The Normans in the Mediterranean
The Normans in the Mediterranean


Big cities of the Norman worlds


    The Norman conquerors who arrived in southern Italy were no longer the sailors their Scandinavian ancestors had been; they mostly came from a small landed aristocracy, more comfortable fighting wars and overseeing their country domains. However, these new domains looked out onto the sea on all sides and under their rule it was in fact the harbour towns that saw the greatest urban development.

Palermo Naples, Salerno and Messina were the towns most representative of the growth and transformations that came with the rise of the Norman kingdom. Here the native populations, in particular the merchants and sailors of Amalfi, played a major role, as did the foreign colonies from the big seafaring cities of the north Pisa, Genoa and Venice.
Further inland, the old Lombard capitals like Capua or Benevento, suffered stagnation or relative decline as they lost their influence, while the new modes of territorial organization and regrouping of the population in fortified towns, but without the benefit of urban freedoms, hampered the development of the urban network. Even Melfi did not benefit from its status as first capital of the Norman counts.



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