Percies In Sorrento

Were there Percy family relatives in Sorrento, Italy? Heraldry there seems to point to it as well as research that says the Normans were prominent rulers in Southern Italy and Sicily.

The following explanation is very helpful and the Percy DNA profile is certainly prominent in this region and in Sicily. 

Percy Herladry Found In Sorrento, Southern Italy.

Percy Heraldry Found In Sorrento, Southern Italy. 

Sorrento became an Archbishopric about 420 AD. After the fall of the Western Europe Empire. It was ruled by the Otsrogoths and then returned to the Eastern Empire. The Lombards who conquered much of Southern Italy in the second half of the 6th Century, besieged it in vain.


Sorrento Coat Of Arms

Sorrento Coat Of Arms.

In the following centuries the authority of the distant Empire of Byzantium faded; initially part of substantially independent Duchy of Naples. Later Sorrento became an autonomous Duchy (9th Cent). It fought against neighboring/rival Amalfi, the Saracens and the nearby Lombardy Duchies, such as that of Benevento, whose forces besieged it in 839, although Sorrento was able to resist with Neapolitan assistance. Sorrentine forces took part in the anti-Saracen leagues at the battles of Licosa (846) and Ostia (849). The Duchy was ruled by figures elected by the people, which received honorary titles from the Byzantine Emperor.

In 1035 the city was acquired by Guaimar IV of Salerno, who gave it to his brother Guy. After a brief return under the Duchy of Naples it returned in Lombard hands with Gisulf II of Salerno; when the latter was defeated by Robert Guiscard and Sorrento entered the NORMAN sphere of influence. Any residual independence ended in 1137 when it was annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily. Robert Guiscard was a Norman cousin of the Percies.

Robert Guiscard (1015 – 1085) was a Norman adventurer remembered for the conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily. Robert was born into the Hauteville Family in Normandy, and went on to become Count of Apulia and Calabria (1057 – 1059), and then became Duke of Apulia and Calabria and Duke of Sicily (1059 – 1085).

His sobriquet in contemporary Latin was Vicardus or in old French Viscart, being variously described as “the resourceful”, “the cunning”, “the wily”, “the fox” or “the weasel”. He is remembered by Italian sources as “Roberto il Guiscardo” or “Robert d’Altavilla” (Robert de Hauteville).

From 999 to 1042 most Normans came to Italy as adventurers and mercenaries, serving at various times Byzantine and Lombard nobles. The first of the independent Norman Lords was Rainulf Drengot who established himself in the fortress of Aversa, becoming Count of Aversa and Duke of Gaeta. William Iron Arm and Drogo arrived in 1038, the two eldest sons of Tancred of Hauteville, a noble from near St Lo on the Cotentin Penninsular in Normandy (very close to Perci). These two joined in the revolt of the Lombards against Byzantine control of Apulia. By 1040 the Byzantines had lost most of that province and in 1042 Melfi was chosen as the Norman capital. In September that year the Normans elected as their count William Iron Arm, who was in turn succeeded by brothers Drogo and later (1044) Humphrey and described in Italian as ‘Comes Normannorum totius Apuliae e Calabriae’ (“the Counts of all Normans in Apulia and calabria”).

Another description of Robert Guiscard de Hauteville from Byzantine Historian Anna Comnena – ‘Robert Guiscard was the sixth son of Tancred of Hauteville and eldest by his second wife Fressenda. He left Normany with only five mounted riders and thirty followers on foot. Upon arriving in Langobardia in 1407 he became the chief of a roving, robber band’.

This Robert was Norman by birth with an overbearing character and a thoroughly villainous mind. He was a brave fighter, very cunning in his assaults on the wealth and power of great men and in achieving his aims inexorable, diverting criticism by incontrovertible argument. He was a man of immense stature, surpassing even the biggest men, a ruddy complexion, fair hair, broad shoulders and eyes that shot out sparks of fire, altogether though was well proportioned and elegant. It was said that his bellow put thousands to flight.

Roving Robert wanted more and asked his brother Drogo for a castle and a fief, so Drogo gave Robert command of the fortress at Scribla. Later Robert moved on to the castle of San Marco Argentano and married his first wife, Alberada De Macon known in Italy as Alberada of Buonalbergo. She was the daughter of Reginald I, Count of Burgundy and Macon, Baron Buonalbergo whose wife was Alice of Normandy. Robert Guiscard soon rose to distinction! The Lombards turned against their erstwhile Italian allies and Pope Leo IX determined to expel the Norman freebooters but he was defeated by them.

Guiscard became Count of Apulia in 1057 and with his younger brother Roger carried on the conquest of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily.

So, now back to the Heraldry at the top of the page. It is identical to the Percy charge being five fusils in fess albeit the tinctures differ to that of William de Percy. The de Hautevilles were near neighbours of the de Percy family and there is evidence to suggest that they were interrelated. I have created another page with a revision of the the origin of the Percy family which will explain this further. In summary the Hauteville and de Percy families share similar origins so it would be natural for Robert Guiscard de Hauteville to use his family colours to express his power.