The first Norman rulers

Anarchy in Apulia

After the expedition to Sicily, the former allies were confronted with each other. In 1040, a new insurrection broke out, between Apulia and Byzantium. It was led by the Lombard Argyrus, Melus’s son; the rebellion of 1016-1018 was taken up by Arduin, the leader of the Sicilian expedition in 1038. Henceforth Arduin was the official administrator of the Melfi area on behalf of the Greek Empire. He attempted to make a place for himself in the region with the help of his former Norman comrades-in-arms, the Hauteville brothers. Together they inflicted severe defeats on the Byzantine army in 1041. The catepan (governor) of Apulia, Boioannes, was imprisoned and sent to Benevento where the prince was still an ally of the Normans. The Byzantines now only controlled the southern part of Apulia. Thanks to a conflict between the Normans and prince Atenolf of Benevento, Argyrus was elected “duke and prince of Italy” (i.e. Apulia), in Bari, in February 1042. The following year, the Byzantine general, George Maniakis had to return to mainland Italy in order to put down the disorders and he succeeded in crushing the Lombard rebellion in Apulia. His triumph allowed him to be proclaimed emperor by his troops and he sought to unite with the Argyrus rebels. Constatine Monomaque, the legitimate emperor turned against the rebels and their Norman allies. At the height of this confusion, in February 1042, Argyrus embraced the imperial cause and organised resistance against the Normans.
Taking advantage of this climate of permanent anarchy, the Normans seized Melfi and the whole area to the west of Apulia, from the Ofanto valley to Matera in Basilicate. In 1043, the Normans in Melfi placed themselves under the authority of the Lombard prince Guaimar of Salerno and divided the conquered or to be conquered country into twelve counties.

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