Death & burial : funerary rites

Funerals for the Norman kings

Unlike his brothers, Roger the Great Count (Ü 1101) chose Holy Trinity at Mileto in Calabria to be buried along with his family.
The choice of Robert Guiscardís brother differed from his elderís, first by breaking with the dynastic sanctuary of Venosa, and then by following Roman, not eastern models. His tomb is a 3rd c. sarcophagus brought back from Campania to receive the countís remains. In this, Roger seems to be imitating the pope, whose legate he also happened to be for his conquest of Sicily. One of the Norman countís models may have been the sarcophagus of Gregory VII (Ü 1085) in Salerno cathedral.

Roger I, the conqueror of Sicily, had preferred burial in an abbey founded with the assistance of the Norman abbot Robert of Grandmesnil. Roger II, crowned king of Sicily in 1130, and his successors had to choose a site on the island worthy of the new dynasty. Among other royal foundations like the cathedrals at Cefalý and Monreale, it was Palermo cathedral which carried the day. The kingís throne is preserved there. He was buried in a porphyry sarcophagus surmounted by a baldacchino, a tradition upheld until the time of Frederick II. This choice of porphyry as a material was copied from the Byzantine emperors. The columned baldacchino made reference to ancient Rome. In either case, the Norman monarchy was seeking to assert itself on an equal footing with the two imperial traditions of the East and West.

previous page  The Normans in the Mediterranean  next page