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Dec. 3, 2022

74 Chapter 2: Greater and Lesser Brothers: Establishing a presence in Southern Italy

74 Chapter 2: Greater and Lesser Brothers: Establishing a presence in Southern Italy

The Hauteville family conquers southern Italy, defying princes, popes and emperors.


“In [Normandy] there is a city called Coutances, and in its territory there is a village named Hauteville; called thus not so much because of the height of any hill upon which it is situated, but rather, so we believe, as an omen predicting the extraordinary fortune and great success of the future heirs of this village, who with the help of God and their own dynamism raised themselves step by step to the highest of ranks. We do not know whether divine providence saw what was pleasing to it in the preceding generations, or foresaw it in their heirs who came after, or even both, but it raised these heirs to great estates so that, as was promised to Abraham, they grew into a great people and spread their rule by force of arms.”

-Geoffrey Malaterra, Deeds of Count Roger and his brother Duke Robert

“[The Hauteville] saw their own neighborhood would not be big enough for them and that when their patrimony was divided not only would their heirs argue among themselves about the share-out, but the individual shares would simply not be big enough. So, to prevent the same thing happening in future as had happened to them, they discussed the matter among themselves. They decided that since the elders were at that time stronger than those younger to them, they should be the first to leave their homeland and go to other places seeking their fortune through arms, and finally God led them to the Italian province of Apulia.”

-Geoffrey Malaterra, Deeds of Count Roger and his brother Duke Robert

[Quotations read by Veronica Fortune of Passed Podcast]

Little is known about the Hauteville family before they assumed power in Italy. According to legend, the house was founded by a Norseman named Hiallt shortly after Rollo became Count of Rouen. The Hautevilles thus became the petty lords of a small town. In the early 1000s Tancred became the patriarch of the family. He married Murielle and with her had 6 children who lived to adulthood: 5 sons and one daughter. When Murielle passed away Tancred took Frédésende as his new wife. She bore 7 sons and at least one daughter.

Tancred had enough land to provide a modest inheritance for one, maybe even a few of his sons; but this minor lord could not provide for 12 male heirs, much less provide dowries for his daughters. Nor did he have connections with the church which would allow him to appoint his children to honored & lucrative positions within the clergy. When they came of age the Hauteville sons understood that they faced a life of poverty if they remained in Normandy. As if on cue, messengers arrived from southern Italy on behalf of Rainulf, calling Normans to join him and receive wealth, land and glory beyond their greatest imaginings. The eldest son of Tancred’s first wife, a man named Guillaume, heeded the call, alongside his brother Drogo and perhaps Onfroi [‘Humphrey’ in English], though we cannot be sure if this third brother joined them from the outset or arrived later.

Guillaume and Drogo arrived in Italy and joined a band of Norman mercenaries. The now-sizeable population of Norman soldiers of fortune in the region organized into companies who sold their services to whoever would hire them. These companies were nominally loyal to Rainulf, though in practice they gave their allegiance to whichever commander they respected most. Commanders earned respect through their ability to pay soldiers and their own military reputation. Guillaume rapidly proved himself as an utterly ferocious warrior and brilliant tactician. Over the decade he earned the respect, and therefore subordination, of most of the Italian Normans.

The eldest Hauteville brothers’ company initially served various Lombard dukes before switching their allegiance to the Byzantines. Within three years Guillaume was already making a name for himself, though in 1038 he became a legend. That year a Byzantine commander named Georgios Maniakes raised an army for the purpose of retaking Sicily from the various Muslim emirs who ruled the island. Guillaume and Drogo joined 300 to 500 Normans under the command of the Lombard Arduin as part of the expedition. Among the Normans was Hervé, called by the Greeks ‘Frankopoulos,’ or ‘Son of the Frank,’ and who will appear later on in our story. Another contingent within the army were the Varangian Guard, an elite group of soldiers primarily from Scandinavia. The Scandinavians were led by an exiled Norwegian prince named Harald Sigurdsson, who later became known as Hadrada for his harsh rule when he retook the Norwegian throne. These were the fighting men of southern Italy; the exiled, the banished, the bastards, the disinherited, the dispossessed, the unlucky, the disfavored, the sons of poor nobles. This force joined with the Greeks and sailed for Sicily.

Maniakes’ army landed in the northeast winning a battle at Rometta in 1038. By 1040 the invaders moved inland and won another battle at Troina. From there they turned southeast to the populous port-city of Syracuse which they besieged. The Sicilian soldiers must have been desperate and low on supplies, as the emir of the city himself led a sortie with the aim of lifting the siege. The invaders decimated the Sicilians and Guillaume himself killed their leader, after which he earned the moniker “Bras-de-fer,” in English, “Iron Arm.” The city surrendered, meaning the Byzantines held control over the island’s east coast.

It looked as if the Byzantines would continue their conquest but problems within the army brought the campaign to a swift end. The Normans were unhappy with their share of the spoils following the capture of Troina. They pushed their Lombard patron Arduin to raise the issue with Maniakes and hopefully secure more pay. Maniakes responded by having Arduin publicly whipped in front of the camp for his insubordination. Some outraged Normans, among them Guillaume Iron Arm and Drogo, abandoned the campaign. However, many Normans remained faithful and formed a unit known as the Manakatoi, named after Maniakes. While defections weakened the Greek position in Syracuse, political intrigue killed it. Rumors spread at the court in Constantinople that Maniakes was treacherous and he was ordered to return to the capital in chains. With Byzantine attention elsewhere, Muslim lords reconquered their territory.

After the Sicilian campaign the Greek catepan of Italy made Arduin the lord of Melfi, perhaps as a consolation for his ill treatment. While Arduin accepted the position, he was fed up with the Greeks and joined a Lombard rebellion led by Atenulf of Benevento. The Norman mercenaries joined the Lombards, with Iron Arm as their leader. By 1041 the Byzantines regrouped and sent a force to meet their upstart vassals. The Greeks and the Varangians under Harald formed an army in the low thousands and chased their enemies west from Bari until they reached the Olivento River. On 17 March the Byzantines sent emissaries to a Lombard-Norman force numbering around one-thousand, asking them if they would leave the area or stay and fight against the larger Byzantine force. Iron Arm told them he would fight. At the Battle of Olivento the Norman cavalry routed the enemy infantry, many of which drowned in the river as they fled. This defeat opened up much of Italy for conquest and plunder. Norman mercenaries flocked to Iron Arm for secure pay and to take part in his glorious campaign.

After Olivento the Lombards and Normans marched east along the Greek-controlled coast. Again, the catepan and Harald arrived to meet them, though this time both sides had significantly larger armies. The Byzantines were so desperate that they pulled men from Sicily, ensuring the collapse of their power there in exchange for a chance at retaining southern Italy. On 14 May 1041 the two forces engaged at Monte Maggiore. The Byzantines formed their infantry-heavy army into two lines. The Norman cavalry charged in a spearhead formation, pushing the first line back into the second, splitting one half of the army from the other, and causing mass confusion among the Byzantines, allowing the Lombard-Norman infantry to devastate the uncoordinated army. The Byzantines broke under the pressure, granting the Normans another stunning victory over the Eastern Roman Empire.

These defeats caused the Byzantines to replace the catepan of Italy. The new catepan raised an army and besieged the Lombard stronghold of Melfi. In response, Iron Arm led his forces to sack their camp, depriving the Byzantines of food, thus ending the siege. The Greeks and their Scandinavian allies turned from Melfi and met Iron Arm’s forces. Yet again, the Norman cavalry overwhelmed the Byzantines and the catepan himself was captured. The Byzantines were utterly devastated. They had no answer to Iron Arm, whose forces grew until most of the Normans in Italy pledged loyalty to him, or at least called him an ally.

Norman ascendency frightened the declining Lombards. Arduin, Atenulf and his successor Argyrus defected to the Greeks, who almost certainly bribed them. This outraged the Normans, though there remained a number of Lombards who maintained their fidelity with their allies. In September 1042 there was a great council of the lords of southern Italy, chief among them the Lombard Guaimar IV, prince of Salerno, and the Normans Rainulf and Iron Arm. There the Normans proclaimed Iron Arm as their leader. By this time many Normans believed that they needed to follow their own leaders, due to the treachery of the Lombards. Yet, the Northmen did not believe they were strong enough to rule alone, and they recognized Guaimar IV as Duke of Apulia and Calabria. This title was highly problematic as it was not recognized by the Holy Roman Empire nor the Byzantine Empire; it was Guaimar IV’s own invention and an audacious one at that. Moreover, Guaimar IV’s title implied that he was the overlord of all of southern Italy, but there remained much Byzantine territory on the eastern coast of Apulia. Guaimar IV knew he had to rely on the Normans and so he uplifted Iron Arm to Count of Apulia, the second Norman to be made count after Rainulf of Aversa. Then Guaimar IV made 12 leading Normans barons, each with their own town. Iron Arm ruled from Melfi in the south-central part of southern Italy, while his brother Drogo took Bovino from the Byzantines.

In late 1045 Guillaume Iron Arm fell ill and passed away the following year at the age of 35 or 36. The eldest of the Hauteville brothers was almost something out of a Norse epic. He came from a faraway land, arriving on foreign shores. Almost immediately he proved his worth, fighting against Italians, Lombards, Greeks, Arabs and Berbers, even killing an emir. He survived conspiracies and bested imperial armies. In the process he united the Normans under his banner. His death was a major setback to the Norman cause, but it was not a fatal one.

Most of the Normans pledged their allegiance to his brother Drogo who held his people together. Additionally, Drogo further legitimized Norman overlordship. In 1046 he married the Lombard princess Altrude of Salerno. Later that year the German Heinrich III marched with an army to Rome and assumed the title of Holy Roman Emperor. Southern Italians had the luxury of ignoring the German Emperor when he was north of the Alps; with Heinrich III in the center of the peninsula they had no choice but to pay homage. In exchange for Drogo’s vassalage, the Emperor recognized him as “Count of all the Normans of Apulia and Calabria.” Drogo’s de facto lordship of the Normans in Italy became de jure, and the House of Hauteville became officially superior to the House of Drengot.

Word spread of the Normans’ great deeds and the titles they won in southern Italy, prompting even more Normans to travel abroad to seek their fortune. In 1047, one of the most consequential of all these travelers arrived: Robert de Hauteville, the eldest son of Tancred and his second wife Frédésende. In the Alexiad, a history of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos by his daughter Princess Anna, Anna describes Robert as, “a brave fighter, very cunning in his assaults on the wealth and power of great men; in achieving his aims absolutely inexorable, diverting criticism by incontrovertible argument. He was a man of immense stature, surpassing even the biggest men; he had a ruddy complexion, fair hair, broad shoulders, eyes that all but shot sparks of fire…Homer remarked of Achilles that when he shouted his hearers had the impression of a multitude in uproar, but Robert’s bellow, so they say, put tens of thousands to flight. With such endowments of fortune and nature and soul, he was, as you would expect, no man’s slave, owing obedience to nobody in all the world. Such are men of powerful character, people say, even if they are of humbler origin.” While Anna waxes poetic about Robert’s imposing stature, she spends even more time describing his brilliant mind. She did not exaggerate as Robert’s political acumen ensured his rise to power.

The eldest son of Tancred and Frédésende arrived in Apulia with a band of 5 knights and 35 foot-soldiers. There he became a mercenary, who perhaps tried his hand at brigandage, depending on the sources. He was not initially successful and shortly after arriving he traveled to Calabria where his elder half-brothers Drogo and Onfroi ruled. Robert appealed to Drogo for aid, but Drogo ignored his requests. In truth, Drogo could scarcely spare any men or resources as he was not entirely secure in his position. Within his own lands he vied for power with other Normans. Externally he warred with the Byzantines. Moreover, in the game of Italian politics he had to pay homage to the Lombard Guaimar IV and the German Emperor, even as he worked to secure his own autonomy. It is also possible that there was little love between the sons of Murielle and Frédésende. Though they shared the same father, the two were half-brothers, and Drogo initially refused to part with any land, wealth or men to support Robert.

Dismayed but undeterred, Robert hatched a plot. He arranged a meeting with a local lord then captured him and held him for ransom. Afterwards he gained the moniker ‘Guiscard,’ meaning ‘Cunning’ in Old French, and it is how he is known to history. Robert Guiscard used the ransom money to expand his operations and became a notable leader. He then entered into an alliance with the Norman Girard of Buonalbergo by marrying his aunt Aubrée. The marriage brought with it Girard’s friendship and more importantly the service of his 200 knights.

By 1051 the Normans exercised remarkable powers in southern Italy, so much so that the Lombards came to resent them still further. These local lords had initially welcomed the Normans as allies against the Byzantines, but the Northmen were too successful. The Greeks were on the retreat, while the French-speakers were mighty and wealthy lords with titles, land and wives of notable pedigree. The Lombards were not alone in their opposition to the Normans. Pope Leo IX also opposed their growing power as it came at the expense of his traditional Lombard allies. Moreover, many Normans still plundered the countryside, including within the Papal States.

In Spring 1051 the citizens of Benevento expelled the prince and submitted to Pope Leo IX who they hoped would better defend them against the Normans. Afterwards, Leo IX met the Norman leader Drogo and his Lombard patron Prince Guiamar IV, where the latter two agreed not to tax the local populace. While Drogo consented, his vassals were used to their autonomy so the Normans in the region continued attacking the people of Benevento, drawing their ire. On the 10th August, Drogo went to pray at a church in Monteilaro, near Bovino. There he was assassinated. This was one of a number of high-profile murders of Normans, and their allies, including their great patron Guiamar IV.

The Northmen found themselves in the cross-hairs of Italian politics, which is always a deadly place to be. First, the Byzantines wanted to reconquer the lands taken from them and formed an alliance with Lombards who sought to reestablish their traditional dominance of their own territory. Then Pope Leo IX joined the pact, for political as well as religious reasons. Politically, he sought to protect the Papal States and his influence over the Italian nobility. Religiously, he aimed to ease tensions between himself and the Patriarch of Constantinople Mikhail I Cerularius. At the time, Pope and Patriarch were in disagreement over a number of theological issues. Moreover, the Patriarch sought to expand his own power as head of the Greek church even as he denied papal supremacy. Leo IX hoped that a joint military adventure might relax relations between the Latin and Greek churches before they drifted too far apart. By 1053 the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich III, Guiamar IV’s successor Gisulf II, and the prince of Benevento all joined the coalition. Thus, the Normans found themselves under attack by two emperors, a pope and two princes. In late Spring 1053 Pope amassed a large army of Italian conscripts, buffeted by elite German heavy infantry. Meanwhile the Byzantines sent a fleet to Italy. Their plan was to catch the Normans between hammer and anvil, crushing the newcomers from France.

The Normans mustered as many soldiers as they could to prevent their subjugation. They rallied under Onfroi, the third Hauteville brother. Joining him was Richard Count of Aversa, a relative of the deceased Rainulf, and Robert Guiscard. With 3,000 horsemen and 500 infantry the Normans marched north to meet the papal army, hoping to crush it before it could link up with the incoming Byzantines. On 18 June 1053 the Norman forces encountered their foes at San Paolo di Civitate. The Normans looked out at the gathered host, which was probably twice the size of their own. The Holy Roman Emperor had sent an elite group of 700 Swabian infantry armed with longswords, while the bulk of the army was formed of local Italian levies who flocked to the holy banner.

Recognizing their position, Onfroi sought to parlay with Leo IX, offering fealty if he and his fellows were allowed to keep their lands and titles. The Pope recognized he was in a position of strength and refused to comprise. Moreover, time was on the side of his Holiness; every second that passed the Greeks drew nearer. Once the Byzantine fleet arrived, Norman victory would be a near-impossibility. It was decided: the Normans had no choice but to fight.

Picture a wide open plain, broken up by a small hill in the dead center. The hill was small enough that when the two armies formed their flanks stretched out past the hill’s left and right sides, while the hill only obscured the center of each army from the other. The Normans split into three forces: On the right flank was Richard of Aversa with his heavy cavalry. Onfroi took the center with archers and infantry. Robert Guiscard took the left flank with his own cavalry and hired Slavic infantry. On the other side of the field, the Papal coalition split into two forces. The massive force of Italian levies faced Richard. The German-led force of heavy infantry held the center and what would be the right flank, facing the Norman left. Though the Normans could not see it, the Germans and Italians waved a red flag with the image of Saint Peter, the Pope’s personal standard. This was the first time the banner had been taken into battle, and it demonstrated that His Holiness and God was on the Italo-German side, and against the Normans.

Battle began when Richard of Aversa urged his cavalry towards the Italians. A thousand Norman knights trotted across the empty field towards the infantry, who felt the ground shake like rolling thunder as the Northmen approached. As the Normans drew nearer they urged their horses into a full sprint. Seeing the force coming towards them, many Italians dropped their weapons and fled before battle even began. Those that remained were smashed in the sudden onrush. While the Italians heavily outnumbered the Normans they were not career soldiers on par with their opponents. These were levied infantry, who took up arms mostly as a show of force when their own villages were threatened. They were no match for the mounted warriors; the right flank was an utter slaughter.

Meanwhile Onfroi led his infantry and archers up the hill. At the top the archers began raining death on the Germans. But the Germans were the Emperor’s seasoned heavy infantry. The German center held high their shields and charged the Norman line. After a final volley, the archers fell back and the Norman infantry got into formation just in time to brace for the sudden assault. The two sides proved evenly matched and fought bitterly on the top of the hill. At this point the Germans left behind on the right flank marched forward with the aim of surrounding Onfroi’s main host. As they neared, Guiscard led his infantry and knights to charge them. The German right met the Norman left. As was the case in the center, the elite Germans and ferocious Normans fought and died in equal measure. Then Richard’s cavalry returned from routing the Italians and smashed into their enemy’s exposed back. The chronicles record that the Germans fought bravely, choosing to die rather than surrender. But die they did.

The Battle of Civitate was a decisive victory for the Normans. These expert horsemen had proved themselves against the Emperor’s infantry. Moreover, they demonstrated the efficiency of their forces in the face of a larger but unprofessional army. Following the battle, the Normans took Civitate itself and held the pope hostage. Word spread rapidly through the peninsula. Just as the Byzantine fleet arrived at Bari they were told that the coalition was over. The Byzantine soldiers barely had time to take in the sights, grab some street food and enjoy the cityscape before they sailed for home. Meanwhile, the Normans transferred Pope Leo IX to Benevento, holding him hostage for 9 months until he agreed to recognize the Norman conquests.

One hugely important side effect of Norman victory at Civitate was the resumption of poor relations between the Latin and Greek churches. Leo IX contended that the pope was the rightful supreme authority over all of religious affairs within Christendom. He based his claim on the Donation of Constantine, a document supposedly written in the 4th century by the Roman Emperor ceding power to the Bishop of Rome. The Patriarch of Constantinople, rightfully, pointed out that this was a forgery and that the bishop of Rome could not dictate to the eastern churches. Given that the pope was so weak he was even then a captive, the Patriarch could safely continue his assault on papal supremacy. Relations deteriorated to such a point that Leo IX sent a papal bull to Hagia Sophia, the great basilica at the heart of the Byzantine capital, excommunicating its Patriarch. The Patriarch replied with his own excommunications. While it was not widely acknowledged as such at the time, historians mark these mutual excommunications of Pope and Patriarch as the start of the East-West Schism, dividing the Christian world between the Catholic West and the Orthodox East.

History is not a science; we cannot put it under a microscope and perform tests to see if we can get different results. As such, we have no idea how much of an impact the Normans had on dividing Christendom. It is probable that their actions certainly sped up or even facilitated the great division of Christianity. In the early 1050s Pope and Patriarch had put aside their differences to fight the Normans; defeat brought back all their old squabbles. Moreover, Pope Leo IX died shortly after being held hostage; his body was already entombed by the time excommunication orders were delivered. Had the pope not been captured he may have lived longer and the two sides could have battled for influence, negotiated or even made concessions. Instead, Leo IX passed away, tearing apart the Christian world as one of his final acts.

Following the Battle of Civitate, Onfroi and Robert Guiscard invaded the Lombard territory. Guiscard especially swept from town to town until he overshadowed his elder half-brother. In 1056 he built a castle at Cosenza, which still stands to this day, from which he ruled over his vast provinces.

In 1057 Onfroi died, having been the nominal leader of the Normans in Italy for six years. His titles could have passed to one of three parties. First in line were his two sons Abelard and Herman, though these were not of age and so would require a regent. Second would be Onfroi’s younger brother Godefroi, the fourth son of Murielle and the last to depart for Italy. The third option was Robert Guiscard. As a younger half-brother, Guiscard was not the natural choice. Yet, he was the most powerful man in all of southern Italy. Additionally, Onfroi named him the guardian of his two sons. Either Onfroi intended Robert to succeed him or Robert claimed he did, and Robert assumed the title of Count of Apulia and Calabria. Thus, Robert Guiscard became lord of all southern Italy in name, though not yet in reality as there remained Byzantine lands in Apulia and southwestern Calabria.

Robert Guiscard expanded his power by all means. He was a brilliant conqueror and a wily politician. As he pursued these talents to their limits he decided that the best way for him to increase his standing was to marry a powerful woman. At this point you might be thinking, “Wait, didn’t he already do that?” Yes he did, and it worked out so well he decided to do it again. His first marriage to Girard’s aunt Aubrée brought him 200 knights at a time when he needed support. Girard’s support was life-altering then; by 1058 the Count of Apulia and Calabria set his sights on a higher prize. He dismissed Aubrée, citing new papal laws against consanguinity; a truly cold act given that she had born him a son, Marc, who later took up the name Bohemond. Robert then married Sikelgaita, the sister of the greatest Lombard lord, Prince Gisulf II, who inherited the Principality of Salerno from his father Guaimar IV. This marriage helped legitimize Robert. But more than that, Sikelgaita became his greatest ally. A loving wife, mother to 8 children, political advisor, ruler in Robert’s absence and general who personally commanded troops on behalf of her husband.

By the late 1050s Norman dominance of southern Italy was a fact. The Byzantine Empire proper faced growing pressure on its borders, preventing it from sending aid westward. The Holy Roman Emperor was far more concerned with events north of the Alps and was largely disinterested in the goings-on down south. The last power that threatened the Normans was spiritual rather than military. For years popes had opposed Norman ascendance and rallied faithful Italians to purge the immigrants from their homeland. Then crisis struck the papacy, opening the door for rapprochement.

In 1058 an ecclesiastical schism developed as reformists backed Niccoló II while the urban aristocracy in Rome supported Benedetto X. When the cardinals selected Niccoló II as the new pope his enemies accused him of buying votes. Benedetto X declared he was the rightful pope, forcing Niccoló II to excommunicate him. Benedetto X and his supporters fled Rome and waged war upon Niccoló II. In 1059 the papal archdeacon Hildebrand travelled to Capua where Richard of Aversa supplied His Holiness with 300 knights. These quickly routed the pretender pope’s forces. Fortunately for the Normans, Niccoló II’s victory over Benedetto X did not mean he was wholly secure in his position. The pope needed protectors to guarantee his position. With the Greeks occupied and the Germans indifferent there was nowhere to turn but to the Normans. First, Niccoló II uplifted Richard from Count of Capua to Prince. Then he traveled south and met Robert Guiscard at Melfi. There Robert swore fealty to His Holiness, promising to protect the Christian church and God’s blessed vicar. In exchange, the Niccoló II named Robert Duke of Apulia and Calabria and Sicily, should he take it.

Niccoló II’s grant made official what was already well-recognized: the Normans were the real rulers of southern Italy, save only the Byzantine holdouts. But more than that, it was a goad. By naming Robert Duke of all southern Italy the pope was encouraging him to take what remained of the Byzantine territory so that he could transform the Greek churches into Latin ones.

Even more audaciously, the pope named Robert Duke of Sicily should he choose to conquer it. For centuries the Italian peninsula had been threatened by Islamic forces. In 846 Arabs raided Rome, sacking Saint Peter’s Basilica itself! The following year a Muslim army captured the eastern port city of Bari. The Italian nobility managed to expel the invaders from the peninsula but all of Sicily fell by the late 9thcentury. There emirates developed and prospered, while housing pirates that attacked European vessels. For the pope, reconquest and Christianization of Sicily would protect Italy from future attacks while saving the souls of fellow Italians from a religion they condemned. For the Normans, Sicily was an agriculturally and commercially wealthy territory that would greatly expand their power. As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located in its dead center, Sicily was a prize that could put its conqueror on par with kings.

Yet, Robert Guiscard would not be the one to take Sicily. That honor would go to the youngest child of the Hauteville family, Roger Bosso. The last son of Tancred would radically challenge the Mediterranean world religiously when he conquered a major Islamic country and began the process of re-Christianization, creating a model for the Crusades. He also altered the political landscape in his own lifetime, but even moreso through inheritance. Roger Bosso’s son Roger II claimed the title of King of Sicily, ruling over a kingdom that would include the southern half of Italy, Sicily, Malta, and briefly, north-central Africa.