« Prev Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The… Next »

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The Normans.—Part I.

The Saracens, Franks, And Greeks, In Italy.—First Adventures And Settlement Of The Normans.—Character And Conquest Of Robert Guiscard, Duke Of Apulia—Deliverance Of Sicily By His Brother Roger.—Victories Of Robert Over The Emperors Of The East And West.—Roger, King Of Sicily, Invades Africa And Greece.—The Emperor Manuel Comnenus.— Wars Of The Greeks And Normans.—Extinction Of The Normans.

The three great nations of the world, the Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks, encountered each other on the theatre of Italy.68886888 For the general history of Italy in the ixth and xth centuries, I may properly refer to the vth, vith, and viith books of Sigonius de Regno Italiae, (in the second volume of his works, Milan, 1732;) the Annals of Baronius, with the criticism of Pagi; the viith and viiith books of the Istoria Civile del Regno di Napoli of Giannone; the viith and viiith volumes (the octavo edition) of the Annali d' Italia of Muratori, and the 2d volume of the Abrege Chronologique of M. de St. Marc, a work which, under a superficial title, contains much genuine learning and industry. But my long-accustomed reader will give me credit for saying, that I myself have ascended to the fountain head, as often as such ascent could be either profitable or possible; and that I have diligently turned over the originals in the first volumes of Muratori's great collection of the Scriptores Rerum Italicarum. The southern provinces, which now compose the kingdom of Naples, were subject, for the most part, to the Lombard dukes and princes of Beneventum;68896889 Camillo Pellegrino, a learned Capuan of the last century, has illustrated the history of the duchy of Beneventum, in his two books Historia Principum Longobardorum, in the Scriptores of Muratori tom. ii. pars i. p. 221-345, and tom. v. p 159-245. so powerful in war, that they checked for a moment the genius of Charlemagne; so liberal in peace, that they maintained in their capital an academy of thirty-two philosophers and grammarians. The division of this flourishing state produced the rival principalities of Benevento, Salerno, and Capua; and the thoughtless ambition or revenge of the competitors invited the Saracens to the ruin of their common inheritance. During a calamitous period of two hundred years, Italy was exposed to a repetition of wounds, which the invaders were not capable of healing by the union and tranquility of a perfect conquest. Their frequent and almost annual squadrons issued from the port of Palermo, and were entertained with too much indulgence by the Christians of Naples: the more formidable fleets were prepared on the African coast; and even the Arabs of Andalusia were sometimes tempted to assist or oppose the Moslems of an adverse sect. In the revolution of human events, a new ambuscade was concealed in the Caudine Forks, the fields of Cannae were bedewed a second time with the blood of the Africans, and the sovereign of Rome again attacked or defended the walls of Capua and Tarentum. A colony of Saracens had been planted at Bari, which commands the entrance of the Adriatic Gulf; and their impartial depredations provoked the resentment, and conciliated the union of the two emperors. An offensive alliance was concluded between Basil the Macedonian, the first of his race, and Lewis the great-grandson of Charlemagne;68906890 See Constantin. Porphyrogen. de Thematibus, l. ii. c xi. in Vit Basil. c. 55, p. 181. and each party supplied the deficiencies of his associate. It would have been imprudent in the Byzantine monarch to transport his stationary troops of Asia to an Italian campaign; and the Latin arms would have been insufficient if his superior navy had not occupied the mouth of the Gulf. The fortress of Bari was invested by the infantry of the Franks, and by the cavalry and galleys of the Greeks; and, after a defence of four years, the Arabian emir submitted to the clemency of Lewis, who commanded in person the operations of the siege. This important conquest had been achieved by the concord of the East and West; but their recent amity was soon imbittered by the mutual complaints of jealousy and pride. The Greeks assumed as their own the merit of the conquest and the pomp of the triumph; extolled the greatness of their powers, and affected to deride the intemperance and sloth of the handful of Barbarians who appeared under the banners of the Carlovingian prince. His reply is expressed with the eloquence of indignation and truth: "We confess the magnitude of your preparation," says the great-grandson of Charlemagne. "Your armies were indeed as numerous as a cloud of summer locusts, who darken the day, flap their wings, and, after a short flight, tumble weary and breathless to the ground. Like them, ye sunk after a feeble effort; ye were vanquished by your own cowardice; and withdrew from the scene of action to injure and despoil our Christian subjects of the Sclavonian coast. We were few in number, and why were we few? Because, after a tedious expectation of your arrival, I had dismissed my host, and retained only a chosen band of warriors to continue the blockade of the city. If they indulged their hospitable feasts in the face of danger and death, did these feasts abate the vigor of their enterprise? Is it by your fasting that the walls of Bari have been overturned? Did not these valiant Franks, diminished as they were by languor and fatigue, intercept and vanish the three most powerful emirs of the Saracens? and did not their defeat precipitate the fall of the city? Bari is now fallen; Tarentum trembles; Calabria will be delivered; and, if we command the sea, the Island of Sicily may be rescued from the hands of the infidels. My brother," accelerate (a name most offensive to the vanity of the Greek,) "accelerate your naval succors, respect your allies, and distrust your flatterers."68916891 The oriental epistle of the emperor Lewis II. to the emperor Basil, a curious record of the age, was first published by Baronius, (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 871, No. 51-71,) from the Vatican Ms. of Erchempert, or rather of the anonymous historian of Salerno.] These lofty hopes were soon extinguished by the death of Lewis, and the decay of the Carlovingian house; and whoever might deserve the honor, the Greek emperors, Basil, and his son Leo, secured the advantage, of the reduction of Bari The Italians of Apulia and Calabria were persuaded or compelled to acknowledge their supremacy, and an ideal line from Mount Garganus to the Bay of Salerno, leaves the far greater part of the kingdom of Naples under the dominion of the Eastern empire. Beyond that line, the dukes or republics of Amalfi See an excellent Dissertation de Republica Amalphitana, in the Appendix (p. 1-42) of Henry Brencman's Historia Pandectarum, (Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1722, in 4to.) and Naples, who had never forfeited their voluntary allegiance, rejoiced in the neighborhood of their lawful sovereign; and Amalfi was enriched by supplying Europe with the produce and manufactures of Asia. But the Lombard princes of Benevento, Salerno, and Capua, Your master, says Nicephorus, has given aid and protection prinminibus Capuano et Beneventano, servis meis, quos oppugnare dispono.... Nova (potius nota) res est quod eorum patres et avi nostro Imperio tributa dederunt, (Liutprand, in Legat. p. 484.) Salerno is not mentioned, yet the prince changed his party about the same time, and Camillo Pellegrino (Script. Rer. Ital. tom. ii. pars i. p. 285) has nicely discerned this change in the style of the anonymous Chronicle. On the rational ground of history and language, Liutprand (p. 480) had asserted the Latin claim to Apulia and Calabria. were reluctantly torn from the communion of the Latin world, and too often violated their oaths of servitude and tribute. The city of Bari rose to dignity and wealth, as the metropolis of the new theme or province of Lombardy: the title of patrician, and afterwards the singular name of Catapan, See the Greek and Latin Glossaries of Ducange (catapanus,) and his notes on the Alexias, (p. 275.) Against the contemporary notion, which derives it from juxta omne, he treats it as a corruption of the Latin capitaneus. Yet M. de St. Marc has accurately observed (Abrege Chronologique, tom. ii. p. 924) that in this age the capitanei were not captains, but only nobles of the first rank, the great valvassors of Italy. was assigned to the supreme governor; and the policy both of the church and state was modelled in exact subordination to the throne of Constantinople. As long as the sceptre was disputed by the princes of Italy, their efforts were feeble and adverse; and the Greeks resisted or eluded the forces of Germany, which descended from the Alps under the Imperial standard of the Othos. The first and greatest of those Saxon princes was compelled to relinquish the siege of Bari: the second, after the loss of his stoutest bishops and barons, escaped with honor from the bloody field of Crotona. On that day the scale of war was turned against the Franks by the valor of the Saracens. (the Lombards), (Leon. Tactic. c. xv. p. 741.) The little Chronicle of Beneventum (tom. ii. pars i. p. 280) gives a far different character of the Greeks during the five years (A.D. 891-896) that Leo was master of the city. These corsairs had indeed been driven by the Byzantine fleets from the fortresses and coasts of Italy; but a sense of interest was more prevalent than superstition or resentment, and the caliph of Egypt had transported forty thousand Moslems to the aid of his Christian ally. The successors of Basil amused themselves with the belief, that the conquest of Lombardy had been achieved, and was still preserved by the justice of their laws, the virtues of their ministers, and the gratitude of a people whom they had rescued from anarchy and oppression. A series of rebellions might dart a ray of truth into the palace of Constantinople; and the illusions of flattery were dispelled by the easy and rapid success of the Norman adventurers.

The revolution of human affairs had produced in Apulia and Calabria a melancholy contrast between the age of Pythagoras and the tenth century of the Christian aera. At the former period, the coast of Great Greece (as it was then styled) was planted with free and opulent cities: these cities were peopled with soldiers, artists, and philosophers; and the military strength of Tarentum; Sybaris, or Crotona, was not inferior to that of a powerful kingdom. At the second aera, these once flourishing provinces were clouded with ignorance impoverished by tyranny, and depopulated by Barbarian war nor can we severely accuse the exaggeration of a contemporary, that a fair and ample district was reduced to the same desolation which had covered the earth after the general deluge. 68966896 Calabriam adeunt, eamque inter se divisam reperientes funditus depopulati sunt, (or depopularunt,) ita ut deserta sit velut in diluvio. Such is the text of Herempert, or Erchempert, according to the two editions of Carraccioli (Rer. Italic. Script. tom. v. p. 23) and of Camillo Pellegrino, (tom. ii. pars i. p. 246.) Both were extremely scarce, when they were reprinted by Muratori. Among the hostilities of the Arabs, the Franks, and the Greeks, in the southern Italy, I shall select two or three anecdotes expressive of their national manners. 1. It was the amusement of the Saracens to profane, as well as to pillage, the monasteries and churches. At the siege of Salerno, a Mussulman chief spread his couch on the communion-table, and on that altar sacrificed each night the virginity of a Christian nun. As he wrestled with a reluctant maid, a beam in the roof was accidentally or dexterously thrown down on his head; and the death of the lustful emir was imputed to the wrath of Christ, which was at length awakened to the defence of his faithful spouse.68976897 Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 874, No. 2) has drawn this story from a Ms. of Erchempert, who died at Capua only fifteen years after the event. But the cardinal was deceived by a false title, and we can only quote the anonymous Chronicle of Salerno, (Paralipomena, c. 110,) composed towards the end of the xth century, and published in the second volume of Muratori's Collection. See the Dissertations of Camillo Pellegrino, tom. ii. pars i. p. 231-281, &c. 2. The Saracens besieged the cities of Beneventum and Capua: after a vain appeal to the successors of Charlemagne, the Lombards implored the clemency and aid of the Greek emperor.68986898 Constantine Porphyrogenitus (in Vit. Basil. c. 58, p. 183) is the original author of this story. He places it under the reigns of Basil and Lewis II.; yet the reduction of Beneventum by the Greeks is dated A.D. 891, after the decease of both of those princes. A fearless citizen dropped from the walls, passed the intrenchments, accomplished his commission, and fell into the hands of the Barbarians as he was returning with the welcome news. They commanded him to assist their enterprise, and deceive his countrymen, with the assurance that wealth and honors should be the reward of his falsehood, and that his sincerity would be punished with immediate death. He affected to yield, but as soon as he was conducted within hearing of the Christians on the rampart, "Friends and brethren," he cried with a loud voice, "be bold and patient, maintain the city; your sovereign is informed of your distress, and your deliverers are at hand. I know my doom, and commit my wife and children to your gratitude." The rage of the Arabs confirmed his evidence; and the self-devoted patriot was transpierced with a hundred spears. He deserves to live in the memory of the virtuous, but the repetition of the same story in ancient and modern times, may sprinkle some doubts on the reality of this generous deed.68996899 In the year 663, the same tragedy is described by Paul the Deacon, (de Gestis Langobard. l. v. c. 7, 8, p. 870, 871, edit. Grot.,) under the walls of the same city of Beneventum. But the actors are different, and the guilt is imputed to the Greeks themselves, which in the Byzantine edition is applied to the Saracens. In the late war in Germany, M. D'Assas, a French officer of the regiment of Auvergne, is said to have devoted himself in a similar manner. His behavior is the more heroic, as mere silence was required by the enemy who had made him prisoner, (Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XV. c. 33, tom. ix. p. 172.) 3. The recital of a third incident may provoke a smile amidst the horrors of war. Theobald, marquis of Camerino and Spoleto,69006900 Theobald, who is styled Heros by Liutprand, was properly duke of Spoleto and marquis of Camerino, from the year 926 to 935. The title and office of marquis (commander of the march or frontier) was introduced into Italy by the French emperors, (Abrege Chronologique, tom. ii. p. 545-732 &c.) supported the rebels of Beneventum; and his wanton cruelty was not incompatible in that age with the character of a hero. His captives of the Greek nation or party were castrated without mercy, and the outrage was aggravated by a cruel jest, that he wished to present the emperor with a supply of eunuchs, the most precious ornaments of the Byzantine court. The garrison of a castle had been defeated in a sally, and the prisoners were sentenced to the customary operation. But the sacrifice was disturbed by the intrusion of a frantic female, who, with bleeding cheeks dishevelled hair, and importunate clamors, compelled the marquis to listen to her complaint. "Is it thus," she cried, "ye magnanimous heroes, that ye wage war against women, against women who have never injured ye, and whose only arms are the distaff and the loom?" Theobald denied the charge, and protested that, since the Amazons, he had never heard of a female war. "And how," she furiously exclaimed, "can you attack us more directly, how can you wound us in a more vital part, than by robbing our husbands of what we most dearly cherish, the source of our joys, and the hope of our posterity? The plunder of our flocks and herds I have endured without a murmur, but this fatal injury, this irreparable loss, subdues my patience, and calls aloud on the justice of heaven and earth." A general laugh applauded her eloquence; the savage Franks, inaccessible to pity, were moved by her ridiculous, yet rational despair; and with the deliverance of the captives, she obtained the restitution of her effects. As she returned in triumph to the castle, she was overtaken by a messenger, to inquire, in the name of Theobald, what punishment should be inflicted on her husband, were he again taken in arms. "Should such," she answered without hesitation, "be his guilt and misfortune, he has eyes, and a nose, and hands, and feet. These are his own, and these he may deserve to forfeit by his personal offences. But let my lord be pleased to spare what his little handmaid presumes to claim as her peculiar and lawful property."69016901 Liutprand, Hist. l. iv. c. iv. in the Rerum Italic. Script. tom. i. pars i. p. 453, 454. Should the licentiousness of the tale be questioned, I may exclaim, with poor Sterne, that it is hard if I may not transcribe with caution what a bishop could write without scruple What if I had translated, ut viris certetis testiculos amputare, in quibus nostri corporis refocillatio, &c.?

The establishment of the Normans in the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily 69026902 The original monuments of the Normans in Italy are collected in the vth volume of Muratori; and among these we may distinguish the poems of William Appulus (p. 245-278) and the history of Galfridus (Jeffrey) Malaterra, (p. 537-607.) Both were natives of France, but they wrote on the spot, in the age of the first conquerors (before A.D. 1100,) and with the spirit of freemen. It is needless to recapitulate the compilers and critics of Italian history, Sigonius, Baronius, Pagi, Giannone, Muratori, St. Marc, &c., whom I have always consulted, and never copied. * Note: M. Goutier d'Arc has discovered a translation of the Chronicle of Aime, monk of Mont Cassino, a contemporary of the first Norman invaders of Italy. He has made use of it in his Histoire des Conquetes des Normands, and added a summary of its contents. This work was quoted by later writers, but was supposed to have been entirely lost.—M. is an event most romantic in its origin, and in its consequences most important both to Italy and the Eastern empire. The broken provinces of the Greeks, Lombards, and Saracens, were exposed to every invader, and every sea and land were invaded by the adventurous spirit of the Scandinavian pirates. After a long indulgence of rapine and slaughter, a fair and ample territory was accepted, occupied, and named, by the Normans of France: they renounced their gods for the God of the Christians;69036903 Some of the first converts were baptized ten or twelve times, for the sake of the white garment usually given at this ceremony. At the funeral of Rollo, the gifts to monasteries for the repose of his soul were accompanied by a sacrifice of one hundred captives. But in a generation or two, the national change was pure and general. and the dukes of Normandy acknowledged themselves the vassals of the successors of Charlemagne and Capet. The savage fierceness which they had brought from the snowy mountains of Norway was refined, without being corrupted, in a warmer climate; the companions of Rollo insensibly mingled with the natives; they imbibed the manners, language,69046904 The Danish language was still spoken by the Normans of Bayeux on the sea-coast, at a time (A.D. 940) when it was already forgotten at Rouen, in the court and capital. Quem (Richard I.) confestim pater Baiocas mittens Botoni militiae suae principi nutriendum tradidit, ut, ibi lingua eruditus Danica, suis exterisque hominibus sciret aperte dare responsa, (Wilhelm. Gemeticensis de Ducibus Normannis, l. iii. c. 8, p. 623, edit. Camden.) Of the vernacular and favorite idiom of William the Conqueror, (A.D. 1035,) Selden (Opera, tom. ii. p. 1640-1656) has given a specimen, obsolete and obscure even to antiquarians and lawyers. and gallantry, of the French nation; and in a martial age, the Normans might claim the palm of valor and glorious achievements. Of the fashionable superstitions, they embraced with ardor the pilgrimages of Rome, Italy, and the Holy Land.69056905 A band of Normans returning from the Holy Land had rescued the city of Salerno from the attack of a numerous fleet of Saracens. Gainar, the Lombard prince of Salerno wished to retain them in his service and take them into his pay. They answered, "We fight for our religion, and not for money." Gaimar entreated them to send some Norman knights to his court. This seems to have been the origin of the connection of the Normans with Italy. See Histoire des Conquetes des Normands par Goutier d'Arc, l. i. c. i., Paris, 1830.—M. In this active devotion, the minds and bodies were invigorated by exercise: danger was the incentive, novelty the recompense; and the prospect of the world was decorated by wonder, credulity, and ambitious hope. They confederated for their mutual defence; and the robbers of the Alps, who had been allured by the garb of a pilgrim, were often chastised by the arm of a warrior. In one of these pious visits to the cavern of Mount Garganus in Apulia, which had been sanctified by the apparition of the archangel Michael,69066906 See Leandro Alberti (Descrizione d'Italia, p. 250) and Baronius, (A.D. 493, No. 43.) If the archangel inherited the temple and oracle, perhaps the cavern, of old Calchas the soothsayer, (Strab. Geograph l. vi. p. 435, 436,) the Catholics (on this occasion) have surpassed the Greeks in the elegance of their superstition. they were accosted by a stranger in the Greek habit, but who soon revealed himself as a rebel, a fugitive, and a mortal foe of the Greek empire. His name was Melo; a noble citizen of Bari, who, after an unsuccessful revolt, was compelled to seek new allies and avengers of his country. The bold appearance of the Normans revived his hopes and solicited his confidence: they listened to the complaints, and still more to the promises, of the patriot. The assurance of wealth demonstrated the justice of his cause; and they viewed, as the inheritance of the brave, the fruitful land which was oppressed by effeminate tyrants. On their return to Normandy, they kindled a spark of enterprise, and a small but intrepid band was freely associated for the deliverance of Apulia. They passed the Alps by separate roads, and in the disguise of pilgrims; but in the neighborhood of Rome they were saluted by the chief of Bari, who supplied the more indigent with arms and horses, and instantly led them to the field of action. In the first conflict, their valor prevailed; but in the second engagement they were overwhelmed by the numbers and military engines of the Greeks, and indignantly retreated with their faces to the enemy.69076907 Nine out of ten perished in the field. Chronique d'Aime, tom. i. p. 21 quoted by M Goutier d'Arc, p. 42.—M. The unfortunate Melo ended his life a suppliant at the court of Germany: his Norman followers, excluded from their native and their promised land, wandered among the hills and valleys of Italy, and earned their daily subsistence by the sword. To that formidable sword the princes of Capua, Beneventum, Salerno, and Naples, alternately appealed in their domestic quarrels; the superior spirit and discipline of the Normans gave victory to the side which they espoused; and their cautious policy observed the balance of power, lest the preponderance of any rival state should render their aid less important, and their service less profitable. Their first asylum was a strong camp in the depth of the marshes of Campania: but they were soon endowed by the liberality of the duke of Naples with a more plentiful and permanent seat. Eight miles from his residence, as a bulwark against Capua, the town of Aversa was built and fortified for their use; and they enjoyed as their own the corn and fruits, the meadows and groves, of that fertile district. The report of their success attracted every year new swarms of pilgrims and soldiers: the poor were urged by necessity; the rich were excited by hope; and the brave and active spirits of Normandy were impatient of ease and ambitious of renown. The independent standard of Aversa afforded shelter and encouragement to the outlaws of the province, to every fugitive who had escaped from the injustice or justice of his superiors; and these foreign associates were quickly assimilated in manners and language to the Gallic colony. The first leader of the Normans was Count Rainulf; and, in the origin of society, preeminence of rank is the reward and the proof of superior merit.69086908 See the first book of William Appulus. His words are applicable to every swarm of Barbarians and freebooters:—     Si vicinorum quis pernitiosus ad illos Confugiebat eum gratanter suscipiebant: Moribus et lingua quoscumque venire videbant Informant propria; gens efficiatur ut una. And elsewhere, of the native adventurers of Normandy:— Pars parat, exiguae vel opes aderant quia nullae: Pars, quia de magnis majora subire volebant.] 69096909 This account is not accurate. After the retreat of the emperor Henry II. the Normans, united under the command of Rainulf, had taken possession of Aversa, then a small castle in the duchy of Naples. They had been masters of it a few years when Pandulf IV., prince of Capua, found means to take Naples by surprise. Sergius, master of the soldiers, and head of the republic, with the principal citizens, abandoned a city in which he could not behold, without horror, the establishment of a foreign dominion he retired to Aversa; and when, with the assistance of the Greeks and that of the citizens faithful to their country, he had collected money enough to satisfy the rapacity of the Norman adventurers, he advanced at their head to attack the garrison of the prince of Capua, defeated it, and reentered Naples. It was then that he confirmed the Normans in the possession of Aversa and its territory, which he raised into a count's fief, and granted the investiture to Rainulf. Hist. des Rep. Ital. tom. i. p. 267

Since the conquest of Sicily by the Arabs, the Grecian emperors had been anxious to regain that valuable possession; but their efforts, however strenuous, had been opposed by the distance and the sea. Their costly armaments, after a gleam of success, added new pages of calamity and disgrace to the Byzantine annals: twenty thousand of their best troops were lost in a single expedition; and the victorious Moslems derided the policy of a nation which intrusted eunuchs not only with the custody of their women, but with the command of their men69106910 Liutprand, in Legatione, p. 485. Pagi has illustrated this event from the Ms. history of the deacon Leo, (tom. iv. A.D. 965, No. 17-19.) After a reign of two hundred years, the Saracens were ruined by their divisions.69116911 See the Arabian Chronicle of Sicily, apud Muratori, Script. Rerum Ital. tom. i. p. 253. The emir disclaimed the authority of the king of Tunis; the people rose against the emir; the cities were usurped by the chiefs; each meaner rebel was independent in his village or castle; and the weaker of two rival brothers implored the friendship of the Christians. In every service of danger the Normans were prompt and useful; and five hundred knights, or warriors on horseback, were enrolled by Arduin, the agent and interpreter of the Greeks, under the standard of Maniaces, governor of Lombardy. Before their landing, the brothers were reconciled; the union of Sicily and Africa was restored; and the island was guarded to the water's edge. The Normans led the van and the Arabs of Messina felt the valor of an untried foe. In a second action the emir of Syracuse was unhorsed and transpierced by the iron arm of William of Hauteville. In a third engagement, his intrepid companions discomfited the host of sixty thousand Saracens, and left the Greeks no more than the labor of the pursuit: a splendid victory; but of which the pen of the historian may divide the merit with the lance of the Normans. It is, however, true, that they essentially promoted the success of Maniaces, who reduced thirteen cities, and the greater part of Sicily, under the obedience of the emperor. But his military fame was sullied by ingratitude and tyranny. In the division of the spoils, the deserts of his brave auxiliaries were forgotten; and neither their avarice nor their pride could brook this injurious treatment. They complained by the mouth of their interpreter: their complaint was disregarded; their interpreter was scourged; the sufferings were his; the insult and resentment belonged to those whose sentiments he had delivered. Yet they dissembled till they had obtained, or stolen, a safe passage to the Italian continent: their brethren of Aversa sympathized in their indignation, and the province of Apulia was invaded as the forfeit of the debt.69126912 Jeffrey Malaterra, who relates the Sicilian war, and the conquest of Apulia, (l. i. c. 7, 8, 9, 19.) The same events are described by Cedrenus (tom. ii. p. 741-743, 755, 756) and Zonaras, (tom. ii. p. 237, 238;) and the Greeks are so hardened to disgrace, that their narratives are impartial enough. Above twenty years after the first emigration, the Normans took the field with no more than seven hundred horse and five hundred foot; and after the recall of the Byzantine legions69136913 Lydia: consult Constantine de Thematibus, i. 3, 4, with Delisle's map. from the Sicilian war, their numbers are magnified to the amount of threescore thousand men. Their herald proposed the option of battle or retreat; "of battle," was the unanimous cry of the Normans; and one of their stoutest warriors, with a stroke of his fist, felled to the ground the horse of the Greek messenger. He was dismissed with a fresh horse; the insult was concealed from the Imperial troops; but in two successive battles they were more fatally instructed of the prowess of their adversaries. In the plains of Cannae, the Asiatics fled before the adventurers of France; the duke of Lombardy was made prisoner; the Apulians acquiesced in a new dominion; and the four places of Bari, Otranto, Brundusium, and Tarentum, were alone saved in the shipwreck of the Grecian fortunes. From this aera we may date the establishment of the Norman power, which soon eclipsed the infant colony of Aversa. Twelve counts69146914 Omnes conveniunt; et bis sex nobiliores,     Quos genus et gravitas morum decorabat et aetas, Elegere duces. Provectis ad comitatum His alii parent. Comitatus nomen honoris Quo donantur erat. Hi totas undique terras Divisere sibi, ni sors inimica repugnet; Singula proponunt loca quae contingere sorte Cuique duci debent, et quaeque tributa locorum. And after speaking of Melphi, William Appulus adds, Pro numero comitum bis sex statuere plateas, Atque domus comitum totidem fabricantur in urbe. Leo Ostiensis (l. ii. c. 67) enumerates the divisions of the Apulian cities, which it is needless to repeat. were chosen by the popular suffrage; and age, birth, and merit, were the motives of their choice. The tributes of their peculiar districts were appropriated to their use; and each count erected a fortress in the midst of his lands, and at the head of his vassals. In the centre of the province, the common habitation of Melphi was reserved as the metropolis and citadel of the republic; a house and separate quarter was allotted to each of the twelve counts: and the national concerns were regulated by this military senate. The first of his peers, their president and general, was entitled count of Apulia; and this dignity was conferred on William of the iron arm, who, in the language of the age, is styled a lion in battle, a lamb in society, and an angel in council.69156915 Gulielm. Appulus, l. ii. c 12, according to the reference of Giannone, (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. ii. p. 31,) which I cannot verify in the original. The Apulian praises indeed his validas vires, probitas animi, and vivida virtus; and declares that, had he lived, no poet could have equalled his merits, (l. i. p. 258, l. ii. p. 259.) He was bewailed by the Normans, quippe qui tanti consilii virum, (says Malaterra, l. i. c. 12, p. 552,) tam armis strenuum, tam sibi munificum, affabilem, morigeratum, ulterius se habere diffidebant. The manners of his countrymen are fairly delineated by a contemporary and national historian.69166916 The gens astutissima, injuriarum ultrix.... adulari sciens.... eloquentiis inserviens, of Malaterra, (l. i. c. 3, p. 550,) are expressive of the popular and proverbial character of the Normans. "The Normans," says Malaterra, "are a cunning and revengeful people; eloquence and dissimulation appear to be their hereditary qualities: they can stoop to flatter; but unless they are curbed by the restraint of law, they indulge the licentiousness of nature and passion. Their princes affect the praises of popular munificence; the people observe the medium, or rather blond the extremes, of avarice and prodigality; and in their eager thirst of wealth and dominion, they despise whatever they possess, and hope whatever they desire. Arms and horses, the luxury of dress, the exercises of hunting and hawking69176917 The hunting and hawking more properly belong to the descendants of the Norwegian sailors; though they might import from Norway and Iceland the finest casts of falcons. are the delight of the Normans; but, on pressing occasions, they can endure with incredible patience the inclemency of every climate, and the toil and absence of a military life."69186918 We may compare this portrait with that of William of Malmsbury, (de Gestis Anglorum, l. iii. p. 101, 102,) who appreciates, like a philosophic historian, the vices and virtues of the Saxons and Normans. England was assuredly a gainer by the conquest.



« Prev Chapter LVI: The Saracens, The Franks And The… Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |