Hervin Fernández Aceves, County and Nobility in Norman Italy (1130–1189), Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2017 (Université de Leeds)
This research offers a rounded account of the local ruling elite in mainland Southern Italy during the first dynasty of the Sicilian kingdom. It does so through a chronological, in-breadth exploration of the counts’ activities, and an in-depth analysis of both the role the counts played during the development of the kingdom’s nobility and government, and the function the county acquired in the establishment of social control on the mainland. This study is supported by an extensive and detailed survey of the vast relevant diplomatic material, both edited and unedited, combined with a comparison of the diverse available narrative sources, both local and external. The study has two central objectives. The first is to suggest the composition of the peninsular nobility and its continuities and discontinuities, by revealing how lordships were reorganised through the appointment and confirmation of counts, the total number of counties after this reorganisation, and the transactions and major events in which the counts were involved throughout the kingdom’s Norman period. The second is to interpret how territorial leaderships operated between the upper echelon of the peninsular aristocracy and the other economic and political agents, such as lesser barons, royal officials, and ecclesiastical institutions. I argue that the creation of the Kingdom of Sicily did not hinder the development of the nobility’s leadership in southern Italy, but, in fact, the Sicilian monarchy relied on the county as both a military cluster and an economic unit, and, eventually, on the counts’ authority, in order to keep the realm united and exercise effective control over the mainland provinces – especially in Apulia and the Terra di Lavoro. Such a finding should encourage further revision of the traditional interpretation of the kingdom’s social mechanisms for military mobilisation, administration of justice, and political stability. By emphasising the importance of the comital class and the changeability and endurance of the peninsular nobility, this study underlines the complexity of medieval, South Italian societies, and the multi-layered structures which allowed the Kingdom of Sicily to be a viable polity.
[Source : http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/19719/]