The Normans in the Mediterranean


The rise of Robert Guiscard


    From the middle of the 11th century, and in a little less than four decades, the hitherto anarchic organisation of Mezzogiorno was considerably modified. Its unification, if not under a single authority, at least under the control of the Normans, was essentially the work of a man of exceptional destiny, Robert de Hauteville, the son of a poor knight, from the Cotentin in Normandy. A mercenary in Campania, a brigand in Calabria, then the count of Melfi, duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily and, finally, nearly emperor.

His story is that of a tireless warrior and of an extremely wise man, hence his nickname of Guiscard (Viscardus) the ‘cunning’ which perfectly reflects his qualities and stands as his sole name on his epitaph.


The succession of the Hauteville first-born
Robert, the ‘baron thief’
The battle of Civitate (1053)
The pact of Melfi (1059)

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