County of Lecce

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The County of Lecce was a semi-independent Italo-Norman entity in Puglia (Apulia), southern Italy, which existed from 1055 to 1463. Its capital was Lecce, and it was bounded by territories of Brindisi on the north, Oria and Nardò on the west, and Soleto and Otranto on the south.

The county was founded by the Normans after their conquest of Apulia in the 1050s. Several Norman monarchs held their court in Lecce, and here was born Tancred of Hauteville, who had the title of Duke of Lecce from 1149 to 1194. His daughter Elvira Maria Albina married Walter III of Brienne, whose family held the title of Lecce in the following centuries. In 1384 Mary of Enghien, granddaughter of Isabella of Brienne, became Countess of Lecce. When she married Raimondo Orsini del Balzo, Count of Soleto and (from 1393 to 1406) Prince of Taranto, all the Salento was unified in one of the largest fiefs in the Kingdom of Naples and Italy. Raimondo renewed the county and cities administration.

After his death, the county went to his son, Giovanni Antonio Orsini Del Balzo, who had also inherited the Principality of Taranto in 1420. At his death in 1463, king Ferdinand I of Naples named himself heir of Giovanni Antonio's rich legacy, annexing the county to the royal estates.