The Norman kingdom between East and West

William II : the familiares regis

From the reign of Roger II, king of Sicily, in order to manage the affairs of state, the kingdom depended on a consultative system unique in Europe. The familiares regis (royal inner council) was a cabinet composed of a limited number of clearly defined political counsellors, often chosen from the notables and heads of various administrations, to which the king would consult to make decisions.
Under the regency, Margaret conserved the inner council cabinet of William I, which at the end of his reign contained only three noteworthy people. The kaid Peter, who despite his Latin remained faithful to Islam; Matthew of Aiello, from Salerno, who was an officer in the Chancellery, close to Maio of Bari; and Richard Palmer, bishop of Syracuse, a friend of Thomas Becket.
Stephen of Perche became the principal instigator of the inner council and after he left, Margaret of Navarre had to count on a new cabinet of ten people, under the direction of Gentilis of Agrigente. Composed of; the counts Roger of Gerace, Richard of Molise, from Spain Henry of Montescalioso, the queen’s brother, the notary Matthew, the kaid Richard, bishop Richard Palmer, Romuald, the queen’s chronicler and archbishop of Salerno, and finally John, bishop of Malta and Walter Ophamil, without a doubt English, the private tutor of the king and dean of the Agigente Chapter.
Walter Ophamil, who became the archbishop of Palermo and Matthew of Aiello, vice-chancellor, were the dominant personalities of this government. Matthew would support Tancrede of Lecce, illegitimate descendent of the Hautevilles, against Henry VI, the German emperor, Constance of Hauteville’s husband, William I’s aunt.

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