Norman Naval Operations in the Mediterranean

Norman Naval Operations in the Mediterranean

Charles D. Stanton


Boydell Press



The formidable force of the Normans at sea has been frequently overlooked. This volume shows their dominance over the Mediterranean, and its far-reaching effects.
The rise of Norman naval power in the central Mediterranean in the eleventh and twelfth centuries prompted a seminal shift in the balance of power on the sea. Drawing from Latin, Greek, Jewish and Arabic sources, this book details how the House of Hauteville, particularly under Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger, used sea power to accomplish what the Papacy, the German Empire and the Eastern Empire could not: the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily from Islam. The subsequent establishment of an aggressive naval presence on Sicily, first by Roger de Hauteville and then by his son Roger II, effectively wrested control of the central Mediterranean from Byzantine and Muslim maritime hegemony, opening the sea to east-west shipping. The author goes on to describe how this development, in turn, emboldened the West Italian maritime republics, principally Genoa and Pisa, to expand eastward in conjunction with the Crusades. It was, quite literally, a sea change, ushering in a new period of western maritime ascendancy which has persisted into the modern era.

Dr Charles D. Stanton is a former US naval officer and airline pilot who, after retirement, studied medieval Mediterranean history at Cambridge under David Abulafia. He has written extensively on medieval maritime history, including, most recently, Medieval Maritime Warfare.


17 black and white, 11 line illustrations
338 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Warfare in History
Paperback, 9781783271382, July 2016
Hardback, 9781843836247, March 2011
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS027000, HIS037010
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Table of Contents

The Conquest (827 to 1101)
The Apogee (1101 to 1154)
The Eclipse (1154 to 1194)
The Impact
Appendix A: The Fleet (ships, sailors, shipyards, strategies)
Appendix B: The Sources


A learned and carefully researched book. SPECULUM

Should be required reading for anyone wishing to understand fully Mediterranean history during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY

The text is well written and supported by a good knowledge of the contemporary sources and some useful maps. Overall this is a fascinating study of an important but little known topic.

A well-researched and important contribution to medieval maritime history and the history of Sicily. NORTHERN MARINER

A useful, interesting and forceful book. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

A thorough, scholarly and valuable treatment of a relatively neglected subject. HISTORY

A formidable instrument for any following work concerning Mediterranean naval warfare during the Middle Ages. MEDIEVAL WARFARE

For those interested in this particular topic the book will be essential reading and serves the purpose admirably. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NAUTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

(This) superb study on Norman naval operations in the Mediterranean is the first to truly investigate the subject in any significant depth. (It) enriches our understanding of both the Norman presence in Italy and the wider developments occurring in and around a body of water which served as a meeting point for the Latin, Greek, and Islamic worlds. (...) The prose flows very well, the work is written with great clarity, and the reader is treated to an excellent range of maps and illustrations which complement and illuminate the text. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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