The Lombards were a Germanic tribe from southern Sweden, along the lower Elbe River. Like the Germanic tribes before them they migrated throughout western and southern Europe.
547: Migrated to what is now Hungary and East Austria.
568: They invaded Northern Italy and established a kingdom with Pavia as its capital. They ventured into central and S Italy, but Ravenna, the Pentapolis (Rimini, Ancona, Fano, Pesaro, and Senigallia), and much of the coast remained under Byzantine rule while Rome and the Papal States were kept by the papacy.
584: With Lombard land divided amongst various Dukedoms, they elected a king in order to strengthen themselves against the enmity of the Franks, the Byzantines and the popes.
7th and 8th centuries: This was the height of Lombard reign. It was during this period that they converted to Catholicism.
751: When the Lombards were seen as a threat, the Pope called on the Frankish King Pepin the Short. He invaded Italy and the Lombard land he took was given to the papacy.
772: Lombards threaten Rome again. Charlemagne, Pepin's son and successor, defeated the Lombards.
774: Charlemagne takes the title “King of the Lombards”. While Lombard dukedoms remained, the Franks dominated the region.
6th century: The Lombards had to contend with the Goths, other earlier migratory German tribes and the Eastern Romans.
751: The last of the Eastern Romans were expelled from Italy. The Lombards (and Moslems) removed the authority of the Eastern Roman emperor from Italy.
10th - 11th century: The numerous Lombard duchies fell to the Normans, who had originally come into southern Italy to serve as mercenaries for the Lombard dukes.
France 901: Normans (Norsemen, Vikings, etc.) rowed up the Seine River, led by Captain Rollo (Rolfe Granger). They captured Rouen and from there they spread through France. Some Frankish peasants joined the Norsemen. Paris was twice besieged.
911: Charles the Simple (King of France), by treaty, forfeited Normandy and Bretagne to Rollo in return of oath of fealty. Hastings, another Norseman, was already the Count of Chartres. The Norse married into the Frankish population. They began speaking French, but kept their nautical speech. From Normandy they would migrate westward to Britain and southward to Sicily and Southern Italy.
Circa 1000: Prior to the Norman migration to southern Italy, the area was divided amongst Lombard duchies, small city-states and Byzantine provinces. Arabs (Saracens) were also present, having already invaded Sicily and the southern mainland.
All in the family:
Tancred de Hauteville was the father of the Norman adventurers that fought for and against the pope and the Papal States, the Lombards, the Arabs, the Byzantine Empire and anyone else that got in their way. Some of his sons were William (Iron Arm), Drogo, Humphrey, Robert (Guiscard) and Roger (I).
As well as making their presence felt in throughout Europe, the Normans were also great adventures and heroes of the Crusades. Robert fought in the Crusades with his son Bohemond, and his grandson Tancred also fought in the Holy Land.
1016: A band of Norman pilgrims returning from the Holy Land stopped in Southern Italy to visit a shrine dedicated to the Archangel Michael (considered to be the angel of war). Having nothing better to do they get involved in the feud between the Lombards and the Byzantines. Two years later these Normans mercenaries fought for the losing side of a Lombard duke exiled from Bari. They also helped the Prince of Salerno repel an attack of Saracen pirates. After this, Norman mercenaries began to migrate in larger numbers. Some fought for the Byzantine emperors, helping them recover Sicily from Saracens. The Normans, disgruntled over their pay, then seized Apulia and Calabria.
They fought for (and against) the Lombards, the Byzantines, the Papacy, and the various dukes of southern Italy. The Normans fought for a fee and land as rewards and sometimes took land as independents. Once they settled in their new land they converted to Christianity and adopted Italian speech and customs.
1029-1030: As payment for their help, Duke of Naples, Sergio IV gave the Normans the fortress of Aversa and dominion over the county it watched over. This was the first Italian Norman Duchy, and by the middle of the eleventh century they had taken much of what had been Lombard land.
1038: William, Drogo and Humphrey arrive from Normandy and assist the Byzantine general George Maniakes in his attempt at taking Sicily back from Arabs.
1041 – 1043: When the Byzantines finally reduced the Lombard kingdom the Normans took their place as enemies of the Byzantines. William Iron Arm and Drogo conquered the Apulian county of Melphi. William became count of Apulia and his title would pass on to his brothers Drogo and Humphrey.
Circa1043 AD: Central Italy is part of the new Roman Empire. Also holding onto Italian real estate were a few Lombard Dukes, Normans, the Byzantine Empire and the Saracens in Sicily.
Circa 1046: Robert (born 1015 died 1085) migrates to southern Italy. He first fought as a mercenary in the prince of Capua’s troops then established dominion in Calabria. A terror on the battlefield, Robert soon became known as “Guiscard” or “the weasel”.
1053: Robert conquered southern Italy and starts the Norman empire.
1053: The Normans, still prone to taking land and plunder, were not easy to control. Pope Leo IX whips up an army (including Lombards and other Germans) in an attempt to expel the Normans from Italy. Not only did Robert and the other Normans defeat the papal forces, but they also took the pope prisoner and held him until he recognized their titles and lands.
1057: After the death of his older brother Humphrey, Robert became leader of the Normans in Italy. The pope, seeking independence from the Holy Roman Empire, decided to enlist the Normans as allies.
1057, the youngest Hauteville, Roger (born 1031 died 1101), arrived in the south.
1059: In return for a pledge of fealty to the Church, Pope Nicholas II named Robert Guiscard the duke of Apulia and Calabria (and whatever else he could conquer). While he completed the Norman conquest of Southern Italy, Roger conquered Sicily.
Circa 1060 – 1075: Robert and Roger battle the Byzantines and take more land (Messina, Bari, Palermo and Salerno).
1074: Robert has increased in power and is seen as a threat to papal territory. Pope Gregory VII excommunicates him.
1081 - 1085: Robert heads for the Balkans to war against Emperor Alexius Comnenus and the Byzantine Empire. He defeated the Byzantines in the Battle of Durazzo and at Durrës, Albania. Robert’s son Bohemond fought also, challenging the Greeks at Macedonia and Thessalía.
1082: The Byzantine Empire, also plagued by the Seljuk Turks, made an alliance with Venice (and also later with the Genoese) for naval assistance. In return, these two cities joined Almafi and Pisa in the importing and exporting of trade.
1083 –1085: After a decade long feud between Pope Gregory VII and Roman Emperor Henry IV over the appointments of bishops, the emperor laid siege to Rome. The pope called for help and Robert and his soldiers came to his aid.
1085: After this, Robert resumed his battles against the Byzantines, but died of a fever. Bohemond’s half-brother Roger was given the Duchy of Apulia, but Bohemond took it from him.
Circa 1090: Roger I takes Sicily from the Arabs, becomes the Count of Sicily.
1130: Roger's son, Roger II is crowned King of Sicily (and Southern Italy). His kingdom covered southern Italy, Sicily, Greece and part of North Africa.
1140: Roger II unified Sicily with the southern Italian mainland. He entered Naples (capital Palermo).
1154: Roger II dies.
1194: After the Sicilian crown was passed on to a few other relatives the Norman control of southern Italy was seized by the “Holy” Roman Empire.