Richard I of Capua

Richard I of Capua

Richard I Drengot (died 1078) was a count of Aversa (1049-1078) and prince of Capua (1058-1078).

He was the son of Asclettin, count of Acerenza, younger brother of Asclettin, count of Aversa, and nephew of Rainulf Drengot, the Norman adventurer who had first travelled to southern Italy in 1017 and progressed to set up the first Norman state in the region (1030). Richard arrived in the Mezzogiorno shortly after Rainulf's death in 1046 with a coterie of forty knights.

His first years in the south were not remarkable. He was considered a threat by the reigning count in Aversa, Rainulf Trincanocte, and he took up service with Humphrey of Hauteville, brother of Drogo of Hauteville, count of Apulia, and then Sarule of Genzano. His plundering and pillaging with the latter caused Trincanocte to grant him his brother Asclettin's lands, but he incited Drogo to throw him in prison and there he languished until, on Trincanocte's death, the infant Count Herman needed a competent regent. The suzerain of Aversa and Apulia, Prince Guaimar IV of Salerno, procured Richard's release and he was set up as Herman's guardian in 1048. Soon, Herman disappears from the records and Richard is titling himself count.

He was present, in 1053, at the Battle of Civitate, where he commanded the right wing against the Lombards of the papal army. He charged first that day and routed the Lombard contingent, pursuing them a long distance before turning back to assist Humphrey and Robert Guiscard, turning the tide in favour of the Normans.

Richard was constantly seeking territorial aggrandisement through war against his Lombard neighbours, Pandulf VI of Capua and Guaimar's son and successor, Gisulf II of Salerno. He pushed back the borders of the latter until there was little left of the once great principality but the city of Salerno itself and when the weak prince of Capua died in 1057, he immediately besieged Capua and took the princely title (1058) from Pandulf's brother, Landulf VIII, but left the keys to the city in Lombard hands for at least four years more, until 12 May 1062. He betrothed his daughter to the son of Atenulf I, Duke of Gaeta, but when the boy died before the marriage took place, he demanded the morgengab anyway. The duke refused and consequently Richard besieged and took Aquino, one of the few feudatories of Gaeta remaining. Desiderius of Benevento, the abbot of Montecassino, convinced Richard to extort only 400 "sous" from the duke (1058), however.

In February 1059, Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII, then only a high-ranking member of the Papal Curia, travelled to Capua to enlist his aid on behalf of the reforming Pope Nicholas II against the antipope Benedict X. Soon, Richard was besieging poor Bendedict in Galeria and, in 1059, Nicholas convened a synod at Melfi where he confirmed Robert Guiscard as duke of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily and Richard as count of Aversa and prince of Capua. Richard swore allegiance to the papacy and respect for papal territory, completely transforming the political loyalties of the south of Italy and removing the few remaining independent Greek and Lombard princes and the Holy Roman Emperor from the picture.

In 1061 he, again at Hildebrand's request, militarily installed the reformers' papal candidate Alexander II against the claims of an antipope, this time Honorius II. He was rapidly becoming a popemaker, though, in 1066, still bent on expanding in all directions his power, he marched on Rome itself, but was beaten back by the pope's Tuscan allies.

In 1062, Richard sent his son Jordan to take Gaeta from Atenulf II, but Atenulf was allowed to continue personal rule until 1064. Though, in that year, Richard and Jordan appropriated the ducal and consular titles of the Gaetan rulers. Richard quelled a later rebellion of Atenulf's and continued to expand his territory into the Campania, as far as Rome.

In 1071, when Robert Guiscard was away besieging Palermo, his chief barons, Abelard and Herman, sons of his brother Humphrey, Peter, lord of Trani, and the lord of Giovinazzo rebelled with the support of Richard of Capua and Gisulf of Salerno. Though Robert quickly dispelled all threats to his power from within, he took ill and could not make an expedition against Richard, who was soon confirmed in his possessions by and allied with the new pope, Gregory VII, Hildebrand.

In 1076, in response to the Emperor Henry IV's deposition of the pope, Robert and Richard each sent ambassadors to the other. They met midway and arranged a meeting of the two rulers at Montecassinos later that year. An alliance was formed and, the pope, by excommunicating the emperor, having proven capable of taking care of himself, the two Norman leaders sat down to besiege Gisulf in Salerno. The siege was successful and Gisulf fled to Capua, where he tried to stir up Richard against Robert, who had kept Salerno, but to no avail. Richard began to besiege Naples, still independent, with the aid of Robert's naval blockade. Then, on 3 March 1078, the pope excommunicated Robert and Richard and soon after Richard lay dying in Capua. He quickly reconciled with the church and died. His eldest son, the aforementioned Jordan, who had been invading ecclesiastic domains in the Abruzzi at the time, travelled to Rome to renew his fealty to the papacy and be confirmed in his father's titles and possessions. Naples remained untaken.

He left a younger son named Jonathan.


*Norwich, John Julius. "The Normans in the South 1016-1130". London: Longmans, 1967.
*Chalandon, Ferdinand. "Histoire de la domination normande en Italie et en Sicile". Paris, 1907.

External links

* [ "Sicily/Naples, Nobility (Conti d'Aversa)"]


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