|Robert, duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily|
The systematic conquest : the Lombard principalities
Robert de Hauteville’s position being considerably bolstered by the Melfi agreement decided to intensify the conquest of the whole of Mezzogiorno, in parallel controlling the permanent insurrection of the other Norman barons (Richard of Aversa, Robert of Montescaglioso, Geoffrey of Conversano, Peter of Trani etc.)
Besides the Byzantine territories, to the south, his attention was drawn to the north of his territories, next to Campania and the Abruzzes, where he was faced with a most dangerous rival – occasionally an ally but more often an enemy – Richard of Aversa, who, since he had become prince of Capua (1062), had launched attacks against the Lombard territories coveted by Robert Guiscard. Richard of Aversa strengthened his authority by acquiring the duchy of Adelnof of Gaeta and the county of Aquino.
However, from 1059, the brothers and allies of Robert continued to advance in their conquest of the Abruzzes, while in Calabria after accepting the capitulation of Amalfi, in 1073, Robert snatched, from his Lombard wife’s brother, the last independent principality in the south, Salerno in 1077. This was the end of the conquest since the attempt to seize Benevento ended in failure, and was yielded to the papacy. The renunciation of Robert in 1078 was followed by his and Richard of Aversa’s temporay excommunication.
At this time, the three primary Lombard principalities of Campania had been divided up between the two most powerful Norman forces or yielded to the papacy. The Lombard princes were excluded from the political field. At the heart of this new political order was Robert de Hauteville, who, although he was not yet the sole sovereign, occupied the dominant role.