Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Timeline of Norman Warfare



960 - Theobald of Blois, or Theobald the Trickster invades Normandy.  Duke Richard I of Normandy's army burns Chartres in response.

996 - Death of Duke Richard I of Normandy, succeeded by his son Richard II, or Richard the Good.

1001 - Anglo-Saxons, on orders from King Ethelred, raid Normandy in retaliation for Duke Richard's harboring of Viking raiders and were quickly repelled by Norman cavalry.

1002 - Ethelred marries Duke Richard's sister Emma

1018 - Normans arrive in Italy in 1017, becoming mercenaries to Lombards seeking to oust Byzantine rule. At the Battle of Cannae a year later, Byzantines with a strong contingent of Varangians defeat the Lombards and the Norman ruler was killed.

1026 - Death of Duke Richard II.  He was succeeded by his eldest son Richard III, who died shortly and suspiciously after an insurrection by his younger brother, Robert.

1027 - Robert named Duke of Normandy

1034-1037 - Approximate arrival date in southern Italy of William and Drogo, sons of the minor Norman noble Tancred de Hauteville.

1035  - Duke Robert of Normandy died in Asia Minor, returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and leaving an illegitimate minor, William, as his heir.

1047  - Norman barons with the support of King Henry of  France rebel against the tenuous rule of the twenty year old Duke William. William defeats the rebels and French King at Val-des-Dunes.

1052 - King Edward of England, the son of Ethelred and Emma, exiles a number of Normans from his kingdom to appease English nobles bothered by their growing influence at court.  A number of these exiles take up service with MacBeth, King of the Scots.

1053 Battle of Civitate.  Normans defeat a papal army of Italians and Swabians, even capturing Pope Leo IX and extract a peace treaty confirming the right to their Italian holdings. (23 June)

1055 - Earl Ralph of Hereford, Edward's Norman nephew, leads an unsuccessful invasion of Wales, and is repulsed by Welsh King Gruffyd ap Llewellyn

1057 - Robert de Hauteville succeeds his brother Humphrey as Duke of Apulia, preeminent ruler of the Italo-Normans.  For his inventive, and often devious strategies, he earns the nickname Guiscard (the weasel).

1061 - Messina, Sicily captured by Roger de Hauteville.  Italo-Normans spend the next three decades dislodging Saracens from the rest of the island.

1064  - Duke William campaigns against the Bretons, led by Conan II.  Accompanying him is the visiting (?) Harold Godwinsson of England.  Before leaving Normandy, Harold supposedly swears to uphold William's succession to his relative Edward's throne.

1066 - Claiming to be the rightful successor of the English King Edward through his aunt Emma, mother of Edward, William defeats an English army led by the Anglo-Dane King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastins (13 October)

1068 - Rebellion in York against Norman rule. Saxon resistance continued for two more years.

1069 - King William invades Scotland, for harboring English fugitives.  King Malcolm Canmore comes to terms before the Norman army reaches Perth.

1071- Normans led by William FitzOsbern extend their holdings into Wales.

Italian Normans capture the city of Bari

Battle of Manzikert - Byzantine forces are defeated in Asia Minor and the Emperor Romanus Diogenes was captured. The Norman mercenary Roussel de Bailleul avoids the battle and claims his own territory in Ankara. (26 August)

1073 - War between Norman lords in Italy, Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and his brother in law, Richard, Prince of Aversa.

1077 - Roussel de Baileul is defeated by Turks and handed over to the Byzantines, and presumably executed.

1081 - Battle of Dyrrachium (Durazzo), Normans led by Guiscard and his son Bohemund defeat a Byzantine Army with a strong contingent of Anglo-Saxon Varangians.

1083 - Byzantines under Alexius Comnenus defeat Bohemund at Larissa and retake lost possessions on the Adriatic.

1085 - Death of Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia.

1087 - Death of William, Duke of Normandy and King of Enlgand.

All together, from 950-1087, the Normans fought Bretons, Franks, Vikings, Saxons, Scots, Welsh, Lombards, Sicilian Arabs, Byzantines and each other.  Strangely enough, they also fought as allies or mercenaries with almost that entire list as well.

For the historical wargamer, a Norman army can be plausibly used in most any historical matchup set in the tenth and eleventh centuries.  With their pioneering use of disciplined cavalry charges, they were highly sought after as mercenaries across Western Europe and the Near East.  Unfortunately for their employers, Normans had a tendency to not remain contented with their role as hired swords and instead seek land and autonomy.  By the end of the eleventh century, Norman kingdoms spanned the breadth of Europe and the Mediterranean, from England to Antioch.


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