Roger of Sicily

views updated


Roger I, Great Count of Sicily and Calabria from 1072 to June 22, 1101; b. 1031; d. Mileto (Calabria). He was the youngest son of the Norman tancred. Roger joined his brother Robert Guiscard in Apulia and took part in his expeditions against Arab Sicily. After the fall of Palermo (1072), he carried on alone and brought the conquest to a successful end (1091), becoming the true organizer of the new Sicilian state. When he returned Sicily to the Roman Church, Pope urban ii granted him the apostolic legateship for Sicily, later called the Monarchia sicula. Roger introduced feudal landholding cautiously. He did not interfere with existing laws and customs. He granted religious freedom to Greek Christians, Jews, and Muslims. He enriched the treasury by making the export of grain to the Muslim state of North Africa a state monopoly.

Roger II, count, King of Sicily, 1101 to Feb. 26, 1154; b. 1095; d. Palermo. He was the son of Roger I and Adelaide. He effectively united Sicily with the Norman mainland possessions (1128). In the papal schism of 1130, he supported the antipope Anacletus II, who crowned him King of Sicily, Apulia, and Calabria on Christmas Day, 1130, at Palermo. He defeated the European coalitions against him and gained the recognition of Pope innocent ii (1139). Instead of participating in the second crusade, he raided Byzantium and founded a short-lived colonial empire in Tunisia. He introduced a new code of law (the Assizes of Ariano, 1140), centralized finances, and named agents of the central government for all districts of the mainland and island. His statesmanlike qualities, his rational approach to problems of government, and his genius for diplomacy and strategy marked him as "the first modern ruler." He is credited with that fusion of Western, Byzantine, and Arabic culture found in the Norman art of southern Italy and Sicily.

Bibliography: Sources. gaufredus malaterra, De rebus gestis Rogerii Calabriae et Siciliare comitis, ed. e. pontieri. l. a. muratori, Rerum italicarum scriptores, 5001500 (Città di Castello 1900). alexander of telese, De rebus gestis Rogerii Siciliae regis, in g. del re, ed., Cronisti e Scrittori, 2 v. (Naples 184568) 1:85146. m. amari, Biblioteca Arabo-Sicula, 2 v. (Turin & Rome 188081). Literature. For extensive bibliography see p. f. kehr, Regesta Pontificum Romanorum. Italia Pontificia, 8 v. (Berlin 190635) 8:15 and h. wieruszowski, "The Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Crusades," History of the Crusades, ed. k. m. setton, 2 v. (Philadelphia 1962) v. 2.

[h. wieruszowski]

About this article

Roger of Sicily

Updated About content Print Article