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Royal comestabuli and Military Control in the Sicilian Kingdom: A Prosopographical Contribution to the Study of Italo-Norman Aristocracy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Medieval Prosopography: History and Collective Biography
Volume34
Number of pages39
Pages (from-to)1-39
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

When the Sicilian monarchy was established after years of conflict, King Roger II began to consolidate his authority on the Italian peninsula. The establishment of titles for the organization and control of the continental provinces has been noted by several scholars as an instrumental feature of the kingdom’s social arrangement. Yet, contemporary scholarship has dismissed the royal comestabuli as unimportant social agents, either as 'officials' documented in the Catalogus Baronum or as territorial lords. as a result, several questions surrounding the issue remain unanswered: to what extent did the local, lesser aristocracy shape the kingdom’s effective social, and military, control over southern Italy, and who were the nodal characters that allow us to discern this process? Was a comestabulia a fixed administrative district, or rather a type of social authority? although in this limited space a finished picture cannot be presented, this article offers the results of a recent prosopographical exploration of south Italian sources for the Norman period. By taking the comestabuli as a starting point, I study the intermediary position that particular barons held as both royal agents and paracomital supervisors of the military contingents levied from the kingdom’s aristocracy. This article attempts not only to shed some light on this almost ignored class of functionaries, but also to further explore the social roles established amongst the Italo-norman nobility.