|The end of the Norman Kingdom and the arrival of the Swabians|
Henry VI Hohenstaufen
Henry VI was crowned emperor in Rome during his expedition in 1191, but the resistance of towns in southern Italy and an epidemic in the army obliged him to stop his offensive. He returned to Italy in 1194, assisted by the navies of Genoa and Pisa. Tancred of Lecce was dead and William III of Sicily a mere child. The Norman barons, discouraged, were subdued. Salerno was razed and other towns surrendered. In barely a few weeks, southern Italy was in the hands of the emperor, and Sicily was occupied. Promises of compensation were made to William III and his mother, the regent.
The day after his crowning on 25 December 1194 and on the contrary to what had been assumed, Henry VI attacked the Norman-Sicilian nobility in a bloody campaign of repression. The corpses of Tancred and his son Roger were desecrated. William III was mutilated and sent to captivity in Germany.
In 1197, a few Norman barons, who had escaped the massacre, rebelled against the despoilment system in favour of the emperor, and once again the repression was extremely bloody. Henry cruelly suppressed the uprising with torture and executions. Distrusting even Constance de Hauteville, he imprisoned his wife in Palermo.
In August 1197, dying, he wrote a will, recognizing Norman Italy as the fiefdom of the Holy See. In case of a power vacuum, the kingdom would be given back to the Pope, Henry VI died in Messina on 23 September 1197.