Page images
PDF
EPUB

Normandy, old Tancred had determined the greatest renown he earned only after that his paternal estate of Hauteville, his conquests in Calabria, which then, for whole and entire, should descend to God) a long time, remained the great battle-field frey, surnamed Riduld, the eldest of those of the Normans. William Bras-de-Fer was sons who had staid at home. The allodial the first among the Northern knights, who, property of Tancred being too small to be during his skirmishes with the Greeks, had divided among so many heirs, he himself entered this country; afterwards Drogo encouraged his younger sons to follow the had penetrated as far as the valleys near example of their elder brothers. Thus the river Cratis, and built the castle of Robert Wiscard, and with him, as it ap- | San Marco, which he now granted to his pears, his brothers Humfrey and Tancred, brother Robert, thus giving him an oppornow found themselves among the foreign- | tunity, with the point of his sword, to carve ers, who, in the year 1047, arrived in Italy, out for himself an inheritance in those which soon was to resound with the fame beautiful and fertile mountain regions. of " Guiscard, the crafty count." And not With zeal did Robert devote himself to only the Italian chroniclers were soon to vie the war, and his dominion soon began to in celebrating him, but his name was to be extend with the number of his knights, the terror and admiration of the far East.“ who were augmented by degrees, all new He was, they said, the strongest man in the comers among the Normans preferring whole world, who, when falling with his the booty of Calabria to the quiet life in steed, in spite of his heavy panoply, was able the castles of Apulia, which had already readily to rise again, and at once, and with been divided among the earlier emigrants. equal dexterity, to wield in the right hand Yet at the commencement of the Greek his sword and his lance in the left.** He war, when the followers of Robert were carried bis arms and his glory across the fewer, and he often suffered the greatest sea to Greece, where Anna Comnena, the distress, his life resembled that of an princess, who certainly was prepossessed Italian bandit more than anything else." against the dangerous enemy of her father, Sometimes he surprised Greek merchants, often, contrary to her will, expresses the who travelled unprotected with their preadmiration with which his heroic ac- cious goods, and dire necessity forced him tions inspired her. Although she bitterly so often to make forays into the villages complains of his cruelty and thirst of con- near the castle of San Marco, that the unquest, still she owns, that he was an | happy inhabitants filed and left him surAchilles in combat and an Ulysses in cun- | rounded by a desert. The Norman hisning; that he, with the firmness of a rock, | torians Jeffrey Malaterra and William of executed his designs; and that he, like all Apulia, who, with a quite particular prenoble-minded souls, above all, aspired to dilection, dwell on this earlier part of the independence and liberty. She commends life of Robert, have, with great minutethe strength and gracefulness of his per-ness, preserved the memory of these adson ; his thundering voice, which, on the ventures and robberies of their hero, and battle field, would force myriads to flee ; | relate the cunning with which he knew his lofty stature, which made him look how to extricate himself from the most down upon the tallest of the Normans ; perilous situations, when his power was his hawk's eye, sparkling with fire; his insufficient. Thus they tell how, during broad shoulders ; his ruddy complexion an interview with Peter of Turra, a and golden locks ;** and the image of his wealthy merchant from Bisignano, he sudmanly beauty has taken such a hold on denly seized the stout Calabrian round his the imagination of the princess, that when / waist and carried him off to his followers. celebrating the noble appearance of a This exploit procured him a rich ransom, hero, she calls him handsome as a knight and his surname the Wiscard, or cunning," from Normandy.

which was first given him by Jerard of Robert, on his arrival in Italy, soon met Albergo. . with an opportunity to distinguish himself Another curious tale of the chroniclers, in the never-ceasing feuds of the Normans, reminds us of a Northern tradition. They and particularly in their successful war say that Robert “the cunning," desiring with Pope Leo the Ninth, in 1053. But to take possession of a rich and strongly

elina

[ocr errors]

fortified Greek monastery, sent word to, and now, by degrees, joined him, began to
the monks, that one of his warriors having prosecute the war on a larger scale, when
died, he solicited a sepulchre in consecrated he unexpectedly was called away to
ground for the corpse. This request being | Apulia, where his brother Humfrey was
granted, unarmed Normans carried the dying. Though formerly feuds had ex-
coffin up the steep path to the convent, isted between them, the dying count, for-
where the friars, chanting hymns, met them getting their enmity, now confided the
to receive the dead body, which, accord-county of Lavello to his brother's care, as
ing to the Norman usage, lay enveloped in a guardian for his sons. After the death
a cere-cloth.67 But on a sudden the dead of Humfrey, Robert was elected President
warrior rose in the bier, distributed to the of the Norman Republic, and, besides, de-
Normans the weapons which lay concealed prived the sons of Humfrey of the posses-
in the coffin, and thus they forced the ter- sions of their father. Not daring to with-
rified Kalayers to surrender their strong. draw too far from Malfi, on account of the

hold without any resistance. It is evi opposition he met with, he charged Roger, 10!

dently the same expedient which Harald his youngest brother, to advance with the
Haardraade made use of, according to the army to the strait of Messina.
Heimskringla, during his expedition to Roger had but lately left Normandy,
Sicily, a few years prior to this event.where, excited by the reports of the rising

The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, glory of his elder brothers, he, with im1. .

ascribes the same stratagem to King Trode patience, waited for the time when he the First, and other chroniclers to Hast- might wield the lance and go to Italy himing, the Rover. 68. Nay, we may almost be self. In company with him travelled his tempted to suspect that the Normans, brothers William, Malger and Godfrey, the whose whole history represents a continual | latter of whom did not suffer himself to be series of adventures, by new deeds, re- detained from the Italian expedition by the vived, as it were, the memory of that singu will of his father, who desired that the feu

lar mode of action. At least we find the dal castle of Hauteville should descend to meet.. same successful application of this strata him. Of all the twelve brothers, only

gem ascribed afterwards, not only to the Serlon and Alverade could, with the ut-
Norman Duke, Robert of Apulia, on his most difficulty, be prevailed upon to re-
taking the castle Gursol," in the year main at home. The last appears to have
1147, but even repeated nearly a century propagated the noble family in Normandy,
later by the Roman Emperor, Frederick the while Serlon, whose valiant deeds are not
Second, of Hohenstaufen; who, in Sicily, forgotten by the Norman chroniclers of
had adopted the Norman manners and Italy, followed William the Conqueror on
usages, and who, in the year 1239, took the expedition to England, at the same
possession of the convent of St. Casino by time that his own son Serlon and his bro.
means of the same artifice. During the thers fought gallantly against the Arabs
subsequent crusades, we meet, a few years in Sicily.
later, with another imitation of this curious 1 In the year 1058 Roger, at the head of
stratagem, by which Bohemund, the gal sixty Norman knights, penetrated into the
lant and Northern-minded son of Robert | interior of Calabria, where he crossed the
Wiscard, contrived to elude the ambushes mountains and descending to the bay of
of the Greeks, on his passage from Syria Santa Euphemia, subdued all the country
back to Italy. It is reported, that he as far as Monte Leone, by the mere terror
caused the rumor of his death to be spread of the Norman arms. Having erected a
abroad; that he ordered the ship in which fortified camp on the highest ridge of the
he sailed to be decked out in mourning, Calabrian mountains, and there left part
and that he had on board a coffin, in of his warriors, he hastened back to Robert
which he lay down whenever the ship Wiscard, in order to transmit to him the
landed on the coasts of the Greek em- | large sums he had gathered, and then ac-

companied his brother in his campaigns Robert having been reinforced by the against the Greeks. But the growing inCalabrians, who, for so many years, had fluence of Roger soon excited the jealousy suffered hard oppression by the Greeks, of Robert Wiscard, and a dispute arose

I tried

a pod

charela

fre

Time

pire.co

of the

between them. During this feud, Apulia , at Syracuse, Catania and Palermo, looked was plundered by Roger, who, being faith-on each other with diffidence and hatred, fully assisted by his brother William, and were every moment ready to begin made frequent forays into the possessions the contest. The division and mode of of Robert from the castle of Scalea ; but government reminded of the situation of found himself involved in such a distress Sicily in antiquity, when it was colonized during the contest, that he was even by the Greeks, and divided among petty obliged once, at night, to steal horses from tyrants, who succeeded in establishing the stables in the neighborhood of Malfi, ' princely powers in the cities.es This fact is related by Jeffrey Malaterra, Nearly at the time of Roger's first whose chronicle, like many others written incursion into the island, Ebn-al-Themanh about the Normans, was called forth by had ordered the veins to be opened on one the love of truth of the Norman chieftains of his wives, the sister of Ali-ben-Naamh, themselves, and who, on this occasian, ex-l who had excited his anger. This cruelt pressly remarks, that he did not intend to occasioned a feud with Ali-ben-Naamh, cite this trait for the dishonor of Roger, who vanquished his brotber-in-law in a but that he, according to Roger's own bloody battle near Castrogiovanni. The command, has mentioned his poverty and defeated Emir fled to Calabria, where he unfair practices, that all the world might met Roger, then residing in Reggio, and in know by what immense exertions he at a flowery speech he described to him the last had succeeded, from extreme obscuri-Saracens as a dastardly race, and with his ty, in rising to the pinnacle of power and hand placed on the Koran, he swore that glory."

all he said was according to truth." He In autumn, 1060, the brothers at last succeeded in persuading Roger to underwere reconciled, and the first result of take the war. Preparations were made, their accommodation was the conquest of and in the following January, 1061, Roger, Reggio, which they had besieged with accompanied by the Emir, his brother their united forces. On the fall of Reggio, Godfrey, and a hundred and sixty Norman the Normans hailed Robert Wiscard Ďuke knights, set sail for Sicily. Before Messina of Apulia and Calabria, and Roger now the Normans were met by part of the undertook his first visit to Sicily. With Saracen garrison, and a furious battle bea small retinue, he embarked late in the gan. Roger, without shield or armor, fall, 1060, in a few open barks, and sailed charged the enemy at the head of his across the strait to the island, which he knights, and with prodigious force cleft reconnoitred during a short incursion, be- / the foremost Arab in two. The combat fore he returned to Calabria. He found continued all night by the light of the the Arabs no longer united and powerful. torches in the Saracen camp. The NorAlready before the middle of the eleventh mans now retired to the coast in order to century, the connection with the Fatimites embark with the heads of cattle they had in Africa had been broken : the Emirs did driven away, but a terrible storm arose not possess force to maintain their authori- and cut off all retreat. Crowds of Sara ty, the island was distracted by civil feuds, cens, continually augmenting, then re and the mild sway of the Fatimites was newed the attack, and the danger of the succeeded by a despotic capriciousness, Normans increased with every moment. highly oppressive to the Christian inhabi In this emergency, Roger made a vow to tants. Nor did any change for the better erect a church to St. Anthony in Reg. take place, when, at last, the number of | gio, instead of that which had been depetty tyrants by degrees was diminished. / stroyed during the siege. The storm sudThe three chieftains who, in the year denly abated, a favorable wind sprung up, 1059, had divided the island among them and the Normans sailed singing across the selves, the Alcalde Abdallah-ben-Menkut, strait. Although Aimé and Jeffrey Malawho ruled Mazzara, Trapani, Marsala, / terra make Roger return victorious from Sciacca, and the neighboring towns; the Sicily, yet it is sufficiently clear from their Alcalde Ali-ben-Naamh, who reigned at statements, that the expedition of Ebn-alCastrogiovanni, Girgenti and Castronuovo ; Themanh did not answer to the expectaand Ebn-al-Themanh, who commanded tions of the Normans. Nor would Roger

tion.

so soon have attempted to repeat his at- | divided among the victors as slaves, and tack on the island, if he had not received but few succeeded in making their escape a new summons for that purpose from the to the neighboring woods. Jeffrey MalaSicilian inhabitants. Three Christians, terra relates, with many particulars, how Ansoldo di Parti, Niccolo Camoli, and a young Arab of one of the prominent Giacomo di Pacciano, taking a walk out families in the city, attempted to carry off side of Messina, in spring, 1061, their with him his beautiful and delicate sister; eyes fell upon their native town, as it lay how the young beauty fainting, fell to the illuminated by the rays of the sun; they ground, unable to continue the flight; and grieved that the beautiful city should beg | how the brother, in his despair, stabbed the mercy of the infidels, and they con her to the heart in order to save her from ceived the first idea of calling in Roger, Norman captivity.“ to which the other Christian inhabitants When the Saracens, who were cruising gave their assent. They then only waited off Reggio, discovered that they had been for the festival of the Beiram,ø7 secretly deceived, and that Messina was taken, to cross over to Calabria, where, in the they instantly set sail for Palermo, having castle of Melito, they met with Roger. now no other harbor where they could He willingly entered upon their proposi- find a refuge against the autumnal storms.

The victor immediately sent the keys of When Robert Wiscard, who at that Messina to Robert Wiscard, who was thus time had his hands free, was informed that enabled to meet him in the conquered city. the Normans had been invited by the in- Here the duke spent twelve days in rehabitants of Messina, he called the counts viewing the towers, walls, buildings and of Apulia to arms, and encouraged them beautiful gardens of the city, and organizto deliver the Catholic Christians, who ing the army, which, on the arrival of all were sighing under the yoke of the Sara the Norman knights, with their small bands cens, and to avenge this outrage against of feudal retainers, did not exceed the the Lord. In March and April great number of two thousand horse and foot. armaments were made for the contest, | A Norman garrison was then left in Meswhich was now no longer to be carried on sina, and the two brothers, occupying Raby insignificant forays, but was to be meta beyond the ridge, marched south to changed into a war for the deliverance of Mount Etna, where they encamped for the whole island. In May, large troops of some days. Following the banks of the Normans, with crosses on their cloaks, hast- / river Jiaretta, (Symæthus,) which flows ened to Reggio, where Roger had assem- through the valley of Etna, they arrived bled a fleet of flat-bottomed vessels. at Centorbi, whose inhabitants bravely With two ships, Robert and Roger sailed withstood all their assaults. At last they over to Sicily, reconnoitred the coast of were obliged to relinquish the hope of the island, and returned daringly through conquering this town in its strong situathe midst of a large fleet of Arabian ships, tion, and breaking up the camp, Robert which Ali-ben-Naamh had collected in the marched south-west into the interior of strait. Robert Wiscard then took advan the island, where all the inhabitants fled tage of a dark night, to send thirteen boats before the Normans, as Aimé says, “like with his brother and three hundred Nor- the wax melting away before the fire.” man warriors over to the island, when | In many towns he did not find a living Roger instantly after his landing assaulted | being. Yet expecting the attack of the Messina. In vain even the Arabic women Arab forces, Robert prudently fell back and children armed and mounted the towers upon Palermo, which he found vacant and and walls, to throw spears and arrows uninhabited. The town lay on thė slope down upon the Normans. The Christian in- 1 of Mount Etna, and finding the surroundhabitants opened the gates, and soon blood- | ing plain convenient for an equestrian comshed and plundering prevailed throughout | bat with the Arabs, he remained there all the houses in Messina, that had not eight days, waiting in vain for the enemy. previously been marked with the sign of He then marched forward upon San the cross. The Saracens, wherever found, Felipe, and after a short stay, arrived at were slain ; their wives and children were the small river which, through the deep and broad valley, runs north of Castro- | powerful arms against the unbelieving giovanni." Here the Normans at last met Arabs, it became quite natural that the Ali-ben-Naamh at the head of fifteen thou Italians should more and more unite with sand" Arabs, and here they triumphed in them, and gradually get accustomed to a battle which may be considered as the their foreign manners and language." greatest and most important they gained | This change had an immediate effect upon in open field during their war in Sicily. I the war, which now began to be conducted The day after the action, they hastened to on a larger scale, and gradually to deviate Calata-Chibotta, where they found excel- from that bold and chivalrous manner, so lent fountains. Here they reposed, and highly characteristic of the northern deRobert here divided the booty which scent of the conquerors, by which, in the was partly gathered from the ten thou- | beginning, it distinguished itself. sand Arab corpses left on the battle-field, Ít will, therefore, be sufficient for us and partly consisted in a number of Ara- here briefly to mention its conclusion. bian steeds, of which ten at least fell to the During its prosecution, Robert Wiscard share of every Norman. While the inde- fought especially against the Greeks on fatigable Roger continued pressing on, the Italian continent, and Roger against scouring the country from Calata-Chibotta / the Saracens in Sicily: vet both brothe as far down as Girgenti, Robert returned

participated in the honor of the reduction to Messina, from which he had now been of Bari, the last possession of the Greeks absent for three months. On the road in Italy. The investment of this city was Alcaldes came from all parts, and kneeling carried on by regular works, and after a down, bowing their heads and crossing the protracted siege, it surrendered on the hands on their breasts,” they submitted 16th of April, 1071." The war with the their districts and towns to his sway, while Saracens in Sicily had, in the meantime, others presented him with precious gifts, been continued since the beginning of the presents of gold and silver, mules splen year 1071. In that year, Roger, with his didly caparisoned with gilt saddles and young countess and a small band of Norbridles, purple cloaks, richly embroidered man knights, was surrounded by the Saraand superb silk-stuffs." The Christian in- cens and the dissatisfied Greek inhabitants habitants of Val Demona likewise sent in Trainæ, a town on the western slope of ambassadors and submitted to the Norman Mount Etna, where he for a long time dominion. For their protection Robert struggled with the greatest dangers and Wiscard erected a castle, which, like his hardships." In the following year, 1072, first fortress in Calabria, was named San he gained a brilliant victory on the banks Marco, and a garrison of Normans was of the river Cerami against the Arabs, placed there under the command of Will “who dispersed,” says the Chronicler, iam of Malo." Winter was coming on, " like the dense clouds before the stormy when the two brothers met in Messina. | blast, or like the flight of birds before the The army was disbanded, and all returned shooting hawks,” and abandoned on the to Calabria with the exception of Ebn-al- | battle-field an immense booty. Four of Themanh, who remained in Catania, and the captured camels were sent to the pope, the Norman garrisons in Messina and the Alexander the Second, as a present." castle of San Marco. Robert Wiscard im- From this time the Normans rode trimediately returned to Apulia, but the in- umphantly over Sicily in all directions, defatigable Roger being soon tired of in- and forced the inhabitants of the plains to activity, made still another visit to Sicily submission, while the flower of the Maduring the winter, 1061–62. Yet on his hommedan population either emigrated to learning the departure of Yutta of Gren- | Africa or shut themselves up in the fortitemesnil from Normandy, and her ar-fied places of the mountains, ? Yet not rival in Italy, he returned to the conti- even here were they secure against the bold nent, where, in spring, bride and bride- attacks“ by day and night, in sunshine and groom met each other in the valley of during the thunder-storm,” of the restless Šalinarum, and celebrated their nuptials and daring invaders. From their strongat the castle of Mileto in Calabria." holds, the Arabs sometimes attempted to

IV. The Normans having turned their make sallies into the valleys, but they suf

« PreviousContinue »