Robert Guiscard

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Robert Guiscard

(gēskär`), c.1015–1085, Norman conqueror of S Italy, a son of Tancred de Hauteville (see NormansNormans,
designation for the Northmen, or Norsemen, who conquered Normandy in the 10th cent. and adopted Christianity and the customs and language of France. Abandoning piracy and raiding, they adopted regular commerce and gave much impetus to European trade.
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). Robert joined (c.1046) his brothers in S Italy and fought with them to expel the Byzantines. In 1057 he succeeded his brother Humphrey as count of Apulia, and in 1059 Pope Nicholas II invested him at Melfi with Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily. However, most of these lands remained to be conquered, and Robert set himself to the task with the help of his younger brother Roger, who wrested (1061–91) Sicily from the Arabs (see Roger IRoger I
(Roger Guiscard), c.1031–1101, Norman conqueror of Sicily; son of Tancred de Hauteville (see Normans). He went to Italy in 1058 to join his brother, Robert Guiscard, in conquering Apulia and Calabria from the Byzantines.
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). Calabria was occupied by 1060; Bari fell in 1071, Salerno in 1076. Robert's attacks on the duchy of Benevento, a papal fief, resulted in his excommunication (1074), but a reconciliation was brought about because the pope, Gregory VIIGregory VII, Saint,
d. 1085, pope (1073–85), an Italian (b. near Rome) named Hildebrand (Ital. Ildebrando); successor of Alexander II. He was one of the greatest popes. Feast: May 25.
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, needed Norman assistance against Holy Roman Emperor Henry IVHenry IV,
1050–1106, Holy Roman emperor (1084–1105) and German king (1056–1105), son and successor of Henry III. He was the central figure in the opening stages of the long struggle between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy.
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, who had invaded Rome (1081). Ultimately, virtually all of Benevento except the city itself fell to Robert; he then turned his eyes to the Byzantine Empire. Championing the cause of the deposed emperor, Michael VII, he sailed in 1081, conquered Corfu, and defeated (1082) Emperor Alexius IAlexius I
(Alexius Comnenus) , 1048–1118, Byzantine emperor (1081–1118). Under the successors of his uncle, Isaac I, the empire had fallen prey to anarchy and foreign invasions.
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. In 1083 he returned to aid Gregory VII, who was besieged in the Castel Sant' Angelo. Robert's troops sacked Rome for three days (1084), but were again expelled by those of Henry IV. Robert, with his elder son Bohemond IBohemond I
, c.1056–1111, prince of Antioch (1099–1111), a leader in the First Crusade (see Crusades); elder son of Robert Guiscard. With his father he fought (1081–85) against the Byzantine emperor Alexius I.
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, resumed his conquests in the east. Robert died of fever during the siege of Kefallinía and was succeeded in Apulia by his younger son, Roger.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guiscard, Robert


Born circa 1015; died July 17, 1085, on the island of Cephalonia. One of the leaders of the Norman invasions of Italy.

Robert fought in wars against the Byzantines for possession of southern Italy and in 1053 defeated the forces of Pope Leo IX at Civitate. In 1057 he became count of Apulia. Pope Nicholas II legalized Robert’s conquests (future as well as actual), confirming him as duke of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily in 1059, and Robert took an oath of fealty to the pope. By 1072 he ruled southern Italy and Sicily (conquered from the Arabs), laying the foundations for the Kingdom of Sicily.

In an attempt to halt Robert’s conquests, Pope Gregory VII excommunicated him in 1074; in 1080 he lifted the excommunication and gave Robert all the lands he had conquered, including Amalfi and Salerno, as fiefdoms, in the hope of securing Robert’s aid in the struggle against Emperor Henry IV. Still at war with Byzantium, Robert invaded the Balkan Peninsula, defeating the forces of Alexius I Comnenus at Dyrrachium in 1081. In 1084 he went to the aid of Pope Gregory, who was besieged in Rome by Henry. Robert drove Henry out of Rome, sacking the city in the process. Robert died at the height of the renewed war with Byzantium.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This translation is another great contribution by Graham Loud towards a coherent set of secondary and primary texts for the Anglophone student of southern Italy (see his The Age of Robert Guiscard, Southern Italy and the Norman Conquest, 2000; and The History of the Tyrants of Sicily, by "Hugo Falcundus," 1154-69, 1998).
Robert Guiscard had ambitions to take Byzantine property, and Urban II could not effectively restrain him.
An able, energetic, and resourceful general; Alexius owed much of his success to his intelligent combination of diplomacy and military force, such as at the capture of Nicaea or in the earlier alliance with Venice against Robert Guiscard; at home he endeavored to suppress heresy and stabilize the currency, with mixed results, but even a man of his talents could achieve only a temporary remission of the empire's decay, checking its enemies for a brief time.
The papacy changed tactics and at Melfi in 1059 Pope Nicholas II invested Robert Guiscard as Duke of Apulia and Calabria and future lord of Sicily.
Finally, the battle of Durazzo, so vividly described by Mr Willoughby, set the seal on the military tactics employed by the Normans including Robert Guiscard at Civitate in 1053 and in 1066 at Hastings.
Robert Guiscard of Hauteville, strongest and most ambitious of the Norman chiefs, could never have contemplated such an invasion without the blessing of Pope Gregory VII.
Across the Adriatic, Roussel's old comrade Robert Guiscard, whose designs on the mainland had long been suspected, must surely have been watching his progress with interest.
Is there anything of importance for the history of Byzantium in the mention of Sichelgaita, Robert Guiscard's wife.
Robert Duke of Normandy, Robert Count of Flanders, Stephen of Blois, Hugh of Vermandois and Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard. But there were many others with their own warbands who owed little loyalty to such men, and new leaders emerged during the journey.