The Normans

Song: Peperoncina-Polka 

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    The last expansionistic movement, which determined the future power balance of Europe, was that of the Scandinavian people, above all the Norwegian, who were called the Norsmen. That is men of the North.  Up to then, around the year 1000, Europe was dominated by three powers: The Byzantine Empire, which was an extension of the Roman Empire, the Islamic, which was divided in two Caliphates: the Fatemite that from Egypt was reaching up to Sicily and Mauritania, and the Spanish which controlled great part of Spain and  North Africa.


    Still before the year 1000, these people, called also Vikings , that up to then had kept themselves busy making incursions on the Nordic lands, including England, started to come down assaulting many countries of the South-West of Europe , all the way to Paris, pillaging, plundering, burning and devastating all on their way.


    It was not until the year 911, when King Charles the Simple, to stop them, gave them a big territory to Rollon, one of their greatest leader. This territory was that one which later was called Normandy and the inhabitants the Normans, where one can easily see the root word of Norsmen.


    In time that territory were divided to the most prominent warriors and Counties were created. Because of inner strife for territory the heads of the Counties, that is the Counts, changed quite often, either because they will lose the fight with an opponent or for  death.


    At the same time the hereditary law was not honoring all the children of a Count. At the death of the Count the County, the title  and all the riches will go to the firstborn, to keep the county strong and capable to defend itself. This promoted resentment among the children that often came to fight for the power of the County and the noble title of Count.


    Soon these disadvantaged youth had to find another way to make a living and make a future of their own. It was the old way of their ancestor that they took, that is to be mercenary, soldier of fortune, that is to help warring parties that were paying best.


    One of these Counts was Tancred of Hauteville who had five male children: William, called later Iron Arm, for his strength, Dragon, Unphred, Robert and Roger. As one can see there are too many children but one County, and so a good part of those young man took the mercenary way.


    All those sons, who decided for the mercenary way of life, came to Italy. Because of no lack of work, they started to help the warring parties most rich and because they also were very ambitious and cunning, little by little established themselves in Italy and Sicily, adding to the rest of the powers a fourth one: the Norman power.