ROGER II 1095-1154
THE FIRST NORMAN MONARCH OF A UNIFIED KINGDOM OF SICILY
The son of Roger I, Count of Sicily, at Mileto, the young Roger was taught by Greek and Arab tutors and could speak several languages. Knighted in 1112 in the Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) at Palermo, Roger administered his Sicilian territories and became known for his diplomatic skills. After supporting Antipope Anacletus II against Pope Innocent II, Roger was crowned king of Sicily in December 1130. After defeating Pope Innocent in battle, Roger forced the pope to recognise his kingdom, but was defeated twice at the battles of Nocera and Rignano.
Nevertheless, Roger was able to consolidate his power and created a navy that briefly captured much of Tunisia and sailed up the Bosporus to attack Constantinople. He also presided over an intellectual court that administered tolerance over the various peoples and religions of Sicily.
This Norman king was the first to engender a sense of unified Sicilian identity among the islanders.
LEFT: Roger II’S Sicilian court reflected the multicultural life of Sicily, which was ruled by Normans but influenced by Latin, Byzantine Greek and Arab cultures