ROBERT'S MARRIAGE IN S. MARCO ARGENTANO
Location:Vico III S. Lucia
The wedding of Robert Guiscard to his first wife, Alberada of Buonalbergo, which took place In around 1051 in the hilltop town of S. Marco Argentano.
Robert Guiscard of Hauteville (1025-1085) was of considerable stature, taller than even the tallest men. He had a ruddy complexion, light blonde hair, broad shoulders, eyes like sparks of fire, and overall was good-looking. He was called Guiscard, "the astute", because he was wittier than Cicero and smarter than Ulysses.
He was the embodiment of the true Norman European: open-minded, combative, cunning, and a lover of power. His ambition was to carve out a dominion in the territories that formally belonged to the Empire of the East, but which in fact were left to rule themselves. He had just 5 knights and 30 infantrymen; but his ambition was boundless.
He started his career as a brigand extorting money from the feudatories of the Crati Valley. His "nest" was St. Marco Argentano (1047) which he had received from his brother Drogone, Lord of Aversa. It was a small, remote hilltop town; but he was ready to seize any opportunity to achieve his objectives.
ROBERT CAPTURES COSENZA
Location: Via S.Tommaso
The people of Cosenza vainly oppose Guiscard's army.
Robert initially fought against the Church of Rome alongside his brothers, with the Normans and the local lords of the South uniting in a coalition. But he knew immediately that his interests coincided with those of the Pope. The territories of the South belonged nominally to the Eastern Empire of the Byzantine Orthodox faith, but in reality they were left to themselves, and were ripe for conquest.
In 1059, Robert Guiscard made a deal with Pope Nicholas II (the Treaty of Melfi). Robert declared himself vassal of the Pope for all Calabria and Sicily's territories that would cede from the Byzantines (Calabria) and Arabs (Sicily).
Guiscard would become Lord of these lands with the title of Duke of Puglia (and Basilicata), Calabria and Sicily. Formally, the Church could extend its borders to embrace the whole of the South, and above all restore these territories to the Catholic faith. Robert, with the help of his brother Roger, occupied first CALABRIA (1059-1060) and subsequently Sicily (1061).
THE ARMY OF ROGER II (1095-1154) Roger II combined Saracen, Calabrian and Apulian soldiers into a an army of considerable size.
Location: Via S.Tommaso
In 1127 Roger II of Sicily inherited the Hauteville family conquests in Calabria, Puglia and Sicily. But he was very ambitious, and envisaged for himself an even grander role in the Italian political scene.
In 1130 he took advantage of the contested election of the Pope to be awarded the title of King of Sicily and Duke of Puglia and Calabria, and was crowned in the Cathedral of Palermo on Christmas Eve. He became one of the most enlightened and powerful kings in Europe- and his kingdom the most dazzling. In 1137 he extended the Norman domain in Southern Italy with the conquest of the Duchy of Naples, and was the first to assume the title of King of Naples and Sicily.
With the Assise of Ariano (1140) he gave his kingdom the feudal organization typical of the Norman kingdoms of Northern Europe (Normandy, England). Unlike Germanic feudalism this was rigidly hierarchical and strictly linked to the person of the sovereign.
THE COURT OF ROGER II
Location: Via Abate Salfi
Courtiers wearing their national dress gather in the cosmopolitan court of Roger II, before the king enthroned "on high". The Arab geographer Al Idrisi presents his legendary map of the world, engraved on a great silver disc.
Having lived under it themselves, the Normans were very aware of the defects of the feudal system. They came from the duchy of Normandy, where the lord had never given much freedom to the nobility and had always maintained his authority. The Normans in Sicily continued this tradition: the king was powerful and the nobility weak. Under Roger II, Sicily became a highly centralized state in the thirteenth century; and under Frederick II, it would become the most advanced kingdom in Europe.
In the management of the kingdom, Roger II received the cooperation of all his subjects, regardless of their ethnicity. Populations lived in peace with different races (Arabic, Greek, Lombard, Jewish, etc.), religions (Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, etc.) and cultures (customs, traditions and history) mixing freely. The government deployed all the different languages, and equal rights and religious tolerance were granted to all by law. Science and learning flourished in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Roger's court.
THE EARTHQUAKE DESTROYING COSENZA (1184).
Location: Via Messere D'Andrea
In 1184 Cosenza was hit by a terrible earthquake leaving the city in ruins. The Norman Castle is still visible at the top of Pancrazio Hill.
It was some forty years before the city and surrounding areas were rebuilt.
In 1194 the Norman kingdom itself passed by marriage to the Hohenstaufen dynasty, based in Swabia (in Southern Germany); but Cosenza remained at the centre of political events in the kingdom.