiscard (1077), and in December of the same year the bold Duke of Apulia laid siege to Benevento. This attack directed against a papal possession must have exasperated Gregory VII, who was already indignant with Robert, to whom fortune had never been kinder than since the day he was excommunicated. At the Council of Rome in March 1078 the Pope pronounced the excommunication of “those Normans who attack the territory of St Peter, i.e. the March of Fermo and the duchy of Spoleto, those who besiege Benevento and dare to lay waste the Campagna, the Marittima, and Sabina”. The Pope forbade any bishop or priest to allow the Normans to attend the divine offices.

The excommunication pronounced by Gregory VII brought discord between the Normans. When Jordan, son of Richard of Capua, found that his father was seriously ill (Richard died on 5 April 1078), he feared lest the Pope should raise obstacles to his succession, and went to make his submission at Rome; as soon as his father died, he forced Guiscard to raise the siege of Benevento; shortly afterwards the new Prince of Capua played an important part in the preparation of the rebellion which, towards the end of 1078, again set the duke and his Apulian vassals at odds.

On the occasion of the marriage of one of his daughters, Guiscard for the first time demanded from his vassals the levy due to the lord when his daughters married. No one dared resist openly, but the duke’s demand excited great discontent. Probably inspired by Gregory VII, who visited Capua in 1078, Jordan called Geoffrey of Conversano, Robert of Montescaglioso, Henry, Count of Monte Sant Angelo, and Peter, Count of Taranto, to join him. The insurrection at once spread not only to Apulia but to Calabria and Lucania; Bari, Trani, Bisceglie, Corato, and Andria all revolted, and sent their troops to swell the ranks of the insurgents (1079).

After Calabria had been pacified, Guiscard repaired to Apulia with considerable forces and soon dispersed the rebels; he then at once marched against Jordan. The Abbot of Monte Cassino succeeded in inducing the two princes to make peace. Then returning to Apulia, Guiscard recaptured the rebel towns one by one. Several of the revolt­ing nobles fled to Greece to escape the punishment due to them; amongst these was Abelard, the duke’s nephew. After the suppression of the revolt (1080), Guiscard was more powerful than ever, at the very moment that Gregory VII finally excommunicated and deposed Henry and recognised his rival, Rudolf, as King of Germany. As Gregory VII feared that Guiscard might form an alliance with Henry, he determined himself to treat with the Duke of Apulia. The negotiations were conducted by Abbot Desiderius, and ended in the compromise of Ceprano, where on 29 June Guiscard took an oath of fealty to the Pope. He swore to be the Pope’s man, with a reservation as to the March of Fermo, Salerno, and Amalfi. Gregory VII recognised the conquests of the Count of Loritello, on condition that for the future the territory of St Peter should be respected. The duke moreover promised that he would help the Pope to defend the Papacy. On the whole, at Ceprano Gregory VII had to yield all along the line; he preserved appearances by reserving the most vexed questions, but in reality on 29 June 1080 it was the Norman who triumphed over the Pope and obliged him to recognise his achievements.

After the meeting at Ceprano, Guiscard’s insatiable ambition was far from being satisfied, and, master of South Italy, he now attempted to realise his long-cherished project of mounting the throne of Constantinople. On the one hand the Duke of Apulia wished to punish the Greek Emperor for the support given to the rebel Normans, whose headquarters were now in the Byzantine territory in Illyria, and on the other hand, consciously or unconsciously, the Norman had succumbed to the attrac­tion which Byzantium and the Byzantine world exercised over all the West. Already in Italy Guiscard had come to be looked on as the legitimate successor of the Emperors, whose costume he affected, going so far as to copy their seal. Moreover, how was it possible for Guiscard to imagine that the conquest of Byzantium could offer any difficulties to him, the mighty Duke of Apulia, when quite recently two poor Norman knights, Robert Crispin and Roussel de Bailleul (of whom the former had served under the orders of Richard of Capua and the latter with Robert himself), had almost succeeded in mounting the throne of Constantinople? Guiscard had long felt attracted to Constantinople; and for their part the Emperors could not ignore their powerful neighbour, and sought his alliance. About 1075 the negotiations which had been  entered on ended in the betrothal of one of Guiscard’s daughters to the son of Michael VII. This projected marriage served as a pretext for a declaration of war by Guiscard, when in 1080 he determined to profit by the disturbances which had broken out in the Greek Empire, and to attempt to seize Constantinople. At the accession of Nicephoros Botaniates, Guiscard’s daughter had been relegated to a convent; under the pretext of defending his daughter’s rights, the Duke of Apulia became the champion of the dethroned Emperor. As his plans aroused only moderate enthusiasm among his vassals, the Duke of Apulia determined to carry out a fraud, and in the middle of 1080 he presented a Greek named Rector as the real Michael VII escaped from a monastery, where he had been imprisoned by Botaniates. By this means the wily Norman hoped to inflame his vassals and conciliate the Greek population.

Gregory VII fell in with the views of Guiscard, who persuaded him that the proposed expedition would realise the projected crusade which had been near the Pope’s heart for some years, and would end the schism and bring about reunion with the Greek Church. In July 1080 the Pope wrote to the bishops of Apulia and Calabria, exhorting them to favour the duke’s plans. In 1081, at the end of May, Guiscard took the field and landed at Avlona. His son Bohemond had already taken Avlona, Canina, and Hiericho. Soon Corfu fell into the hands of the Normans, who next laid siege to Durazzo. Although they were defeated at sea by the Venetians, whom Alexius Comnenus had summoned to his aid, the Normans nevertheless continued the siege of the Illyrian capital. On 18 October they defeated the army which the Emperor had brought to relieve the besieged city, and on 21 February 1082 Durazzo was taken.

In the spring of 1082 Guiscard was obliged to return. Gregory VII had sent him urgent appeals for help, threatened as he was by Henry IV’s expedition to Italy. On the other hand, Alexius Comnenus was subsidising the German king, and at the same time, by means of Abelard and Herman, Robert’s nephews, had succeeded in exciting an insurrection in Apulia. Leaving Bohemond to continue the war against the Emperor, Guiscard returned to Italy, and spent some time in re-establishing his authority in Apulia (1082 and 1083). In May 1084 he marched on Rome which was occupied by the German Emperor; Henry did not await the coming of the Normans, but his retreat did not pre­vent Guiscard from entering the city in force; he sacked it and freed Gregory VII, whom the partisans of the anti-Pope, Clement III, were besieging. As soon as the Pope was free, Guiscard placed him in Salerno for safety, and immediately returned to the conquest of Constantinople.

After his father’s departure, Bohemond had again defeated the Greeks at Joannina and Arta; he had then occupied Ochrida, Veria, Servia, Vodena, Moglena, Pelagonia, Tzibikon, and Trikala, but in 1083 he was defeated outside Larissa by Alexius Comnenus, and was shortly afterwards obliged to return to Italy, as his troops were clamouring for pay. After this the Byzantines regained the advantage, and the Normans lost all the places they had occupied, including Durazzo.

When Guiscard took the field in the autumn of 1084, he had conse­quently no foothold on the other side of the Adriatic. While his son Roger occupied Avlona, the duke proceeded to Butrinto, whence in November he arrived at Corfu. Although twice defeated near Cassiope by the Venetian fleet, Guiscard soon took his revenge when he won an overwhelming victory near Corfu, which fell into his hands as a result of this success. The duke sent his army into winter quarters on the banks of the Glycys, while he went to Bundicia; during the winter an epidemic ravaged the Norman army, but hostilities were resumed at the beginning of the summer, and Roger sallied forth to attack Cephalonia. On the way to join his son, Guiscard fell ill; he was obliged to halt at the promontory of Ather, where he died on 17 July 1085 in the presence of his wife Sykelgaita and his son Roger.

With Guiscard closed what may be called the heroic era of the history of the Normans in Italy. Robert’s immediate successors, being unable to maintain their authority, abandoned his plans, which were only resumed on the day when the Counts of Sicily became kings and consolidated the work, of conquest.

The reign of Guiscard’s son, Roger Borsa (1085-1111), was a period of absolute decadence in the duchy of Apulia; the prince was too weak to make his authority respected, and he was bitterly opposed by his brother Bohemond, of whom he was relieved by the First Crusade, and also by most of his vassals, who shook off the yoke imposed by Guiscard. In 1086, however, it was again the Duke of Apulia who, assisted by the Prince of Capua, restored Rome to the successor of Gregory VII. A few years later, during the pontificate of Urban II (1088-1099), it was no longer Roger who protected the Pope but the Pope who extended his protection to the duchy of Apulia, and exerted himself to re-establish order in the sorely troubled land. The only political success achieved by Duke Roger was the recognition of his suzerainty by Richard, son of Jordan of Capua, who sought his aid to enter into possession of his paternal inheritance (1098). Then for the first time, in theory at least, the authority of the Duke of Apulia extended throughout the Norman possessions.

In the midst of all the difficulties surrounding him, the Duke of Apulia found a supporter in his uncle Roger I, Count of Sicily. During the years which followed the fall of Palermo, Guiscard’s brother played only a secondary part in Italian affairs, for he was detained by the conquest of Sicily, a long and troublesome undertaking. Twenty years elapsed after his establishment in Palermo before the Normans succeeded in totally expelling the Saracens. Syracuse was not taken until 1085, Noto and Butera, the two last places retained by the Saracens, not until 1088 and 1091. Although the Saracens were still powerful in 1072, this mere fact is not enough to explain the slow progress of the conquest, and we must attribute the delays of the Normans to other causes. During all this time, and especially at first, Roger was left with only his own troops; generally he had but a few hundred knights under his command, so that it was with greatly reduced forces that he had to carry on the struggle. It was because of this that the Count of Sicily was obliged to avoid great undertakings and confine himself to guerilla warfare, which was the only method which his weak forces permitted.

Gradually, as the conquest proceeded, the count felt that the strength of his infant state was increasing, and the time came during his nephew’s reign when he represented the only power in the midst of general anarchy. Called to arbitrate between the parties, Roger of Sicily was quick to realise how to profit by the situation. In return for his services, he successively extorted from the Duke of Apulia the abandonment of the strongholds in Calabria which they had hitherto held in common, as well as the half of the city of Palermo. Roger also obtained a promise of half of Amalfi and, when Richard of Capua sought his aid, he demanded that all rights on Naples should be abandoned to him.

Supported by a powerful military force, a considerable part of which consisted of Saracens, Roger of Sicily thus became one of the leading personages of Europe, and his alliance was sought by Count Raymond IV of Saint Gilles, Philip I of France, Conrad, son of Henry IV, and Koloman, King of Hungary, all of whom aspired to marry his daughters.

The position of protector of the Holy See, which the Duke of Apulia was powerless to retain, was offered to the Count of Sicily by Urban II, who, in 1098, had to concede the privilege of the Apostolic Legateship, whereby for the future papal intervention in Roger’s states was to be exercised only through the count himself. When Guiscard’s brother died on 22 June 1101, he left his successor a state possessed of cohesion, wherein the authority of the overlord was everywhere recognised. The last survivor of the heroic age of conquest disappeared with him; his successor was rather a politician than a soldier, and, although Roger II succeeded in establishing his supremacy over all the Norman provinces in Italy, it was to a great extent because his father had established his Sicilian state on so solid a foundation.



In 1103, after the death of young Count Simon, who had succeeded Roger I in 1101, the county of Sicily passed to his brother, Roger II. The new count remained under the guardianship of his mother Adelaide until 1112, and very little is known about his early years. According to some authorities Robert of Burgundy was Adelaide’s favourite, but he became so powerful that the countess-regent grew uneasy and caused him to be poisoned; unfortunately all our information on this point lacks precision. Towards the close of her regency, Adelaide was sought in marriage by King Baldwin of Jerusalem, who wished to repair his fortunes by a wealthy marriage. Before leaving for the Holy Land, Roger I’s widow stipulated that if her union with the King of Jerusalem were childless, the crown of Jerusalem should revert to the Count of Sicily. This agreement remained a dead letter, for the deserted and betrayed queen died miserably in Sicily, but it is of interest as revealing the dreams of future greatness cherished even at the beginning of his reign by the youthful Roger II.

Boundless ambition was, in fact, the ruling characteristic of the founder of the Norman monarchy; Roger II was bold and adventurous and always intent on extending his dominions, while his thirst for conquest was insatiable. Even at the beginning of his reign he conceived the daring plan of concentrating all the commerce of the Mediterranean in his states by obtaining command of the two most important maritime routes. By his possession of Messina he already controlled one, and he sought to attain the other by the conquest of the Tunisian coast. The first Norman attempts to establish themselves in Africa were unsuccessful (1118-1127), and Roger II was obliged to seek for allies. At the very moment when he had signed agreements with Raymond-Berengar III, Count of Barcelona, and with the city of Savona, the death of his cousin William I, Duke of Apulia, induced him to postpone for a time his plans for an African war, because, before he undertook distant conquests, the Count of Sicily wished to unite in his own hands all the Norman states of South Italy.

Duke William’s reign (1111-1127) had been even more disastrous than that of his father Roger Borsa. Incapable even of preserving the inheritance, already sadly diminished, which he had received, he died leaving South Italy almost in the same state as it was before Guiscard’s reign. The title of duke was an empty word, for the duchy of Apulia now existed only in name; it had in fact been dismembered and consisted of a number of independent seigniories.

As Duke William had died childless, the most direct heir was Bohemond, son of Bohemond I, then at Antioch. The Count of Sicily was a degree further off in relationship to the deceased duke. As soon as he heard of his cousin’s death, Roger II determined to seize the inheritance so as to present an accomplished fact to this possible rival. The rapidity with which he appeared outside Salerno and induced the inhabitants to treat with him disconcerted his opponents. The intervention of Pope Honorius II, who feared above all things that the Count of Sicily might succeed William, came too late, and he had to resign himself to the fact that the union of the duchy of Apulia with the county of Sicily disturbed the balance of power which the Papacy, in its own interests, had endeavoured to maintain between the various Norman states. Although he had sided with the Normans who refused to recognise Roger II, Honorius II was, in 1128, obliged to invest the Count of Sicily with the duchy of Apulia. In the following year the new duke finally crushed the chief rebels and obliged the ducal towns to ask for terms, while the Prince of Capua himself recognised Roger II as his suzerain. In order to secure the submission of the rebels, the duke displayed great leniency and granted important privileges to the towns. In particular, several of these obtained the right of themselves defending their walls and citadels. As soon as his authority was established, Roger revoked a concession which rendered his authority absolutely precarious.

The new duke’s conception of his authority differed entirely from that of his two predecessors. In September 1129 he expounded it to his vassals assembled at Melfi. After they had taken the oath of fealty to , his sons, Roger and Tancred, he instructed them in the rules of government which he insisted all should observe; he forbade private feuds, imposed on the nobles the obligation of handing over criminals to the ducal courts of justice, and ordered that the property and persons not only of ecclesiastics, but also of pilgrims, travellers, and merchants, should be respected. It was not easy to impose such habits of discipline on, nor to ensure respect for ducal authority from, the Norman feudatories, who had hardly submitted to Guiscard’s iron rule. It took Roger nearly ten years to make his vassals obey his wishes.

In 1130 for the first time all the principalities founded by the Normans in Italy were united in a single hand. Roger II considered that the title of duke was therefore inadequate, and decided to make his state into a kingdom. To attain this object, he made very skilful use of the schism which followed the double election of Anacletus II and Innocent II in February 1130. He promised to support the former, and received in return “the crown of the kingdom of Sicily, of Calabria, and Apulia, the principality of Capua, the honour of Naples, and the protectorate of the men of Benevento” (27 September 1130). As soon as the Pope’s consent was obtained, Roger II held an assembly near Salerno, where he caused his vassals to entreat him to take the title of King. Then on Christmas Day 1130, in the cathedral of Palermo, his coronation closed the first chapter in the history of the descendants of Tancred of Hauteville, whose grandson thus became King of Sicily.

“Whoever makes himself King of Sicily attacks the Emperor.” These words, addressed by St Bernard to the Emperor Lothar, were true not only as applied to the Germanic Empire but also to the Greek Empire. Neither of the two Empires had ever regarded as legitimate the Norman occupation of territories over which both claimed rights. Therefore, alike in Germany and in Byzantium, the establishment of the Norman kingdom was regarded as a flagrant insult. United by an equal hatred of the common enemy, the two Empires sought by means of an alliance to crush their adversary. Both Roger II and his successor had to employ almost all their energy, either in fighting the two Emperors singly or in preventing the Germano-Byzantine alliance from producing its full effect.

During the whole course of its existence the kingdom of Sicily had to struggle with a third enemy. Never did the Papacy submit to the establishment of a powerful state in South Italy, even when its recognition was inevitable. As soon as the Papacy was on good terms with the Germanic Emperor, it incited him to destroy the Norman state, and if, on the contrary, its relations with the Empire became less cordial, the Popes gladly fell back on the support of the Norman sovereign. This explains the alternations of policy pursued by the Papacy throughout the twelfth century as regards Roger II and his successors.

The organisation which Roger II insisted on establishing in his states, and the manner in which he demanded respect for his authority from his vassals, excited general discontent, which in 1131 caused a revolt led by Tancred of Conversano and Grimoald of Bari. Although the king met with some successes, the insurrection spread, Rainulf, Count of Alife, and Robert, Prince of Capua, joining the movement at the in­stigation of Pope Innocent II; and Roger was severely defeated on the banks of the Sabbato (1133). The coming of the Emperor Lothar to Rome, where he established Innocent II, was certainly connected with the revolt of Roger’s vassals. They were seriously disappointed when they realised that the Emperor did not intend to invade South Italy. During the summer of 1133 Roger resumed the struggle, and succeeded in restoring order in Apulia; when he returned to Sicily the rebel party was disorganised. The conflict was continued only by the Duke of Naples, the Prince of Capua, and the Count of Alife, who wished to secure the assistance of the Pisans. The year 1134 witnessed further progress by the king, who succeeded in crushing the rebels, but all the effect of the success attained was destroyed by a false rumour of Roger’s death, which caused a general revolt in the winter of 1135. The king had again to fight the rebels, and had not quite subdued them when in 1136 the Emperor Lothar at length invaded his dominions in response to the appeal of Innocent II. At the approach of the Germans the whole country rose in arms against the king. Lothar encountered hardly any resistance; his two most notable successes were the taking of Bari and Salerno. The Emperor, however, did not seek to push his advantage any further, for most of his vassals begged him to return north. He was obliged to consent, but before his departure he invested Count Rainulf of Alife with the duchy of Apulia. It took the King of Sicily three years to destroy the organisation established by the Germanic Emperor. His task was facilitated by Rainulf’s death on 30 April 1139, as well as by the failure of Innocent II.

When the schism was ended by the abdication of Victor IV, successor of Anacletus II, Pope Innocent II vindictively pursued all the partisans of the anti-Pope. Amongst these Roger II was not overlooked, as it was by his help that Anacletus had been enabled to maintain himself in Rome. In the spring of 1139 the King of Sicily was excommunicated, and in the early summer the Pope, at the head of all the forces he could muster, set out for the south to restore the condition of affairs established by Lothar. It was an unlucky venture; on 22 July on the banks of the Garigliano, near Galluccio, he was defeated and taken prisoner by Duke Roger, the king’s son, who also seized the pontifical treasure. Like Leo IX in bygone days, Innocent II beheld the Norman leader kneeling for his blessing, but to obtain his liberty he had to grant to Roger II the investiture of his states as bestowed by Anacletus II. This royal success led to the collapse of the rebellion; the king shewed himself relentless in repression so as to discourage future revolts; to escape punishment many of his vassals fled to Germany and Byzantium, among them Robert of Capua. The rebel cities forfeited most of their privileges.

Concord between the king and the Pope was not of long duration; and in 1140 a fresh rupture was caused by the conquests of the king’s sons in the Abruzzi. To bring Roger to terms, Innocent II utilised the question of episcopal elections, which had not been settled in 1139. The King of Sicily, in virtue of the Apostolic Legateship, which he claimed to exercise throughout his states, demanded the right of in­terference in episcopal elections. Innocent II denied him this privilege, and refused canonical investiture to the bishops of the kingdom of Sicily.

There was no change in the position under Celestine II (1143-1144). It was otherwise with Pope Lucius II, who, requiring the support of the Normans to secure Rome, concluded a seven years’ truce with Roger II in October 1144. The same consideration influenced the conduct of Eugenius III, who succeeded Lucius. On his return to Italy in 1148, he concluded a four years’ truce with Roger II; the Pope confirmed the privilege of the Apostolic Legateship, but seems to have reserved the question of episcopal elections. In return Roger II supplied the Pope with men and money; thanks to this, the Pope succeeded in entering Rome. The King of Sicily had hoped that, in exchange for the services rendered, the Pope would come to a final agreement; on the contrary, Eugenius III, counting on the approaching descent into Italy of King Conrad III to settle the question of the Norman kingdom, refused to renew the investiture of Roger with his states. By 1151 the breach was complete, and it was without the Pope’s consent that Roger II had his son William crowned at Palermo on 8 April. Henceforth Eugenius III definitely sought an alliance with the King of the Romans.

As soon as he had destroyed the organisation established in South Italy by Lothar, Roger II, realising clearly that the Germanic Empire would not submit meekly to such a check, and anxious to prevent a repetition of such an intervention, sought to create every possible difficulty for Conrad III, Lothar’s successor. It was for this reason that he supplied Welf, brother of Henry the Proud, with subsidies, and thus succeeded in prolonging the revolt of the German nobles against their new king. By this means he contrived to keep the King of the Romans busy in his own dominions, and prevented him from lending a favourable ear to the appeals for intervention in Italy which were addressed to him by all the Norman nobles who had taken refuge at his court.

Above all Roger II feared lest the King of the Romans and the Greek Emperor, united by their common hatred of the kingdom of Sicily, should enter into an alliance against him. John Comnenus had already approached Lothar on this subject, and the negotiations were resumed with Conrad in 1140. To prevent this alliance, Roger sent an embassy to Constantinople to solicit the hand of a Byzantine princess for one of his sons. This embassy coincided with the death of John Comnenus (3 April 1143). The negotiations were continued by Manuel Comnenus, but ended in a breach, and the Basileus about 1144 reverted to the German alliance.

At the very moment when the alliance between the two Empires was about to be concluded, the preaching of the Second Crusade averted the danger. After vainly attempting to turn the Crusade to his own advantage, Roger resolved to profit by the embarrassment caused to Manuel Comnenus by the presence of the crusaders, and to invade the Greek Empire. While the crusaders were still outside Constantinople, the Normans took possession of Corfu, occupied Neapolis, laid the island of Euboea waste, and, on the homeward journey, penetrated into the Gulf of Corinth, pillaging and destroying Thebes (end of 1147 and beginning of 1148). The Byzantines did not recover Corfu until 1149.

On his way home from the Crusade, Conrad met Manuel Comnenus, and the two monarchs agreed to attack the King of Sicily in the course of 1149. In preventing the execution of this plan Roger shewed extraordinary activity. He again supplied Welf with money, and induced him to organise another league against King Conrad; at the same time he started the idea of a league to include all the states of western Europe, intended in the first instance to punish the Greek Emperor, to whom the failure of the Crusade was ascribed, and subsequently to succour the Christian communities of the Levant. Roger succeeded in converting to his views not only King Louis VII of France and his minister Suger, but also St Bernard, who at that time exercised great influence on European opinion. The projected alliance failed to come into being because of the opposition of King Conrad, but fortune again favoured the King of Sicily, for at the very moment when, by agreement with Manuel Comnenus, Conrad was about to invade Italy, he died (February 1152), whereby the Norman kingdom escaped the danger of a coalition between the two Empires.

In spite of the failure of his early expeditions, Roger II never abandoned his intention of attacking the coast of North Africa, and his attempts to get a foothold there constitute one of the most curious features of his reign. Almost all his expeditions were led by the Grand Emir (Admiral), George of Antioch, who with his father had been in the service of Tamim, the Zairid prince of Mahdiyah. He next entered the service of the King of Sicily, where, by his knowledge of Arabic and his familiarity with the Muslim world and the African coast, he was an invaluable auxiliary to Roger II. Taking advantage of the internal quarrels which continually broke out between the chiefs of the petty Muslim principalities of Africa, Roger first took under his protectorate Hasan, prince of Mahdiyah (1134), and then occupied the island of Gerba, at the foot of the gulf of Gabes. In 1143 he took Djidjelli, near Bugia; and in 1145 Bresk, which lies between Cherchell and Tinnis, was pillaged, as also the island of Kerkinna. In 1146 Tripoli fell into the hands of the Normans. Until then Roger II does not seem to have contemplated establishing himself in Africa; he was content to dispatch his naval forces each summer on a privateering expedition, to loot and burn the towns which they surprised. After the capture of Tripoli, he established his power in Africa on a regular basis. A garrison was placed in each captured town, but the native population was governed by a Wall and judged by a Cadi, chosen from among the Muslims.

The fall of Tripoli had a great effect in Africa, and was quickly followed by that of Gabes, Mahdiyah, and Sus (1148). The progress of conquest was not arrested by the death of George of Antioch, and in 1153 the Normans occupied Bona. At this moment the Norman dominion in Africa reached its greatest extent; the authority of Roger II stretched from Tripoli to Tunis, and in the interior from the desert of Bakka to Qairawan. Roger appears to have proportioned his aims to the forces at his disposal, and to have been content to occupy the most important commercial centres without attempting to advance far inland. For some years the King of Sicily was actually master of the communications between the two basins of the Mediterranean. Unfortunately his work did not endure. The results obtained by allowing the natives to enjoy religious, judicial, and administrative liberty were lost when the conquerors wished to interfere in religious questions, and tried to make the people of Tripoli abandon the party of the Almohades. Under the influence of religious prejudice, an insurrection broke out which destroyed in one day the work of the Norman conquest. This mistake, however, was not made by Roger II, who died at Palermo in the height of his glory on 26 February 1154.

When the founder of the Norman monarchy died, the political horizon of the kingdom of Sicily was heavy with ominous thunder-clouds. None of the vital questions affecting the welfare of the new kingdom had received any solution. Even the genius of Roger II had been unable to find any means of settling the problems which had arisen; he had only succeeded in postponing the moment of settlement. Internally the calm which had reigned since the last revolt of the aristocracy and the cities was more apparent than real. The exiled Norman nobles had not given up hopes of regaining possession of their confiscated property and were in communication with their partisans. The inhabitants of the cities, kept in subjection by the royal garrisons which occupied the citadels, still deplored their lost liberties; fear had indeed compelled all heads to bow before the king, but regret for the past was deeply enshrined in all hearts. The aristocracy, systematically excluded from any share in public affairs by Roger II, looked on jealously while the king governed with the help of men derived from the inferior classes of the country, for whom were reserved the highest offices at court. Here also submission was only apparent, and the nobles impatiently awaited an opportunity of claiming both their former independence and a share in the government.

Abroad the Papacy remained hostile to the kingdom of Sicily; in 1153 Eugenius III and the new King of the Romans, Frederick of Swabia, had concluded an agreement entirely to the detriment of the Norman kingdom (Treaty of Constance). As the Greek Empire also remained hostile, there was no change in the situation, and an alliance between the two Empires against the Normans was always a possibility to be feared.

Roger II was succeeded by William I, last survivor of the sons born of his wife Elvira, daughter of Alfonso VI of Castile. William I has for long had a very bad reputation among historians, and by universal consent the epithet of the Bad was attached to his name. Only in recent years has it been discovered that this reputation was scarcely deserved, and a more critical study of documents has revealed the fact that Roger’s son has been the victim of the pamphleteer Hugo Falcandus, a passionate opponent of the policy followed by the new king. William was pre-eminently the inheritor of his father’s political work; he made no innovations, and only followed the course which Roger had traced out. Brought up to distrust the nobles, he continued to deprive them of power, and surrounded himself with his father’s old servants, to whom he gave his confidence. Less energetic than Roger II, he devolved the exercise of power upon his ministers, and was content to live in his palace surrounded by his harem like an oriental sovereign. Only some very urgent necessity for his personal intervention could induce him to emerge, but when once he overcame his natural indolence the king displayed an incredible energy in executing the measures on which he had decided. During all the early part of the reign power was exercised by the Emir of Emirs (Admiral), Maio of Bari, son of a judge of Bari; he also had passed his whole life in the law-courts, and his high place in the king’s favour excited the hatred of all the nobles.

In the very year of William I’s accession, Frederick Barbarossa determined to descend into Italy. In order to avert the danger of an alliance between the two Emperors, the King of Sicily offered to make peace with Manuel Comnenus; he would even have consented to restore all the booty taken at the sack of Thebes. Manuel refused the offers made to him, but on the other hand the Norman king succeeded in making peace with Venice, whereby in case of war Byzantium was de­prived of the support of the Venetian fleet.

The negotiations which had been entered upon between Manuel and Frederick Barbarossa proved abortive, very likely because the latter refused to admit the claims of the Basileus to South Italy. When Manuel learned of the arrival of the King of the Romans in Italy, he feared lest Barbarossa’s enterprise undertaken without him was aimed against him. He therefore sent Michael Palaeologus to Italy with orders to approach Frederick anew, and if he failed to take some action on his own account. As the negotiations with Barbarossa were inconclusive, Palaeologus established himself at Ancona, and entered into relations withWilliam I’s cousin, Robert, Count of Loritello, who had just revolted. Assisted by the exiled Norman nobles who flocked back in large numbers, and also by those who had adhered to the Count of Loritello, the Byzan­tines invaded William’s states and were extraordinarily successful. At first under the command of Palaeologus, and after his death under John Ducas, the Greeks occupied most of the large towns, Bari, Trani, Giovenazzo, and Molfetta, and advanced to Taranto and Brindisi. Meanwhile Palaeologus came to terms with Pope Hadrian IV. The latter had experienced grave disappointment when Barbarossa retired directly after his imperial coronation, for he had always expected that the German Emperor would settle the question of the Norman kingdom. Manuel Comnenus made very skilful use of the situation, and wished to play the part of protector of the Papacy which Barbarossa had relinquished. His designs very shortly became apparent, when he demanded that the Pope should restore the unity of the Empire in his person. The first offers of the Basileus were accepted, and it was by means of Greek subsidies that Hadrian IV paid the troops with which he invaded the Norman kingdom. This intervention resulted in the restoration of Robert, Prince of Capua, to his dominions (October 1155).

The progress of the Byzantine and papal troops was greatly facilitated by the serious illness of William I (September-December 1155) and by the revolt of some Sicilian vassals. The royal army assembled by the Chancellor, Asclettin, to resist the German invasion, was dis­organised by the revolt of the Italian vassals; and it could not be reinforced, because the rebellion of the Sicilian vassals prevented the withdrawal of troops from the island.

It was only at the end of the winter of 1156 that William repaired to Butera to besiege Geoffrey, Count of Montescaglioso, the leader of the rebels who demanded the dismissal of Maio. As soon as this insurrection was crushed, William I prepared to attack Italy. He tried to negotiate with the Pope, to whom he offered highly advantageous conditions in exchange for his investiture. But Hadrian IV preferred the Byzantine alliance. The successes of the troops led by William I, however, soon caused the Pope to regret his decision. The Byzantines indeed lost their conquests even more quickly than they had achieved them. After their total defeat outside Brindisi (28 May 1156), the Greek troops were unable to retain the towns they had taken. William I was relentless in repression; he ordered a large number of rebels to be hanged, blinded, or thrown into the sea. These executions inspired terror everywhere, and when the Norman army reached Apulia no city dared to offer re­sistance; none the less the king made an example of Bari, and destroyed it. In the north of the kingdom resistance ceased; the Prince of Capua fled, and the dispersal of his allies left Hadrian IV alone in opposition to the Norman king, who besieged him in Benevento.

Forced to treat, Hadrian IV had to agree to all the demands of the conqueror. The treaty therefore settled all the questions pending between the kingdom of Sicily and the Papacy. Hadrian IV granted to William I the kingdom of Sicily, the duchy of Apulia, the principality of Capua with Naples, Amalfi, Salerno, and the district of the Marsi (since the time of Gregory’ VII the Papacy had refused to recognise the last-named conquests). The King of Sicily took the oath of homage, and agreed to pay a tribute of 600 schifati for Apulia and Calabria, and 500 for the district of the Marsi. The questions relating to ecclesiastical discipline which had been raised in connexion with the privilege of the royal legateship were arranged by a compromise. The treaty made a distinction between Apulia and Calabria on the one hand, and Sicily on the other. In Apulia and Calabria the Pope secured the right of appeal by clerics to Rome, the right of consecration and of visitation except in those cities where the king was residing, and finally the right of summoning councils. In Sicily the Pope might summon ecclesiastics to attend him, but the king reserved the right of preventing their obedience to the Pope’s command. The Pope could only receive appeals and send legates at the king’s re­quest. The clergy nominated the bishops, but the king had the right of refusing to accept their election. The Papacy obtained the right of consecration and visitation, but not that of nomination, over certain monasteries and churches, the prelates of which had to apply to Rome only for consecration and benediction. Thus the Treaty of Benevento confirmed in favour of the King of Sicilv all the privileges granted by Urban II to Count Roger, and Hadrian IV further had to recognise all the Norman conquests. Moreover, the King of Sicily obtained the erection of Palermo into a metropolitan see.

These advantages were certainly considerable, but the Treaty of Benevento was to have far wider consequences. Possibly when he signed the Pope did not realise that he was severing the link which had united the Papacy and the Germanic Empire ever since the Treaty of Constance. Barbarossa was indignant at the attitude of Hadrian IV, and notwith­standing the efforts made by the Pope to remain on good terms both with the Emperor and the King of Sicily, a rupture was inevitable. The Papacy was consequently obliged to seek support and strength from the Norman kingdom.

Barbarossa had been very ill-content at the Greeks’ successes in Italy, but the tidings of their reverses removed his uneasiness, and during the years 1156-1157 negotiations between the two Empires were resumed. Again they failed to reach an agreement. Meanwhile William I, having treated with the Genoese so as to deprive the Byzantines of the possible support of the Genoese fleet (1157), arranged a great expedition to ravage the coasts of the Greek Empire. This took place in 1157; the rich ports of Negropont in Euboea and Almira (Halmyrus) in Thessaly were pillaged, and according to some chroniclers the Norman fleet even appeared outside Constantinople. In the same year Manuel resumed hostilities, sending Alexius, son of the Grand Domestic Axuch, to Ancona, where he raised a force and entered into relations with some Normans, among whom was Count Andrew of Rupis Canina (Raviscanina, near Alife). The Byzantines and their allies attacked the Norman kingdom on its northern frontier.

In the spring of 1158 peace was signed between Manuel and William I, thanks to the intervention of Hadrian IV (1158). After the rupture with Barbarossa (1157), the Pope had made friends with the Greek Emperor, and, wishing to form an alliance against the Germanic Empire, succeeded in bringing about peace between Byzantium and Sicily. Henceforth Manuel Comnenus designed to obtain from the Pope the restoration of the unity of the Roman Empire; consequently, with this larger scheme in view, the question of the Norman kingdom lost much of its importance in his eyes. On the other hand, the new claims of the Basileus were disliked at Palermo, where the treaty of 1158 was regarded as a truce which left in abeyance all the questions pending between the two states.

During the ensuing years the papal alliance was to be the pivot of the Norman policy, for it was well known at the Norman court that Barbarossa had not abandoned his designs on South Italy. Henceforward the Pope and the King of Sicily sought to create every possible difficulty for Frederick, so as to keep him far from Rome and South Italy. When the Milanese revolted in 1159 they were encouraged by both Pope and king. As protector of the Papacy William I had great influence at the papal Court, and his party secured a conspicuous success in 1159 while the Pope was at Anagni; here was formed the league between the Pope, Brescia, Piacenza, and Milan to resist the imperial pretensions. During this same visit the partisans of William I set about choosing a successor for Hadrian IV, who died on 1 September 1159. The strongest proof of the importance of the Sicilian party at the papal Court is the number of votes obtained by William’s candidate, Cardinal Roland, its leader, who actually received twenty-three votes out of a total of twenty-seven. His election as Pope Alexander III was therefore a personal triumph for the King of Sicily.

The disorder which prevailed in Italy during 1155 and 1156 had its counterpart in the Norman possessions in Africa. On 25 February 1156 there was a massacre of Christians at Sfax; then the insurrection spread to the islands of Gerba and Kerkinna, and finally to Tripoli. In this city the military commandant had attempted to make the imams preach against the Almohades, whose growing power was causing un­easiness at the court of Palermo. This order gave rise to a widespread conspiracy. The conspirators made an unexpected attack on the Normans (1158), who were driven out of Gabes and only succeeded in holding their ground at Mahdiyah until January 1160. With the fall of this town perished the Norman dominion of Africa. At first sight it seems as though William I did little to defend his African possessions. Very probably the abandonment of Africa was dictated by political necessity. At Palermo it was regarded as inadvisable to undertake a struggle with the mighty Almohad Empire at the very moment when war with Barbarossa seemed imminent; and it was preferable to keep intact the forces of the kingdom, which might soon have to struggle for its very existence.

At the beginning of 1160 the position of the kingdom of Sicily, which was at peace with the Greek Empire and allied with the Pope and the Lombard towns, was unquestionably much stronger than at the accession of William I, thanks to the policy pursued by the Grand Emir, Maio of Bari. It was at the very moment when the latter might have hoped to reap the harvest of his skill that he was assassinated.

Since the revolt in 1156, Maio’s influence had constantly increased, to the great dissatisfaction of the nobles, who regarded the minister as responsible for the severe measures taken after William’s victory, and were profoundly irritated because they were not allowed a share in the government of the State. Maio was equally unpopular with the inhabitants of the large towns, where he was blamed for the royal decisions which had attacked their municipal liberties, and also for the increase of the financial burdens which weighed on the bourgeois. A plot against the all-powerful minister was organised, in which the principal part was assigned to the Italian vassals of the King of Sicily. Richard of Aquila, Count of Fondi, Gilbert, Count of Gravina, and Roger, Count of Acerra, were the leaders of the movement. They came to an understanding with the exiled Norman nobles and with the inhabitants of certain towns. When the revolt broke out, the leaders of the movement declared that they desired only to deliver the king from an imprudent minister who aspired to usurp the throne. In reality the conspirators were equally hostile to William I, whom they wished to replace by his son Roger. On 10 November 1161 one of the conspirators, Matthew Bonnel, assassinated the Grand Emir. For some time William did not dare to take vengeance on the guilty, but was forced to entrust the government to Henry Aristippus, Archdeacon of Catania, who was friendly with Maio’s murderers. Emboldened by their impunity, the conspirators succeeded in taking possession of the royal palace of Palermo, where they seized the person of the king (9 March 1161), who only owed his deliverance to the popular riots excited by the bishops then present at court. Even when set at liberty, the king had still to disguise his wrath and to treat with the rebels. But as soon as he felt himself strong enough, William I arrested Matthew Bonnel, whose eyes were put out. Immediately after Easter (16 April) 1161, the king marched against the Sicilian rebels, who were forced to treat with him; they only obtained pardon on condition that they left the kingdom. Sicily being subdued, the king crossed to Italy, where the revolt headed by Robert of Loritello had spread on all sides. Calabria, Apulia, and the Terra di Lavoro were forced in turn to recognise the royal authority. Anxious to make examples, the king imposed on all the towns a supplementary tax called redemption moreover he ordered Salerno to be razed to the ground, and it was only saved by the intervention of Matthew of Ajello, one of the principal officials at court, who was a native of the city. This successful campaign enabled the king to punish the most highly-placed culprits; on his return to Palermo he threw Henry Aristippus into prison, and pursued all the supporters of Matthew Bonnel with the utmost severity.

After the arrest of Henry Aristippus, William entrusted the government to Count Silvester of Marsico, to Richard Palmer, the Bishop­elect of Syracuse, and to the Master Notary, Matthew of Ajello; after Silvester’s death the Grand Chamberlain Peter was associated with the other two. Trained in the school of Maio, Matthew of Ajello was the inheritor of his political traditions, and up to the end of William’s reign Norman policy pursued the same course.

The great aim of this policy was to prevent Barbarossa from in­vading South Italy. Frederick indeed had not abandoned his plans of intervention. The alliance with Sicily was one of his chief grounds of complaint against Alexander III, and in 1160 he resumed nego­tiations to gain the support of Manuel Comnenus. After the fall of Milan he formed a treaty with Pisa and Genoa to conquer the Norman kingdom (March 1162). The expedition, which was constantly postponed, appeared at last about to start in 1164; but the league of Verona prevented Barbarossa from realising his designs.

Meanwhile the King of Sicily remained obstinately faithful to the cause of the Pope and benefited by the progress made by him. From 1159 to 1161 Alexander III, who had not been able to hold his own in Rome, remained almost continually close to the Norman frontier ready to apply for shelter to William in case of need. After his return from France in 1165, the Pope landed at Messina, and it was Norman troops who, on 23 November 1165, established him in the Lateran.

The reinstatement of the Pope in Rome was the last success achieved by William I, who died on 7 May 1166. Even to the last the King of Sicily was faithful to the papal alliance, and on his death-bed he bequeathed to the Pope a considerable sum.

Judged as a whole, William’s reign was not devoid of greatness, and it is evident that he has been unfairly treated by historians. Placed in particularly difficult circumstances, he succeeded in averting the dangers which threatened his dominions. He undoubtedly displayed excessive severity in repressing rebellions by his subjects, but it must not be for­gotten that these occurred when the enemy was at the very gates of his kingdom. There are consequently many excuses to be found for him, and it must also be remembered that even his bitterest enemy, the chronicler Hugo Falcandus, was forced to regret him when he contemplated the anarchy which followed his reign.

Duke Roger, the king’s eldest son, had been killed by a stray arrow on the occasion when the king was liberated by the people; the crown consequently devolved on the second son William. On his death-bed William I entrusted the regency to his wife Margaret, daughter of Garcia VI Ramirez, King of Navarre, and recommended his chosen coun­sellors as worthy of her confidence.

The accession of the new king aroused great hopes in all his subjects, and his youth caused everyone to regard him with sympathy. It. was expected that the queen-regent would be more lenient than her husband, and that she would be forced to make concessions to the nobles and the cities. Margaret wished to call a new man to her assistance in governing, and having summoned her cousin, Stephen of Perche, from France, she bestowed on him the appointments of Chancellor and Archbishop of Palermo. This choice was unpopular with everyone, and the new chancellor encountered formidable opposition. The leading nobles of the kingdom and the councillors of the queen-regent combined against him, and were joined by all those who considered themselves injured by the reforms which the new chancellor attempted to introduce into the administration, or by the favours granted to the Frenchmen who had come in his train. Stephen of Perche succeeded in foiling the first plot; but the conspirators contrived to obtain possession of Messina, and on receipt of these tidings an insurrection broke out at Palermo. Stephen was besieged in the campanile of the cathedral, and was obliged to treat with the rebels. His life was spared on condition that he left the kingdom.

The coalition which achieved Stephen’s downfall was the logical consequence of the aristocratic attempts to reduce the royal power. A common hatred of foreigners reconciled all the parties which had hitherto striven with one another in rivalry. For some time the queen-regent was entirely deprived of any exercise of authority, as the rebels established a council consisting of ten members of the royal CuriaRichard Palmer, Bishop of Syracuse; Gentile, Bishop of Girgenti; Romuald, Archbishop of Salerno; John, Bishop of Malta; Roger, Count of Geraci; Richard, Count of Molise; Henry, Count of Montescaglioso; Matthew of Ajello; Richard the Kaid; and Walter Ophamil, Dean of Girgenti (like Palmer, an Englishman), who was the king’s tutor and was consecrated Archbishop of Palermo in September 1169. He soon played a very important part, and appears to have deprived the Council of Ten of the powers which they had usurped. Supported by Matthew of Ajello, Walter excluded the representatives of the aristocracy from the council, and very soon reverted to the governmental tradition of Roger II and William I. And when William II reached his majority, the Archbishop of Palermo still retained his confidence.

Under William II Norman policy as regards the Papacy and the Germanic Empire for many years remained identical with that of the previous reign. The King of Sicily was the more inclined to support the papal cause, because in 1166, when Barbarossa invaded Italy, everyone thought that the Emperor intended to attack the Norman kingdom in the following year. But when Frederick was about to advance towards the south, he was summoned to Rome by the victory of Christian of Mayence at Monteporzio. In these critical circumstances Alexander III found support from the Normans, and the Sicilian galleys penetrated the Tiber as far as Rome. Alexander III did not take advantage of the proffered assistance, preferring to remain in the Eternal City, but a little later, when he took refuge at Benevento, he was again protected by Norman troops. The formation of the Lombard League prevented Barbarossa from interfering in South Italy, as before he could deal with the Norman kingdom he had to conquer North Italy, the whole of which was in arms. William II on his side did not stint his subsidies to the League; and in 1173, when Frederick tried to detach him from the papal alliance, the Norman king refused to fall in with the imperial views. At the Peace of Venice the Norman envoys played a leading part in the negotiations which preceded the conclusion of peace, and it was owing to their support that Alexander III succeeded in overcoming the difficulties raised by the Emperor and the Venetians. By the Peace a truce of fifteen years was assured between the Norman kingdom and the Germanic Empire. But henceforward William II modified his attitude towards the Papacy. When Lucius III, who succeeded Alexander III, was in his turn on bad terms with the Emperor (1184), William refused to side with the Pope. Intent on distant conquests of which we shall presently speak, the King of Sicily saw no use in risking a struggle with the Empire. The Treaty of Constance (1183) had put an end to the Lombard League, and William II was faced by the possibility of being the Pope’s only champion in a conflict; he preferred to come to terms with Barbarossa, who had recently approached him to obtain the hand of Constance, Roger IPs daughter, for his son Henry. As William II was childless, the Emperor hoped that the Norman kingdom might be secured for his son, Constance being the legitimate heir. On 29 October 1184 the betrothal was announced at Augsburg, and on 28 August 1185 Constance was handed over to the imperial envoys at Rieti.

His alliance with Alexander III had enabled William II to play an important part in the great events which occupied European diplomacy during his reign. He was brought into relations with the King of England in connexion with Henry II’s quarrel with Thomas Becket, and eventually in 1176 he married Henry’s daughter Joan. This marriage brought the two countries closer together, and many Englishmen came to settle in Sicily.

Norman policy towards the Greek Emperor underwent a series of changes during William II’s reign. About 1167 Manuel Comnenus definitely demanded from Alexander III the restoration of imperial unity, with himself as sole Emperor of East and West. As he feared that the King of Sicily would oppose this plan, he at once approached the court of Palermo with an offer to marry his daughter Maria, heiress to his dominions, to the young King William II. Nothing further is known as to the relations between the two courts until 1171, when owing to his quarrel with the Venetians Manuel reverted to this proposed marriage, and it was agreed that the Byzantine princess should arrive in Taranto in the spring of 1172. But when William went to meet his bride on the appointed day, she was not there. Probably by that time Manuel had entered on fresh negotiations with a view to arranging the marriage of his daughter to Barbarossa’s son.

William II was deeply offended at the insult offered him, and resolved to be avenged. He began by forming an alliance with the Venetians (1175) and the Genoese (1174), thus depriving the Byzantines of possible allies, and as soon as a favourable opportunity occurred he dispatched troops to conquer Constantinople. When after Manuel’s death Andronicus Comnenus dethroned Alexius II (1184), the King of Sicily took advantage of thfe disturbances which broke out in the Greek Empire to declare war. As in bygone days Guiscard had used a pseudo­Michael VII, so William now made use of a spurious Alexius to gain partisans among the Byzantines. From the Norman kingdom an army of, it is said, eighty thousand men was gathered under the command of a certain Baldwin and of Richard, Count of Acerra. The fleet was commanded by Tancred of Lecce. In June 1185 the Normans took Durazzo and advanced on Salonica, which was invested at the beginning of August. After the fall of this town, they marched on Constantinople and proceeded as far as Seres and Mosinopolis. Near the latter town was fought the decisive battle, wherein the Normans, treacherously attacked while negotiations were proceeding, were overwhelmed by the Byzantines. All the conquered cities were quickly recaptured from the invaders, only Durazzo remaining in their hands for a time. William II indeed carried on the war by sending his fleet under the command of the Admiral Margaritus to support Isaac Comnenus who had been proclaimed Emperor; but he came to terms with the Emperor Isaac Angelus before 1189, although we do not know the exact date when the war ended.

In sending his troops to attempt the conquest of Constantinople, William II was reverting to the grandiose policy of expansion formerly pursued by Robert Guiscard and Roger II. His Moorish policy was derived from the same sources. It is, however, specially in these matters that we can trace the personal influence of the king, for we know that his ministers were opposed to these distant expeditions; moreover, when he dispatched his ships to attack the Moorish possessions, William II was not only considering the Sicilian trade, he was not only seeking to assure communications between the Western world and the Holy Places, but he was ambitious to pose as the protector of the Christian communities of the Levant. This explains why in his reign the Norman fleets specially directed their attacks against the Muslims of Egypt. Only the Normans supported the King of Jerusalem in his proposed campaign against Egypt, which was prevented by his death (1174). In like manner during the ensuing years, even while William was treating with the Almohades, he continued to send his sailors to lay waste the coasts of Egypt and to pillage Tinnis (1175-1177). These naval expeditions were interrupted by the war with the Greeks, but were resumed when the Christians of the Levant appealed to the West. The King of Sicily was one of the first to assume the cross on the occasion of the Third Crusade. He aspired to lead the expedition, and the engagements he entered into with some of the leaders of the Crusade caused serious embarrassment to his successor. Death prevented William II (18 November 1189) from realising his design, but the Norman fleet had already set sail for the East, and the exploits of its admiral Margaritus off the coast near Laodicea (Latiqiyah) cast a halo of glory round the last days of his reign.

Of all the Norman sovereigns William II is the one of whose character we know least. He seems to have been devoid of the vigorous qualities of his race, for he never took personal command of his army and preferred a life of ease and pleasure in the seclusion of his palace to the life of the camp. But it was precisely this contrast to his predecessors which caused his popularity. People were weary of the despotic authority exercised by Roger and William I; they breathed a sigh of relief at the accession of William II, and the tranquillity of his reign was almost too much appreciated, while deep gratitude was felt towards the sovereign who had bestowed these benefits. Regretted by his subjects, William “the Good” continued to be regarded in Italy as the ideal type of king,

Rex ille magnificus,


 Cuius vita placuit

Deo et hominibus;

and when Dante gave him a place in Paradise he was only echoing popular sentiment.

As William left no children, Constance, daughter of Roger II, was legitimate heiress to the crown of Sicily. Before her departure for Germany, William II had made his vassals swear fealty to her, thus clearly indicating his wishes, which were however disregarded. While one party, led by Walter, Archbishop of Palermo, was anxious that the royal will should be executed, two other parties, which had nothing in common save their hatred of the Germans, wished to elect a king, one supporting Roger of Andria, the other Tancred, Count of Lecce, illegitimate son of Duke Roger, and thus grandson of Roger II. Tancred was chosen (January 1190?), thanks to Matthew of Ajello, who was rewarded with the appointment of Chancellor. From the very outset he was faced by the most serious difficulties. A Muslim insurrection broke out in Sicily; in Italy the partisans of Roger of Andria revolted and espoused Henry Vi’s cause out of hatred for Tancred; finally, the arrival of the Third Crusade at Messina was the source of the gravest embarrassment to the new king.

Richard of Acerra, Tancred’s brother-in-law, succeeded in restoring order in Italy and in seizing Roger of Andria, while Tancred conceded numerous privileges to the burghers of the towns and thus sought to secure their support against the feudal nobility. At the same time the king was carrying on very troublesome negotiations with the crusaders in Italy. Richard Coeur-de-Lion had complained even before his arrival in Messina that his sister Joan, widow of William II, was detained in captivity and had not received her jointure. Moreover, he demanded an important legacy bequeathed by the deceased king to Henry II of England, to wit, a golden table twelve feet in length and a foot and a half in breadth, a silken tent large enough to contain two hundred knights, twenty-four golden cups, a hundred galleys equipped for two years, and sixty thousand loads of wheat, barley, and wine.

Tancred met these demands by setting Joan at liberty and giving her a million taris as jointure, but Richard was annoyed because all his claims had not been satisfied and, on his arrival at Messina, he occupied Bagnara on the Italian coast; subsequently, disagreements having arisen between the English and the people of Messina, he took possession of the city by force and built a wooden tower which he mockingly called “Mate Grifon” (Slaughter-Greek). In the end Tancred came to terms with the irascible King of England; he indemnified Queen Joan by giving her another twenty thousand ounces of gold. In return for an equal sum Richard I renounced William II’s legacy and agreed to arrange a marriage between his nephew Arthur of Brittany and one of the King of Sicily’s daughters. Moreover Richard promised to uphold Tancred as long as he remained in the latter’s dominions. There is little doubt that the alliance was directed against Henry VI, Constance’s husband, but this clause of the treaty was of no assistance to Tancred’s interests, for after the departure of the crusaders for the Holy Land (March and April 1191) he remained in isolation to confront the German invasion.

Ever since 1190 Henry VI had determined to claim his wife’s inheritance by force. He was delayed by the death of his father, which took place during the Crusade, but was soon in a position to resume his Italian plans. In March 1191 he renewed the treaty of 1162 with Pisa; about the same time he entered into negotiations with Genoa, which were concluded a little later. He appeared outside Rome just after the death of Pope Clement III, and the cardinals hastened to elect a successor before the arrival of the German troops (30 March 1191). The new Pope, Celestine III, was called upon to crown the Emperor the day after his own consecration (15 April). Immediately afterwards Henry VI directed his march towards southern Italy. There flocked round him not only the exiled Normans but also a large number of the nobles who had taken part in the last insurrection. The German expedition advanced with great ease, and it was almost without serious fighting that the Emperor laid siege to Naples, where the Norman troops had concentrated. While Henry was besieging Naples, the people of Salerno made their submission. The Empress Constance then repaired to Salerno and established herself in the royal palace of Terracina, where she remained when, in the course of the summer, an epidemic forced the Emperor to raise the siege of Naples and retire to the north. But he left garrisons in all the towns that had adopted his cause, and retained occupation of the conquered territory.

After the departure of the Germans, the people of Salerno were much ashamed of their disloyalty, and to conciliate Tancred they handed over Constance to him. During the summer of 1191 Tancred crossed to Italy; he succeeded in wresting several towns from the Germans, among them Capua. He could not however drive out Henry’s troops; hostilities continued for some years, and the Germans managed to hold their ground in the district of Monte Cassino, while on the other hand the King of Sicily established his authority in the Abruzzi.

In expectation of the German Emperor making a fresh attack, Tancred sought to secure the aid of Byzantium, and arranged a marriage between his son Roger and Irene, daughter of Isaac Angelus. At the same time, in order to obtain the protection of Pope Celestine III, the King of Sicily agreed by the concordat of Gravina (1192) to relinquish the rights which the Treaty of Benevento had granted to the kingdom of Sicily. The mediation of the Pope with the Emperor, however, was un­successful, and Celestine III proffered no other assistance to Tancred. He even gave him the unpalatable advice to liberate Constance. Tancred followed this unhappy suggestion, and thus deprived himself of the hostage whom chance had placed in his hands.

Tancred, however, did not live to witness the victory of Henry VI, for he died on 20 February 1194. He has been held up to ridicule by Peter of Eboli, who gloats over his ugly face and dwarfish stature; but he does not deserve the jibes of this poetical adulator of the German conquest, for it cannot be denied that during his short tenancy of the throne he displayed rare qualities as a military commander, which enabled him to offer resistance under almost hopeless conditions.

The king’s elder son and crowned colleague Roger having predeceased him, the crown devolved on the second son William III, who was still very young. The regency was in the hands of the queen, Sibylla, sister of Count Richard of Acerra. The German Emperor had therefore only a woman and an infant to oppose him in the conquest of the Norman kingdom. Henry VI indeed had not relinquished his plans; he had been delayed by events in Germany, but was ready to take the field in 1194. In January of that year he concluded the treaty of Vercelli with the Lombard towns, so as to ensure that neither the Pope nor the King of Sicily should find allies among them. Having quelled in March 1194 the revolt of the house of the Welfs in Germany, Henry VI opened the campaign. He carefully arranged that he should be supported by the fleets of Pisa and Genoa.

The characteristic feature of the expedition was the ease of his conquest. There does not seem to have been any attempt at resistance, as from the outset the cause of William III was regarded as hopeless. As soon as Henry VI appeared outside a town, its gates were thrown open to him. Only the people of Salerno, who feared chastisement for their treachery, dared to resist, whereupon their city was taken by storm. In Sicily Sibylla vainly endeavoured to withstand him; she suffered the mortification of seeing the inhabitants of Palermo open the gates of the capital to the Emperor (20 November 1194). Having fled to Caltabellotta with her son, she accepted the peace proposals made by Henry II, who offered William the county of Lecce and the principality of Taranto, and on Christmas Day 1194 the Emperor was crowned King of Sicily at Palermo in her presence and that of her son. Pour days later, on the pretext of their complicity in a plot, the queen and the principal nobles of the kingdom were arrested. The Emperor has been severely blamed for these arrests, and has been accused of having forged all the documents proving the existence of a plot and of having caused the death of the prisoners. He has been partially exonerated on this score. In 1194 there was no blood-thirsty repression, and there apparently was a plot. On the other hand, there is no doubt that, after the great insurrections against the German domination which broke out in 1196 and 1197, Henry VI did order wholesale executions. He not only punished the instigators of the revolt, but also directed that some of the prisoners of 1194 who had taken no part in it should have their eyes put out. Consequently, even if we adopt the most favourable hypothesis, Henry VI’s conduct must appear excessively cruel, as he punished individuals who, having been in German prisons for two years, must necessarily have been innocent of complicity in the later events.

The fate of William III, last of the Norman kings, is unknown; according to some reports Henry VI caused him to be mutilated, according to others Tancred’s son became a monk.

The administrative organisation established by the Norman kings in South Italy and Sicily was not less remarkable than their political achievement. Two facts dominate the history of the Norman organisation and explain its methods: the very small numbers of the conquerors and the sparseness also of the indigenous population. Even after the conquerors had been strengthened by a further immigration, still none too large, of their compatriots, they were never sufficiently numerous to outweigh the native races; they were obliged to attract settlers from all parts to populate vacant lands, and to retain their ascendency they were led to concede equal importance to the institutions, customs, and characters of all the races they found represented in the regions they subjugated.

Hence although French remained the court language, the Norman Chancery made use of Greek, Latin, or Arabic, according to the nationality of those to whom they dispatched the royal diplomas. The same principle recurs in private law, and in the preamble of the Assises of Ariano in 1140 the greatest Norman king decreed as follows: “The laws newly promulgated by our authority are binding on everyone...but without prejudice to the habits, customs, and laws of the peoples subject to our authority, each in its own sphere...unless any one of these laws or customs should be manifestly opposed to our decrees.” We find an expression of the same spirit in the manner in which Roger II and his successors borrowed from various legal systems those elements of public law which they considered most advantageous to their dynasty and most easily applicable to the conquered country. Thus Norman public law seems to be a mixture partly of Justinianean and Byzantine, partly of feudal law. Recently H. Niese has endeavoured to prove that in Sicilian law there was an element of Norman law, the importance of which he may have exaggerated.

The greatest social change which the Normans introduced into their new domain was, perhaps, feudalism in the true sense of the word. Neither the Lombards of the south nor the Byzantines had known vassalage or fiefs, however much hereditary counts and nobles may have formed a fitting prelude to feudalism proper. But by the reign of Roger II we find a feudal hierarchy of princes, dukes, counts, and barons, holding fiefs by military tenure under homage and fealty, and usually enjoying feudal jurisdiction, at least in civil causes. Below and beside them stand the simple knights with or without fiefs. Roger II, by decreeing that only the son of a knight could himself be knighted, endeavoured to form the whole feudal body into a kind of caste. In its general outlines this system was not different from that of Normandy. The mass of the peasantry were either actual serfs, bound to their plots, many of whom (the defensati), not unlike the German ministeriales, were specially liable to military service, or men who, though personally free, held their land by servile tenure. The new settlers, called in to people vacant lands, were naturally favoured by their own customs. But there were also large, if diminishing, survivals of non-feudal freeholders, mostly townsmen, who fully owned their property absque servitio. Slaves were not very numerous, and no Christians, save Slavs only, could by custom-law be bought and sold as such. The non-noble population as a whole were liable to the angariae, i.e. the repair of roads and castles and the like. The peasants had already adopted the habit of living together in small towns for the sake of safety, and, just as happens today in Sicily, a man’s plot of ground might lie some miles from his dwelling-place. The burdens on the peasant were indeed heavy and his lot was hard, but it was mitigated by the growth of custom, favoured by his value to his lord and by the strictness of the royal administration.

From a religious point of view the Norman kings borrowed their conception of a theocratic monarchy from Byzantium, but their spirit of tolerance mitigated the exaggerated results which might have attended this principle. The “pious” king, the “defender of the Christians,” insisted that he was “crowned by God” and is shewn in the mosaics of the churches receiving the diadem from Christ. It was, said Roger II in his Assises, “equal to sacrilege to cavil at his judgments, his laws, deeds, and counsels.” Further, the privilege of the Apostolic Legateship conferred on the Norman sovereigns an authority over part of the Latin clergy in their dominions such as was possessed by no other monarch of that period. Nevertheless they allowed free exercise of their religion to the Muslims from the start, and to the Greeks after a comparatively short interval from the conquest.

The administrative organisation established in their states was the most characteristic creation of the Norman rulers. At the heart of this skilfully constructed system was the king, who governed with the assistance of the Curia Regis, in whose hands were concentrated all powers. Gradually there came into being various departments, a Court of Justice, side by side with a Financial Council (Archons of the Secretum) which was itself divided into several sections, equipped with official registers, according to the business with which it had to deal. In the Curia we find both lay and ecclesiastical vassals, as well as chosen counsellors of the king, the familia res, from whom were recruited the members of the Privy Council, known as the Lords of the Curia (Domini Curiae). Among them the great officials of the kingdom held the chief place. The Emir of Emirs or Admiral (ammiratus ammiratorum) had at first perhaps the charge of the Muslim population as well as the command of the fleet, a duty from which the modern title Admiral for a naval commander is derived, but under Roger II the Admiral George of Antioch became practically a prime minister or Grand Vizier. The office was left unfilled after the death of Maio, and the Chancellor, whose office was also often left vacant, was, when nominated, the chief royal minister. Over the finances was set the Grand Chamberlain, who became the chief of the Financial Council when that emerged. Dependent on one or other of the two great bodies— the Court of Justice or the Financial Council—there were ranked the officials of the provinces. These by the time of William II consisted of the Master Justiciaries, Master Chamberlains, and Master Constables (all over groups of provinces), and the older posts of Justiciars (for justice), Chamberlains (for finance), and Constables (for troops), each for a single province. They had under their orders local subordinates, e.g. catapans, strategi, viscounts, baiuli, cadis, judges, many of whom still retained the old Greek, Lombard, or Saracen titles.

Thanks to this hierarchy of officials, royal authority was in all parts powerfully exercised over its subjects. This is particularly shewn by two facts. None of the cities in the Norman kingdom ever succeeded in constituting itself a free town; even the greatest of them had at its head an official appointed by the king. And, with very rare exceptions, none of the vassals of the Crown, whose obligations towards the king were regulated by feudal law, possessed the right of trying criminal cases; these the king reserved for himself.

The power of the monarchy at home and abroad was increased by its wealth. From many sources a treasure was amassed which was still considerable when Henry VI captured it at Palermo. In addition to the revenue derived from the royal demesnes, the profits of justice, and the usual feudal aids (called in the Norman kingdom the collecta), including purveyance, the kings raised a variously-named tribute analogous to the English Danegeld, and drew large sums from tolls and duties, such as the lucrative port-dues levied on the ships which thronged their harbours. The kings themselves engaged in trade. The manufacture of silk, introduced by Roger II, was a royal monopoly, and his royal mantle still preserved shews how exquisite the new art could be.

Even in art we find the combination of various elements resulting in a new and harmonious whole. As creators or promoters of a civilisation which was enriched on all sides by the most varied influences, the Norman kings aspired to leave behind them witnesses of their achievements—monuments capable of attesting the power and originality of a conception which sought to recognise every living element in the races they governed and to represent truthfully the particular nature, spirit, and quality of each of these races in the close collaboration of all. Although some of the monuments erected under their supervision have a definitely Eastern character, such as the palaces of La Zisa or La Cuba, most of the buildings which they constructed present a happy combination of Norman, Byzantine, and Saracenic art. As the finest examples of this composite art it is enough to mention the Cappella Palatina at Palermo, the cathedral of Monreale, and the church of Cefalu.

The mosaic of manners and customs due to the juxtaposition of different races was also evident in the life of the great cities of the Norman kingdom. Never indeed was there any fusion between the races existing therein. Greeks, Italians, Normans, Saracens, all continued to dwell in the same towns subject to the same authority, but faithful to their own customs and traditions.

The court at Palermo exhibited the same diversity as was elsewhere visible. There the king appeared in a costume derived alike from Byzantine ceremonial, from Western chivalry, and from the magnificence of the Saracenic East. For his protection there were two bodyguards, one of knights, the other of negroes under the command of a Muslim. In the army there was the same mixture, Norman knights arrayed beside Saracen troops in striking costumes. In the train of the sovereign, Latin, Greek, and Muslim officials were in constant intercourse. At Roger II's court the Arab geographer Idrisi, the Greek author Nilus Doxapatrius, and the Emir Eugenius who translated Ptolemy’s Optics into Latin, might be found side by side. Arabic poets composed poems in honour of the royal family. Abu-ad-Dah bewailed the death of Duke Roger; ‘Abd-ar-Rahman sang the charms of one of the royal palaces. At William I’s court Henry Aristippus translated the works of St Gregory Nazianzen by desire of the king, and undertook the translation of the Phaedo and the fourth book of Aristotle’s Meteorologica.

Affected by contact with Eastern civilisation, the Norman sovereigns allowed themselves to adopt the morals of their Moorish courtiers with a facility which was a credit to their eclecticism, but which gradually weakened their energy and dignity; and their example was undoubtedly followed by most of the nobles at court. If the sons of the Norman conquerors all suffered more or less from the pernicious influence of these new customs combined with the effect of an unaccustomed climate, nowhere was this degeneracy so rapid and so intense as in the royal family. Most of the sons of Roger II died young; the number of children diminished with William I, and William II was childless. The extinction of the royal family only preceded the fall of the Norman domination by a few years; it was at once a cause and a sign. Between the various elements which formed the Norman kingdom, elements which differed too widely ever to blend into a coherent and durable whole, the person of the king supplied the only link, a link which necessarily disappeared with his disappearance, for Constance was not regarded as the daughter of Roger II but as the German Empress. With Henry VI there began a new period in the history of South Italy and of Sicily, and it may be said that the conquest in 1194 marked the close of the Norman domination.