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Geoffrey Malaterra

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Subject: Bohemond I of Antioch, Roger I of Sicily, Battle of Civitate, Roussel de Bailleul, Geoffrey, Count of Ragusa, Hauteville family, Ingelmarius, Norman conquest of southern Italy
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Geoffrey Malaterra

Gaufredo (or Geoffrey, or Goffredo) Malaterra was an eleventh-century Benedictine monk and historian, possibly of Norman origin.[1] He travelled to the southern Italian peninsula, passing some time in Apulia before entering the monastery of Sant'Agata at Catania, on the isle of Sicily. Malaterra indicates that, prior to his arrival in Catania, he had spent an undefined period away from monastic life, in the worldly service of "Martha".[2]

Malaterra wrote an historical text in Latin, the De Rebus Gestis Rogerii Calabriae et Siciliae Comitis et Roberti Guiscardi Ducis fratris eius[3] detailing the eleventh century exploits of the "De Hauteville" family in the southern Italian peninsula, Sicily and the Balkans, with particular attention to the figures of Roger I of Sicily and Robert Guiscard, his brother. It is one of three surviving major Latin historical works that specifically describe the Norman conquest of southern Italy and Sicily, the others being Amatus of Montecassino's Ystoire de li Normant[4] and William of Apulia's Gesta Roberti Wiscardi.[5] Malaterra's work ends at a later date and has a different angle to these two other works. It primarily describes the exploits of Roger I of Sicily, whom he personally knew. Unlike other medieval historians, such as Dudo of Saint-Quentin, Malaterra does not directly identify his sources, and alludes briefly to a number of informants, or relatoribus. These may have included Roger I of Sicily, himself.

The work ends in 1099 and provides many valuable details, especially of the conquest of Sicily, which are unattested elsewhere. It is unclear precisely when Malaterra started and finished work on the text. All of the events therein are recorded in the past tense and the author does not indicate any knowledge of the death of Roger I of Sicily in 1101. At present, the consensus is that it was started after the majority of the events related in the text had come to pass, and finished before Roger I of Sicily's death. A passing reference to the work in Orderic Vitalis's Historia Ecclesiastica confirms that the work had been completed and was in circulation, albeit across a small geographical area, by the 1130s.[6]

References

Sources

  • Geoffrey Malaterra. The Deeds of Count Roger of Calabria and Sicily and of Duke Robert Guiscard, his brother, trans. Graham Loud (unpub). Books 1–4.
  • Gaufredo Malaterra, , ed. Ernesto Pontieri, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores V pt.1 (Bologna, 1927-8).
  • Storia de’ Normanni di Amato di Montecassino, ed. V de Bartholomeis, Fonti per la storia d’Italia 76 (Rome, 1935).
  • Guillermus Apuliensis, Gesta Roberti Wiscardi, ed. M Mathieu (Palermo, 1961).
  • Orderic Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History, ed. and trans. by Marjorie Chibnall, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1969).
  • E. Johnson, 'Normandy and Norman Identity in Southern Italian Chronicles', Anglo Norman Studies, 27 (2005), pp. 85–100.
  • Kenneth Baxter Wolf, Making History: the Normans and their historians in eleventh-century Italy (Philadelphia, 1995).
  • Graham Loud, 'The Gens Normannorum: Myth or Reality?', Proceedings of the Fourth Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies 1981, ed. R Allen Brown (Woodbridge, 1982), pp. 104–119, 205-209, (repr. in Graham Loud, Conquerors and Churchmen in Norman Italy (Great Yarmouth, 1999) pp. 104–116, 205-209).

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