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1st millennium A.D.

 1st Century- 

32: Jesus Christ is crucified on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem. There is a legend that a soldier, Mario,  from the town of Corleto (at the time known as Corelytum) was one of the Roman soldiers present at the crucifixion. Although there is no direct evidence that this person existed, it is documented that some of the Roman soldiers in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion were from the Campania region of Italy. (Mare, 1995)

41-54: Legend  has the Apostles Saint Peter  (our first Pope; died about 64 A.D.) and Saint Paul visiting Naples before going on to Rome. According to legend Peter set up his first church in Naples before Rome. (M. Schipa, 1892). One of the earliest Italian Christian communities is founded by "sojourners in Rome" during the Principate of Cladius. The community is associated with the Apostles Peter and Paul. Legend also has Peter and Paul visiting Corleto during their travels as they spread the Christian word. It is said that the first person to be converted to Christianity in Corleto was the soldier Mario who had returned to the town from Jerusalem (Mare, 1995). 

2nd  Century 


3rd Century

212 or 213: The Edict of Caracalla extends Roman citizenship to nearly all free provincials throughout the empire.

247-251: GOTHS invade the Roman Empire. The first of three severe persecutions of Christians (directed primarily at the Church leaders) occurs under Emperor Decius.

257–261: The second of the severe persecutions occurs especially in Rome under Emperor Valerian.

274: The reign of Constantine I begins.

4th Century- 

313: Edict of Milan proclaims religious freedom for all.

330:  Emperor Constantine I transfers his capital from Rome to Constantinople, built on the site of Byzantium (Today it is Istanbul).

381: The 4 chief cities of the Roman empire are Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome.

5th Century -

About 476: military control of Italy passed into barbarian hands when the Germanic chieftain Odoacer deposed the last western emperor, Romulus Augustulus (r. 475-76).

493: In the little town of Monte Sant' Angelo on the Gargano peninsula (Apulia) Bishop Laurentius, Bishop of nearby Siponto, is visited by Archangel Michael. St. Michael, dressed in hiis full armor, announces that the cave is to be a shrine to himself and all the angels. This cave becomes one of the great pilgram shrines of all of Europe.  In the 11th century a pilgrimage to the shrine by about 40 Normans eventually leads to the great Norman invasion of southern Italy.

493-555:  Naples and the rest of Italy is under the political conrol of the Ostrogothic king, Theodoric (GOTHS).

 6th Century -

513: . Norsemen (Vikings) begin to settle in the Seine Valley in France; by the end of this century they will become Normans and the northern area of France that they occupy will be named Normandy. Prior to the arrival of these pagan newcomers, St. Vigor works to convert the inhabitants of this area to Christianity, In this year St. Vigor is consecrated bishop of  Bayeux (France)

529: On a hill top near Naples over the ruins of a temple to Apollo St. Benedict builds an abbey that becomes the birth place of the Benedictine Order- the monastery of Monte Cassino.

535: Belisarius begins a campaign to regain Naples for Byzantium. Naples resists Belisarius but Belisarius is utimately successful in taking Naples.  The continued battle between Byzantium and the Ostrogoths ravaged the area surrounding Naples, including the areas around Corleto. The Ostrogoths are eventually defeated in a battle at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.

553:  Byzantine emperor Justinian I regains control of the Italian peninsula.  The capital of the Byzantine empire on the Italian peninsula  is Ravenna .

565: Justinian I dies.

568:  The LOMBARDS, another Germanic people, arrived in Italy. Led by Alboin they spread from the north to Tuscany and Umbria. Four about 200 years the Lombard Kingdom also included Venetia and Liguria.

571: Much of southern and eastern Italy remained in Byzantine hands while independent Lombard warriors found the ducies of Spoleto and Benevento. Benevento had been a venerable Roman city and was now the center of the duchy of Benevento. Corleto was now a part of this duchy.  The Lombards intermarried with Romans, adopted their language and absorbed their culture. The Lombards from the duchy of Benevento proceed to move quickly through southern Italy to wrestle control of many areas from Byzantium.

580-581: Monte Cassino, a monastery at the northern end of the duchy of Benevento is sacked by the Lombards.  The site is abandomed by the monks for over a century. Naples suffers the first of many Lombard attacks; Naples survives these attacks and remains primarily under Byzantiun control for the next 200 years.

590-604:  Pope Gregory I persuades the Lombards to abandon their planned siege on Rome. He acted as a political, military and ecclesiastical leader. The band of land he held stretching across the peninsula later become the PAPAL STATES.

7th Century -

The population in Southern Italy most likely declined as a result of the Lombard attacks.  The Lombard Duke of Benevento invited many Bulgarians to settle on the conquered Beneventan lands.

663: Constans II lands with a large army in Taranto in an attempt to regain control of southern Italy for Byzantium. This army's early successes as they marched north was halted when they failed to take the town of Acerenza (located halfway between Taranto and Benevento).

8th Century -

718: Monte Cassino is resettled by Beneventan Lombards

726: Emperor Leo the Isaurian forbids the veneration of the images of Christ and the Saints.

728:  As a result of revolts that broke out in Rome, Naples, Venice, and the Byzantine centers in the south, the Lombards, under Liutprand (r. 712-44), side with Emperor Leo and extend their influence in spite of further papal attempts at intervention. Nevertheless, many of the Lombards convert from Arianism to Roman Catholicism, assimilating many elements of Roman culture.

751: Ravena, the capitol of the Byzantine Empire, falls to the Lombards.

751-57: Pope Stephen II invites Pepin, King of the FRANKS, yet another Germanic tribe, to invade Italy.

758: Archis II becomes Duke of Benevento; he marries Adalperga, the daughter of Lombard King Desiderius.  Pepin's son Charlemagne takes Archis' son Grimoald as hostage as insurance against Beneventian mischief.   Archis managed to forstall any Carolingean takeover of Benevento and established Salerno as a second Beneventan capital.

774:  The Carolingians conquer northern Italy expeling the Lombard rulers from the North.  The Carolingeans belong to the Frankish dynasty that was founded by "Pepin the Short" and lasted until 987 AD in France and 911 AD in Germany. The conquest of 774 drew a new boundary (just below Rome), setting  southern Italy apart from northern Italy. Whereas Northern Italy was now Carolingian (Frankish), southern Italy remained under the control of  Byzanthium and the Lombards, both peoples would confront each other for the next 3 centuries. 

787: Arichis II dies. Charlemagne frees Grimoald to rule Benevento upon the request of Archis' widow.  The Lombard throne  is taken  up to 817   by Grimoald III and later Grimoald IV.

9th Century -

(Southern Italy is sparsely populated at the beginning of this century consisting primarily of Lombard-controlled areas and the duchy of Naples (which included Sorrento and Amalfi). In Lombard areas  most  of the people were ethnic Lombards who replaced the earlier inhabitants.  Other non-Lombard groups, including Jewish colonies, were scathered throughout southern Lombard Italy and most likely became Lombard subjects. These non-ethnic "Lombards" were on the lowest rung of the social ladder and probably comprised the Lombards that were placed on slave ships during this time period. Greek-speaking Byzantines are few in number living primarily in Gaeta and Naples. Naples begins its path toward independence from Byzantium which now controls only part of Calabria and Otranto. (By the end of this millenium Byzantium reclaims many areas in southern Italy.)  It is during this century that Arab people appear in Southern Italy and leave a lasting influence. Some Arabs are hired to participate in the war between independent Naples and the Lombards and in a Lombard civil war.  Arabs also raid and plunder  the people and land of peninsular southern Italy, but at the same time in Sicily Arabs assimilate and became part of the culture. The Arab relationship with southern Italy was clearly a very complex one (Kreutz, 1991).)

800, Dec. 25:  Charlemagne, son of the Frank King, Pepin, is crowned emperor in Rome.

814: Charlemagne dies; his heir, Louis the Pious, concentrating on the Carolingean north shows little interest in southern Italy, leaving the Lombards to dominate.

817: Grimoald IV is assassinated; Sico, the gastald of Acerenza, becomes Lombard ruler. Sico, and later his son Sicard, rule until 839.

825: SARACENS (Arabs) newly arrived from North Africa make hit-and-run raids  around the waters of southern Italy; they begin their eventual conquest of Sicily. These Arabs were called the North African  Aghlabids after Ibn al-Aghlab who was appointed emir (or  governor) of North Africa by rulers in Baghdad.

835: Naples, fearing that Sicard would attempt to take over the duchy of Naples,   hire Arab mercenaries (Aghlabids from Sicily?) to help defend their city-state against a Lombard takeover.

836, July 4: Sicard signs a multi-clause treaty with Naples known as the Pactum Sicardi; this document outlined agreements that would keep peace between the Lombards and the duchy of Naples and their Saracen defenders.

838: The first breach of the Pactum Sicard occurs.  Salerno, which was controlled by  Sicard and the Lombards attack Amalfi (controlled by the duchy of   Naples) and transport to Salerno many Amalfian citizens who appeared to be partial to Sicard. Arabs from Sicily sack Brindisi, a key Lombard port on the Adriatic. During the next few years the Arabs sack and briefly occupy Taranto and Bari.

839: Sicard is assassinated leading to discord and eventually a bloody civil war between Lombard Salerno (now ruled by Sicard's brother Sikenolf) and Lombard Benevento (ruled by the declared successor of Sicard, Radelchis). Both sides hire Arab mercenaries (SARACENS)  to fight in their civil war; Amalfi begins to act as an autonomous state.   According to Mare, Corleto did not experience first hand the vast destruction of this civil war because of its remote position high in the mountains.

* ** The Saracens,  now pillaging the monasteries and curches all over southern Italy, were a mixed group. Some of the Saracens came from the fringes of Islamic society as a result of being hired to fight in the Lombard civil war and others, apparently independent groups, originating from the Baghdad-sanctioned North African Aghlabids intent on conquering Sicily and eventually other parts of southern Italy (Kreutz, 1991).***

842:  A massive Aghlabid force takes Messina; most of western Sicily was already under Saracen control.  Arabs also attack Ponza, an island off of Gaeta, and plan to use it as a permanent raiding base.  Duke Sergius of Naples, along with Gaeta, Amalfi, and Sorrento attack and drive out the Arabs from Ponza. This combined fleet also chase Arabs away from Point Licosa, located just below the ancient city of Paestum.

846: A  Saracen force out of  Palermo Sicily take over the "castellum" at Misenum, a Roman naval base at the Bay of Naples. This huge force later attacks Ostia and Portus at the mouth of the Tiber river outside Rome and then sack Rome. The Arab raiders desecrate the holiest shrines including the high alter over St. Peter's grave. The Carolingean King Lothar sends an army commanded by his son, the future Louis II to protect Rome and funds Pope Leo IV to build the Leonine walls to surround St. Peters and the Papal enclave.

849: Ceasar, son of the Duke of Naples, under Pope Leo IV,  defeats the Saracens at the legendary naval  "Battle of Ostia" (commemorated in one of Raphael's  wall paintings for the papal chambers in the vatican). Carolingian King Lothar charges Louis and Guy of Spoleto  (A Frank who was holding the once Lombard duchy of Spoleto) to end the Lombard civil war between Salerno and Benevento.  The settlement treaty, known as the Divisio, favored Sikenolf of Salerno because it split in half the principality of Benevento (which at the time comprised most of southern Italy except Gaeta, Naples, Amalfi and the extreme tip of the boot). However, the Monasteries of Monte Casino and San Vincenzo at Volturno and all their lands were placed under the protection of the Carolingian king. Among the law-and-order provisions of the Divisio was the charge to expel all Arabs from the area excepting those that were converted to Christianity.

849: Bari is under  firm Saracen control, conquered by  Muslim adventurer Kalfun,  a former servant (or slave) of the Aghlabid emir of North Africa.    Kalfun was succeded by two other emirs of Bari, the last , Sawdan, finally receiving official recognition from Baghdad. Bari and Taranto, two important Puglian ports were now Arab controlled.  Many Christian captives from these areas are loaded onto ships and sent to Egyptian slave markets.  Muslim Bari is well-governed and stable for almost 25 years. People in the duchy of Naples and Salerno seem to accept Muslim presence in Bari and the rest of Southern Italy, but the Carolingean rulers aim to rid the Italian peninsula of all Saracen invaders.

850: King Lothar arranges for Louis II to be crowned co-emperor on Easter Sunday.

852: Louis II sends forces to try and take Bari from the Muslims. He fails.

855: Emperor Lothar dies, Louis II   is now alone to deal with the Saracen problem.

860-61: Capua breaks from Salerno creating a third southern Lombard power center.

866: Louis II and his wife Engelberga take a 6-month tour all of Campania beginning in Monte Cassino in June, followed by Capua (who he disciplined by removing a Lombard leader), Salerno,  Amalfi,  Naples, and finally Benevento. The tour appeared to be designed to ensure that Louis's attempt to take Bari from the Muslims would not be interfered with by Arab sympathizers in Campania.  Louis remains in Benevento for the next 5 years.

867: Louis' army captures two Muslin-controlled towns between Bari and Taranto- Matera and Oria.

868: Louis II seeks help from Byzantium (now controlled by Basil the Macedonian) for naval help in freeing Bari.  Apparently this partnership never materialized, but opened the way for Byzantium to later  regain control over sections of southern Italy.

871: February, Louis II finally succeeds in expelling the Saracens from Bari with a mixed army of Franks, Lombards, and a Croatian fleet. Swadan, the Saracen emir of Arab Bari, was captured and imprisoned in Benevento.  Swadan, although prisoner, is often approached by Beneventan Lombards and Franks (including Louis II) looking for advice on all kinds of affairs. Swadan, purportedly used his knowledge of the Beneventan and Franks to instigate the Beneventan's capture and imprisonment of Louis and his men. The Bishop of Benevento negotiated the release of Louis on the condition that Louis would never return to Benevento. This event marked the end of the Carolingians effort to add southern Italy to their empire.

871-872:  Massive Saracen forces siege Salerno. Louis II dispatches Frank and Lombard forces and save Salerno.

873: Byzantium returns to southern peninsular Italy when they wrestle the port of Otranto away from the Arabs.

875: King Louis II dies. Saracen raids continue throughout southern Italy. Indigenous people  (and perhaps minor Lombard land owners) still living in Naples, Salerno, Benevento, Capua, and most of Calabria are often captured and shiped as slaves to Muslin ports.

876: Byzantium takes Capri away from the Lombard gastald that was installed by Louis II. Pope John VIII tours Campania to organize an anti-Muslim coalition. The Carolingians of the North refuse to help him.  His only recourse was to pay Arab bands not to attack Papal territory and later to plead Byzantium for help.

878: Syracuse, the administrative capital of Byzantine Sicily, falls to the Saracens.

879: Athanasius II, bishop and Duke of Naples, allows Aghlabids to settle at the foot of Vesuvius.  Local political infighting between groups allowed the Arabs to devastate the campania region. Yet, Athanasius worked to restore Naples to its earlier grandeur.

881: The monastery at San Vincenzo is destroyed and almost all the Monks killed by Saracen raiders.

882: Pope John VIII is murdered plunging the papacy into "its darkest decades of its history." (Kreutz,1991).

887: Byzantine troops take control of several Lombard towns on their way to fight the Arabs at Garigliano. The Byzantine force was requested by Salerno ruler Guaima I (who succeeded his father  Guaifer). The Beneventan ruler, Aio, angered by the Byzantines aggression toward Lombard land,  retaliates by taking Bari from the Byzantines. However, the fighting in Bari left Benevento unprotected.  Athanasius II, Duke of Naples, taking advantage of the situation enters Benevento. Aio, however, rushes back to retake Benevento and ravaging the Terra di Lavoro. Within a year the Leo VI (Leo the Wise) reclaims Bari for Byzantium.

888: Charles the fat dies, marking the extinction of Charlemagne's family.

891-892: Aio of Benevento dies. The Byzantines take Benevento, ousting Aio's successor.  The Byzantines expand, taking several Lombard territories. Leo VI sets a formal mechanism of governance in southern Italy centered around Benevento.   All of the reclaimed and newly conquered land is named Longobardia.

895: Byzantines are driven out of  Benevento by the IIIrd Guy of Spoleto; Bari becames the administrative capital of Longobardia.  Byzantium now controls southern Italy below the line from the Gulf of Manfredonia (Apulia) to the Gulf of Policastro.  The area above this line is under Lombard control.

897: Guy of Spoletto is called back North, so he offers Benevento to his brother-in-law Guaimar I of Salerno.  But intra-Lombard struggles results in Guaimar being attack and  blinded. Guy's uncle (his mother's younger brother) "Radelchis the foolish" is given the thrown and rules up to 899.

898: Athanasius II dies. Naples prominance in Southern Italy begins to wane.

January 900: The Beneventan Dynasty comes to an end when Atenolf   I, ruler of Capua, seizes the Beneventan throne. Meanwhile in Salerno Guaimar I (now blind) is succeeded by his son, Guaimar II, who rules Salerno for 46 years, and his son Gisolf I for another 30 years (946-976). Salerno's prosperity surges during this stable period. Salerno and Capua-Benevento become the two political powers to control southern Italy well into the 10th century.

10th Century -

902: The emir of North Africa, Ibrahim II, now in control of all of Sicily, gathers a  North African-Sicilian army  and attacks Calabria in the largest Muslim attack ever against southern Italy.

911: Meanwhile in France ....  The number of Norsemen (Vikings) living  in the Seine Valley increased substantially (as a result of large viking fleets raiding and plundering this area) and now they decided to establish a longterm settlement.  Rollo, chief of these vikings settled in the lower Seine normandy.gif (12721 bytes)valley,  laid siege to Chartres. (Rollo , a Latinised version of Rolf,  was the name given to Gongu-Hrolf, son of Rognvald, Earl of More , a Norwegian province). King  Charles III (Charles the Simple) achieves an accordance with the Vikings and he arranges a meeting with Rollo at St. Clair-sur-Epte (between Paris and Rouen). Rollo was granted Normandy as a Dukedom and the title Count of Rouen in return for his allegiance to Charles III , the acceptance of Christianity, and protection from rogue Vikings.

In a little over a century Normans will pilgrimage to southern  Italy and later many others will follow in the historically less known of two major Norman invasions. (The more famous being the 1066 Battle of Hastings Norman conquest of England led by William the Conquerer. The story of the battle and its origins are depicted in the famous Bayeux Tapestry.)

912: Atenolf I dies, Capua-Benevento is now jointly ruled by his sons Landolf and Atenolf II.

915: As a direct result of the fear produced by the massive Saracen attack of 902, several of the various autonomous states of southern Italy- the Capuans, Beneventans, Salernitans, and Byzantines-  join forces to wipe out the Arab forces encamped on the Garigliano River just south of Gaeta. 

934: Genoa is sacked by the Saracens.

940s: Landolf's son, Landolf II, succeeds as ruler of Capua-Benevento and names his young son as co-ruler; his son will become known as Pandolf Ironhead.

951: By papal invitation Otto I (ruler of Germany; Frank) crosses the Brenner pass, defeats Berengar and  marries Adelaide.

954: Gisolf of Salerno has the body of St. Matthew the Evangelist brought to Salerno. (Later, in the 11th century, the Norman Robert Guiscard builds a cathedral (the Duomo) in honor of St. Matthew.)

962:  The German king Otto I   (Otto the Great) is crowned Holy Roman emperor, reconfirming papal rights to large areas of southern Italy. The Holy Roman Empire begins.

963: Nicephorus II Phocas becomes Byzantine emperor at Constantinople.

967: Otto the great assigns Pandolf Ironhead as emperor of Capua-Bentevento and duke of Spoleto.

968-969: Otto I   and Pandolf Ironhead wage a campaign to take Byzantium lands in southern Italy.  Their campaign not only fails to take new lands but also leads to the loss of existing land, such as Avellino, to Byzantium. Pandolf Ironhead is captured and help prisoner in Constantinople. When  Nicephorus is assassinated in 969, Pandolf is released.

972: Otto II takes a Byzantine wife, Theophano, signifying amity between the Ottonian (German) and Byzantine (Greek) empires.  However, Otto claimed his right to all Byzantine lands as part of his wifes dowry leading to a renewed war between the two empires.

973: Otto the great dies, plunging southern Italy into disarray. The boundary between northern and southern Italy begins to crumble  with a coup in Salerno. Although ousted from the thrown Gisolf reclaimed his thrown with the help of Pandolf Ironhead.

977: Gisolf of Salerno dies. Pandolf Ironhead and his young son become co-rulers of Salerno as well as Capua, Benevento, and Spoleto- a new, albeit shortlived , Lombard Empire emerges.

981: Pandolf Ironhead dies ending the Landolf-Pandolf dynasty; Amalfi's Duke Manso III gains control of  Salerno and survives Otto II's attempted   intervention.

982: Otto II suffers a devastating defeat  by the Saracens near Stilo in Calabria (two of Pandolf Ironhead's sons die in the battle): Otto II dies in Rome the following year. (He is the only German emperor buried in Rome).

983: Another coup in Salerno makes a Spoleton  Prince of Salerno.   Descendents of the Prince,  adopting the names of the Pandolf dynasty (Guaimar, Gisolf)  rule Salerno for about 100 years eventually surrendering to the Normans. Guaimar IV (sometimes referred to as the III), for example,  ruled from 999 - 1027, the period when the Normans first became involved in southern Italy.

990: Devastating earthquakes contribute to the eventual  breakup of Capua and Benevento

999: Otto III  sends a force into Capua in an attempt to claim it for a renewed Roman empire- he fails. In the spring Otto III walks barefoot from Rome to St. Michael's shrine in Pulia. En route he stops at Benevento demanding the body of St. Bartholomew (The Beneventans fooled him by giving him another body- that of St. Paulinas of Nola). Otto III's unrelenting harassment of  Capua and Benevento contribute to their continued downfall.

about 1000:  The OTTONIAN dynasty falls. Local insurrections weaken the Saracens' hold on the southern coastal cities, but the Saracens remain strong in Sicily.

(The existence of several autonomous states in southern Italy during the  9th & 10th centuries has been described as an experiment:

" In the last analysis, southern Italy in the ninth and tenth centuries must thus be viewed as a failed experiment. Its autonomous entities, advantageously situated in the midst of an increasingly flourishing Mediterranean world, had themselves flourished for a time, and made some contributions toward the future.  But in the end they were unable to stand against the trend toward large, centralized states. " (Kreutz, 1991, p. 158))


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Last updated: March 23, 2000