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Roger King of Sicily (1095-1154)

Roger II was the son of the "Great Count" Roger of Sicily and Adelaide of Savona, and the nephew of Robert Guiscard, the greatest Norman ruler of Apulia and Sicily. In 1101 Roger's father, who had been 64 when Roger was born, died, leaving his widow and two small sons to rule his turbulent and rebellious county of Sicily.

Countess Adelaide managed to retain power in the county, and in 1105 her elder son, Simon, died, leaving Roger as sole heir. By 1112, when Roger II was knighted, he and his mother had made Palermo their capital. Roger, a member of the first generation of the Hauteville family to be born in their southern Italian domains, was raised in the cosmopolitan Arabic, Greek, and Norman culture of Sicily, and his subsequent character reflects that upbringing.


Adelaide died in 1118, and the 23-year-old Roger, his county somewhat pacified by the participation of many Norman knights in the First Crusade and in subsequent service in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, began to consider the exploitation of Sicily's strategic position along the Mediterranean trade routes. On the death of his cousin Duke William of Apulia in 1127, Roger claimed the mainland inheritance of his family as his own. In 1128 he was formally invested as Duke of Apulia by Pope Honorius II at Benevento.

By 1129 Roger had imposed his rule over the turbulent Norman barons of the mainland and had extracted from them a closely binding oath of personal loyalty to himself.88

In 1140 Roger II promulgated the Assizes of Ariano, the most remarkable royal code of laws of the 12th century. This King enforced a law prohibiting from the practice of medicine to anyone who had not graduated from a recognised medical school. This he done in order that his subjects should not invite dangers through the inexperience of their Physicians. This being a medieval day Hammurabi code.89

 

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