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"This Robert was Norman by birth, of obscure origins, with an overbearing character and a thoroughly villainous mind... He was a man of immense stature, surpassing even the biggest men; he had a ruddy complexion, fair hair, broad shoulders, eyes that all but shot out sparks of fire. In a well-built man one looks for breadth here and slimness there; in him all was admirably well-proportioned and elegant… Homer remarked of Achilles that when he shouted his hearers had the impression of a multitude in uproar, but Robert’s bellow, so they say, put tens of thousands to flight." (Anna Komnena)

After 10 years of hard fighting in the Emirate of Sicily and several months besieging the city itself, today, 942 years ago, Palermo finally was taken by the Norman Robert Guiscard, scion of the illustrious house of Hauteville / Altavilla. .

Within 40 years since their arrival in Southern Italy as simple mercenaries, the Hautevilles now controlled almost the whole the whole of Southern Italy as well as Sicily. Robert Guiscard, who dressed so elegantly during the campaign that he was dubbed "Blackshirt Robert", left the island during the following year to finally takethe rest of Apulia from the Byzantines while his brother Roger stayed as Count of Sicily. Roger completed the conquest of Sicily in 1091. His son was crowned as King Roger II, establishing the dynasty of the Hauteville kings reigning until the kingdom fell to the House of Hohenstaufen by marriage of Roger II's daughter Constance to Frederick Barbarossa's son Henry, father of "stupor mundi" Emperor Frederick II who was born in Palermo.

The picture below is a Romantic imagination of Arab dignitaries handing over the keys of Palermo to Robert and Roger, painted al fresco in the Yellow Room of the Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo, in 1830 by Giuseppe Patania.

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