A Norman-Italian Adventurer in the East: Richard of Salerno, 1097-1112

Anglo-Norman StudiesA Norman-Italian Adventurer in the East: Richard of Salerno, 1097-1112

George T. Beech

Anglo-Norman Studies: v.15 (1993)


The adventures, hardships, and disappointments awaiting the Europeans who went on the crusades have long been well known; indeed enough information has survived for modern authors to be able to write biographies of a very few of the most famous leaders. I would like to add to this list a smaller biographical notice of Richard of the Principate who is of interest, I would contend, not because he was a great and influential man but because the scope and variety of his experiences on the First Crusade was extraordinary. Richard rose to prominence in the expedition in which contemporary historians considered him one of the leading figures of second rank.


But once their comments on him are widely scattered, and inconclusive when viewed in isolation, he has escaped the attention of modern historians. The purpose of this paper is to assemble the fragments and tell the story of his spectacular life and career in the East. Richard of the Principate took his name from the principality of Salerno, a former Lombard state which had been created in 846 from a division of the former province of Benevento. In the mid-eleventh century the Lombard prince of Salerno, Gisulf II, saw his rule threatened by the appearance of Norman adventurers who first entered his service, then became his allies, and finally overthrew and drove him to exile in 1077.

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