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2nd millennium A.D.

11th Century- 

1016:  During this time Byzantium (the Greeks) are once again dominating southern Italy; The Greeks, Lombards and Saracens are still often at war with each other. Approximately 40 Norman Knights pilgrimage  to St. Michael's shrine, a cave on the Gargano peninsula in Apulia. While at the shrine they encounter Melus, a Lombard  from Bari dedicated to the cause of Lombard independence. Melus invites the Normans to join forces with the Lombards to fight the Greeks. The Normans return to Normandy to recruit others. The following year an army of Normans arrive at Capua to Join with Melus and his army  (Norwich, 1967).

A steady stream of Norman arrivals to southern Italy continued for many years. Some of these Normans were young knights searching for opportunities and their own land, but many others were most likely professional fighters and adventurers looking for employment as warriors- who the "enemy" was mattered little.  (Often Normans fought against Normans having been employed by opposing sides; when a victor was determined the defeated Normans were usually pardoned by the victorious Normans.)    Is it possible that at least one of these Normon men was a Vigorito (see the etymology of the Vigorito Name)?

1018: At Canne the Lombard and Norman forces under Melus are soundly defeated by the imperial Byzantium army led by Boioannes.  The victory was partly due to a Viking regiment (the Varangian Guard) provided by  Constantinople's emperor, Basil II. Melus escaped and was under the protection of the Western Emperor, Henry II, at Hamberg when he died 2 years later. The Norman leader, Gilbert, was killed at Canne and succeeded by Rainulfo (Rainulf) Drengot. As the number of Normons arriving in southern Italy steadily increased the Normans split up, various bands joining forces with the various autonomous groups in southern Italy that were often fighting each other- e.g., Salerno (ruled by Guaimar),  Capua (ruled by Pandolf), Naples (ruled by Sergius), Amalfi, or Gaeta.

During this time several of the autonomous states (Capua, Salerno, and even the great monastery at Monte Cassino) begin to shift their loyalty away from the Western German emperor  and Papal authority and toward Byzantium.

1021: Western Emperor Henry II, at the urging of Pope Benedict, sends forces to Capua   to arrest Pandolf (and replace him with the Count of Teano) and to  Mont Cassino to arrest the Abbot Atenulf. The latter attempts an escape to Constantinople but drowns at sea; the former was arrested and imprisoned but later released. King Henry's men also attack the Byzantine town of Troia in Apulia, but failed.

1024: King Henry II dies and is buried in Bamberg Cathedral in Germany. He is succeeded by a distant cousin Conrad II who releases the prisoner Pandolf and leaves him free to return to Italy. Pandolf sieges Capua with an army built with the aide of  Gaimar of Salerno,  the Norman Rainulfo, and a small contingent of Boioannes' Byzantine army.

1026: The Count of Teano  surrenders Capua to Pandolf's army and escapes to Naples under the protection of Duke Sergius IV.

1027: Guaimar of Salerno dies.  His wife, Pandolf's sister,  assumes the regency for her young son (who becomes Guaimar V), essentially giving Pandolf control over Salerno.

1028: Pandolf attacks and conquers Naples.  Pandolf's power was now growing, gaining control of  Capua, Naples, and Salerno. (At this time the Byzantine Empire appears to have lost interst in this area of southern Italy).

1029:  The Norman Rainulfo, not pleased with the growing power of  Pandolf, forms an alliance with Duke Sergius of  Naples and the Duke of Gaeta.  Together they oust Pandolf from Naples and Sergius returns to power.

1030: Duke Sergius of Naples gives the town and territory of Aversa (between Capua and Naples) to Rainulfo as payment for services fighting against Pandolf. Rainulfo later marries the sister of Sergius, the widow of the Duke of Gaeta. Aversa, therfore, became the first land on Italian soil that legally belonged to Normans.

" From the moment the Normans become landowners their whole atitude begins to change - not only towards their neighbours but towards the country itself. Italy is no longer just a battlefield and a bran-tub, no longer a land to be plundered and despoiled; but one to be appropriated, developed and enriched. It is, in fact, their home."(John J. Norwich, 1967, p. 37)

1034: Rainulfo's wife, the sister of Duke Sergius, dies. Pandolf offers his niece as his new bride and Rainulfo accepts beginning an alliance with Pandolf.

1035: As a result of Rainulfo's repeated appeals to Normandy for reinforcements, the first 3 of 12 sons of Tancred of Hauteville leave for Aversa. (Hauteville-la-Guichard was a small village in Normandy France). The 3 sons were William, Drogo, and Humphrey.

1038: Pandolf once again starts trouble in Salerno and Monte Cassino.  Guaimar of Salerno appeals to Conrad II (Western Emperor) for help against Pandolf. Although Pandolf had several Normans remain loyal to him, Rainulfo allied with Guaimar and Conrad II. Pandolf was successfully ousted from southern Italy and Guaimar was given the Cupuan throne.  To reward Rainulfo the Norman,  King Conrad granted him the title of Nobility.

"... [Rainulfo] was now not only a major landowner, a local aristrocrat and one of the most powerful military leaders in Italy; he was also a member of the imperial nobility, possessor of rights and a title which could be withdrawn from him only by the Emperor himself.  Another vital and essential step had been taken towards his by now clearly-beheld objective- the Norman domination of the South." (John J. Norwich, 1967, p. 43)

1049: Another Pandolf, ruler of Capua, dies leaving Capua vulnerable to Normans.   In less than a decade Capua is taken by the Norman, Richard of Aversa ( Aversa was a minor town between Naples and Capua).

1071: One of these brothers,   ROBERT GUISCARD conquers Calabria and his successors expel the Saracens and Byzantines and control Apulia and Campania. Norman territories remain a fief of the papacy.

1072: Robert Guiscard's younger brother, ROGER, conquers Muslim Palermo,Sicily from the Saracens .

1075-1080: The monk Amatus living  at Monte Cassino pens a history of the Normans in southern Italy.

1077: Salerno, southern Ialy's last Lombard enclave falls to the Normans. Pope GREGORY VII humbles the Holy Roman Emperor HENRY IV at Canossa during the Investiture Controversy.

12th  Century 

1100 : Individual Italian cities begin to assert their autonomy in the North. FLORENCE, GENOA, PISA, MILAN, and VENICE and other cities became powerful and independent city-states. These COMMUNES hasten the end of feudalism. Violent battles occur between these communes -- the best known were the battles between the GUELPHS (supporters of the pope) and GHIBELLINES (supporters of the emperors).

1130: Roger Guiscard's son, Roger II, unites the territories won by his father (Sicily) and uncle (southern Italy) to form the Kingdom of Sicily.

1131: The Duchy of Amalfi surrenders to Roger II.

1139: Naples, which managed to remain independent of Lombard and Norman rule for so long also surrenders to the Normans.

1152: Frederick I  of Hohenstaufen (known as Barbarossa- "red-headed stranger") is elected Holy Roman Emperor. He  crosses the alps to arrive in Italy in 1154.

1162: The destruction of Milan (Barbarossa's attempt to crush the republican movement) eventually leads to the formation of the Lombard league (an alliance of northern cities).

1176: Supported by Pope ALEXANDER III  the Lombard League defeat the German knights of Emperor FREDERICK I (Barbarossa; r. 1152-90) of the HOHENSTAUFEN dynasty to impose imperial authority over them.

1183: Frederick I  Barbarossa makes peace with many of the rebellious Lombard cities.

1186: Frederick I makes his last appearance in Italy to marry his son Henry to the Norman, Constance.

1189: William II (grandson of Roger II) leaves no legitimate male heir. Passage of the succession to a female marks the end of Norman rule. Emperor Frederick I Barberossa leaves for Jerusalem on the III crusade (along with King Phillip II of France, and Richard 'the Lionheart' of England). In 1190 within a few days march of Antioch, Emperor Barbarossa accidentally drowns in the river Gorlu.

1194: Frederick II (half Norman) is the new ruler of Germany and Italy.   He succeeds in uniting the thrones of Germany and Norman Sicily. Frederick establishes one of the wealthiest and most powerful states in Europe, centering on his brilliant court at PALERMO, with its great cultural innovations.

13th Century

1220: Frederick II is crowned King in Rome. He fights with several popes and is excommunicated twice.  His death marks the decline of Imperial rule in Italy.

1224: The University of Naples is founded by Frederick II.

1250: While Frederick II's  legitimate son, Conrad,  rules Germany, his illegitimate son, Manfred, begins his rule of Italy. 

1262: French enter Italy. As a result of papal-imperial conflict Charles of Anjou, brother of King Louis IX of France, is invited by the pope to enter and conquer Sicily.

1266: Manfred is killed in battle at Benevento by Charles of Anjou of France (founder of the ANGEVIN dynasty of Naples).

1268: The son of Conrad, Conradin, is captured and beheaded in Naples.  Charles of Anjou  becomes CHARLES I, king of Naples and Sicily. Under French rule feudalism is introduced to the south at a time when it was weakening elsewhere.

1282: A successful revolt against French feudalism (the SICILIAN VESPERS) results in the separation of Sicily from the mainland. PETER III of Aragon is made king of Sicily. The former Norman domains on the mainland remain under Angevin rule (the Kingdom of Naples). (In the 15th century both kingdoms are conquered by the Spanish. They are reunited under the title Kingdom of the TWO SICILIES.)

14th Century- 

1300:  The papacy and the Holy Roman Empire turned their attention away from Italy. The emperors concentrated on German affairs while the popes tried to assert their authority in Europe. The papacy was situated outside Italy--at Avignon, in southern France.

(The RENAISSANCE emerges after the rediscovery of ancient Greek and Latin writings, giving rise to the humanist attitudes and ideas. The communal governments of the city-states fell under the rule of dictators called signori, who curbed their factionalism and became hereditary rulers. The VISCONTI family rise to power in the 13th century Milan and The SFORZA family rises to power in the mid-15th . The MEDICI family seize control of Florence. The signori become principi, with royal titles.)

15th Century -

1494: CHARLES VIII of France invade Italy (thus foreign occupation of Italy continues until the 19th century.)



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Last updated: March 23, 2000