When a band of Norman adventurers arrived in southern Italy to fight in the Lombard insurrections against the Byzantine empire in the early 1000s, few would have predicted that within a generation these men would have seized control of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily. How did they make such extraordinary gains and then consolidate their power? Paul Brown, in this thoroughly researched and absorbing study, seeks to answer these questions and throw light onto the Norman conquests across the Mediterranean. Throughout he focuses on the military side of their progress, as they advanced from mercenaries to conquerors, then crusaders. The story of the campaigns they undertook in Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Near East reveals their remarkable talent for war. The dominant role played by a succession of Norman leaders is a key theme of the narrative – a line of ambitious and ruthless soldiers that ran from Robert Guiscard and Bohemond to Roger II and Tancred.
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