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