The heirs of the Conquest

Roger Borsa and Guiscard’s legacy

The eldest son of Robert Guiscard, from his second marriage to the Lombard Sikelgaita, benefited from the succession to power. Roger Borsa (1085-1111) succeeded Robert to the duchy of Apulia and Calibria. His uncle, Roger the Grand Count and his descendants, maintained control of Sicily. Roger Borsa was not of the same calibre as his father, and his reign was distinguished by a period of intense feudal anarchy, despite the interventions of the Pope and his appeals for a truce of God between 1089 and 1120. Bohemond of Tarente, the half-brother of Roger, who had no right to succession, as he was the child of a first marriage, which had been dissolved for political reasons, seized an important part of southern Apulia from 1085. His son Bohemond II abandoned this conquest in 1126 and left for Antioch. From 1091, Roger Borsa, abandoned Robert Guiscard’s share in the conquest of Palermo (1072), in exchange for Roger the Grand Count’s help against an uprising in Cosenza. Finally Amalfi regained its independence in 1096…
However the rival principality of Capua had its own problems, and from 1090 and in 1098, Richard II acknowledged that he was the vassal of Roger Borsa. But the situation did not improve and his death (22 February 1111) did not help matters. He was succeeded by his son William who was weak and incapable of making a stand against the anarchy of the barons. William was only capable of administering his own territories around Salerno. He was forced to abandon Calabria and his last possessions in Sicily to his cousin, Roger II of Sicily, in exchange for his help against the powerful Count Jordan of Ariano. Some towns gained local autonomy (Gaita 1123, Naples around 1129-1130 in the context that it was an independent duchy; and Bari and Troia in Apulia). William died in July 1127 without heirs.

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