|The rise of Robert Guiscard|
The succession of the Hauteville first-born
The history of the constitution of Melfi and the conquest of Mezzogiorno are finely tied to the destiny of one family, that of the Hautevilles. It was the sons of Tancred de Hauteville who administered the territories of the counties of Melfi: Dreux (or Drongo) succeeded his brother William Iron-Arm, then Dreux by Humphrey and Humphrey by Robert Guiscard. Another brother, Roger, under the authority of Robert Guiscard undertook the conquest of Sicily.
All the noblemen from the same lineage headed towards an extraordinary destiny. Their father, Tancred de Hauteville, a nobleman from a modest domain in the centre of the Cotentin in Normandy, near Coutances, too poor to hand down a patrimony to his fourteen children, who would all play, to different degrees, a role in the history of Mezzogiorno.
William Iron-Arm, count of Apulia from 1042 to 1046, Dreux, count of Apulia from 1046 to 1051, Humphrey, count of Apulia from 1051 to 1057, Geoffrey, count of Capitanate and Serlon, of whom we know little. His second wife, Fresende, who had numerous sons: Robert Guiscard would be duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily (1057/59-1085), Mauger, count of Capitanate, William, lord of Principat (a land on the border of the principality of Benevento). Alfred, Hubert, Tancrede are not as well known. The youngest, Roger, would be count of Calabria and Sicily and father of a king (Roger II, king of Sicily in 1130).
The daughters, it is known that one, Fresende married Richard of Aversa in Italy, mother of Jordan I, count of Capua (1078-1090), and another, anonymous, was the grandmother of Sibyl of Conversano, who married the duke of Normandy, Robert Courte-Heuse, on his return from the Crusades, in 1100.