Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Tancred, King of Sicily

Male 1135 - 1194  (59 years)


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Tancred  
    Suffix King of Sicily 
    Born 1135  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 20 Feb 1194  [1
    Person ID I28849  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TWK
    Last Modified 14 Jun 2020 

    Father Roger,   b. Abt 1121,   d. 12 May 1148  (Age ~ 27 years) 
    Mother Bianca de Lecce 
    Family ID F17190  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sibilla d'Aquino,   b. Abt 1153,   d. 27 Mar 1204  (Age ~ 51 years) 
    Children 
    +1. Elvira de Lecce,   d. Aft 1216
    Last Modified 14 Jun 2020 
    Family ID F17186  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From Leo van de Pas:

      Tancred was born in 1135, the illegitimate son of Roger, duke of Apulia, and Bianca di Lecce, daughter of Accardo, conte di Lecce. He inherited the title of 'Count of Lecce' from his grandfather, and is consequently often referred to as Tancred of Lecce. He was crowned king of Sicily in January 1190 in succession to Guglielmo II who had died the previous year.

      He was supported by the chancellor Matteo d'Ajello and the official class, while the rival claims or Roger II's daughter Costanza and her husband Heinrich VI, king of the Romans, were supported by most of the nobles. Tancred was a good soldier, though his tiny stature earns from Peter of Eboli the nickname 'Tancredulus.' But he was ill-supported in his task of maintaining the Norman kingdom, faced with general apathy and threatened by a baronial revolt, and in addition, Richard 'the Lionheart', at Messina in 1190, threatened him with war.

      Heinrich VI, skilfully winning over Pisa, Genoa and the Roman Commune, isolated Tancred and intimidated Pope Celestine III, who on 14 April 1191 crowned him Holy Roman Emperor in Rome. However Heinrich failed to capture Naples in August and retired north, leaving garrisons along the frontier of the Regno. Tancred now sought to win over the towns by extensive grants of privileges, and at Gravina (in June 1192) he was recognised by the pope, whose ineffectual support he gained by surrendering the royal legateship over Sicily. In 1192 and 1193 he commanded personally and with success against the Apulian barons, but his death at Palermo (on 20 February 1194) a few days after that of Roger, his son and joint-king, made Heinrich's path clear.

      Tancred's wife Sibilla d'Aquino maintained a regency for her second son Guglielmo III, but on Heinrich's final descent, Naples surrendered almost without a blow in May 1194, and the rest of the Regno followed. Sibilla and the loyal Margarito of Brindisi, the great admiral of Sicily, prepared to defend Palermo, but the citizens admitted the emperor on 20 November 1194. Tancred's family, and Margarito, fell into Heinrich's hands. Claiming that a conspiracy on behalf of Guglielmo had been detected, he had the young Guglielmo blinded and castrated while all those nobles present at Tancred's coronation were burnt alive. Guglielmo seems to have died in Germany in 1198.

      Tancred and Sibilla had a daughter usually called Elvira or Albiria, who married Gauthier III de Brienne, prince of Tarente, comte de Brienne. At the time of their marriage, she and her family were exiles in France, trying to find allies to reclaim the kingdom of Sicily from the young King Fadrique (the future Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor). Their son Gauthier IV would have progeny to continue the line of counts of Brienne.

  • Sources 
    1. [S49] Genealogics, by Leo Van de Pas.