Sergius VII of Naples
Sergius VII was the thirty-ninth and last duke
Dux is Latin for leader and later for Duke and its variant forms ....
(or 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. He succeeded his father John VI
John VI of Naples
John VI was the Duke of Naples from 1097 or 1107 to his death. He was the son and successor of Sergius VI. His reign is very obscure on the basis of slight documentary evidence. He followed his father's policy of close relations with Byzantium in light of Norman attacks, and was at some point...
on the Neapolitan throne in 1120 or 1123 at a time when Roger II of Sicily
Roger II of Sicily
Roger II was King of Sicily, son of Roger I of Sicily and successor to his brother Simon. He began his rule as Count of Sicily in 1105, later became Duke of Apulia and Calabria , then King of Sicily...
was rising rapidly in power. When Roger succeeded as duke of Apulia in 1127 and was crowned king in 1130, the fate of Naples hinged on Sergius' relations with the Sicilian court.
In 1131, Roger demanded from the citizens of 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...
the defences of their city and the keys to their castle. When the citizens refused, Sergius initially prepared to aid them with a fleet, but the Admiral George of Antioch
George of Antioch
George of Antioch was the first true ammiratus ammiratorum, successor of the great Christodulus. George was a Greek Melchite, born in Antioch, whence he moved with his father, Michael, and mother to Tunisia. His parents found employment under the Zirid Sultan, Tamim ibn Muizz...
blockaded the port city with a larger fleet and Sergius submitted to Roger. According to the chronicler Alexander of Telese
Alexander of Telese
Alexander of Telese was an Italian chronicler and historian, and the abbot of San Salvatore, near Telese, in southern Italy from before 1127 to before November 1143....
, Naples "which, since Roman times, had hardly ever been conquered by the sword now submitted to Roger on the strength of a mere report." Sergius' prestige was not high and all of southern Italy was now in Roger's hands.
In 1134, Sergius supported the rebellion of Robert II of Capua
Robert II of Capua
Robert II was the count of Aversa and the prince of Capua from 1127 until his death .He was the only son and successor of Jordan II of Capua...
and Ranulf II of Alife, but avoided any direct confrontation with Roger. After the fall of Capua, he did homage to the king. But the next year, on 24 April 1135, a Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...
n fleet under the exiled Robert of Capua laid anchor in Naples. Carrying 8,000 reinforcements, the fleet increased rebel morale and soon a full-scale revolt had recommenced. Sergius had to welcome Ranulf, who was in the same position as he: in revolt against the king he to whom had so recently sworn fealty. The rebel leaders—Robert, Ranulf, and Sergius—were besieged in Naples until Spring 1136. By then, many people were dying of starvation. Yet according to the historian and rebel sympathiser Falco of Benevento
Falco of Benevento
Falco of Benevento was an Italian twelfth-century historian, notary and scribe in the papal palace in Benevento, his native city, where he was born to high-standing parents.He is an important chronicler for the years between 1102 and 1139 in the Mezzogiorno...
, Sergius and the Neapolitans did not relent, "preferring to die of hunger than to bare their necks to the power of an evil King." The naval blockade of Naples, however, had holes and Sergius was able to slip by to Pisa for more supplies and on another occasion Robert did the same. A relief army, commanded by none other than the Emperor Lothair II himself, however, was coming to Naples' rescue and Roger lifted the siege.
Lothair left quickly after conquering nearly the whole of the Mezzogiorno
The Midday is a wide definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the southern half of the Italian state, encompassing the southern section of the continental Italian Peninsula and the two major islands of Sicily and Sardinia, in addition to a large number of minor islands...
, and so Roger was able to retake his lost possessions. Sergius again kneeled before him in homage, trying to spare his city another siege. Sergius was forgiven and accompanied Roger on an expedition against his erstwhile ally Ranulf, now duke of Apulia. On October 30, at the Battle of Rignano
Battle of Rignano
The Battle of Rignano was the second great defeat of the career of Roger II of Sicily and, like the first, the Battle of Nocera, it too came at the hands of Ranulf II, Count of Alife...
, he and Roger II, as well as Roger's son, were defeated, Sergius himself dying on the field.
Ironically enough, Roger's defeat in Rignano opened the field to his conquest of Naples itself, since Sergius VII died heirless and Naples' nobility couldn't reach an agreement as to who would succeed as duke. Roger finally absorbed the Duchy of Naples
Duchy of Naples
The Duchy of Naples began as a Byzantine province that was constituted in the seventh century, in the reduced coastal lands that the Lombards had not conquered during their invasion of Italy in the sixth century...
into his new kingdom in 1139, when the pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...
, Innocent II, and the Neapolitan nobility acknowledged the young Alfonso of Hauteville
Alfonso of Hauteville
Alfonso of Hauteville , third son of Roger II of Sicily and Elvira of Castile, was the prince of Capua from 1135 to his death.He was named after his maternal grandfather, Alfonso VI of Castile...
- Norwich, John JuliusJohn Julius NorwichJohn Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich CVO — known as John Julius Norwich — is an English historian, travel writer and television personality.-Early life:...
. The Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194. Longman: LondonLondonLondon is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...
- Alexander of Telese. The Deeds Done By King Roger of Sicily.