|The first Norman rulers|
Rainulf I of Aversa
After taking control of Aversa (1030), Rainulf Drengot accelerated the process of immigration of new compatriots, a necessary step to maintain order and govern a population judged unreliable. He integrated easily into the local political order of southern Italy yet did not hesitate to change sides if that served his interests. Thus, when his wife died in 1034, he rebuffed his brother-in-law and protector, the duke of Naples, by marrying another Lombard princess, Duke Pandulf III of Capua’s niece, the daughter of the duke of Amalfi. From this alliance, the Norman, Rainulf of Aversa, gained territory to the detriment of land taken from the possessions of the Montecassino abbey. Soon after, in 1039, he was found at the side of Guaimar V of Salerno, supported by the troops of the German Empire led by Emperor Conrad II the Salic. Rainolf of Aversa defeated Pandulf of Capua, annexed his land, and with the approval of Conrad II, reunited the two principalities under one crown, thereby becoming the ruler of the largest political entity in Mezzogiorno. Thereafter a principle actor and influence in the political arena, the county of Aversa, the first long-lasting Norman principality in southern Italy, rapidly became a real force that could only be rivalled by that other great Norman dynasty, the Hautevilles.