Posted by: vikingsinspace | June 13, 2011

VI.30.001. Read Amatus of Montecassino, The History of the Normans

Date Accomplished: 1 May 2011

Since this book is the first of my Medieval Primary sources entries, I thought I should give a little bit of explanation about what these posts will be about.  I have read almost all of these books before, but they have always been for specific projects where I had something in mind that I was writing about.  I have decided that I want to read through them all again, but take general notes on them for use in future papers or possibly classes.  So what I am presenting here are my notes, and occasionally some commentary on what I thought of the book.

Amatus of Montecassino

Amatus of Montecassino, The History of the Normans, trans. Prescott N. Dunbar, Revised by Graham A. Loud (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2004)


1     – This is the earliest account written about the ‘Norman’ conquest of Southern Italy – written soon after the death of Prince Richard I of Capua in April 1078

    – Only exists in a 14th C. French Translation

        └> Original Latin is lost

7-8    – The Abbots of Montecassino initially sought to protect themselves from the Normans by incastellamento – Abbot Desiderius later sought to make allies of the Normans

11    – Amatus may have come from Salerno

36    – The History does not follow a chronological order – organized thematically, then chronologically


45    – Says the strip of land belonging to the Normans (Normandy) became too small to accommodate the number of men living there

46    – Earliest reference to Harold losing his Eye at Hastings

47    – A Norman, Roussel, goes to fight for the Emperor

49    – Roussel conquers Armenia, then attacks the Byzantines to save his imprisoned wife

    – Some harsh words by Amatus & the translator on the Greeks

    – Says ‘pilgrims’ (Normans) arrived in Salerno while it was being attacked by Saracens before the year 1000

49-50    – says the Normans in Salerno didn’t ask for pay, just arms & horses to attack the Saracens

50    – The Normans in Salerno return to Normandy and encourage other Normans to go

50-1    – a Norman named Gilbert killed his brother William in Normandy, then fled to Salerno with his 4 other brothers

54-5    – German Emperor Henry planned to remove the remains of St. Benedict from Montecassino

└> Benedict appears to Henry, warns him not to remove his body, then cures Henry

66    – Guaimar appoints William (Norman) his captain to take Sicily

68    – Theodwin, a Greek, was forced to shave his head and beard as a disgrace. He then covers his head with an otter’s skin

└>    This account seems to make clear the Normans are hired men by the Natives of S. Italy – Malaterra gave more of an impression that the Normans were acting on their own

71-2    – A battle of the Normans against the Greeks along the Olivento River

76    – Normans choose William, son of Tancred, to be their leader / count – Prince Guaimar of Salerno solidifies William’s position by giving his niece in marriage

83    – Normans battle knights of Montecassino

84    – A knight rides a small horse where hi feet almost touch the ground →n. 77 Long Stirrups?

88-9    – Robert Guiscard takes to being a brigand

95    – Strange signs which Amatus says foretold the death of Guaimar

99    – Matthew the Apostle appears in a vision saying that the Normans were in God’s favor

100-1    – Normans defeat the Pope in battle at Civitate

105    – Desiderius is made Abbot of Montecassino

107    – An account of the improvements made at Montecassino under Abbot Desiderius

113    – Peter’s nephew undergoes the trial by iron, finds no marks on his hand, but the sign of his guilt is a water blister in his armpit!

    – The translator gives up trying to explain the blister

117    – Robert Guiscard divorces his wife (on the grounds of consanguinity – though more likely politically expedient) to marry the sister of Gisulf of Salerno

119    – Prince Richard of Capua aids in the rebuilding of Montecassino

120-1    – The Capuans defend Capua from Richard while being besieged, the Capuans send their archbishop to the German Emperor for aid, but the Emperor will not help because no money was brought to pay his knights

123    – Gisulf of Salerno pretends to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem

123-8    – The evils of Gisulf

133    – Visions showing hints of Guiscard’s accomplishments including note from translator suggesting Amatus said he would conquer Constantinople

135    – A record of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius

138    – Guiscard attempts the conquest of Sicily

139    – The Normans take Messina

140    – Claims Duke Robert Guiscard had as many knights as footsoldiers (saying 1,000 each)

└>    The Translator is actually not a bad historian for the time…

143    – Duke Robert prepares to take other cities to get ships to siege Palermo

    – And ships to take Bari as well

156    – Renewed attacks on Sicily

157    – A tricky ploy by the Normans to capture the starving Saracens (in Palermo?)

159    – Robert gives Sicily to Roger excepting half of Palermo, Messina and Val Demone (possibly a mistake by Amatus – Malaterra contradicts him)

166-7    – Robert Guiscard takes the city of Cisterna by tying the lord of Cisterna (Peter, whom he had previously captured) onto a giant shield and used him as a human shield – Cisternans would not attack their lord

167    – Seen often men giving their land to the Duke to have him give it back – this how Normans established ‘feudalism’ in S. Italy?

170    – Two women raise an army for the Pope to lead against Guiscard

174    – Use of siege castles by Normans – with ditches (!)

178    – Byzantine Emperor takes Robert’s daughter to be his son’s wife – Robert receives a fortune in tribute

178-9    – German Emperor Henry attempts to make an agreement with Robert to have him become Henry’s vassal – Robert declines

187    – Prince Gisulf of Salerno attempts to harm the people of Amalfi – preventing them from going to sea

190    – Gisulf begins to harass Salerno (his own city)

194-5    – Robert Guiscard besieges Gisulf in Salerno with the help of Richard of Capua

200-1    – Siege of Naples – use of siege castles.

    – Richard of Capua promises to replace any horses his knights lost with better horses → Restaur?

204    – Pope excommunicates Robert for besieging Naples

    – Richard of Capua dies


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: