The Normans in the Mediterranean


The end of the Norman Kingdom


    William, died, in May 1189, leaving no direct or designated heirs. The throne of Sicily was claimed by two pretenders: his cousin, Tancred of Lecce, illegitimate son of one of Roger II’s sons, and Henry, the son of the German emperor, the husband of Constance de Hauteville and Roger II’s daughter, who he had married two years earlier.

On becoming emperor Henry VI possessed the means to claim, in the name of his wife, the Hauteville’s legacy. It was the occasion to bring back to the fold of the Empire, southern Italy, which had been desired for such a long time by his predecessors.

With the death of Tancred in 1194, Henry VI acceded to the throne to complete his conquest of the kingdom and governed until his death in 1197. At Christmas in 1194, in Palermo, the crown of Sicily was symbolically laid at the feet of Henry VI, by young William III, under-age heir to the throne. The Norman dynasty had been replaced, legitimately by the Swabian dynasty.

The following two decades were a period of great political instability and anarchy in the kingdom, until 1220 when Frederick II arrived in Italy to assume the crown. The thirty troubled years of his reign were all marked by the exceptional personality of the king and emperor, which earned him the nickname, by the chronicler Matthew Paris, stupor mundi (the Marvel of the World), by analogy with the epitaph of Robert Guiscard, terror mundi.


Tancred of Lecce, king of Sicily
The Third Crusade and the kingdom of Sicily
Henry VI Hohenstaufen
The infancy of Frederick II
Frederick II, king of Sicily and German emperor

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