Sergius I of Naples
Sergius I was the first duke of Naples of his dynasty, often dubbed the "Sergi," which ruled over Naples for almost three centuries from his accession in 840 until the death of his namesake Sergius VII
Sergius VII of Naples
Sergius VII was the thirty-ninth and last duke of Naples. He succeeded his father John VI on the Neapolitan throne in 1120 or 1123 at a time when Roger II of Sicily was rising rapidly in power...

 in 1137.

Sergius was originally the dux
Dux is Latin for leader and later for Duke and its variant forms ....

of Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

, a Neapolitan dependency. In 840, with the Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 trying to take the city, the people elected Sergius as duke (or magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

) of Naples. This was a move towards complete independence from the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, which was incapable of defending the Ducatus Neapolitanus from the Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

. Sergius continued the beneficial alliance the Neapolitans had made with the Saracens of Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 earlier. He aided them in taking Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

 from the Byzantines in 841 and Messina in 842. By turning away from the Byzantines and towards the papacy and the Franks, he opened the way for the expulsion of the Moslems from the Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...


The Saracens soon became too dangerous to keep as friends and Naples was forced to ally with Amalfi
Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto , surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery...

, Gaeta
Gaeta is a city and comune in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 km from Rome and 80 km from Naples....

, and Sorrento
Sorrento is the name of many cities and towns:*Sorrento, Italy*Sorrento, Florida, United States*Sorrento, Louisiana, United States*Sorrento, Maine, United States*Sorrento, Victoria, a township on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia...

, its practically independent underlings, and make war on the Moslems. The Christians forced them out of Ponza
Ponza is the largest of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region....

 and defended Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in 846, though the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 was sacked. In 849, Sergius led his fleet alongside that of Gaeta and the Vatican in the successful Battle of Ostia
Battle of Ostia
The naval Battle of Ostia took place in 849 between some Saracen pirates and an Italian league of Papal, Neapolitan, Amalfitan and Gaetan ships. The battled ended in favor of the Italian league, as they successfully beat off the pirates...


Sergius allied himself, furthermore, with the Emperors Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 and Louis II
Louis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Louis II the Younger was the King of Italy and Roman Emperor from 844, co-ruling with his father Lothair I until 855, after which he ruled alone. Louis's usual title was imperator augustus , but he used imperator Romanorum after his conquest of Bari in 871, which led to poor relations with Byzantium...

. In 847, Sergius was charged, along with Guy I of Spoleto
Guy I of Spoleto
Guy I was the Duke of Spoleto from 842. He was the son of Lambert I of Nantes and Adelaide of Lombardy, the eldest daughter of Pepin of Italy. He travelled with his father in 834 in the entourage of Lothair I. He was given the abbey of Mettlach in Lotharingia in 840, when the Emperor Louis the...

, with establishing peace between the Lombard princes Siconulf of Salerno
Siconulf of Salerno
Siconulf was the first prince of Salerno, the brother of Sicard, prince of Benevento , who was assassinated by Radelchis. In response to Sicard's murder, the people of Salerno proclaimed Siconulf prince in opposition to Radelchis. At the time Radelchis was holding Siconulf prisoner in Taranto...

 and Radelchis I of Benevento
Radelchis I of Benevento
Radelchis I was the treasurer, then prince of Benevento from 839, when he assumed the throne upon the assassination of Sicard and imprisonment of Sicard's brother, Siconulf, to his death, though in his time the principality was divided.According to the Chronica S...

. In 850, Sergius attempted (successfully) to make the duchy hereditary when he appointed his eldest son, Gregory
Gregory III of Naples
Gregory III , eldest son of Sergius I of Naples and Drusa, was the duke of Naples as co-regent with his father from 850 and as successor to his father from his father's death in 864 to his own some six years later. He was recorded as a man of learning, fluent in both Greek and Latin.During his...

, as co-duke. He began to mint his own coins with his own effigy on them.

In 859, Sergius made war with Capua
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

. He married his daughter to Landulf, gastald
A gastald was a Lombard official in charge of some portion of the royal demesne with civil, martial, and judicial powers. By the Edictum Rothari of 643, the gastalds were given the civil authority in the cities and the reeves the like authority in the countryside...

 of Suessola, son of Lando I of Capua
Lando I of Capua
Lando I was the count of Capua from 843. He was the eldest son and successor of Landulf the Old. Like his father, he supported Siconulf against Radelchis in the civil war dividing the Principality of Benevento in the 840s....

. With the gastald, he sent his sons Gregory and Caesar to sack New Capua. They failed. Sergius' other sons, Athanasius
Athanasius I, Bishop of Naples
Saint Athanasius I was the bishop of Naples from 850 to his death. He was the second son of Sergius I of Naples and became bishop at the same time his brother, Gregory, became co-duke. Athanasius was an intimate of both the court of the Western Emperor and that of the Pope...

 and Stephen, also played an important role in Neapolitan politics. The former became bishop of Naples, an imperial familiaris, and a papal legate and intimate of the Roman curia. Stephen held the bishopric of Sorrento. Before dying, Sergius bade Gregory to follow the counsel of his brother the bishop. Gregory did succeed on Sergius' death and the hereditary, independent dukedom was born.


  • Naples in the Dark Ages by David Taylor and Jeff Matthews.
  • Erchempert
    Erchempert was a monk of Monte Cassino in the final quarter of the ninth century. He chronicled a history of Lombard Benevento, giving especially vivid account of the violence surrounding his monastic retreat in his own day. The work, Historia Langobardorum Beneventanorum, stops in the winter of...

    . Historia Langabardorvm Beneventarnorvm at The Latin Library
    The Latin Library
    The Latin Library is a website that collects public domain Latin texts. The texts have been drawn from different sources. Many were originally scanned and formatted from texts in the Public Domain. Others have been downloaded from various sites on the Internet . Most of the recent texts have been...

  • Caravale, Mario (ed). Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani: LIX Graziando – Grossi Gondi. Rome
    Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

    , 2002.
  • Chalandon, Ferdinand. Histoire de la domination normande en Italie et en Sicilie. Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

    , 1907.
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