Tancred DE HAUTEVILLE, Duca di Apulia
(Abt 985-Abt 1041)
Frédésende (Fressenda) DE NORMANDIE
Robert I "Guiscard" DE HAUTEVILLE, Duca di Apulia & Calabria
(Abt 1020-1085)


Family Links


2. Sichelgaita DI SALERNO, Princess of the Lombards

Robert I "Guiscard" DE HAUTEVILLE, Duca di Apulia & Calabria 1

  • Born: Abt 1020, Hauteville, Manche, Normandy, France
  • Married (1): Abt 1051
  • Married (2): 1058/9
  • Died: 17 Jul 1085, The siege of Phiscardo Bay, Cephalonia, Greece
  • Buried: Monastery of Santissima Trinità, Venosa

  Research Notes:

Malaterra names "Robertus dictus a nativitate Guiscardus…" first among the sons of Tancred & his second wife. Orderic Vitalis records “...filii...Tancredi de Alta-Villa: Drogo...atque Umfridus, Willermus et Hermannus, Rotbertus cognomento Wiscardus et Rogerius et sex fratres eorum” among those who left Normandy and settled in Apulia. Lupus Protospatarius names Robert as brother of "Umfreda", specifying that he succeeded the latter in 1056 as duke. Amatus records that "a man from Normandy…Robert…later called Guiscard" arrived in southern Italy "in aid of his brother whom he asked to give him some land as a benefice, but his brother did not give him any aid or counsel", dated to [1047] from the context. The same source states that, at first, he joined "Pandulf" [Pandulf IV Prince of Capua], who promised him his daughter in marriage. Malaterra records that Robert was given the command of the garrison of Scribla near Cosenza by his half-brother Drogo Count of Apulia, dated to 1049. This grant was presumably made after the death of Prince Pandulf IV, which is recorded in Feb 949. Amatus records that Robert´s brother gave him "[in] the very limits of Calabria…a very secure mount whch was well supplied with timber…[named] San Marco" (San Marco Argentano, between Malvito and Bisignano) and "put him in possession of the whole of Calabria". Robert´s bandit activities in the region earned him his nickname. After the Normans' victory against Pope Leo IX at Civitate in 1053, they went on to capture further territory in Italy, with Robert taking Minervino, Otranto and Gallipoli, after which his half-brother ordered him back to Calabria fearful of his growing power. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Robertus comes" entered "Callipolim", after "Humphredus" defeated "Græcis circa Oriam", and captured "Hydrontum et Castrum Minervæ" in 1055. His half-brother Onfroi appointed him guardian of his infant son Abailardo, but he seized the latter's lands on Onfroi's death. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records the death in 1056 of "Humphredus" and the succession of "comes Apuliæ Robertus qui dictus est Guiscardus".

He was formally acclaimed as his half-brother's successor as Conte di Apulia at Melfi in Aug 1057. Guillaume of Jumièges records that “Umfridus” left “Abailardum filium suum” to the protection of “Roberto fratri suo...Wischardum cognominaverat” together with “ducatu Apuliæ”. Triggered by the famine of 1058, the population rebelled against their Norman oppressors, the revolt rapidly spreading throughout Calabria. With help from his brother Roger, the rebellion was suppressed. Sweeping aside earlier differences, the papacy under Nicholas II agreed an alliance with the Normans to suppress anti-Pope Benedict X. The anti-pope was captured, unfrocked and imprisoned in the church of Sant'Agnese in Rome. At the Council of Melfi in Aug 1059 Robert declared himself vassal of the Pope, initiating a long alliance between the two powers, which the Normans put to full advantage in consolidating their position of power in Italy and later in Sicily.

Pope Nicholas II declared him ROBERT Duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, although the Normans had not then made any claim on Sicily nor set foot there, and encouraged him to complete the conquest of the remaining parts of Italy held by the Byzantines. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Robertus comes Apuliæ" was made "Dux Apuliæ, Calabriæ et Siciliæ" by "Papa Nicolao in civitate Melphis" to whom he swore homage for all his lands in 1059. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Robertus" captured "civitas Tarenti" in May 1060 and that he later captured "Brundusium". Robert captured Reggio in 1060, and Brindisi in 1062. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Miriarcha cum expercitu Imperiali" defeated "Robertum et Malgerum" in Oct 1060 and recovered lands including "Hydrunte". While his brother Roger turned his attention to Sicily, Robert continued his campaigns in Apulia. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Robertus Dux" captured "Acherontiam" and besieged "Melphim" in 1061, and in 1062 recaptured Brindisi (where he captured "Miriarcham") and Oria, and established "castrum in Mejana". Orderic Vitalis records that Robert de Grantmesnil, ex-abbot of Ouche, in seeking his restoration as abbot sought help from “Rodbertum Wiscardum Calabriæ ducem” who invited him and his monks to install themselves permanently there and granted “ecclesiam Sanctæ Eufemiæ...super littus Adriatici maris” to him, dated to [1061/63]. Having suppressed the rebellion of his nephew Abelard in 1068, he took advantage of the withdrawal of Byzantine troops to fight the Seljuks in Asia Minor, and laid siege to Bari. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Robertus Dux" defeated "Græci" at "campo Litii" and captured "Gavianum, Obbianum et Barim" in 1069 and "Brundusium" in 1071. Bari surrendered 16 Apr 1071 after a three year siege, following the arrival of support from Robert's brother Roger from Sicily. They moved on together to Sicily and captured Palermo in 1072. The Chronicon Breve Normannicum records that "Robertus Dux" invaded Sicily with a large fleet in 1072 and that "Goffridus comes" besieged and captured Palermo. Robert claimed suzerainty over the island, having been invested as Duke by the Pope several years earlier, but installed his brother Roger as Count of Sicily and left Sicily for the last time himself end 1072. The Chronicon Amalphitani records that "Dux Robertus Guiscardus de gente Normannorum" expelled Duke Ioannes from Amalfi in Nov 1074. In 1076, he laid siege to Salerno, the last Lombard state in southern Italy. After its surrender on 13 Dec 1076, Robert installed his capital there. On 19 Dec 1077, he attacked Benevento, which resulted in the Pope excommunicating him a second time 3 Mar 1078. After the death of his ally Richard Prince of Capua, he was obliged to lift the siege. Later in the year, several of his principal vassals rebelled against Robert. The revolt spread rapidly to all his mainland Italian territories, but was suppressed the following year. After years of rivalry with Pope Gregory VII, a meeting was arranged 29 Jun 1080 at which Robert swore fealty for the lands which he held from the Papacy. Robert then turned his attention to Byzantium, in particular the Byzantine province of Illyria where his rebel nephew Abailardo had sought refuge, on the pretext of revenging his daughter who had been put in a convent after her betrothal to Konstantinos Dukas had been broken in 1078. After capturing Durazzo in 1081, most of the Illyrian coast fell under his control. Called upon to defend Pope Gregory VII against Emperor Heinrich IV and his anti-Pope Clement III, Robert was obliged to return to Italy. In 1084, he attacked Rome, but was faced with a popular uprising against the excesses of his troops, and saved by his son Roger "Borsa".

Returning to Greece, he succeeded in recapturing Corfu which had been lost in his absence, but died of fever on his way to capture Cephalonia. Malaterra records the death of Duke Robert "Guiscard" in Jul 1085. 2

  Marriage Information:

Robert married Alberada DI BUONALBERGO.

  Marriage Information:

Robert also married Sichelgaita DI SALERNO, Princess of the Lombards, daughter of Guaimar IV DI SALERNO, Prince of Salerno, and Gemma DI CAPUA, in 1058/9. (Sichelgaita DI SALERNO was born between 1040 and 1045 in Salerno, Italy and died on 27 Jul 1090 in Salerno, Italy.)


1 Racines et Histoire, Lignages, Maison de Hauteville, pp. 2-3.

2 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands: Robert "Guiscard/Weasel" de Hauteville.

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