Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book III, lines 73-166

But the favourable terms of the peace which had been concluded did not please the latter’s stepsons, [75] unable as they were to protect the Greek armies. They decided that Romanus should not return to the imperial throne.[1] When Diogenes learned that they had become his enemies, he prepared to wage civil war [80] against them, trusting in the help of the Persians. Seeing that they were unable to resist him, his stepsons tried to trick him through a treacherous peace. They sent to him carrying messages of peace twelve bishops, who were themselves ignorant of the deception, as well as Joscelyn[2], [85] for whom Romanus had many times showed his love and whom he had no hesitation in trusting as a friend. Romanus believed Joscelyn and the bishops, being reassured when they swore an oath and gave him the assurances which he sought. He believed, in vain, that he would return as emperor; however, [90] as soon as he had come to Heraclea he was seized and then blinded. Thus it was that this man of noble repute who had been emperor became a monk.[3]

The two brothers were now safe and held the reins of the empire in peace.[4] Their tyranny did not however remain unpunished. For Romanus’ son took as his allies the Armenians and Persians and deprived the empire of its eastern lands, which he ravaged with fire and sword. [100] From this time onwards the wicked Persian race began to invade the Roman Empire, slaughtering and robbing.[5] The land could not indeed have remained until now subject to imperial rule had not the Gallic race, more warlike and powerful than any other people, and encouraged by divine command, defeated the enemy and given it back its freedom. Inspired by God they wanted to open the roads to the Holy Sepulchre, [105] previously and for a long time blocked. The wretched men by whose advice this great man had been blinded were arrested, expelled from the court and made to submit to well-merited retribution. They ordered that those who had formerly punished the innocent [110] should themselves be punished for their guilt with a variety of torments.

An ambassador from Bari was sent to Constantinople and begged the emperor to aid its wretched citizens. On his order pirate ships were suitably prepared to transport grain [115] and arms [also] by which the fleet could be protected during the voyage to the city. (Hence the sailors would be freed from fear and the city from want). The emperor ordered that Joscelyn be put in command of this fleet. He had fled from Italy in fear of the duke, who hated him because he had conspired against him. [120] Joscelyn came in haste with his warships to encourage the tremulous citizens. He was already close to the city, hoping to enter it in safety during the night, when suddenly Robert’s fleet encountered the Greek fleet which had come to strengthen his enemies. [125] The duke’s ships willingly entered on a night action, thinking that this was more favourable to them than to the enemy since they knew these waters while their opponents did not. After a great deal of effort Joscelyn’s ship was defeated and captured, and he himself brought prisoner before the duke. [130] Another Greek ship was sunk, the rest just managed to escape.[6]

The Norman race had up to this point known nothing of naval warfare. But by thus returning victorious they very much enhanced their leader’s confidence, for he knew that the Greeks had been unable to carry enough help to the citizens of the town to hinder the siege. [135] At the same time, he greatly rejoiced at the novelty of this naval victory, hoping in consequence that he and the Normans might in future engage in battle at sea with more hope of success. [140] Joscelyn led an unhappy life shut up in prison for a long time; he went through much travail and his sufferings continued until the end of his life.

The town underwent its third year of siege. Finally it was overcome, worn down by many woes, but above all by hunger.[7] The leading citizen of the town was at this time Argyritzos.[8] [145] When the duke convinced him that the city must be surrendered, he did not [then] face a difficult task in overcoming the rest of its inhabitants, for the leading men were able to influence the minds of the lesser to persuade them to do as they wanted. Robert showed kindness and favour to the citizens [150] and since he always cherished those whom he had made his subjects, he himself was loved by all of them[9]. The duke returned to the townspeople most of what had been taken from them by force or ruse: [155] fields, estates and farms. He restored what had been lost, and made no impositions on the citizens, nor did he permit others to inflict burdens upon them. He now gave peace and freedom to those who had been accustomed to pay tribute to the Normans of the surrounding areas. He pitied the white hair of Stephan [160] and was unwilling to treat him as an enemy; rather he forgot that the latter had tried to have him murdered and was anxious to treat him kindly. To the surprise of many of the Greeks, when he was captured along with Bari the duke left him free and unpunished, although under surveillance. After remaining in the city for some days the conqueror ordered the Bariots to prepare arms and supplies, and to follow him to wherever they saw him go. [165] He [then] led them with his own troops to the city of Reggio.[10]


[1] Despite the defeat, Byzantine casualties were apparently relatively low. Ducas had escaped with no casualties and quickly marched back to Constantinople where he led a coup against Romanus. Bryennius also lost few men in the rout of his wing. Since the battle had not occurred until after nightfall, the Turks did not pursue the fleeing Byzantines, which probably saved most of them. The Turks did not even recapture Manzikert itself at this point. The Byzantine army regrouped and marched to Dokeia, where they were joined by Romanus when he was released a week later.

[2] Joscelyn was an important figure at Romanus’ court but was captured by Guiscard at Bari in February 1071. For him to have played a role in the betrayal of Diogenes, he must have been freed by Guiscard possibly with the Greek prisoners freed after the fall of Palermo in 1072. William of Apulia is the only source to mention his treachery.

[3] Once the capture of Diogenes was known in Constantinople, he was deposed, Eudocia exiled and Muchael VII proclaimed emperor. On being freed, Diogenes sought to reclaim the empire and assembled a strong army in Armenia including many of the Normans (but not Robert Crispin) and moved into Cappadocia before retreating to Cilicia, with the Armenian Chatchatour, catepan of Antioch in the autumn of 1072 to await support from Alp Arslan. Besieged in Adana, he surrrendered to Andronicus Ducas on good terms but was betrayed at Heraclea and blinded. He died soon after as a result.

[4] Michael VII was himself deposed in 1078 becoming a monk and then a bishop; John Ducas was exiled in 1073 becoming a monk.

[5] The usurpation of Andronicus Ducas also politically destabilised the empire and it was difficult to organise a resistance to the Turkish migrations that followed Manzikert. Within the next few decades, almost all of Asia Minor was overrun by the Seljuks.

[6] Malaterra attributed the victory and the capture of Joscelyn to Roger.

[7] By August 1068, Robert Guiscard was finally ready to move against Byzantine Apulia and to begin his most ambitious military operation: the siege of Bari. This was a difficult operation and could only be attempted when Robert had the full support of his Norman vassals. Count Roger also temporarily abandoned his conquest of Sicily to take part in the later stages of the attack on the city. Bari was a trading city with access to the sea for reinforcements and supplies from the Byzantine Empire and was strongly defended on the landward side. However, the Normans were by this time well versed in siege warfare. Bari was not prepared to surrender as, for example Reggio had been in 1060. Bari proved to be a formidable obstacle though the timing of Robert’s attack was fortuitous. By 1068, the situation on the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire was critical. Turkish raids had penetrated into Asia Minor and the emperor Romanus IV was determined to do something about this. The situation in Byzantine Italy was severe but it was not seen as a major priority in Constantinople. Even so, the siege of Bari lasted almost three years. Robert recruited ships and sailors from Calabria to blockade the town from the sea and he also was highly successful in exploiting divisions within Bari itself. The Byzantines made two attempts to break the blockade: in 1068 they were partially successful bringing in supplies so prolonging the siege but in 1071 the Byzantine fleet was intercepted from count Roger with ships from Sicily and defeated. The loss of this supply fleet led to Bari’s surrender on 15th April 1071. Although the city was near to starvation, Robert offered generous terms returning land seized from its inhabitants outside the walls, freeing it from tribute that had previously been paid to the Normans and refraining from imposing any new demands. It seems that the local patriciate remained largely in control of the city. Robert almost certainly had no choice but to do this. Bari was a large and prosperous town with a diversified economy that he needed to remain prosperous; coercion was not really a viable economic or political option.

[8] Argyritzos was the leader of the pro-Guiscard faction in Bari. Helped by the shortage of food, he was able to persuade the city to surrender on 15th April 1071.

[9] There is some disagreement among historians about the significance of the generous terms offered to Bari. Gay, Jules, L’Italie meridionale a l’empire byzantin depuis l’avènement de Basile Ier jusqu’a la prise de Bari par les Normandes, Paris, 1904 p. 538 argues persuasively that Guiscard sought to protect Bari against the advances of Normans already established in the area while Chalandon, F., Histoire de la domination normande en Italie et en Sicile, Paris, 1907, vol. I, p. 189 and Delarc, O., Les Normandes en Italie depuis les premières invasions jusqu’ l’avènement de S. Grégorie VII, Paris, 1883, p. 454 prefer the explanation that the tribute Bari paid to Constantinople was redistributed among the Normans.

[10] Guiscard left Bari in May 1071 and stayed in Otranto in June and July. Amatus said that he sent his fleet while he travelled by land with his cavalry.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book III, lines 1-72

In the meanwhile Michael ruled the Roman Empire together with his brother Constantine.[1]. Their rule was disastrous for the Greeks for they neglected warlike matters, preferring always to lead a life of idleness. [5] They were made prisoners by the deceitful charms of self-indulgence and a shameful laziness disgraced them. At this time the Christian people who inhabited the delightful lands of the Roman Empire fled in terror from the Turks who came from the east. [10] A large number died under the swords of the evil Turks, all the cities were taken and the conquered people served and paid tribute to them. These cowardly rulers[2] sent no troops out against them, and in consequence, by the decree of the Senate[3], their mother was married off to a distinguished warrior, [15] Romanus, [although] she, Eudocia, loved him rather for his courage than for his birth. He was called Diogenes because he had a forked beard.

On undertaking the government he left leisure to his stepsons and concerned himself with warlike matters, setting out to do battle with the Persians [20] who were raiding the unfortunate Greeks. The fortunes of this war varied; often he was the victor and put the Persians to flight, but the battles were frequently indecisive.[4] Finally he sent out innumerable counts to defend the towns that had surrendered to him as a result of the reputation for valour [25] which he had everywhere acquired. He himself remained in camp with a small number of his best troops.[5] Suddenly a huge force of Persians, led by their king, surrounded him and attempted to break into the camp. In their efforts to seize this they launched some massive assaults. The first and second of these were repulsed. [30] Eventually Romanus became anxious, realising that the camp was indefensible, and sensibly took steps, not for his own safety, but to save the lives of his men, whom he [35] saw to be gravely weakened both by the battle and by hunger. He ordered whatever money there was, and all the precious vestments and gold or silver ornaments to be scattered about the camp [40] so that if the Turks should manage to force their way in they might, on seeing these, break off the pursuit of the Greeks. The valuables were collected by the servants who had fled from the fighting - then the Greeks were forced to pass an unhappy and sleepless night.[6] At dawn the huge Persian army came and surrounded the camp. [45] Spears flew from all sides and a host of arrows filled the air. The Greeks were unable to resist, and the Turks broke down the defences and forced their way in. But more intent on plunder than cutting down the [enemy] soldiers the Persians allowed many of them to escape.[7]

[50] The lord of the Greeks was recognisable by the golden eagle which was fixed to his hauberk and shone more than other armour. He defended himself unceasingly, striking down the enemy spears with his sword. A flying arrow wounded an unprotected limb [55] and so he was finally captured, as were some of his men. After plundering the Romans’ camp the Persians led him to their own camp and gave him the seat of honour, next to their king. The latter asked him what would have happened if he had been Romanus’ prisoner. [60] The latter replied that, ‘If you had been at my mercy or that of my men I would have ordered you to be beheaded or hanged from a gallows’. The other said that he would never commit such an evil deed, but rather he wished henceforth to establish the lasting peace [65] that his ambassadors had already often requested, and that he would give his daughter to be baptised and married to the emperor’s son to ensure that the peace was more secure.[8] They concluded a treaty[9] with these conditions, and then the ruler of the Persians sent Romanus home loaded with gifts, and set all the men who had been captured free. [70] He honourably accompanied them for some distance and then gave the emperor permission to depart.[10]


[1] Michael VII Ducas or Parapinakes, was the eldest son of Constantine X Ducas and Eudocia Macrembolitissa. After a joint reign as Byzantine emperor with his brothers Andronicus and Constantine (sometimes numbered XI, but not to be confused with the actual Constantine XI) from 1067 to 1071, joined by the usurper Romanus IV in 1068, he was made sole emperor in 1071 through his uncle John Ducas after the defeat of Romanus IV by Alp Arslan. The feebleness of Michael, whose chief interest lay in trifling academic pursuits, and the avarice of his ministers, was disastrous to the empire. As the result of anarchy in the army, the Byzantines lost Bari, their last possession in Italy, to the Normans in 1071, and were forced to cede a large strip of Asia Minor which they were unable to defend against the Seljuk Turks (1074).

[2] Constantine X Ducas left three children: Constantine, Andronius and Michael. His lack of interest resulted in Eudocia, their mother playing a major role in their upbringing. During the 1060s, the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan allowed his Turkish allies to migrate towards Armenia and Asia Minor, where they sacked cities and plundered farmland. In 1064, they destroyed the Armenian capital at Ani. Contemporaries and later historians such as Michel Attaliate held the emperors responsible for this state of affairs.

[3] The senate and the Patriarch considered the gravity of the cituation and married Eudocia to the general Romanus Diogenes, a Cappadocian aristocrat who was young, brave and attractive on 1st January 1068.

[4] Romanus fought campaigns against the Turks in 1068, 1069 and 1070. In 1068, Romanus IV led an expedition against them, but his slow-moving infantry could not catch the speedy Turkish cavalry, although he was able to capture the city of Hierapolis. In 1070, Romanus led an expedition towards Manzikert, a city in eastern Turkey‘s province of Muş, now known as Malazgirt, a Byzantine fortress that had been captured by the Seljuks. He offered a treaty with Arslan: Romanus would give back Hierapolis if Arslan gave up the siege of Edessa. Romanus threatened war if Arslan did not comply, and prepared his troops anyway, expecting the sultan to decline his offer, which he did.

[5] Accompanying Romanus was Andronicus Ducas, an odd choice as Ducas was an old enemy of the emperor. Romanus left his best general, Nicephorus Botaniates, at home, suspecting his loyalties (although he was certainly more loyal than Ducas). The army consisted of about 5000 Byzantine troops from the western provinces, and probably about the same number from the eastern provinces; 500 French mercenaries under Roussel de Bailleul; some Turkish, Bulgarian, and Pecheneg mercenaries; infantry under the duke of Antioch; a contingent of Armenian troops; and some (but not all) of the Varangian Guard. Turkish sources give the number of troops to be closer to 200,000. Other sources estimate them to be around 40,000. The march across Asia Minor was long and difficult, the Byzantine population also suffered some plundering by Romanus’ German mercenaries, whom he was forced to dismiss. The expedition first rested at Sebasteia on the Halys, and reached Theodosopolis in June 1071. There, some of his generals suggested continuing the march into Seljuk territory and catching Arslan before he was ready. Some of the other generals, including Nicephorus Bryennius, suggested they wait there and fortify their position. Eventually, it was decided to continue the march. Thinking that Alp Arslan was either further away or not coming at all, Romanus marched towards Lake Van expecting to retake Manzikert rather quickly, as well as the nearby fortress of Khliat if possible. However, Arslan was actually in Armenia, with 30 000 cavalry from Aleppo, Mosul, and his other allies. Arslan’s spies knew exactly where Romanus was, while Romanus was completely unaware of his opponent’s movements. Romanus ordered his general John Tarchaneiotes to take some of the Byzantine troops and Varangians and accompany the Pechenegs and French to Khliat, while Romanus and the rest of the army marched to Manzikert. This probably split the forces in half, about 20,000 men each. Although it is unknown precisely what happened to Tarchaneiotes and his half of the army after this, they apparently caught sight of the Seljuks and fled, as they later appeared at Melitene and did not take part in the battle.

[6] William of Apulia is the only source for this stratagem.

[7] Romanus was unaware of the loss of Tarchaneiotes and continued to Manzikert, which he easily captured on August 23rd. The next day, some foraging parties under Bryennius discovered the Seljuk force and were forced to retreat back to Manzikert. The Armenian general Basilaces was sent out with some cavalry, as Romanus did not believe this was Arslan’s full army; the cavalry was destroyed and Basilaces taken prisoner. Romanus drew up his troops into formation and sent the left wing out under Bryennius, who was almost surrounded by the quickly approaching Turks and was forced to retreat once more. The Turks hid among the nearby hills for the night, making it nearly impossible for Romanus to send a counterattack. On August 25th, some of Romanus’ Turkish mercenaries came into contact with their Seljuk relatives and deserted. Romanus then rejected a Seljuk embassy and attempted to recall Tarchaneiotes, who was of course no longer in the area. There were no engagements that day, but on August 26th, the Byzantine army gathered itself into a proper battle formation and began to march on the Turkish positions, with the left wing under Bryennius, the right wing under Theodore Alyates, and the centre under the emperor. Andronicus Ducas led the reserve forces in the rear. The Seljuks were organised into a crescent formation about four kilometres away, with Arslan observing events from a safe distance. Seljuk archers attacked the Byzantines as they drew closer; the centre of their crescent continually moved backwards while the wings moved to surround the Byzantine troops. The Byzantines held off the arrow attacks and captured Arslan’s camp by the end of the afternoon. However, the right and left wings, where the arrows did most of their damage, almost broke up when individual units tried to force the Seljuks into a pitched battle; the Seljuk cavalry simply fled when challenged. With the Seljuks avoiding battle, Romanus was forced to order a withdrawal by the time night fell. However, the right wing misunderstood the order, and Ducas, as an enemy of Romanus, deliberately ignored the emperor and marched back to the camp outside Manzikert, rather than covering the emperor’s retreat. Now that the Byzantines were thoroughly confused, the Seljuks seized the opportunity and attacked. The Byzantine right wing was routed; the left under Bryennius held out a little longer but was also soon routed. Romanus was wounded and taken prisoner when the Seljuks discovered him.

[8] Three sons of Romanus are known: Constantine, from his first marriage died in 1073 and Leo and Nicephorus were sons from his marriage to Eudocia. None of the Greek chroniclers speak of a matrimonial alliance. There may be good reasons for this since Nicephorus led a rebellion against Alexius Comnenus in 1093 or 1094 and in 1095 an imposter claiming to be Constantine, the son of Diogenes led a rebellion with the Coumans. Ten years later, when Bohemond visited France, he was accompanied by a pretender who claimed to be the son of Diogenes: in Orderic Vitalis, book xii but not mentioned in the Vita Ludovici Grossi, chapter ix.

[9] The treaty consisted of the freeing of prisoners, the payment of tribute, an alliance and the ceding of Manzikert, Edessa, Manbig and Antioch to the sultan.

[10] Manzikert came to be seen as a disaster for the Empire; later sources greatly exaggerate the numbers of troops and the numbers of casualties. Byzantine historians often looked back and lament the ‘disaster’ of that day, pinpointing it as the moment the decline of the Empire began. It was not, however, an immediate disaster; most units survived intact and were fighting in the Balkans or elsewhere in Asia Minor within a few months. On the other hand, the defeat showed the Seljuks that the Byzantines were not invincible. Nevertheless, in hindsight historians are practically unanimous in dating the decline of Byzantine fortunes to this battle. It is also considered one of the root causes for the later Crusades: the West saw Manzikert as a signal that Byzantium was no longer capable of being the protector of Eastern Christianity.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book III, commentary

Book III covers the decade between 1068 and 1078. William of Apulia interrupts his narrative of the siege of Bari with a resumé of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Romanus IV Diogenes and the battle of Manziket in 1071.[1] His account shows a detailed reading of contemporary Byzantine sources. He includes details of the role of the Norman Joscelyn in the capture of Romanus by the ambassador of John Ducas and of the alliance between Romanus and the Turks and Armenians (III: 94-99). The narrative then returns to the siege of Bari and its eventual surrender in 1071 (III: 111-162).

In his account of the expedition to Sicily and the siege of Palmermo in 1073 (III: 163-343), William of Apulia provides detail of the fighting (III: 215-295), the participation of prisoners from Bari (III: 163, 187 and 322), the attempt by a Muslim fleet from Africa to assist the Arabs in Sicily (III: 225-228) and the installation of a Norman emir in Palermo (III: 342). What is neglected is the role played by count Roger, Guiscard’s brother in this campaign and his central role in the taking of the city, something that Geoffrey Malaterra considers in far more detail.

The Gesta is a crucial source for the rebellion by Normans against Guiscard in 1073 and especially 1078 (III: 354-411). Neither Amatus nor Malaterra describe events in Calabria or the rebellion in 1071 during the siege of Palermo. William provides several possible reasons for discontent against Guiscard’s rule especially the position of Richard, the young son of Geoffrey of Tarento that led to the revolt of Peter II of Trani in 1073. For the 1078 rebellion, William is the principal source especially as Amatus’ narrative ends in May 1078 and Malaterra makes only a few comments on Calabrian affairs (III: 509-687). He alone mentions that Baldwin and Henry de Monte Santa’Angelo were among the conspirators who rebelled against Roger Borsa and that Abelard went into exile in Greece under Alexius Comnenus. He deals with the duplicity of Argyritzos who first helped Guiscard capture Bari in 1071 only to betray him and deliver it to Abelard. His account of the siege of Salerno in 1076 roughly parallels that of Amatus though it is likely that the two sources were independent of each other.


[1] Mathieu, M., ‘Une source négligée de la batille de Mantzikert: Les Gesta Roberti Wiscardi de Guillaume d’Apulia’, Byzantion, vol. xx, (1950), pp. 89-103 considers this issue.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book II, lines 420-575

As his reputation for power and bravery grew, he sent envoys who carried his words to the excellent Gisulf, son of Guaimar, requesting marriage with his noble sister, [420] for he then lacked a spouse, having repudiated his first wife because of consanguinity.[1] From her had been born Bohemond, a mighty offspring, who was later to become powerful and be distinguished for his courage. To begin with Gisulf disdained Robert’s message, [425] not that he could marry his sister to a greater or nobler man, but because the Gauls seemed to him a race fierce and barbarous, cruel and inhuman in mind, and the repudiation of his first wife imposed a break before one gave a second! [430] Finally the prince assented, and gave his elder sister in marriage to you, Duke Robert. She was called Sichelgaita[2], and the younger, Gaitelgrima. Gaitelgrima afterwards married his nephew Jordan, the Prince of Capua[3], [435] who equalled in his virtues both the duke and his father. A marriage of such grandeur much augmented Robert’s noble reputation, and people who had previously had to be constrained to serve him now rendered to him the obedience due to his ancestors. [440] For the Lombard people knew that Italy had been subject to his wife’s grandfathers and great-grandfathers. She gave him three sons and five daughters[4], these children of both sexes will in the future distinguish themselves.[5]

[445] Robert’s glory, which had been so greatly increased, began to invite not a little envy, where there should instead have been praise. His virtues were envied by those elected counts by the people[6], who numbered twice six, and they wickedly conspired together to murder him when they could find a suitable opportunity. [450] The principal authors of these conspiracies were Geoffrey[7], Joscelyn[8] and Abelard son of Humphrey[9], who sought his father’s heritage[10]. [455] The duke was informed of this plot made by the counts and declared war - he was mightily enraged against them. Some he captured, others he exiled, and on some he inflicted various bodily punishments. Fearing his anger Joscelyn fled to the Greeks. Geoffrey fled in stupefaction to take refuge in the castrum of Montepeloso. [460] Unable to take this fortress by force of arms, the duke captured it by a trick; he corrupted by his blandishments the fortress’s custodian, Godfrey, giving him bribes and promising him more, including a fortress more powerful than the one he had. [465] The lordship of Montepeloso did not belong to Godfrey alone; he had conceded half of it to Geoffrey. But the duke had promised him full lordship over a nobler fortress, Uggiano. Desiring to rule alone over this, he advised Robert to raise the siege and feign a retreat; [470] but as soon as he knew Geoffrey to be absent to return and he would enter the fortress in safety with the keys which he had been given. Then he would confer Uggiano upon him. Thus Godfrey handed over this fortress to him by a trick, and so he received Uggiano, but who would trust him thereafter? [475] All the people of Italy called him traitor. So the astute and prudent duke would often conquer by stratagem what he could not overcome by force of arms.

His enemies entirely subdued and all their fortresses captured[11], he prepared to besiege the people of Bari.[12] [480] There was no city in Apulia that exceeded the affluence of Bari. He besieged it, wealthy and strongly-defended, that by overcoming the rulers of so great a city he might therefore terrify and subject the lesser towns, for of all the cities along the Apulian coast Bari was the greatest. [485] The duke furnished his camp with soldiers and filled the sea with ships brought by the Calabrians. The citizens begged the help of the holy empire; those who were sworn [to help them?] along with the citizens sent envoys there, they all jointly implored imperial assistance. [490] The duke ordered the citizens to hand over to him the house of Argyrus[13]. Since he knew that it was higher than the neighbouring houses, Robert hoped that by obtaining it and from its elevation he might control the whole city. The Bariots made a disparaging response to the duke.

[495] He attacked the city bravely. The inhabitants, by no means reluctant to fight it out, resisted valiantly. He carefully prepared mantlets by the gates under the protection of which he placed armed men in ambush; he prepared a wooden tower to overtop the walls, [500] on each side of which he placed stone-throwers, along with every sort of siege engine which might knock down the walls. Nevertheless the citizens continued to defend their city, nor did they simply remain inside their defences, but went outside the walls to fight the duke. [505] They put his soldiers to flight and their blows cast them down. As is the custom in war, they made the enemy flee and [in turn] fled from the enemy, attacked and were attacked and returning to the fray struck out and were struck. Fighting like two wild boars with their projecting tusks, they covered one another with the saliva flowing from their mouths, [510] sharpening their tusks to inflict deeper wounds, each striking sharp and heavy blows on the other’s body, now being injured in the foot, now in the side, both resisting fiercely and neither willing to give way, until eventually one of the boars, tired, wounded and crying out, [515] shows that it wants to flee and retires defeated.

The Normans charged fiercely and no less fiercely did the citizens resist. Various machines were used against the walls, to knock them down and open up a breach, since entry was impossible along the narrow causeway, with sea on both sides (Bari is not an island). [520] It was on this flank that the duke had planted his tents. On the other side he filled the sea with ships, to prevent the Bariot ships leaving. He built a harbour for his ships, [525] and a bridge on which a tower was placed, so that it was impossible for the inhabitants to make a sortie. The Norman fleet kept the harbour safe. However the citizens of Bari captured the tower and demolished most of the maritime bridge. [530] The Bariots protected their city by land and sea. Afterwards, when Robert despaired of taking the walls by assault, he started to make extravagant promises to the nobles of the place, who formed the most prominent and [535] powerful party in the city. He felt that once he had won over the more important men, he would be able also to sway the lesser with promises and bribes. He also often made threats, to strike terror into the citizens, working in every possible way to secure the surrender of the city which he so greatly desired to capture.

[540] A rumour arose that Joscelyn was sailing to the help of the city with an imperial fleet. The cunning duke sent out scouts to capture him. Stephen, called Pateranos[14], [545] had been appointed governor by imperial edict, a loyal and free-spending man, worthy to be praised in every way except that he tried to have the duke murdered. There was in Bari a knight from foreign parts [550] on whom the duke had previously inflicted a grave affront, a fickle man, daring and savage, ready for every evil. Stephen ordered him to trick his way into the duke’s camp, catch the duke by surprise at night and stab him to death. He promised him a great deal of gold if he should kill the duke. [555] Anxious for the reward and remembering the injury he had received, the knight went at night, inspected the camp thoroughly, and seeing nothing to hinder him, reached Duke Robert’s quarters, which had been roofed with thatch and walled with branches to be protected from the winter’s cold. [560] It was evening and the duke was at dinner. He saw the chair on which the duke was sitting down to eat his dinner, and parting the fronds he flung his spear towards him. But Robert, feeling an abundance of phlegm in his mouth, had ducked his head under the table. [565] The spear’s target was empty, and the blow it struck was fruitless. The knight raced away. Rumour of the duke’s death spread throughout the city. The citizens rejoiced and the noise of the people’s celebrations rose to the heavens. But while they were shouting the duke arrived, [570] demonstrating that he was safe and well, and he shouted to the citizens that their carolling was in vain. As his voice rang out, the noise died down and his words put an end to their rejoicing!


[1] This should not be ignored as the reason for the repudiation though one may rather cynically suggest that political considerations also played a part in Robert’s decision. Amatus suggested (a little time afterwards) that Robert had become increasingly conscious of the sinfulness of the union. It is also possible that the clerical reform movement, established in the mid-1040s, was making some headway in southern Italy especially in its objective of improving the morality of the laity. The enforcement of Church’s rules on marriage was part of this process. Despite this, Alberada and Guiscard remained on relatively good terms and their son Bohemond was later to join his father in the attacks on the Byzantine Empire.

[2] Useful material on Sichelgaita includes: Eads, Valerie, ‘Sichelgaita of Salerno: Amazon or Trophy Wife?’, Journal of Medieval Military History, vol. 3, (2005), Skinner, Patricia, ‘‘Halt! Be Men!’: Sikelgaita of Salerno, Gender and the Norman Conquest of Southern Italy’, in Stafford, Pauline and Mulder-Baker, Anneke B., (eds.), Gendering the Middle Ages, (Basil Blackwell), 2001, pp. 112-135. Apicella, Dorotea Memoli, Sichelgaita tra longobardi e normanni, Salerno, 1997 is a creative combination of invention and evidence.

[3] On his death on 5th April 1078, Jordan I of Capua left a widow and three young children.

[4] The three sons were Roger Borsa, Guy and Robert; Chalandon counted seven daughters rather than William of Apulia’s five.

[5] The final legitimisation of both Richard of Capua and Robert Guiscard came with their recognition by the Papacy. In the latter months of 1058 Robert married Sichelgaita, the sister of Gisulf II of Salerno. The marriage was politically expedient and provided a degree of acceptance in the eyes of the Lombards as well as the Normans. It benefited Salerno as Robert now provided protection against the aggression of Richard of Capua on the northern borders of the principality. What made Guiscard’s marriage different from previous Lombard-Norman marriages was that he was the first to marry a legitimate daughter of an actual prince whose family had ruled Salerno since 983. When he eventually conquered Salerno in 1076, this gave him and more especially Roger Borsa, his son by Sichelgaita a claim to rule they would otherwise not have had.

[6] Advances were made in Apulia by other Norman lords in the early 1060s. In 1063, Godfrey, a son of count Peter of Andria (one of the ‘sons of Amicus’ kin-group) captured Taranto, one of the main Apulian ports. The following year, the duke’s nephew Robert of Montescaglioso took Matera and the nearby town of Montepeloso. These victories ended the Byzantine presence on the Apulia-Lucania border. At the other end of Apulia, Robert’s brother Geoffrey and after his death his son Robert (who became known as the count of Loritello) pushed northwards across the Biferno and Trigno rivers into the Abruzzi. By 1064, Robert’s attacks had begun to destabilise the lands of the abbey of St Clement of Casauria in the Percara valley. Guiscard had appeared briefly in the area to help his brother in 1060-61 but after this the success of the other Normans in Apulia were carried out independently of the duke. Robert’s brother William and his allies attacked the principality of Salerno and in 1067 he was excommunicated, along with Guimund des Moulins and Turgisius of Rota for their attacks on the property of the archbishop of Salerno.

[7] Geoffrey of Conversano was the son of Guiscard’s sister.

[8] Joscelyn was one of the family of Amicus and fled to Constantinople after the failure of the conspiracy.

[9] Abelard accused Guiscard of having disinherited him, with some justification. Interestingly, after the rebellion Guisacrd restored some of his land to him.

[10] In 1066, Robert was finally able to devote his attention to Apulia, retaking Vieste and also Otranto. However, the Byzantines were successful in stirring up and financing a widespread revolt among the Normans in Apulia in 1067-1068 including Robert’s nephews Geoffrey of Conversano and Abelard. Guiscard was in Calabria when news of the revolt reached him. Acting quickly, he caught the rebels before they were ready and suppressed the revolt in the autumn of 1067 and spring of 1068.

[11] Besides the Byzantine territories, to the south, Guiscard’s attention was drawn to the north of his territories, next to Campania and the Abruzzes, where he was faced with a most dangerous rival, occasionally an ally but more often an enemy, Richard of Aversa, who, since he had become prince of Capua in 1062 had launched attacks against the Lombard territories coveted by Robert Guiscard. Richard of Aversa strengthened his authority by acquiring the duchy of Atenulf of Gaeta and the county of Aquino in 1063. Richard’s authority in the north of the principality was not finally secured until 1065 despite his alliance with the abbey of Montecassino that profited considerably from the lands of the Lombards who had rebelled in 1063. The Normans did not have everything their own way and there was a brief Byzantine counter offensive in the mid-1060s. Brindisi was recaptured at some point after 1062 and it is probable that Vieste on the Gargano peninsula was retaken in 1065-66. Whether these advances were linked to the arrival of a contingent of the Varangian guard at Bari in 1066 is debatable but the Byzantine revival was short-lived.

[12] By August 1068, Robert Guiscard was finally ready to move against Byzantine Apulia and to begin his most ambitious military operation: the siege of Bari. This was a difficult operation and could only be attempted when Robert had the full support of his Norman vassals. Count Roger also temporarily abandoned his conquest of Sicily to take part in the later stages of the attack on the city. Bari was a trading city with access to the sea for reinforcements and supplies from the Byzantine Empire and was strongly defended on the landward side. However, the Normans were by this time well versed in siege warfare. Bari was not prepared to surrender as, for example Reggio had been in 1060 and proved to be a formidable obstacle though the timing of Robert’s attack was fortuitous. By 1068, the situation on the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire was critical. Turkish raids had penetrated into Asia Minor and the emperor Romanus IV was determined to do something about this. The situation in Byzantine Italy was severe but it was not seen as a major priority in Constantinople. Even so, the siege of Bari lasted almost three years. Robert recruited ships and sailors from Calabria to blockade the town from the sea and he also was highly successful in exploiting divisions within Bari itself. The Byzantines made two attempts to break the blockade: in 1068 they were partially successful bringing in supplies so prolonging the siege but in 1071 the Byzantine fleet was intercepted from count Roger with ships from Sicily and defeated. The loss of this supply fleet led to Bari’s surrender on 16th April 1071. Although the city was near to starvation, Robert offered generous terms returning land seized from its inhabitants outside the walls, freeing it from tribute that had previously been paid to the Normans and refraining from imposing any new demands. It seems that the local patriciate remained largely in control of the city. Robert almost certainly had no choice but to do this. Bari was a large and prosperous town with a diversified economy that he needed to remain prosperous; coercion was not really a viable economic or political option.

[13] No other contemporary source mentioned this.

[14] Stephen Patrianos had already been to Bari in 1069 but this expedition was hit by a storm off Monopoli; twelve ships were lost and the remainder fell into Norman hands.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book II, lines 265-420

The news of this great Norman victory greatly alarmed Argyrus, [270] for he realised that neither trickery nor fighting could accomplish what the emperor had ordered him to do, to persuade or force the Franks to leave Italy. The forces he had at his disposal were not large enough to drive them out by force, nor was Argyrus able to persuade them to seek other lands through promises or influence them through bribes. [275] Thinking on this, he left the city of Bari and sailed off to his lord. On the latter’s order he recounted how this fierce people had responded and what deeds they had accomplished in the recent battle against the Germans. [280] Constantine now withdrew his favour from Argyrus, who ceased to be, as he had once been, the intimate counsellor of the emperor. He went into exile and for a long time lived in hardship; it is said that he died weighed down by physical suffering.[1]

Victory greatly raised the spirits of the Normans. [285] Now no Apulian city remained in rebellion against them. All submitted and paid tribute. Count Humphrey then took revenge for the murder of his brother. He savagely punished all those who had been involved; he mutilated some, put others to the sword, and hanged many. Remembering Drogo’s death, he refused to grant mercy to anyone. [290] The deep and burning grief that had descended upon him with his brother’s murder remained strong, to the disadvantage of all. He subdued many cities. The inhabitants of Troia paid tribute to the count; [295] those of Bari, Trani, Venosa, Otranto and the city of Acerenza obeyed him.[2]

He granted Calabria to his brother Robert, for him to conquer. [300] Robert[3] was a young man inured to hard work, prudent and ingenious, ready to turn his hand to anything that needed doing, always seeking advancement and rejoicing in honour and praise. He was just as ready to seek success by stratagem as by force if this was necessary, because a sharp mind can often achieve what violence cannot accomplish. [305] He was distinguished by his eloquence and when consulted he gave a speedy and most pertinent reply. If he was asked for advice he knew how to give it wisely. He rejoiced in the grant of the land of the Calabrians. He had previously recruited for himself a number of knights, [310] plundering where he could far and wide, but especially in those regions that belonged to his brother. He shared what had been captured equally among all his followers, cherishing each of them equally and himself being cherished by all. Humphrey had him arrested while they were dining together. [315] Robert wanted to hurl himself on his brother, sword in hand, but Joscelyn grabbed him and prevented this. He was consigned to the guards, but his brother released him after a little while, granted him the Calabrian region with its cities and castra, and furnished him with a force of knights.[4]

[320] Desiring to conquer this region he showed himself affectionate towards all, no lord had ever shown himself more affable or humble. The name of the Norman people was everywhere renowned. But the Calabrians, who had not experienced their valour before, were terrified by the arrival of such a fierce leader. Supported by no small number of soldiers, [325] Robert ordered them to burn, pillage and ravage all those lands which he had invaded and to do all they could to instil terror in the inhabitants. He allowed his brother’s knights [330] to return home and remained with a less numerous but very warlike force which continued to vex the Calabrians.[5]

While he plundered here and their, he was unable to capture any castrum or city, and so he resorted to a stratagem to enter a certain place, which was very difficult of access since there were many inhabitants, and the monastic community which was living there would allow no stranger to enter. [335] The cunning [Robert] thought up an ingenious trick.[6] He told his people to announce that one of their numbers had died. The latter was placed on a bier as though he was dead, [340] and on Robert’s order was covered with a silk cloth which concealed his face (as it is the custom of Normans to cover bodies). Swords were hidden on the bier under the ‘body’s’ back. [345] The ‘body’ was carried to the entrance of the monastery to be buried there, and this pretended death deceived those who could not be taken in by living men. While a simple funeral service was being conducted the man who was about to buried suddenly sprang up; his companions seized their swords and threw themselves on the inhabitants of the place who had been deceived by this ruse. [350] What could those stupid people do? They could neither fight nor flee, and all were captured. Thus, Robert, you placed your first garrison in a fortress! He did not however destroy the monastery, nor did he expel the monastic community from it. [355] Robert gathered a very powerful force in this castrum, and became even more beloved by his men since he was both mighty in war and wise in counsel. He was called the count of this region, [360] and considered as such especially by those who were accompanied by their own following of knights. One of these was called Torsten, another Hareng, and [there was] the warlike Roger[7]. To these he gave towns in the area which had been conceded to him.

At this time Humphrey, Prince of Apulia, fell ill and ordered his brother to come quickly to him. Robert hastened there. [365] When he saw his brother ill, he cried with compassion. For the sick man the arrival of his brother was a great consolation. He asked him to be the ruler of his territories after his death, and to be the protector of his young son who was not yet of an age to rule. [370] His anxious brother promised faithfully to execute all his wishes.[8] The sick man could not recover the health of his limbs. Humphrey died. All Apulia cried, lamenting the death of a father, [375] He, the father of his country, had ruled peacefully and benignly; honesty had graced his life. He had never sought to oppress his people under a cruel tyranny. Loving justice he had preferred to spare many guilty men rather than inflict punishment. He was buried next to those of his brothers who had died [380] before him at the monastery of Venosa.

After celebrating his funeral ceremonies Robert returned to Calabria.[9] He immediately besieged the city of Cariati, that by its capture he might terrify the other cities.[10] Then he learnt of the arrival of Pope Nicholas II[11]; [385] he abandoned the siege [himself] along with only a small escort, leaving there the greater part of his cavalry. He went to Melfi[12], and there the pope was received with great honour. He had come to this region to deal with ecclesiastical affairs. [390]For the priests, levites and all the clergy of this area were openly joining themselves in marriage. The pope celebrated a council there, and with the assent of a hundred prelates, whom he had called to that synod, he exhorted priests and ministers of the altar to arm themselves with chastity; [395] he told them and [indeed] ordered them to be the husbands of the church, since it is unlawful for priests to be addicted to indulgence. He thus drove away from those parts all the wives of priests, threatening those who disobeyed with anathema. [400] At the end of the synod and on the request of many, Pope Nicholas gave to Robert the ducal honour. Alone among the counts he received the ducal title. He swore an oath to be faithful to the pope. [405] Thus Calabria and all Apulia were conceded to him, and rule over the people of his native land in Italy.[13]

The pope went back to Rome, the duke, with a large force of cavalry, returned to the siege of Cariati, where the bulk of his horsemen who had been left before it had faithfully remained. The people of Cariati, discouraged by the return of the duke, [410] were unable to resist, and surrendered themselves and their city to him. These people were the first to call him duke and to salute him with the ducal title in Calabria. Then he went on to other places. Mighty Rossano, warlike Cosenza and then wealthy Gerace surrendered to him, and so nearly [415] the whole of Calabria was made subject to him.


[1] In 1054, the emperor Constantine imprisoned the wife and son of Argyrus because of the part that he believed Argyrus had in the schism. The patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius was a personal enemy of Arhyrus and undoubtedly played a significant part in the emperor’s decision. However, there is no evidence that he returned to Constantinople immediately after the battle and it is likely that this did not occur until some time between 1055 and 1058. His death occurred during the 1060s, though there is no evidence to support Carabellese that this took place in 1068.

[2] The Normans easily imposed their authority over much of southern Italy. An early success was the capture of Conversano, twenty miles south-east of Bari in 1054 though generally the Normans were content to exact tribute from the more strongly defended Apulian towns like Bari, Trani, Otranto and Acerenza. After Leo’s death Humphrey occupied Benevento in the north but, though he besieged the city he was unable to capture it. Capua, concerned by Norman attacks on Benevento restored Pandulf III in January 1056. William of Apulia conflated events at this point: Troia was taken by Humphrey in 1046, Otranto in 1055 (though it was retaken by the Greeks in 1060, then retaken by Georffrey of Traneto in 1064 and finally by Guiscard in 1068); Acerenza was taken in 1061 according to the Annales of Lupus Protospatharius.

[3] Taviani-Carozzi, Huguette, La terreur du monde, Paris, 1996 is the most accessible biography of Robert Guiscard.

[4] This is an early indication of tensions within the Hauteville family and rebellion within the family and by other Normans against Guiscard forms an important theme in the remainder of the poem. Guiscard is best seen as a warlord at this time but, as his power and authority increased after Humphrey died in 1057, he never fully made the transition from warlord into legitimate ruler. His position always relied on brute force rather than effective government.

[5] The most spectacular advances were made by Robert Guiscard in the south, finally conquering Calabria with the taking of Reggio in 1060. By 1056, he had taken several of the more important places in northern Calabria: Bisignano, Martirano and Cosenza though he probably only held the region north of the Val di Crati. After Humphrey’s death in early 1057, Guiscard succeeded him as overall leader of the Apulian Normans and this further enhanced his military strength. He also had the help of his youngest brother Roger who had arrived in Italy at about this time. In the late spring or early summer of 1057, Robert and probably Roger advanced as far as Squillace, half-way down Calabria where the peninsula is at its narrowest and then across to Reggio, the capital of Byzantine Calabria at its extreme tip. On his return from ths essentially reconnaissance expedition, Nicastro and Maida, town on the south-west edge of the Sila Mountains submitted to him. At this point, Robert had to return to Apulia to deal with a challenge from his old rival County Peter son of Amicus. In his absence, Roger forced the inhabitants of the Val di Saline in central Calabria into submission and fortified a base near Nicefora. Robert returned in the autumn of 1057 (though the chronology is far from certain) and launched a more serious attack on Reggio.but poor planning forced a retreat. However, his determination to bring Calabria under his control is clear in his remaining at Maida over the winter of 1057-1058. Hervé-Commereuc, Catherine, ‘Les Normands en Calabre’, ibid, Les Normands en Méditerraneé, pp. 77-88 is invaluable on what can be seen as the ‘forgotten’ conquest.

[6] Here William of Apulia is inspired by the Norman tradition of the taking of Luna by the Viking Hastings contained in Dudo of St Quentin around 1015 and William of Jumieges in the early 1070s.

[7] The Roger refered to here is probably Guiscard’s brother who helped him with the conquest of Calabria.

[8] Humphrey died in 1057 and Guiscard was then elected count of Apulia.

[9] In addition, the spring of 1058 saw a serious famine in parts of Calabria caused partly by the Norman attacks and partly by a prolonged drought. Malattera’s account is graphic and not exaggerated. Guiscard’s problems in Apulia, his dispute with Roger and his marriage to Sichelgaita of Salerno in the second half of 1058, prevented further advance in Calabria. Given these circumstance, it is not surprising that Robert gave way in his dispute with Roger and promised to give him half of Calabria (the southern half that was as yet unconquered). He did give Roger the base at Mileta and from here Roger advanced aggressively south in early 1059 crushing a counter-attack by the governor of Gerace and the bishop of Cassano. In late 1059, or more probably early 1060 Guiscard brought substantial reinforcements and the two brothers besieged and captured Reggio and Squillace. Calabria was now more or less under Norman control.

[10] Why did Calabria fall under Norman control so quickly in the late 1050s? This can be attributed to a number of factors. The defenders lacked outside support. There were still contacts between Byzantine Calabria and Constantinople in the 1050s but the internal problems in the empire and attacks from the Pechenegs and the Turks meant there was only minimal military support available for Italy. There were few attempts to fight the Normans in the open and the one attempt in 1059 ended disastrously. Norman tactics, made essential by the limited number of troops available to them before 1060 secured the surrender of towns and strongpoints by destroying the crops of the inhabitants. These were especially effective given the mountainous nature of Calabria where cultivatable land was in short supply. The Normans also allowed remarkable lenient terms for surrender. In central Calabria, the local Greek patriciate was left in place. Garrisons were introduced into key locations from the start but in less sensitive areas the process was slower: Cosenza, for example, did not have a Norman garrison until 1091. Tribute in return for peace was a price worth paying for many Calabrians.

[11] The most useful material on Nicholas II is to be found in Clavel, Le Pape Nicolas II, Lyons, 1906; Delarc, O., ‘Le Pontificat de Nicoles II’ in Revue des Questions Historiques, vol, xl, (1886), pp. 341-402 and Mann, H. R., The Lives of the Popes in the Middle Ages, vol. vi, St. Louis, 1910, pp. 226-260.

[12] The authority of the German emperors had never been welcomed in Mezzogiorno. Robert sought help from the papacy, thinking that despite Civitate in 1053, the time was right for a compromise. Fortunately political circumstances were favourable at this time. Pope Victor II (1055-1057) and Stephen IX (1057-1958) were not well disposed towards the Normans since both had been closely associated with Leo IX’s project in 1053. However, on Stephen’s death in March 1058, the Romans chose one pope (Benedict X) and the reformers another (Nicholas II). Nicholas was quickly established in Rome but he needed support to maintain his position. In the spring of 1059, Richard of Capua was persuaded to send 300 knights to support Nicholas and captured his rival to the papal throne. The project was actively supported by the diplomacy of the abbot of Montecassino, Desiderius, who became Pope Victor III, in 1086. At the synod of Melfi, in 1059, Pope Nicholas II invested Guiscard with the title of duke as well as confirming his right to his possessions in Apulia and Calabria. Furthermore, Sicily under the domination of the Muslims was promised to the Normans, who were assigned to seize it and retain it under the authority of the Holy See. Richard of Aversa was recognised as prince of Capua by the Pope. This was a decisive turning point for Norman authority in southern Italy from now on their legitimacy could not be questioned.

[13] Robert Guiscard’s position was considerably strengthened by the Melfi agreement. He decided to intensify the conquest of the whole of Mezzogiorno while controlling potential rebellion by other Norman barons (for example, Robert of Montescaglioso, Geoffrey of Conversano and Peter of Trani). In 1060, he captured Troia, the only town of any size in the Capitanata that was already paying tribute to the Normans. It became the centre of ducal authority. A year later, he captured Acerenza though it is unclear from whom. The ways in which Guiscard’s authority in Apulia developed during the 1060s is not covered particularly well in the chronicle. William of Apulia’s poem ignores events in Apulia between the synod of Melfi and the beginnings of the siege of Bari (1059-1068) and Amatus of Montecassino has only a little to say about Apulia but is more than usually disorganised. Historians have to rely on the annalistic sources and they are especially cryptic for this decade.

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book II, lines 160-265

The German people were accompanied by numerous allies, and trusted (wrongly) in the help of the cowardly Lombards, believing that the Normans would either turn tail or perish at the first onslaught. [145] But victory in battle rests not on numbers, horses, people or arms but on whom it is conferred by Heaven. There was a small hill between the Germans and the Norman squadrons. All sorts of people had come to help the former; [150] from Apulia, Valva, Campania, Marsia and Chieti. However the German leaders, Werner and Albert, had only brought seven hundred Swabians. There were proud people of great courage, but not versed in horsemanship, who fought rather with the sword than with the lance. Since they could not control the movements of their horses [155] with their hands they were unable to inflict serious injuries with the lance; however, they excelled with the sword. These swords were very long [160] and sharp and they were often capable of cutting someone vertically in two! They preferred to dismount and take guard on foot, and they chose rather to die than to retreat. Such was their bravery that they were far more formidable like this than when riding on horseback.

[165] Their Italian allies had for their leaders two brothers, Counts Transmund and Atto, and the sons of the noble family of Burrell. Along with them marched Malfredus, from near Campomarino, Roffred (lord of the castrum of Guardia), the father-in-law of [170] Radulfus of Moulins, and many others whose names I don’t know. The Romans, Samnites and Capuans had also sent troops, nor had Ancona denied its wealth. People from Spoleto, Sabina and Fermo had joined them. I cannot calculate in my verses how many enemies had appeared, resolved to destroy the name of the Frankish race. All these had fixed their tents with the Germans on the bank of the River Fortore. Nearby was the city [Civitate] which has its name from its citizens.

[180] The Normans abandoned any hope of peace, and refused to flee - anyway there was nowhere to which they could escape. They climbed the hill to inspect the enemy camp[1]. After doing this they armed themselves. Count Richard of the Aversans was placed on the right wing [185] facing the Lombards. He commanded the first, hand-picked, squadron of knights. Humphrey was chosen as the leader of the centre force, facing the warlike Swabians. [190] Robert was instructed to take the left wing with his men from Calabria, ready to charge to the help and reinforcement of his colleagues when he judged it necessary. The Germans had set out their right wing opposite these two forces. The Italians stood all crowded together on the other side [195] because they neglected to draw up a battle line in the proper manner.

Richard was the first to open the battle, against them. He charged gallantly and, unable to resist, the Italians were driven back. Fear filled them all, and they turned and fled across hill and dale. [200] The impetus of their flight led many to fall to the ground, who were killed by lance or sword. They fled like doves with a hawk in pursuit, at top speed towards the rocky summits of a mountain peak; but those whom he caught were unable to seek further flight. [205] So the Italians fled before Richard, but flight did not help those whom Richard and his companions caught up with. He killed a large number of Italians there, although the majority fled.

[210] The Swabians drew up their line of battle against the arms of the valiant Humphrey. First Humphrey attacked them at long-range with arrows, he in turn was harried by the arrows of his enemies. Finally both sides charged sword in hand, and their swords inflicted some incredible blows on each other; you could see human bodies split down the middle and horse and man laying dead together. [215] Then Robert, seeing his brother so fiercely attacked by enemies resolved to yield not an inch, charged fiercely and proudly into the midst of the hostile ranks, aided by the troops of Count Gerard [220] and followed by the Calabrians whose leadership had been entrusted to him. He speared them with his lance, beheaded them with his sword, dealing out fearful blows with his mighty hands. He fought with each hand, both lance and sword hit whatever target they were aimed at. [225] He was unhorsed three times; thrice he recovered his strength and returned more fiercely to the fray. His fury merely increased, as does that of the lion that roars and furiously attacks those animals less strong than himself, [230] and if he meets resistance becomes more ferocious and burns with greater anger. He gives no quarter, he drags off his prey and eats it, scatters what he cannot devour, bringing death to all. [235] In such a way did Robert continue to bring death to the Swabians who opposed him. He cut off feet and hands, sliced heads from bodies, ripped into breasts and chests, and transfixed those whose heads he had cut off. Cutting off the heads of these huge men he made them the same size as those smaller, proving that the greatest bravery is not the prerogative of the tall, but often rests with those of shorter stature. [240] After the battle it was known that none, victor or vanquished, had inflicted such mighty blows.

[245] Richard returned after having inflicted terrible slaughter on the Italians, some of whom had fled while others who remained had perished by the sword or lance. When he saw the Germans still resisting his companions, ‘alas’, he exclamed, ‘we believed that by winning this fight we had won the battle [250], but that victory is yet to be secured’. Without hesitation he charged into the midst of the enemy. The latter, with no hope either of flight or of safety, fought back bravely, but great were the numbers surrounding them that this defiance gained them nothing. [255] The glorious army of Richard the victorious joining them was the primary cause of their enemies’ catastrophe. The unhappy men perished in various ways and of all these men not one survived.

The result of the battle filled the pope with grief, and greatly lamenting he took refuge in the city. But the citizens [260] did not receive him as was proper for they were afraid to displease the victorious Normans. The latter humbled themselves on bended knee before him, begging pardon. The pope received those prostrate before him kindly, and they all kissed his feet. [265] He admonished them piously and blessed them, and lamenting greatly that he had spurned their offers of peace he prayed tearfully for his dead brothers.[2]


[1] Fuiano, M., ‘La battaglia di Civitate’, Archivo Storico Pugliese, vol. ii, (1949), pp. 124-133 provides the best discussion of the location and topography of the battle.

[2] Civitate meant that there was no hope of expelling the Normans and paved the way for their conquest of the rest of southern Italy. It represented the ruin of Leo’s policy in southern Italy and was a dire warning against the papacy becoming directly involved in secular warfare. The citizens of Civitate promptly surrendered Leo IX to the Normans and he was imprisoned and kept captive for ten months in Benevento.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book II, lines 66-140

During this time of crisis an admirable man, Leo[1], ruled over the Roman see. Hearing of the arrival of this great pope[2], the people of Apulia started to bring all sorts of grievances to him and accused the Gauls of many crimes, mixing together both truth and falsehood.[3] [70] Argyrus sent emissaries to the pope, beseeching him with frequent prayers to grant Italy its lost liberty and to force that wicked people who were crushing the Apulian coast under their yoke to leave its shores[4].

[75] At this time Drogo and Guaimar, the leaders of the Normans, died; the latter treacherously killed by the citizens of Salerno and his own relatives, the former murdered by the local people at Montilari, whom he trusted too much. [80] The Gallic people lamented the loss of their chief.[5]

When they heard that the pope had arrived with a large force of Italians, supported by innumerable Swabians and Germans[6], ready for battle, they came to meet him with as many cavalry and infantry as they could raise. [85] Although famous for their deeds of arms, the Normans were, on seeing so many columns, afraid to resist them. They sent envoys who requested a peace treaty and asked the pope benevolently to receive their submission; they all declared that they were ready to obey the pope [90] that they did not wish to offend him, but to hold title to what they had acquired from him. They requested that he be willing to be their lord and that they might be his vassals [fideles].

The Germans, notable for their long hair, good looks and height, mocked the Normans, [95] who seemed small [to them], and derided the messages of a people whom they considered their inferiors both in numbers and strength. They surrounded the pope and arrogantly addressed him, [100] ‘Command the Normans to leave the land of Italy, to lay down their arms and return to their native land. If they refuse this, we do not wish to receive their peace overtures nor should you pay any attention to their messages. They have not yet experienced German swords. If they do not leave willingly they should be forced to go, [105] and failing that they will perish by the sword’. Although the pope opposed their arrogance with a variety of counter-arguments, he was unable to calm the minds of this proud people. He [also] relied on the dregs of Italy, a most unworthy people, the men of the Marches, rightly held in low esteem by the Italians. [110] Many of the Italians pretended great courage, but fear, trembling and corruption were their basic instincts, for the Germans were not present in great numbers. The Normans returned upset at the rejection of their peace proposals and reported the arrogant response of the Germans.

[115] Harvest time was now approaching. But before the farmers could gather in their bundles of crops, the French, who lacked bread, had dried the green corn over the fire and eaten the burnt grains. Such was the life they led because the rebel castra everywhere helped the [120] Germans and gave them no provisions or material help.

Humphrey, who had survived while his brother Drogo had died, [125] was one of the overall commanders of the French, then there was Richard[7] who had been chosen a little time before as Count of the city of Aversa. Robert, who had followed his brothers out a little while earlier and who surpassed them in his mighty courage, was also present at this battle. He was called Guiscard, for his cunning was greater than that of [130] Cicero or the crafty Ulysses. Among the others present were Peter and Walter, the illustrious sons of Amicus, Aureolanus, Hubert[8], Rainald Musca[9], and Count Hugh and Count Gerard[10], who commanded respectively the Beneventans [Normans] and the men of Telese. [135] They were accompanied by Count Radulfus of Boiano[11], distinguished both by his wise counsel and skill at arms. These leaders were followed by almost three thousand horsemen and a few infantry. After three days without bread they resorted to arms, [140] all preferring to die honourably in battle rather than perish miserably through hunger.[12]


[1] La Vie du Pape Leon IX, edited and translated by Michel Parisse and Monique Goullet, Paris, 1997 is a useful, if hagiographical biography of Leo IX, the loser at Civitate.   There is an English translation in Robinson, I. S., (ed.), The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century, (Manchester University Press), 2004.  Munier, Charles, Le Pape Léo et la Réforme de L’Eglisle 1002-1054, Strasbourg, 2002, especially pp. 193-216 looks specifically at relations with th Normans. Sittler, L. and Stintzi, P., Saint Léon IX, Le pape alsacien, Colmar, 1950 remains useful.

[2] Pope Leo IX (1048-1054) came to southern Italy in the early months of 1051, visited Salerno and Capua before going to the shrine of St Michael on Monte Gargano. He was profoundly shocked by what he saw. The Normans were cordially detested by the native population largely because of their brutal and destructive warfare. Leo begged the Normans to abandon their oppression of the poor and also accused them of attacking churches. It was, however, events in Benevento that brought matters to a head. The city and its rulers refused to submit to the emperor Henry III in 1047 and Pandulf III proved equally unwilling when Leo came to the city in 1050 seeing him as an imperial ally (the emperor was his cousin). Leo then renewed his predecessor’s excommunication of the Beneventans. Norman attacks near the city itself led to the townspeople expelling Pandulf and his officials and asked the pope to take on the rule of the city. In April 1051, the citizens swore fealty to the pope and in July Leo visited Benevento and removed its excommunication taking over the city in the emperor’s name. Drogo and prince Guaimar were summoned by the pope who insisted that the Norman attacks on Benevento should stop. Drogo agreed but he was unable to control his fellow Normans and the attacks continued. This shows how limited Drogo’s authority was as count of Apulia. Drogo was assassinated on 10th August 1051 at Montillaro, near Bovino by some local inhabitants and was succeeded as leader of the Apulian Normans by his brother Humphrey.

[3] The continued expansion of the Normans in the late 1040s to the north into the duchy of Benevento and south in the direction of Calabria led by Robert Guiscard resulted in growing opposition. Benevento was vulnerable to Norman advances and by the early 1050s two powerful leaders had established themselves not far from Benevento: Count Hugh led the ‘Beneventan Normans’ and Gerald de Buonalbergo led the ‘men of Telese’ in an area to the north-west and west of Benevento. A third Norman, Radulfus des Moulins had established himself further north in the vicinity of Boiano, in an upland valley to the north of the Monti del Matese. Gerald de Buonalbergo proved an important ally of Robert Guiscard: he offered his aunt Alberada (his father’s presumably much younger sister) in marriage (this probably occurred in 1048-1049) and then proposed to serve with him to some 200 knights. With these substantial reinforcements, Robert made immediate gains in Calabria.

[4] Drogo’s assassination demonstrated both the unpopularity of the Normans and how far the situation in southern Italy was, from Leo’s perspective, out of control. Drastic action was needed to restore order and Leo decided that a military solution was needed. The Byzantine empire, equally affected by the Normans had sought an alliance with the German court in 1049. In March 1051, Argyrus[4] returned to Bari as the new catepan and opened negotiations with the pope for an anti-Norman alliance. Pressure on the northern Byzantine border from the Pechenegs and attacks by the Turks from the east made it unlikely that Argyrus brought military reinforcements with him in 1051 and William of Apulia suggests that he may have tried to hire the Normans as mercenaries against the Turks.

[5] It took a further two years for the anti-Norman coalition to come to fruition. Guaimar IV of Salerno was still closely linked with the Normans and flatly refused to co-operate and, as yet, support from the imperial court was not forthcoming. However, Guaimar’s rule was rocked by a revolt in his subject city of Amalfi and then on 3rd June he was assassinated along with his younger brother Pandulf. His death appears to have had little to do with his links with the Normans; rather he was the victim of a conspiracy at his own court led by his four brothers-in-law. However, they made the mistake of allowing the prince’s brother Guido to escape and he appealed to Humphrey de Hauteville for support. Within a fortnight, the dead prince’s son Gisulf had been installed as prince and forty of the rebels including the four ring-leaders had been killed. Amatus of Montecassino says that the Normans ‘became Gisulf’s knights and were invested by his hand with the land that they held’. This did not mean that the Apulian Normans recognised Gisulf as their lord but was recognition that a number of Normans either already held or were now granted land in the principality of Salerno. More importantly, it meant that in the short-term Salerno remained neutral in the approaching showdown with the pope. Despite the potential threat facing them, the Normans continued their attacks. In 1052, Richard of Aversa besieged Capua but allowed himself to be bought off. Count Humphrey launched a pre-emptive strike against the forces of Arygrus and decisively defeated them at Siponto. This strengthened Leo’s determination to do something about the ‘Norman problem’ and he spent Christmas 1052 with the German emperor at Worms. The campaign of 1053 was the only concerted attempt to defeat the Normans in southern Italy. The anti-Norman coalition may have been broad but it was the failure fully to combine its forces that led to its defeat.

[6] In 1052, Leo met Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor and his relative, in Saxony and asked for aid in curbing the Normans. Leo returned to Rome in March 1053 but the substantial force the emperor Henry III had dispatched was recalled. The only German reinforcements were some several hundred Swabian troops, drawn from Leo’s own relations and connections. Indeed, there is evidence that the expedition was not popular in Germany.

[7] Count Rainulf died in May 1045 and his nephew and successor Asclettin not long after. This led to a disputed succession between Rainulf, another of the old count’s nephews supported by Pandulf IV and Rodulf supported by Guaimar of Salerno. Rainulf was successful but matters were then complicated by the arrival of yet another nephew, Richard with a substantial following and some support in Aversa for his claim. Captured by Drogo, Richard was a prisoner when his cousin died and it was the influence of Guaimar than enabled his release and eventual succession as count of Aversa. However, either count Asclettin or Rainulf II had left a young son called Herman who nominally ruled Aversa between 1046 and 1050 helped by William Bellabocca, a relative of the Hautevilles. Subsequently, the Aversans expelled this William and invited Richard to become their count. This probably occurred no earlier than November 1050 and there is no further mention of the child Herman. Whether Drogo deliberately kept Richard in Apulia so his relative could act as effective ruler of Aversa is possible and certainly in the early 1050s Richard married Drogo’s sister Fressenda (perhaps as part of the agreement that secured Drogo’s consent to the succession), the period of instability in Aversa had lasted nearly six years.

[8] Malaterra said the Hubert was the fifth son of the second marriage of Tancred de Hauteville.

[9] The Muscas were one of the most important families in Aversa. Rainald, son of Turold Musca witnessed a diploma of Jordan of Capua in 1080 and is mentioned in diplomas in 1091 and 1094 and died before 1111.

[10] Gerald de Buonalbergo, Robert Guiscard’s brother-in-law.

[11] The Lombard county of Boiano was the core of the Norman county of Molise.

[12] Leo returned to Rome in March 1053 with around 700 Swabian infantry and levied a force of Italians and Lombards from the south; he also arranged an alliance with the Byzantines to recapture Siponto. At the end of May 1053, Leo travelled to southern Italy with a substantial army composed of troops from the principality of Capua, from the Abruzzi, the Lombard counties in the northern Capitanata as well as some troops from Benevento. William of Apulia also suggests that Leo had recruited troops from the marches and duchy of Spolento. The intention was to march into Apulia and join forces with the Byzantine troops under Argyrus. Leo led his army south and west to Siponto but was intercepted by the Norman force at the bridge over the River Fortore at Civitate in Capitanate, to the northwest of Foggia. This threat compelled the Normans to unite under the overall command of count Humphrey. William of Apulia estimated some 3,000 cavalry but little infantry. They confronted the pope’s army near the river Fortore, not far from Civitate, in Capitanata as it was vital to prevent Leo’s army joining up with the Byzantine forces and their Apulian auxiliaries further south. Initially, the Normans tried to negotiate: the size of the papal army, a reluctance to fight against the pope and a serious shortage of food made negotiation seem attractive. Their main ploy was to offer to hold their lands as papal vassals. These broke down according to William of Apulia through the arrogance of the Germans and especially the papal chancellor Frederick of Lorraine. The delegation was dismissed but neither side was willing to fight, the Pope hoped that the Byzantine force under Argyrus would soon arrive, and only after a few days, as their supplies failed. The Normans, short of food had either to fight or disperse. They chose to fight. The Pope had around 6,000 men and the Norman force was around 3,500, mostly cavalry. The Norman army was in three parts; the main body was commanded by Richard, Count of Aversa; the right wing by Humphrey of Hauteville, Count of Apulia; and the left wing by Robert Guiscard. The Papal army was commanded by Geoffrey, Duke of Lorraine and Rudolph, Prince of Benevento. The Pope observed the battle from Civitate. The Norman cavalry came down from a hill onto the plain in front of the town. On accepting the initial Norman cavalry charge the majority of the levy fled, leaving only the Swabian infantry to fight to the death. The Pope was taken prisoner by the victorious Normans. There is some uncertainty over how this happened. Papal sources say that Leo left Civitate and surrendered himself to prevent further bloodshed. Other sources indicate that the inhabitants of Civitate handed the Pope over. He was treated respectfully but was imprisoned at Benevento for almost nine months and forced to ratify a number of treaties favourable to the Normans. The papal army was annihilated. Like Hastings thirteen years later, Civitate was a decisive military victory.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Deeds of Robert Guiscard: Book II, line 1-65

When Maniakes left Italy, Argyrus went to Otranto with a strong army. The city surrendered to him and the citizens rejoiced in him as their ruler. From there he went back to Bari and allowed the Gauls to depart. They went to Salerno to serve Guaimar.[1] [5] Trusting in their prowess, Prince Guaimar led them to Bari and besieged it. He ordered Argyrus to surrender to him, leave the city and retire to the Greeks. Argyrus refused to obey these instructions; but with his forces [10] too weak to fight he did not dare to give battle and shut himself up in the city.[2] Guaimar ravaged the fields and suburbs of Bari and then retraced his steps to the walls of his own city.

[15] Constantine, who was at that time ruling the empire, ordered Argyrus to hasten to him.[3] He obeyed these imperial orders. Crossing the waves of the Adriatic he reached the imperial capital. That gentle man who ruled over the city received the arrival with great ceremony and honour.

[20] Meanwhile the people over whom he ruled associated themselves some with Count Peter[4], and some with Drogo the son of Tancred, since the latter’s brother, William, known as the Iron Arm, had died young.[5] [25] Had life been permitted him no poet would have been able [adequately] to celebrate his praises, such was his steadfastness of mind and mighty courage. All the people of Italy feared Drogo[6] and his brother Humphrey[7], although at this time Peter[8], their blood relative, was richer than they. He founded Andria and Corato, [30] and fortified Bisceglie and Barletta on the sea coast. His fame surpassed that of the other counts. But Count Humphrey with his brother Drogo humbled his proud spirit, [35] for, while he made preparations to march against them, the unhappy man saw his luck change and was defeated and captured. The wheel of fortune had turned and began to raise up the sons of Tancred.[9]

The ruler of the empire, mentioned above, questioned Argyrus as to how he might drive the Gauls from Italy, [40] for he knew that it was now impossible to do this by force. So he conceived other plans to remove them. Since he knew them to be expert at war and unconquerable by force, he hoped to trick them with promises. He had heard that the Norman people were always prone to avarice, [45] loving greatly that which greatly benefited them. He ordered Argyrus to bring them great sums of money, silver, precious vestments and gold, that the Normans might be persuaded to leave the frontiers of Italy, hasten across the sea [50] and mightily enrich themselves in imperial service. He also ordered that if they refused to depart then those bribes destined for them should be given to others, with whom he should launch a savage attack on the Gauls.

[55] Argyrus obeyed.[10] He returned to Apulia, summoned the counts of the French and promised to give them rich gifts if they would leave Italy and cross over to the land of the Greeks, who were locked in combat with the Persians. He swore to them that the emperor would receive them [60] joyfully and promised that the latter would endow them with great wealth. The astute promises of the Greeks did not deceive the [equal] astuteness of this people, who, wishing to conquer Italy, replied that they would not leave Apulia until they had conquered it, unless an army mightier [65] than theirs should come to defeat them and drive them out[11].


[1] After raising the siege of Troina in August 1042, the Apulian Normans made William Iron Arm their count and recognised the suzerainty of Guiamar IV of Salerno.

[2] The unsuccessful siege of Bari in 1043 showed that the Normans had yet to develop effective siege tactics for attacking large towns.

[3] Argyrus was replaced in 1045 or 1046 by the catepan Eustathios Palatinos and remained in Constantinople until 1050. He became a close advisor to the emperor especially during the revolt of Leo Tornikios in 1047.

[4] Peter was the son of Amicus.

[5] William de Hauteville was born in Hauteville-la-Guichard, Normandy and died in the winter of 1045-1046. He was a Norman adventurer, the eldest of twelve Hauteville brothers, a soldier of fortune who led the first contingent of his family from Normandy to southern Italy. William and his brothers Drogo and Humphrey responded (c. 1035) to an appeal for reinforcements in Italy by the Norman Rainulf of Aversa. William earned his nickname ‘Iron Arm’ during the Norman-Byzantine siege of Muslim-occupied Syracuse in Sicily when he charged and killed the emir of the city. He served as a captain of the Norman army that joined the Lombards in invading Apulia, in southern Italy, and was proclaimed count of Apulia in 1042. Guaimar IV, the Lombard prince of Salerno, confirmed the title later that year. Guaimar arranged a marriage between William and his own niece, daughter of the Duke of Sorrento. Emerging as the most powerful leader in southern Italy, William allied with Guaimar, invaded Calabria two years later. After his death, his brother Drogo became count of Apulia.

[6] Drogo was born in Hauteville-la-Guichard, Normandy and died on August 10th 1051 at Salerno. He was the Norman count of Apulia (1046-1051), half brother of the conqueror Robert Guiscard. He led the Norman conquest of southern Italy after the death of his older brother William Iron Arm, whom he succeeded as count of Apulia. Arriving in Italy about 1035 with William and his younger brother Humphrey, Drogo fought first for the Byzantines against the Muslims in Sicily, then in alliance with the Lombards in Apulia against the Byzantines. In 1042, prince Guaimar IV of Salerno made William count of Apulia and distributed the territories of Apulia among the Normans, giving Venosa, eighty miles east of Naples, to Drogo. When William died in the winter of 1045-1046, Drogo succeeded him as count of Apulia, marrying Guaimar’s daughter. Drogo’s title was confirmed in 1047 by the Holy Roman emperor Henry III. He was assassinated, along with several of his followers, in an anti-Norman conspiracy as he entered the chapel of his castle at Monte Ilario to attend a mass on St. Lawrence’s Day, 1051 (9th or 10th August 1051).

[7] Humphrey was born in Hauteville-la-Guichard, Normandy and died in 1057 at Melfi in Apulia. He led the Norman conquest of southern Italy after the deaths of his older brothers William and Drogo and succeeded them as count of Apulia (1051). Arriving in Italy c. 1043, Humphrey fought in Sicily and Apulia, in southern Italy, becoming count of Lavello in 1045. Six years later, as count of Apulia, he married the sister of Guaimar IV of Salerno. In 1052, after pro-Byzantine forces murdered Guaimar and seized Salerno, Humphrey helped Guaimar’s brother, the Duke of Sorrento, to recover the throne for Guaimar’s young son. Humphrey also played an important role in the decisive battle of Civitate (1053), in which the Normans defeated a papal army. Pope Leo IX was taken prisoner, and on his release and return to Rome in 1054, Humphrey escorted him as far as Capua, north of Naples. Humphrey designated his half brother Robert Guiscard as successor and guardian of his infant son Abelard, but on Humphrey’s death Robert seized Abelard’s lands becoming the greatest landholder in southern Italy and laying the foundation for his own power.

[8] Count Peter was the son of Amicus and had been assigned Trani in the partition of 1042.

[9] The succession of Drogo who was elected in his place as overall leader of the Apulian Normans and who adopted a title that indicated the change of status of the Norman mercenaries and the ambitions of the Hautevilles: ‘duke and master of Italy, count of the Normans and the whole of Apulia and Calabria’ (‘comes Normannorum totius Apuliae et Calabriae’) was challenged by Count Peter and there appears to have been some fighting between the two factions.

[10] Argyrus had spent some five years in Constantinople and played a prominent role in suppressing a rebellion in 1047. He was now a trusted Byzantine official.

[11] William of Apulia has little to say on events between 1041-1042 and 1053. In 1044, count William led an expedition into northern Calabria and established a base at Scribla: on this issue see Héricher-Flambard, Anne-Marie, ‘Un instrument de la conquête et du pouvoir: les châteaux normands de Calabre, L’exemple de Scribla’, ibid, Les Normands en Méditerraneé, pp. 98-110. In 1045, Drogo captured Bovino and the Normans began to penetrate into the Capitinate. By 1045, the Normans were making incursions into the principality of Benevento and by the early 1050s much of the southern part of the principality had been secured by the Normans. However, Abbot Richer of Montecassino pursued a vigorous policy of confronting the Normans and fortifying the abbey’s lands. This combined with a degree of restraint exercised by Guaimar IV over the Normans of Aversa proved effective and the abbey lands remained largely safe from Norman attacks. In the autumn of 1042, Rainulf of Aversa, with Guaimar’s approval took over Gaeta after the Gaeteans had rejected their prince’s rule. This proved short-lived and in 1045 the citizens took advantage of Rainulf’s death to invite the Lombard count of Aquino to become their lord. His rule was unchallenged until the final take-over of the principality of Capua by the Normans in the early 1060s.