William Iron Arm
William Iron Arm was a Norman
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 adventurer, founder of the fortunes of the Hauteville family
Hauteville family
The family of the Hauteville was a petty baronial Norman family from the Cotentin which rose to prominence in Europe, Asia, and Africa through its conquests in the Mediterranean, especially Southern Italy and Sicily...

. One of twelve sons of Tancred of Hauteville
Tancred of Hauteville
Tancred of Hauteville was an 11th-century Norman petty lord about whom little is known. His historical importance comes entirely from the accomplishments of his sons and later descendants...

, he journeyed to 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...

 with his younger brother Drogo
Drogo of Hauteville
Drogo of Hauteville succeeded his brother, William Iron Arm, with whom he arrived in southern Italy c. 1035, as the leader of the Normans of Apulia....

 in the first half of the eleventh century (c.1035), in response to requests for help made by fellow Normans under Rainulf Drengot
Rainulf Drengot
Rainulf Drengot was a Norman adventurer and the first count of Aversa .When one of Rainulf's numerous brothers, Osmond, was exiled by Richard I of Normandy for the murder of one of his kin, Rainulf, Osmond, and their brothers Gilbert Buatère, Asclettin , and Raulf went on a pilgrimage to the...

, count of Aversa.

Between 1038 and 1040, he and other Normans fought in 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,...

 along with the Lombards as mercenaries for the Byzantine Empire against the Saracens. It was there that he won his nickname Iron Arm, by single-handedly killing the emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 of Syracuse
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

 during a sally at the siege of Syracuse. When the Greek
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 general Giorgio Maniace publicly humiliated the Salernitan leader, Arduin
Arduin the Lombard
Arduin was a Greek-speaking Lombard nobleman who fought originally for the Byzantines on Sicily and later against them as the leader of a band of Norman mercenaries....

, the Lombards withdrew from the campaign, along with the Normans and the Varangian Guard
Varangian Guard
The Varangian Guard was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army in 10th to the 14th centuries, whose members served as personal bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors....

 contingent. After Maniace was recalled to Constantinople, the new catapan of Italy, Michael Doukeianos
Michael Doukeianos
Michael III Doukeianos , called the Young, was the catepan of Italy from 1040 to 1041. He replaced Nikephoros Doukeianos. His first major act was to offer the rule of Melfi to the Greek-speaking Lombard Arduin with the title topoterites. However, Arduin soon betrayed him and led his Norman...

, appointed Arduin the ruler of Melfi
Melfi is a town and comune in the Vulture area of the province of Potenza, in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata.-Geography:On a hill at the foot of Mount Vulture, Melfi is the most important town in Basilicata's Vulture, both as a tourist resort and economic centre.-Early history:Inhabited...

. Melfi, however, soon joined other Apulian Lombards in a revolt against Byzantine rule, in which they were supported by William and the Normans. The Byzantines, however, managed to buy off the nominal leaders of the revolt - first Atenulf, Prince of Benevento
Atenulf, Prince of Benevento
Atenulf was the son of Pandulf III of Benevento. In 1040, Benevento still had the prestige of being the first of the independent Lombard principalities of the Mezzogiorno...

, and then Argyrus. In September 1042, the Normans elected their own leader, ignoring Arduin. The revolt, originally Lombard, had become Norman in character and leadership.

William was elected by Normans as their "count" after the defection of Argyrus. He and the other leaders, chief among them Drogo and Peter
Peter I of Trani
Peter I , also known as Petronius , was the first Norman count of Trani. He was one of the most prominent of the twelve leaders of the Norman mercenaries serving Guaimar IV of Salerno. Though it had not yet been conquered from the Byzantine Empire, Peter received Trani in the Normans' division of...

, petitioned Guaimar IV
Guaimar IV of Salerno
Guaimar IV was Prince of Salerno , Duke of Amalfi , Duke of Gaeta , and Prince of Capua in Southern Italy over the period from 1027 to 1052. He was an important figure in the final phase of Byzantine authority in the Mezzogiorno and the commencement of Norman power...

, Prince of Salerno, for recognition of their conquests. They received the lands around Melfi as a fief and proclaimed Guaimar "Duke of Apulia and Calabria". At Melfi in 1043, Guaimar divided the region (except for Melfi itself) into twelve baronies for the benefit of the Norman leaders: Asclettin
Asclettin of Acerenza
Asclettin was the first count of Acerenza, one of the twelve leaders of the Norman mercenaries of Guaimar IV of Salerno who conquered much of Apulia between 1038 and 1042. In the latter year, the division of the conquests twelvefold was made and Asclettin received his portion.Asclettin arrived in...

 received Acerenza
Acerenza is a town and comune in the province of Potenza, in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata.-History:With its strategic position 800 m above sea-level, Acerenza has been sacked by a series of invaders....

, Tristan
Tristan of Montepeloso
Tristan was the first lord of Montepeloso from 1042. Unlike his fellow Norman mercenaries, Tristan was a Breton. He was one of the twelve leading barons of the Hauteville following as indicated by his inclusion in the parition which divided the conquered regions of Apulia.Tristan probably arrived...

 received Montepeloso, Hugh Tubœuf
Hugh Tubœuf
Hugh Tubœuf or Tudebusis was a Norman adventurer who went to Southern Italy around 1030 in search of glory and riches.Hugh took part in the Sicilian expedition of George Maniaches in 1038...

 received Monopoli
Monopoli is a town and comune in Italy, in the province of Bari, region of Apulia. The town is roughly in area and lies about 40 km southeast from Bari. It has about 50,000 inhabitants....

, Peter received Trani
Trani is a seaport of Apulia, southern Italy, on the Adriatic Sea, in the new Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani , and 40 km by railway West-Northwest of Bari.- History :...

, and Drogo received Venosa
Venosa is a town and comune in the province of Potenza, in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata, in the Vulture area. It is bounded by the comuni of Barile, Ginestra, Lavello, Maschito, Montemilone, Palazzo San Gervasio, Rapolla and Spinazzola....

. William himself, predominant among the Norman leaders, received the lordship of Ascoli
Ascoli Satriano
Ascoli Satriano is a town and comune in the province of Foggia in the Apulia region of southeast Italy.-History:Ascoli was a city of the Dauni. It was the seat of two early Roman battles . Later Sulla build a military colony here.In the mid-9th century it was set on fire by the Saracens...

. He was married to Guida, daughter of Guy
Guy, Duke of Sorrento
Guy was the duke of Sorrento from 1035, the brother of Guaimar IV of Salerno, father-in-law of William Iron Arm and William of the Principate, and brother-in-law of Humphrey of Hauteville. He was the son of Guaimar III and Gaitelgrima. Guy's place in history is secured primarily through his...

, duke of 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...

, and niece of Guaimar.

During his reign, William and Guaimar began the conquest of Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

 in 1044 and built the great castle of Stridula, probably near Squillace
Squillace is an ancient seaside town and comune, in the Province of Catanzaro, part of Calabria, southern Italy, facing the Gulf of Squillace....

. In 1045, he was defeated near 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....

 by Argyrus. He died in early 1046 and was succeeded by his brother Drogo.

His titles were never confirmed by the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

. Drogo would be legally called "Count of the Normans in all Apulia and Calabria" (Comes Normannorum totius Apuliae e Calabriae), and so William is usually titled likewise.

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