The Normans in the Mediterranean

Alexander of Telese

Alexander, abbot of San Salvatore di Telese (late 11th cent. - before 1145).

Ystoria Rogerii regis Sicilie Calabrie atque Apulie.

Alexander, abbot of San Salvatore di Telese (province of Caserta), was commissioned to write a monograph on Roger II of Sicily by the king’s sister, Mathilda. He is, therefore, the most typical exponent of a type of historiography that was becoming official in character. Born and bred in what was now a Normanized environment, Alexander wrote a history that was, to all intents and purposes, authorized thanks to the rank of the person who commissioned it, and it may, therefore, be presumed to reflect the opinions and expectations of the court.

Alexander’s work is structured along the lines of the biographical monographs by Geoffrey of Malaterra and William of Apulia, abandoning the canons of the chronicles written by the Benedictine monks at Montecassino. After recounting Roger’s adolescence briefly, and then, more fully, Roger’s conquests and wars in mainland southern Italy from 1127 to 1136 (it is not known whether the work is complete or if it has survived in a mutilated form), he places at the centre of the account the theme of the legitimacy of violence (that of Roger), a concept closely linked to the desire for peace (in the sense of a ‘Pax Rogeriana’), which is contrasted with the anarchy of the barons. At the same time, he seems to offer a vision of temporal power closely linked to, if not subjected to, the spiritual power, because of the continuous warnings to the Norman king to follow the teachings of the Christian religion.


- Alexandri Telesini abbatis, Ystoria Rogerii regis Sicilie Calabrie atque Apulie, ed L. De Nava, D. Clementi, FIS 112, Rome, 1991.


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