HI 3029 Politics and Piracy: Urban Life in Medieval
Extracts from the Chronicon Salernitanum
Trans © Patricia Skinner 2001
September 2003 version, created and maintained by Trish
159 Gisolf I [943-978]
After these events, the Lord remembered him [Guaimarius II], although he had
reached old age, and gave him a son by his wife, the most pious princess Gaitelgrima,
daughter of Adenolf, prince of Benevento. The boy was born and baptised, and
they called him Gisolf. When he was three years old, the people and the nobles
joined the child with his father in the dignity of prince and gave their oath
to both. In that time, as I have said, almost all of the territories of Puglia
and Calabria were subject to Guaimarius's lordship.
When the child grew into adulthood, and the Lord had given him a handsome appearance
with shining eyes, equal and straight nostrils and, what was more, wisdom, his
most benign father was taken from this world.
He [Guaimarius] held the principate for [60+] years and ... months. He was robust
of body, of the right stature which couldn't be called too tall or too short,
of a most handsome face and no less adorned with prudence and valour. Wonderful
in person, he was more wonderful in his deeds and from his childhood had distinguished
himself by his readiness for every good work. He was buried in the church of
the Virgin Mother of God Mary of the holy see of Salerno. In this church he
had erected a cross of purest silver and had decorated the altar, also with
purest silver, with three candleabra of silver. In honour of the Lord and Saviour
he had had an altar built, covered it with silver and ordered that it be put
'in the presence'. 'In the presence' of whom? He meant of God, because there
was an image painted of the Son of God. The palace was almost in ruins; he rebuilt
it, although not entirely, and at one side of the church of St Peter he had
built wondrously a bell-tower of great beauty, for all that it was small. He
did many other things, but I will not describe them all.
At this time Atenolf, prince of Benevento, was ejected from his city for his
misdeeds and cruelty, of which I have already spoken, and came with a few faithful
men to Salerno. Guaimarius received him with honour, since he was his father-in-law,
having given him [Atenolf] not long before his daughter Rothild in marriage.
But he was not grateful to Guaimarius's son, because he changed good things
160. After the death of prince Guaimarius, as is the custom in many cities,
the Salernitans too had disagreements between themselve.
Atenolf and his wife made as if to occupy the principate. But God, just judge,
threw back such badness against him, and he was ignominiously thrown out of
the city and died in exile. And the whole Salernitan people submitted to Gisolf.
161. After these events Landolf, brother of Atenolf, who was at that time the
lord of the Beneventans, allied with John lord of Naples and with one accord
they united all their forces and soldiers and marched against the principate
of Salerno and were able to do so right up to the wall of the city, convinced
that the still adolescent prince Gisolf would not be able to resist them.
But gisolf, as soon as he heard, immediately went out against them with a powerful
army and ordered his encampment to be placed not far from the city in a place
called Cava, and Mastalus, who was at that time lord of Amalfi, went to his
aid with all of his soldiers. Thus when Landolf and John decided to approach
with their troops, the Salernitans and Amalfitans were ready for battle. The
Beneventans, Capuans and Neapolitans had hardly come close when the Salernitans
and Amalfitans prepared vigorously to meet them, so that instead of falling
upon Gisolf where he was with his army, they were forced to flee. At which point
John and Landolf, furious not to have obtained any result, burnt the land and
retraced their steps along the road.
Returned to his city the same prince Landolf suddenly made a solid alliance
with prince Gisolf: with the same intent they marhced against Nola with a multitude
of soldiers and, having pitched camp, began to sack all the lands of the Neapolitans
and assaulted Nola with many siege machines, conquered it and razed it to the
ground. They then separated amicably and returned to their own territories.
162. At that time the castle of Aquino rebelled against Landolf its prince and
no longer wished to remain under his power. The leader of the rebellion was
named Atenolf and he rose with the inhabitants against his own lord. [Landolf
calls up Gisolf and they besiege Aquino, to little effect.]
163.... A Salernitan soldier named Sichelmanno from the city of Acerno and a
master of carpentry asked secretly of one of the besiegers: 'I wish to know
the will of the prince my lord: would he be pleased to conquer this castle?'
[On receiving an affirmative answer, he demands to see the prince.]
The man to whom Sichelmanno had spoken was called Peter: he was a cleric, and
able medic and dear to the prince who later one made him the bishop of this
164 Sichelmanno, when he was in the presence of prince Gisolf, said to him,
'My prince, do you wish that we should take this castle?' And the prince said,
'That's what I came here to do.' Sichelmanno went out and built a machine of
notable size which we call a 'stone-thrower' and the Salernitans started to
assail the castle with all their force and means; and thus the wall of the castle
was finally broken down...
165 At this time the most sacred body of the blessed Matthew the apostle was
discovered in the territory of Lucania and, by the command of prince Gisolf,
was brought to Salerno with all due honour. But I won't list the miracles and
wonders and how he was found: later on, with God's help, I will recount to the
faithful and insert these into this history.
166... At this time the lord of the holy Roman see was pope John [XII], son
of a patrician, a certain Alberic. From childhood he was dedicated to vices.
He ordered that an army be gathered together and collected not only Romans but
also Tuscians and Spoletans: a huge multitude, with which he marched against
Capua. Prince Pandolf then sent to his relative in Salerno and asked the most
glorious prince Gisolf to run to his aid without delay. [The papal army hears
of this and retreats.]
167 Whilst the fame of prince Gisolf spread everywhere and his name was renowned
in diverse cities, pope John sent him a delegation with the intention of making
an alliance. The prince lost no time and, with a great following, set off by
sea for Terracina, where he soon met the pope and a few Romans. When they saw
the appearance of the prince, and his equipment and the multitude of nobles
and his magnificence, they were full of admiration and said, 'Now we see evidently
what we had only heard about.' And they made an alliance and went their separate
168 At that time a furious pestilence hit the principate of Salerno: many died
from it and may houses remained empty. With great insistence the citizens raised
prayers up to the Lord, until it ceased. Before it did so, heavy rains fell,
there was so much thunder and lightning that even our old people had never seen
the like, and many parts of the mountains slipped down.