Abelard of Hauteville

Abelard of Hauteville: (b. c1044; d. 1081). Norman nobleman. The eldest son and rightful heir of Humphrey, Count of Apulia and Calabria (r1051-1057) and Gaitelgrima of Salerno, he was robbed of his inheritance by his uncle, Robert Guiscard. Taking advantage of Robert’s departure for Sicily, in April 1064, he joined Geoffrey I of Conversano; Joscelin, Lord of Molfetta; and Robert, Count of Montescaglioso, in a revolt. The rebels received financial and military aid from Perenos, the Byzantine duke of Durazzo. The revolt stalemated for a number of years with neither gaining the advantage. Finally, the rebels lost their Byzantine support when, at the beginning of 1068, Romanus Diogenes became emperor. The revolt fell apart and Abelard was exiled. Robert soon asked Abelard to return and assigned him a number of fiefs. Despite Abelard’s defeat, he remained dedicated getting revenge on Robert Guiscard. In December 1071, he rose in a new revolt. This time he had support not only from the Byzantines and other Norman lords (the barons of Giovinazzo and Trani), but also of his brother, Herman, who had received similar treatment in his inheritance at the hands of Robert Guiscard. Richard Drengot, prince of Capua, and Gisulf II, prince of Salerno, both of whom had reason to fear Guiscard’s power and ambition, also threw their support to Abelard. During this time Guiscard was committed to the siege of Palermo and could not return to mainland to deal with the growing revolt. Once Palermo fell, however, in 1072, he prepared to deal with the trouble. Despite their seeming strength, Abelard and his rebels were unable to mount an effective and united defense against Guiscard when he moved against them in 1073. Most of the rebels had been crushed when Guiscard fell seriously ill at Trani and was taken to his capital Bari. Since his fate was uncertain Guiscard’s wife, Sikelgaita, called upon the barons to recognize her son Roger Borsa as Guiscard’s heir. All of the barons, with one exception, agreed. Abelard continued to maintain his own claim to Apulia and Calabria. It was not until 1078 that Abelard was able to initiate his third and final revolt. Joining his cause this time were his old allies Geoffrey I of Conversano and Peter of Trani, as well as Jordan, Prince of Trani, son and heir of Richard Drengot.. This revolt was by far a more dangerous and better-organized one than the previous two. Guiscard chose to deal with it using diplomacy. In 1079 he made a separate peace with Jordan, thus shattering the rebellion. Abelard was exiled in 1080 and, in the company of his brother, Herman, traveled to Constantinople. Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, who viewed Guiscard as a serious threat, gave Abelard a warm welcome. Abelard did not survive long. In cApril 1081, he was apparently assassinated in Illyria. His body was interred in Greece.