The Normans in Southern Italy and in the Framework of Italian Politics Part II

By | February 14, 2022

Beside him was Ildebrando da Soana, the future Gregory VII. The papacy seemed completely revived by the ancient church consciousness, by the concept of the absolute Roman primacy over the whole Church and of the superiority of religious power over political power. Thus the reform initiative passed from the hands of the emperor to those of the pope, albeit without opposition from the emperor, but of course, against that political-juridical situation that the emperor had helped to create. And the peninsula became even more the driving force of the reform, the new political-social problems and church or religious problems intertwined and merged.

According to localtimezone, Leo IX also waited to assert territorial rights or claims: especially in the South. The Normans were beginning to frighten that they would not take up that legacy of the Lombards and Byzantines to which the popes evidently aspired, in whole or in part. Since there were already imperial donations, real or fictitious, from cities to the Holy See: Capua, for example. The eyes of the curia have already settled on Benevento, especially since the city had made and then renewed the municipality. Now the Beneventans, who have risen against their prince, have acclaimed lord Leo IX. All those who are afraid of the Normans now turn to the pope rather than to the emperor. And the pope goes to fight the Normans, he faces them in battle near Civita. But he is conquered and taken prisoner, broads in concessions and promises to the victor during his imprisonment, it strengthens in the victorious Normans the will to proceed further. And in 1056, Roberto il Guiscardo, with his companions from Puglia, conquered the land of Otranto by surrounding and isolating Bari. And Riccardo di Aversa conquered Capua. It was, with the capture of Capua, the death of that principality, which a few decades earlier seemed to have succeeded in dominating the South; while also that of Benevento was by now reduced to little; and that of Salerno, undermined inside by feudalism, no longer resisted the strength of the Normans, to whom the political initiative of the south passed.

The empire did not show up in these events. If anything, he consented and gave some help to the pontiff. To the new Pope Victor II, a German too, Henry III guaranteed the full reintegration of the patrimony of the Roman Church; and, in 1055, in a synod held in Florence, he not only renewed the prohibition of any alienation of ecclesiastical assets, but also transferred the brands of Spoleto and Fermo to the Holy See. It seems evident that the solidarity of the popes, many of them Germans, and of the bishops was sought. How else to stand up to the Normans and the great lords, discontented at first with too many favors for bishops, now with the protection accorded to minor vassals? Even the Marquises of Canossa, always loyal and therefore invested with the March of Tuscany, vacillated. But by now it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the papacy a friend and loyal. The reform party was growing in strength every day in the curia and in Italy, especially in Tuscany and Lombardy.

The curialist doctrines that placed the papacy at the center of the Church were making their way like never before. Powerful personalities, almost adequate for the new times, such as Ildebrando, adviser and inspirer of papal politics in recent years, are on the scene and bring new, imponderable elements of dissension. With the popes of Lorraine origin were added other reasons of contrast, more properly German and dynastic, in the relations of Rome with the emperor. Thus it happened that Pope Stephen IX, elected by the Romans under the inspiration of Ildelbrando, was consecrated without anyone asking for consent in Germany, where then, Henry III dead, the widow Agnes ruled the kingdom for his children. Niccolò II, bishop of Florence, succeeded in whose name they agreed, against an attempt by the Roman aristocracy, headed by the Tusculos, to have their own pope, bishops of the reformist party and the imperial party, gathered in Siena. The desire to free himself from any German tutelage was alive in the curia. And a suitable means seemed to be a rapprochement with the Normans. Thus in a council held in Melfi August 1059 for the purposes of the reform, Nicholas II freed the Normans from excommunication, invested the principality of Capua with Riccardo di Aversa (Drengot) and the duchy of Puglia and Calabria and the principality of Benevento, the city excluded, Roberto il Guiscardo; he gave the latter authorization to remove Sicily from infidels; he was promised that they would defend the lands and rights of St. Peter and pay tribute to what they owned of the Church. The nature of this concession is not clear, nor the foundation on which the pontiff placed it. In any case, it was always his substitution for the emperor. Being in secular disagreement with the East, he sought and seemed to find in the Normans a valid auxiliary; unsure of future relations with the Western empire, he detached the Normans from his vassalage, severed the bond that had formed between the empire and the kingdom on one side, the South of Italy on the other.

The Normans in Southern Italy 2