Tancred of Sicily
Tancred was King of Sicily from 1189 to 1194. He was an illegitimate son of Roger III, Duke of Apulia
Roger III, Duke of Apulia
Roger III was the Norman duke of Apulia from 1135. He was the eldest son of King Roger II of Sicily and Elvira of Castile....

, the eldest son of King Roger II
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...

, and of Emma, daughter of Achard II, Count of Lecce
Achard II, Count of Lecce
Achard II was the Norman count of Lecce and Ostuni, both in southern Apulia, in today's southern Italy.He was the son of Count Geoffrey II of Lecce and a descendant of one of the sons of Tancred of Hauteville, Geoffrey, arrived c. 1054, later count of Brindisi. His daughter Emma had an affair with...

. He inherited the title "Count of Lecce" from his grandfather, and is consequently often referred to as Tancred of Lecce.

On 9 March 1161, Tancred joined his uncle Simon, Prince of Taranto
Simon, Prince of Taranto
Simon, bastard son of Roger II of Sicily, was created by his father Prince of Taranto in 1144, on the death of Roger III, Duke of Apulia, the eldest legitimate son of Roger II....

, in invading the palace, detained the king and queen, William I
William I of Sicily
William I , called the Bad or the Wicked, was the second king of Sicily, ruling from his father's death in 1154 to his own...

 and Margaret
Margaret of Navarre (Sicilian queen)
Margaret of Navarre was the queen consort of the Kingdom of Sicily during the reign of William I and the regent during the minority of her son, William II....

, and their two sons, and incited a massacre of Muslims. Originally, the eldest of these two sons, Roger IV, Duke of Apulia
Roger IV, Duke of Apulia
Roger IV was the eldest son of William I of Sicily and Margaret of Navarre. Twice in his short life he was the object of the barons' intent to replace his father as king...

, was destined to be crowned in place of William, but soon the populace supported the accession of Simon himself. Before Simon could put himself forward as a candidate, however, the rebellion had broken down and the people were restless. The insurrectionists were forced to free the king and retreat to their castles. Pardon was given them on condition of exile and many, including Tancred, took the offer.

As soon as William II
William II of Sicily
William II , called the Good, was king of Sicily from 1166 to 1189. William's character is very indistinct. Lacking in military enterprise, secluded and pleasure-loving, he seldom emerged from his palace life at Palermo. Yet his reign is marked by an ambitious foreign policy and a vigorous diplomacy...

 died, in 1189, Tancred rebelled and seized control of the island, and he was crowned King Tancred I of Sicily
Tancred may refer to:* Tancred Tancred of Hauteville** Tancred of Hauteville, founder of the Hauteville family** Tancred, Prince of Galilee, a leader of the First Crusade...

 early in 1190. His coup was backed by the chancellor Matthew d'Ajello and the official class, while the rival claims of Roger II's daughter Constance
Constance of Sicily
Constance of Hauteville was the heiress of the Norman kings of Sicily and the wife of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor...

 and her husband, Henry VI
Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry VI was King of Germany from 1190 to 1197, Holy Roman Emperor from 1191 to 1197 and King of Sicily from 1194 to 1197.-Early years:Born in Nijmegen,...

, King of the Romans, were supported by most of the nobles.

Tancred was a good soldier, though his tiny stature earned him the nickname "Tancredulus" from the poet chronicler Peter of Eboli
Peter of Eboli
Peter of Eboli or Petrus de Ebulo was a didactic versifier and chronicler who wrote in Latin.A monk from Eboli , Peter became a court poet to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily...

. Despite a measure of popular support, his rule faced daunting challenges right from the start. In 1190 Richard I of England
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 arrived in Sicily at the head of a large crusading army on its way to the Holy Land. Richard immediately demanded the release of his sister, William II's Queen Joan, imprisoned by Tancred in 1189, along with every penny of her dowry and inheritance. He also insisted that Tancred fulfil the financial commitments made by William II to the crusade. When Tancred balked at these demands, Richard seized a monastery and the castle of La Bagnara.

Richard was joined in Sicily by the French crusading army, led by King Philip II
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

. The presence of two foreign armies soon caused unrest among the locals. In October the people of Messina
Messina, Italy
Messina is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, Italy and the capital of the province of Messina. It has a population of about 250,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the province...

 revolted, demanding that the foreigners leave the island. Richard responded by attacking Messina, which he captured on 4 October 1190. After the city had been looted and burned, Richard established his base there and decided to stay the winter.

He remained at Messina until March 1191, when Tancred finally agreed to a treaty. According to the treaty's main terms:
  • Joan was to be released, receiving her inheritance along with the dowry her father had given to the deceased William.
  • Richard and Philip recognised Tancred as legal King of Sicily and vowed to keep the peace between all three of their kingdoms.
  • Richard officially proclaimed his nephew Arthur of Brittany, son of Geoffrey, as his heir, and Tancred promised to marry one of his daughters to Arthur when he came of age (Arthur was four years old at the time).

After signing the treaty Richard and Philip finally left Sicily for the Holy Land. It is rumoured that before he left, Richard gave Tancred a sword he claimed was Excalibur
Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Sometimes Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate. The sword was...

 in order to secure their friendship.

Having at last rid himself of the crusaders, Tancred next confronted the threat from the north. In April 1191 in 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...

, Henry and Constance were crowned Emperor and Empress by Pope Celestine III
Pope Celestine III
Pope Celestine III , born Giacinto Bobone, was elected Pope on March 21, 1191, and reigned until his death. He was born into the noble Orsini family in Rome, though he was only a cardinal deacon before becoming Pope...

, and now the pair turned south to claim the Kingdom of Sicily in the name of Constance, who was the posthumous daughter of 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...

 by his third wife Beatrix of Rethel
Beatrix of Rethel
Beatrice of Rethel was a French noblewoman, and the third Queen consort of King Roger II of Sicily.-Family:Beatrice was born sometime between 1130 and 1132, the eldest daughter and one of the nine children of Ithier, Count of Rethel and Beatrix of Namur...

 and therefore the legitimate heiress to the throne.

Constance accompanied her husband at the head of a substantial imperial army that descended into the Regno. The northern towns of the kingdom opened their gates to Henry, including the earliest Norman strongholds 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...

 and Aversa
Aversa is a town and comune in the Province of Caserta in Campania southern Italy, about 15 kilometres north of Naples. It is the centre of an agricultural district, the agro aversano, producing wine and cheese...

. Salerno
Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

, once Roger II's mainland capital, sent word ahead that Henry was welcome and invited Constance to stay in her father's old palace to escape the summer heat. Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 offered the first resistance of the whole campaign, withstanding a siege with the help of Margaritus of Brindisi
Margaritus of Brindisi
Margaritus of Brindisi , called the new Neptune, was the last great ammiratus ammiratorum of Sicily...

's fleet, until much of the army had succumbed to malaria and disease. Eventually the imperial army was forced to withdraw from the kingdom altogether. Constance remained in Salerno with a small garrison, as a sign that Henry would soon return.

Once Henry had withdrawn with the bulk of the imperial army, the towns that had supposedly fallen to the empire immediately declared their allegiance to Tancred, for the most part now fearing his retribution. The populace of Salerno saw an opportunity to win some favour with Tancred and delivered Constance to him in Messina, an important prize given that Henry had every intention of returning. However, Tancred was willing to give up his negotiation advantage, that is, the empress, in exchange for Pope Celestine III
Pope Celestine III
Pope Celestine III , born Giacinto Bobone, was elected Pope on March 21, 1191, and reigned until his death. He was born into the noble Orsini family in Rome, though he was only a cardinal deacon before becoming Pope...

 legitimising him as King of Sicily. In turn, the Pope was hoping that by securing Constance's safe passage back to Rome, Henry would be better disposed towards the papacy, and he was still hoping to keep the empire and the kingdom from uniting. However, imperial soldiers were able to intervene before Constance made it to Rome, and they returned her safely across the Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....


Henry had left garrisons along the frontiers of the Regno. Tancred now sought to win over the towns by extensive grants of privileges. At Gravina
Gravina may refer to:* Gravina in Puglia in Southern Italy* The Gravina, a river in southern Italy* the Duchy of Gravina and the ducal family of Orsini-Gravina* the Bishopric of Gravina and Montepeloso...

 (June 1192) he reinforced his papal support by surrendering the royal legateship over Sicily. In 1192 and 1193 he personally led successful campaigns against the Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

n barons. But his death, at 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...

 (20 February 1194), a few days after that of his young son and co-king, Roger III
Roger III of Sicily
Roger III was the son and heir of Tancred of Sicily by Sibylla of Acerra. He was made duke of Apulia, probably in 1189, at his father's succession....

, opened the way for Hohenstaufen rule in Sicily.

His wife Sibylla of Acerra
Sibylla of Acerra
Sibylla of Acerra was the wife and queen consort of Tancred, Count of Lecce and King of Sicily . She was the regent in 1194 for her son William III of Sicily...

 did establish a regency for her second son William III
William III of Sicily
William III was briefly king of Sicily for 10 months in 1194.He was the second son of King Tancred of Sicily and Sibylla of Acerra. At the age of four, shortly after the death of first his older brother Roger V, Duke of Apulia, and then a few weeks later of his father the king , William was...

, but Henry VI returned to Italy later that year, his army financed by the lucrative ransom of Richard I. Naples surrendered in May, almost without a blow, and the rest of the Regno followed. Sybilla and the loyal Margaritus prepared to defend Palermo, but the citizens admitted the emperor on 20 November 1194. Tancred's family fell into Henry's hands, and William III, rumoured castrated and blinded, seems to have died in Germany in 1198.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.