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7-08-2015, 23:49

The break-up of capua-benevento and the general fragmentation of authority in the south

In the 970s the growing power of the prince of Capua-Benevento was threatening to take over those parts of southern Italy not under Byzantine rule. In 973 there was an abortive coup in Salerno in which the childless Prince Gisulf was packed off to Amalfi as a prisoner. The ringleader of this coup was the former lord of Conza (the son of either Atenulf II or Atenulf III of Benevento) whom Gisulf had expelled many years earlier, but then allowed to return. Swift and decisive action by Pandulf Ironhead restored Gisulf to his throne. However, the price of his restoration was that Pandulf’s son be associated with him as co-ruler, and when Gisulf died in 977 that son (also called Pandulf ) was his successor. Thus in theory at least the unity of the old principality of Benevento, as it had existed before the division of 849, was restored (see above, p. 560). But such unity proved illusory, for the death of Pandulf Ironhead in 981 was the precursor to the break-up of his empire. Despite the presence of an imperial army under Otto II both Salerno and Benevento revolted. The Beneventans installed as their prince Pandulf’s nephew, the son of his brother and co-ruler Landulf III, who had died in 968/9. The Salernitans turned first to Duke Manso of Amalfi, and then in December 983 to a palace official, John of Spoleto (983–99), who succeeded in holding on to the principality and founding a new ruling dynasty.40 Thus from 982 on Lombard southern Italy was once again divided into three separate principalities. The year 982 also saw the eclipse of Ottonian influence in the south. Otto II had decided to abandon the peace of 969, and launched a fresh invasion of the Byzantine provinces. His army marched first into southern Apulia where it besieged, but failed to take, Matera and Taranto. Then he marched south into Calabria, which was once again menaced by Arab incursions from Sicily.Otto’s army was defeated in a pitched battle with the Arab invaders nearReggio and the emperor himself only narrowly escaped.41 Landulf IV of Capua (981–2) and his brother Pandulf, the deposed prince of Salerno, were among the dead. The defeat in Calabria, followed by Otto II’s death little more than a year later and the resultant minority, meant that there was no further German intervention in southern Italy for some sixteen years. It also ensured that there would remain three separate Lombard principalities and that no ruler would dominate the non-Byzantine south with imperial assistance, as Pandulf Ironhead had done. His rule over Spoleto and Camerino was granted to others. The principality of Capua was left in the hands of a minor, under the tutelage of his mother. And in both Capua and Benevento the forces of decentralisation, of which incastellamento was a symptom, reduced princely authority little by little. In the principality of Benevento the development of castelli accelerated from around 1000, and the rule of the prince became limited to little more than the immediate vicinity of Benevento itself. The maintenance of central authority was certainly not helped by a fragmentation of interests within the ruling families. For a time in 985Duke Manso of Amalfi was displaced by his brother Adelferius. More seriously, in 993 Prince Landenulf of Capua was murdered in an uprising in Capua, and there are some indications that this was with the connivance of his brother Laidulf (993–9), who succeeded him as prince.42 Soon afterwards Archbishop Aion of Capua was also murdered, and in 996 Abbot Manso of Cassino – who was, it will be remembered, a princely kinsman – was captured while on a visit to Capua and blinded; this came after a period of virtually open warfare in the north of the principality between the abbey of Monte Cassino and the neighbouring counts of Aquino. Authority within the principality of Capua was seemingly near collapse in the 990s.43 The intervention of Emperor Otto III (983–1002) in 999 did nothing to cure this. He deposed Laidulf and installed his own nominee as prince. But as soon as Otto’s army withdrew his prot´eg´e was expelled, and replaced by a brother of the prince of Benevento (whose capital Otto had besieged but failed to capture). While we have no such spectacular manifestations for other areas as we have for Capua, dissipation of authority would appear to have been a fairly general phenomenon. Even in the minuscule duchy of Gaeta the same fissiparous tendencies as in the Lombard principalities manifested themselves, with cadet branches of the ducal house setting up their own, almost independent, counties in outlying parts of the duchy, at Fondi, Traetto and Suio. The Byzantine dominions in contrast had a strong central administration. But the recurrence of Arab attacks in the 980s and 990s posed serious problems, not least because imperial attention was devoted almost exclusively to more pressing matters elsewhere: revolts in Asia Minor and then war with Bulgaria (see above, pp. 522–7). These Muslim raids penetrated not merely into Calabria, but also deep into Apulia. The outskirts of Bari were ravaged in 988, Taranto attacked in 991, Matera captured after a long siege in 994, and Bari itself besieged for nearly five months in 1003 and rescued only by a Venetian fleet. In northern Calabria, Cosenza was sacked in 1009. If a note of pessimism creeps into contemporary documents this is hardly surprising; Peter, an inhabitant of Conversano, lamented in 992 that he had made suitable provision for his elder sons in a time of peace; but now in ‘a time of barbarism’ he could not do the same for his younger son.44 Nor indeed was the west coast exempt from attack. The duchy of Amalfi, whose trading links had hitherto protected it, was raided in 991. And in 999 the outskirts of Salerno were the victim of a further piratical raid. According to the chronicle of Amatus of Monte Cassino (written some eighty years later) there was general panic before a group of forty pilgrims fromNormandy, returning from a visit to Jerusalem, volunteered to combat the invaders, caught them unawares and routed them. Impressed with their prowess, Prince Guaimar III (999–1027) invited them or their relatives to enter his service as mercenaries. So at least ran the legend, and perhaps even the sober fact, of the arrival of the Normans in southern Italy.45 For some years to come they were only minor players in the region’s history. But, as the eleventh century wore on, the Normans would change its course for ever.

 

 

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