|The heirs of the Conquest|
Roger II, king of Sicily
Following the death of William in 1127, Bohemond II of Tarente, Robert Guiscard’s grandson, and one of the two pretenders to the duchy of Apulia, preferred to look after his principality of Antioch leaving Apulia aside. On the other hand, Guiscard’s nephew, Roger II, the Grand Count’s son, was now 32 and had held Sicily since 1105. He hastened to assert his rights and was crowned in Salerno. An important step had been crossed in the process of the unification of Mezzogiorno.
The crowning in Salerno provoked a reaction from nearly all the Norman barons on the mainland of Mezzogiorno, who were worried that the arrival in power of a strong ruler would thwart their personal ambitions.
Pope Honorius II, who had just ended, victoriously, his quarrel with the Empire, had little drift with the unruly Norman power. He refused the legacy of Roger and stirred up trouble by plotting with the Norman barons against him. Undertaken, supposedly as a ‘holy war’, this action failed lamentably. In August 1128 the Pope was forced to grant Roger II, his uncle’s title, ‘duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily’, thus establishing the unity of the mainland of Mezzogiorno and Sicily. This recognition did not pacify the rebels, and in 1129, Roger had to launch a new pacification campaign against the Norman barons of Apulia.
The death of Robert II of Aversa (1127-1129) allowed him to gain control of the principalities of the Drengots, based in Aversa and Capua, the only Norman family who stood up to the Hautevilles. It seemed that the unification of the Norman state was attained.
Roger II returned to Sicily in 1130, and on 25 December 1130, Pope Anaclectus II, who due to his controversial authority, was forced to ally with Roger, crowned him king of Sicily and ratified all his possessions, including Capua and the honour of Naples, not yet conquered.