|Italy at the beginning of the 11th century|
Lombard and Byzantine Italy
Following the arrival of the Lombards in Italy in the 5th century the political unity of the peninsula collapsed, and with it the final remnants of the Roman Empire. A Germanic people who had become Christian and spoke Latin, they settled in the Mezzogiorno in the interior of the duchy of Benevento. When Charlemagne conquered Parvie (in the north of the duchy) in 774, Arechis II, duke of Benevento (758-787), son-in-law of the last king of the Lombards, Didier, claimed his independence from the Franks, proclaimed himself prince and pitted himself against the expansionist Carolingians in southern Italy. This boundary marked for a long time the limits of the imperial claims handed down from the Carolingians to the Ottonians and then to the Franconians (Holy Roman German Empire).
Following dynastic quarrels, the Lombard principality of Benevento experienced its first carving up in 849, with the creation of the principality of Salerno. Then in 981, the county of Capua obtained its independence.
The small duchies of Naples, Amalfi and Gaeta, on the tyrrhenienne coast, were freed from Byzantine domination (8th century-9th century) and were run by local dynasties.
At the beginning of the 11th century the only provinces that the Lombards had not seized were those that had fell within the province of the Western Roman Empire which still possessed the province of Longobardie (Apulia and Basilicate) whose population, were mainly Lombard, and that of Calabria, the only part retained from the province of Sicily, more influenced from the Greek presence.
At the heart of this politically heterogeneous composition, the three most important Lombard states, whose princes, since the end of the 10th century or the beginning of the 11th century, considered themselves vassals of the German Empire, behaved in a disorderly even chaotic fashion: while the Muslim menace loomed ever closer, they were not only involved in an ongoing war with the Byzantines, and fighting against the enclaves of Naples Amalfi and Gaeta but also feuding amongst themselves. Their relationship with the papal seat was also vacillating.