Roger I of Sicily
|Roger I of Sicily|
Roger I of Sicily at the battle of Cerami (1063), in which he was victorious against 35,000 Saracens
Eremburga of Mortain
Adelaide del Vasto
|Noble family||Hauteville family|
|Father||Tancred of Hauteville|
|Died||22 June 1101|
Roger I (c. 1031–1040 – June 22, 1101), called Bosso and the Great Count, was the Norman Count of Sicily from 1071 to 1101. He was the leader who expelled the Muslim Moors from Southern Italy, which was welcomed by the native Christians.
Conquest of Calabria and Sicily 
Roger was the youngest son of Tancred of Hauteville by his second wife Fredisenda. By tradition, he was said to be the descendant of the Norseman (Viking) named Hiallt, who is said to have settled in Normandy of northern France in the 10th century. Roger arrived in Southern Italy soon after 1055. Geoffrey Malaterra, who compares Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger to "Joseph and Benjamin of old," said of Roger:
"He was a youth of the greatest beauty, of lofty stature, of graceful shape, most eloquent in speech and cool in counsel. He was far-seeing in arranging all his actions, pleasant and merry all with men; strong and brave, and furious in battle."
For a time Roger lived like a bandit in his castle of Scalea, on the Gulf of Policastro. He shared the conquest of Calabria with Robert. In a treaty of 1062, the brothers divided the conquest by making a kind of "condominium," by which either was to have half of every castle and town in Calabria.
Robert decided to use Roger's genius to conquer Sicily. At the time, it was ruled by Arab Muslims and the population was mostly Greek Byzantine Christians. The Arab princes had become all but independent of the sultan of Tunis. In May 1061 the brothers crossed from Reggio and captured Messina. After they took Palermo in January 1072, Robert Guiscard, as suzerain, invested Roger as Count of Sicily. Robert retained Palermo, half of Messina, and the north-east portion (the Val Demone). Not till 1085, was Roger able to undertake a systematic conquest.
In March 1086 Syracuse surrendered, and when in February 1091 Noto yielded, the conquest was complete. Much of Robert's success had been due to Roger's support. Similarly, when the leadership of the Hautevilles passed to Roger, he supported his nephew Duke Roger against Bohemund I of Antioch, Lando IV of Capua, and other rebels. In return for his uncle's aid against Bohemund and the rebels, the duke Roger surrendered his share in the castles of Calabria to his uncle in 1085, and in 1091 his inheritance in Palermo.
Roger's rule in Sicily became more absolute than that of Robert Guiscard's in Italy. In addition, due to immigration by Lombards and Normans, Latin Christianity gradually replaced that of the Greek Byzantine tradition. At the enfeoffments of 1072 and 1092, no great undivided fiefs were created. The mixed Norman, French and Italian vassals all owed their benefices to the count. No feudal revolt of importance arose against Roger.
Conquest of Malta 
In 1091 Roger, in order to avoid an attack from North Africa, set sail with a fleet to conquer Malta. His ship reached the island before the rest. On landing, the few defenders the Normans encountered retreated and the following day Roger marched to the capital Mdina. Terms were discussed with the local qadi. It was agreed that the islands would become tributaries of the count himself and that the qadi should continue to administer the islands. With the treaty many Greek and other Christian prisoners were released, who chanted to Roger the Kyrie eleison. He left the islands with many who wished to join him and so many were on his ship that it nearly sank, according to Geoffrey Malaterra. Maltese legend has it that the Count gave the Maltese their red and white flag by cutting a part of his banner. Mass is said once a year in remembrance of the Count at the Cathedral of Mdina, as a recognition for the Count's role in liberating Maltese Christians from Muslim dominance and rule.
Rule of Sicily 
Politically supreme, the count also became master of the insular church. The Papacy, favouring a prince who had recovered Sicily from Greeks and Muslims, in 1098 granted Roger and his heirs the Apostolic Legateship of the island. Roger created new Latin bishoprics at Syracuse, Girgenti and elsewhere, nominating the bishops personally, while he turned the archbishopric of Palermo into a Catholic see. He practiced general toleration towards Arabs and Greeks. In the cities, the Muslims, who had generally secured such rights in their terms of surrender, retained their mosques, their kadis, and freedom of trade; in the country, however, they became serfs. Roger drew the mass of his infantry from the Muslims; Saint Anselm, visiting him at the siege of Capua, 1098, found "the brown tents of the Arabs innumerable". Nevertheless, the Latin element began to prevail, as Lombards and other Italians flocked to the island in the wake of the conquest, and the conquest of Sicily proved decisive in the steady decline of Muslim power in the western Mediterranean from this time.
Roger's eldest son was a bastard named Jordan, who predeceased him. His second son, Geoffrey, may have been a bastard, but may also have been a son of his first or second wife. Whatever the case, he was a leper with no chance of inheriting.
- A daughter, married Hugh of Gircea (died 1075/6), the first count of Paternò
- Matilda (1062 – before 1094) married firstly (repudiated before 1080) as his second wife, Robert, Count of Eu married secondly (1080, divorced 1088) as his second wife, Raymond IV of Toulouse
- Adelisa (died 1096), married in 1083 to Henry, Count of Monte Sant'Angelo
- Emma (died 1120), briefly engaged to Philip I of France; married firstly William VI of Auvergne and secondly Rudolf, Count of Montescaglioso.
In 1077, Roger married a second time, to Eremburga of Mortain, daughter of "William, Count of Mortain" (probably William Warlenc). Their children were:
- Mauger, Count of Troina
- Matilda, married Guigues III, Count of Albon
- Muriel (died 1119), married Josbert de Lucy
- Constancia, married Conrad of Italy
- Felicia, married King Coloman of Hungary
- Violante, married Robert of Burgundy, son of Robert I of Burgundy
- Flandina, married Henry del Vasto
- Judith (died 1136), married Robert I of Bassunvilla
- Simon, Count of Sicily
- Matilda, married Ranulf II, Count of Alife
- Roger II, Count, later King, of Sicily
- Maximilla, married Hildebrand VI (of the Aldobrandeschi family)
- The exact date of his birth is unknown. According to Hubert Houben, he was probably born later, around 1040 (see: Roger II of Sicily: a ruler between East and West, 2002)
- Hill, James S. The Place-names of Somerset, St. Stephen's printing works, 1914, Princeton University. Page 256
- Revue de l'Avranchin et du pays de Granville, Volume 31, Issue 174, Parts 3–4. "Société d'archéologie, de littérature, sciences et arts d'Avranches, Mortain, Granville," University of Michigan.
- Norwich, John Julius. The Normans in the South 1016–1130. London: Longmans, 1967.
- Aubé, Pierre. Roger II de Sicile. Un Normand en Méditerranée. Payot, 2001.
- Houben, Hubert (translated by Graham A. Loud and Diane Milburn). Roger II of Sicily: Ruler between East and West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
- Alex Metcalfe. The Muslims of Medieval Italy. Edinburgh, 2009.
|Count of Sicily