William III of Sicily
William III was briefly king of Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...
for 10 months in 1194.
He was the second son of King Tancred of Sicily
Tancred of Sicily
Tancred was King of Sicily from 1189 to 1194. He was an illegitimate son of Roger III, Duke of Apulia, the eldest son of King Roger II, and of Emma, daughter of Achard II, Count of Lecce...
and 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...
. At the age of four, shortly after the death of first his older brother Roger V, Duke of Apulia
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....
, and then a few weeks later of his father the king (February 20, 1194), William was crowned king 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...
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...
. He would be the last of Sicily's Norman kings. His mother Sibylla acted as his regent.
But the Emperor 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,...
claimed the throne of Sicily in right of his wife 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...
, who was William's great-aunt. Even before Tancred's death he had been laying plans to invade, and his resources had been further augmented by the ransom paid by 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...
Sibylla was unable to organize much effective resistance. By the end of October of 1194 Henry had conquered all the mainland parts of the kingdom and crossed over into Sicily. On November 20 Palermo fell.
Henry offered Sibylla generous terms: William was to retain the county of Lecce
Lecce is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia...
, which had been his father's before he had become king, and was also to receive the Principality of Taranto
Taranto is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base....
. With that agreement reached, William, his mother and his sisters watched while Henry was crowned King of Sicily on December 25 (Constance was not crowned due to being in labour).
Four days later, a conspiracy against the new king was uncovered, and many of the leading Sicilian political figures were arrested and sent to prison in Germany, including William and his family.
While his mother and sisters were eventually released and lived in obscurity in France, nothing is known for certain of William's subsequent fate. He is said to have been blinded, castrated, or both. Some say he died in captivity a few years later, others that he was released and became a monk. Another theory is that he later returned to Sicily under the alias Tancredi Palamara. Henry's son, Emperor Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...
(who was also king of Sicily) discovered Tancredi Palamara in Messina and had him executed in 1232. The date generally accepted for his death is 1198.
His heir was his sister, whose precise name is unclear but has been given variously as Mary, Elvira, Albiria or Albinia, Blanche (died after 1216). She was married firstly in 1200 to the French Count Walter III of Brienne
Walter III of Brienne
Walter III of Brienne was the Count of Brienne 1191–1205, Prince of Taranto, Duke of Apulia, and Count of Lecce, and titular King of Sicily 1201–1205....
(French: Gauthier de Candie, comte de Brienne; Italian: Gualtiero de Candia, conte di Brionne) who was sometimes advanced as Pretender of the Sicilian throne, and was briefly Prince of Taranto in right of his wife. He died in prison in 1205. This sister's son Walter IV of Brienne
Walter IV of Brienne
Walter IV the Great of Brienne was Count of Brienne 1205–1244. He was the son of Walter III of Brienne and Elvira of Lecce. Around the time of his birth, his father lost his bid for the Sicilian throne and died in prison...
went to the Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...
and became Count of Jaffa.