|The Normans in the Mediterranean|
The first contact the Normans had with southern Italy arose because of pilgrimages to the sanctuary of Saint Michael at Mont-Gargan. It was here that the Normans, contacted by the leader of the Lombard rebellion, Melus of Bari, in his struggle against the Byzantine Empire, acted for the first time as mercenaries.
Gradually a process of immigration started bringing to the Mezzogiorno; Norman knights and warriors, and more generally, Franks (from different regions of the kingdom of France), and also Italians from the north, in the pay of different local lords.
Thus, the Normans became more and more important politically and militarily in the Mediterranean region. In 1030 the duke of Naples, Serge IV, invested Rainolf Drengot as the count of Aversa, the first official Norman institution recognised by the local powers. In 1059, Pope Nicolas II (1059-1062) acknowledged Robert de Hauteville, known as Robert Guiscard, as the duke of Apulia and Richard Drengot, the grand nephew of the first Norman count of Aversa, as the prince of Capua (1058-1078).