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Empires of the Middle Ages
The Norman "Invasion" of Sicily
Wed Apr 30 05:37:02 UTC 2008

The so-called Norman invasion of southern Italia is one of the major misnomers in history – it was really more of a parasitic infestation. Probably if there had been no Norman invasion of England the term wouldn't even exist. Consider the chronology:

  1. Normans arrived in southern Italia in small groups just before 1020. Some were petitioners of the pope, some were pilgrims returning from the Holy Land.
  2. Some of these Normans joined Lombard rebels trying to overthrow the Byzantines in Bari (Apulia).
  3. Norman mercenaries continued to enlist with various southern Italian rulers.
  4. In 1030 the Duke of Naples granted the county of Aversa to one of them called Rainulf in return for his support against Capua.
  5. Rainulf was able to add Gaeta.
  6. His nephew Richard added Capua in 1047.
  7. Robert Guiscard, a small landholder in the area, and his brothers, undertook conquest of the south, exploiting the weakness inherent in only nominal control from the far distant empires of the Byzantines (in the southern mainland) and the Arabs (in Sicily).
  8. Pope Leo IX is defeated in battle by Normans on 6/16/1053 at Civitate. Thereafter he entrusted Sicily to them as a hereditary fief.
So this was not an invasion from Scandinavia or any other "Norman" land outside Italia itself.