Robert Guiscard - “the Advised one” - ( Roberto D' Altavilla - it Italian Guiscardo in ), born towards 1015 (after the year 1020 according to other sources), is most remarkable of the adventurers Normands resulting from the duchy of Normandy. Á to start from 1057, it begins the conquest of the Italy South, mainly on the Byzantine , before starting that of the Moslem Sicily starting from 1061, in company of his/her younger brother Roger.
Arrival in Italy and first conquests
As from the year 999 according to the legend, the first Norman mercenaries, famous warlike goods, start to be used the dukes and princes lombards (or Langobards) and Greek as Southern Italy: when the Greek duke Serge IV of Naples installs one of their main thing chief (Rainulf Drengot) in the fortress of Aversa in 1029 (first establishment of Norman of the duchy in Italy and the Mediterranean), they start to organize the conquest of a divided country and in prey with the anarchy.
About the year 1035 arrive to Italy the first Hauteville, the brothers Guillaume (called “Arm-of-Iron soon”) and Drogon, the two oldest sons of Tancrède, small Norman lord of the Cotentin; in hardly a few years, after having served mercenaries until in 1040, they take the west of the Apulie to the Byzantines and fight for their own account. In 1042, Melfi is selected like capital of their stronghold of Apulie (cf county of Apulie) and Guillaume Arm-of-Iron is elected there chief of Norman of Italy in September of the same year. This last car-is proclaimed soon, “king in Apulie”. In 1044 arrives another their many brothers, Onfroi which, with its band, serves its elder, then, approximately three years later, it is Robert, the sixth of wire of Tancrède, which arrives at the head of five knights and thirty-five infantrymen (1046/47).
Accommodated coldly by his Drogon brother become count of Apulie recently (they miss even entretuer at the time of a banquet), Robert is then directed with his small armed band in Calabria. He carries out to it consequently, starting from his principal reference mark of San Marco Argentano, on the heights of the Crati (close to Cosenza), a life of brigand, knowing as well the hunger, thirst, and misery, that fortune, plundering the rich person monasteries and the churches, flying of the cattle, holding to ransom the population and détroussant the travellers, badgering the Byzantine troops and sowing terror in the area. It is during this period that it receives its Norman nickname of “Guiscard”, the “Advised one”, the “Astute one”. At the same time as this life of gangster, it is used occasionally the prince lombard Pandulf IV as Capoue, like his brothers Drogon then Onfroi, count d' Apulie in 1051. It continues its life of robber until his marriage towards 1051/52 with Aubrée of Burgundy, girl of the count Renaud Ier of Burgundy, and relationship of powerful a baron of Apulie being used the duchy lombard as Bénévent; by this advantageous marriage which improves its condition, it receives in dowry, the authority of a troop of some two hundred Norman knights. In 1053, in the sides of his/her brothers and of the Norman count Richard d' Aversa, it takes part valiantly in the battles of Civitate on the Fortore (close to San Severo), Normands opponent of Italy and their opponents supported by the pope Leon IX, all anxious of the companies Normans, Norman hated and qualified “new buckwheats”, being shown increasingly pressing, undertaking, aggressive, and unverifiable. The armed papal is severely beaten. In 1057, Robert Guiscard succeeds Onfroi as count d' Apulie, évinçant his two young nephews, Abagelard and Hermann. He undertakes then, in company of his young Roger brother, called “Bosso”, recently arrived to Italy, the total conquest of Apulie, conquest which he completes except the south, remained with the hands of the Byzantines, in particular with Bari, which resists. He also starts to attack Calabria while Richard d' Aversa makes hand-low on the principality of Capoue which he places under his authority.
Constitution of the Norman kingdomPapacy, in great difficulty and increasingly isolated because of its rupture on a side with the Germanic Empire in the business from the Nomination S, and other side in rupture with the Byzantine Empire caused by the schism religious of 1054, then decides to recognize the authority of Norman and to make its official allies of them. Also in Melfi, Norman high-place, the August 23rd 1059, the pope Nicolas II officializes their possessions in exchange of the payment of an annual rent and to carry the papal banner in their wars. Robert Guiscard then becomes duke of Apulie, Calabria and Sicily. Starting from this key date, the Norman ones have the freehands and can now serve the Church and Papacy: they can especially better be used for them to make use of them, and to legitimate their actions and their takeovers in Italy of the South and Sicily.
During about fifteen years which follow, Robert Guiscard made a surprising series of conquests. It invades Sicily with Roger as from February 1061, and together, in spite of the little of men they have (seldom more than one thousand), make the conquest of Messine. The conquest of the island is slow and difficult, so much by the lack of tested Norman warriors Robert and Roger have to be able to fight effectively on several faces, that by the big number of Moslem fortresses which square Sicily. Let us note in this conquest of Sicily (a true “crusade” before the hour), the bright victory of Norman in 1063 with Cerami, in spite of their numerical weakness vis-a-vis “innumerable” the Moslem troops. A few years later, Guiscard, which definitively drove out the Byzantines of Italy with the catch of Bari in April 1071, begins the seat of Palermo with sea, while his/her brother takes the city with reverse, by terrestrial way (1071); the city, Moslem woman since more than two centuries, falls finally to the hands Norman the year according to (1072). In Italy, the duchy of Amalfi is removed in 1073 and the Greeks are expelled in great number of the south of the country. The principality of Salerno belongs already to Robert but in 1076, it besieges and takes the city, driving out the last prince lombard Gisulf, of which it had married the sister Sykelgaite before: in 1077, Robert Guiscard makes this rich city, its principal capital. The attack Norman on Bénévent, papal stronghold since 1053, alarm and irritates the pope Gregoire VII which excommunicates a Guiscard time. But, hard in a hurry by the Germanic emperor Henri III, the pope concedes in Norman all the south of the the Abruzzi except Salerno (1080, with Céprano).
Byzantine warThe last great forwarding of Guiscard is to attack the Roman Empire of the East with its vassal. Its objective is perhaps, even, to seize Byzance. Indeed, the Norman ones hate the Byzantines, whom they find “effeminate too much”, and ambitious Normand dream to take the capital of the Empire hoping to seize throne of the basileus, taking consequently the cause of Michel VII which was deposited in 1078. Moreover, one of his/her daughters, Olympias, was promised in marriage to the son of Michel VII, Constantin Doukas, before the inversion of its family. It thus embarks with 16.000 men (troops in not-Normans majority) in May 1081 and in February 1082, it occupies Corfou and Durazzo, after having inflicted a heavy defeat with the emperor Alexis Comnène (October 1081). However he is recalled to the assistance by the pope Gregoire VII, is besieged by the Germanic emperor Henri IV in June 1083, and must turn over to Italy, leaving the command to his oldest son Bohémond.
Sit of Rome and dead of Robert GuiscardGoing towards north with 36.000 men, almost all of the mercenaries buckwheats and Moslems (in the military large companies, Norman, too very few, only the military executives and of the crack corpses form), it enters Rome and forces Henri, taken of short, to withdraw itself. However, a movement of panic gains the Roman citizens, which causes three days of setting with total bag of the city in May 1084; the pope, itself terrified, leave the city to go to take refuge in sure place, in the fortress of Salerno. During this time, Bohémond, a main time of the Thessalie, loses the conquests in Greece. Robert, returning to take them again, re-occupies Corfou and the island of Céphalonie, before dying there of Fièvre and Dysenterie the July 15th 1085. Its body is brought back in Apulie and it is buried with Venosa, family burial of the Hauteville, place which it itself had chosen.
His/her son Roger, born from his marriage with Sykelgaite, succeeds to him, favoured by the latter, whereas Bohémond is isolated paternal heritage.
PersonalityWe know a description partial of Robert Guiscard: “it was of very high stature, broad and robust, the fair hair, a coloured dye and eyes of a very clear blue, the powerful voice, a sharp glance but which worries”.
We do not know if it knew one lira day and to write but we know that it learned how to speak and include/understand the Greek language, always used in Southern Italy and that it was fascinated by the Byzantine Empire and the Greek culture. The chronicler of origin Norman Guillaume de Pouille left us the history of Robert Guiscard in his work, Geste of Robert Guiscard ( Gesti Rodberti Wiscardi ), in particular telling the adventures Normans in the Mediterranean of the year 1016 at 1085, and the rise of Guiscard.
Fortress of San Marco Argentano, first fortress of Guiscard; Photo
- of the fortress of San Marco Argentano.
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