ROBERT GUISCARD DE HAUTEVILLE 1015-85
THE NORMAN SCOURGE OF THE POPE AND BYZANTINE EMPIRE
Born in Normandy, Guiscard travelled to southern Italy, where his older brothers had carved out successful careers as mercenaries and established themselves as powerful warlords. Because of his early reputation as a brigand, he was nicknamed ‘Guiscard’, which meant ‘Crafty One’.
Guiscard helped win a notable victory against a papal army at the Battle of Civitate in 1053 and assisted in conquering the remaining Byzantine lands in Italy. He became an ally of the pope and was instrumental in securing the Norman conquest of Sicily in 1072. From 1080, Guiscard began to attack the Byzantine Empire itself and crossed the Aegean Sea with a huge fleet. He defeated Emperor Alexios I Komnenos at the Battle of Dyrrhachium and then returned to Italy. Guiscard sacked Rome and rescued Pope Gregory VII before installing him in a palace at Salerno.
Guiscard’s astonishing career ended when he captured Corfu in 1085. While wintering in Greece, an epidemic spread through the Norman army that killed many, including Guiscard.
LEFT: At various times in his life Guiscard held the titles of count and duke of Apulia and Calabria, duke of Sicily and even the prince of Benevento