The first Norman rulers

Rainulf II Trincanocte of Aversa and Drogo de Hauteville

A little before the middle of the 11th century, the political scene in southern Italy was still unstable. It was only because of the help of his Norman contingents, that Guaimar of Salerno succeeded in establishing a seigniory (controlling Gaeta, Salerno and Capua), proclaiming himself, in open defiance of the Byzantines, duke of Apulia and Calabria in 1043. His attempts to achieve unity were doomed to failure. After the death of the Norman, Rainulf I, in 1045, he did not manage to impose one of his followers on the throne of Aversa, where Rainulf’s nephew, Rainulf II Trincanocte prevailed. Then, the arrival of German emperor Henry III, in 1047, put an end to Guaimar’s dreams of glory. Capua was taken from him and given to Pandulf IV and he put under his suzerainty the counties of Aversa and Melfi.
Aversa and Melfi were now two of the most important Norman principalities, whose legitimacy was recognised by the most powerful princes at the time. After that of the local ruler, Guaimar of Salerno came recognition by the more prestigious Emperor Henry III, who officially invested Dreux of Melfi and also Rainulf II of Aversa. The third recognition, by the papacy, came later, and marked a change in the balance of power clearly to the advantage of the Normans. In 1053, Pope Leo IX (from Lorraine), who wanted to force the Normans from Italy, was defeated and imprisoned at Civitate; he had no other solution than to attribute their conquests to the Norman counts (in fact allowing him to reinforce his authority in relation to the emperor). A decisive turning point in their ties with the papacy happened in 1059, when, during the synod of Melfi, Pope Nicolas II received the promise of loyalty from Robert Guiscard, heir of the Hautevilles, and Richard of Aversa, and granted them the investiture of their lands. They were now considered to be under the auspices of the Holy See and de facto independent.

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