William II presided over a golden age of internal peace and prosperity, and when he died suddenly in the flower of his youth, he was mourned as no other king of Sicily. Yet, while he may have been outwardly splendid, he wasn't a good ruler. If there was peace it was accidental; he committed the kingdom to ruinous foreign adventures, and squandered its resources. Worst of all he promised the throne to Sicily's greatest enemy in exchange for a temporary peace. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the reign of William II, the irresponsible and foolish king remembered by history as William the Good.
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Episode 20 - The Norman Achievement
11:52The Principality of Antioch outlasted the Norman Kingdom of Sicily by a century, and its founder by nearly two. This unlikely survivor was a testament to the restless Norman Spirit which had carried their arms triumphantly to the borders of the Medieval Christian world. Join Lars Brownworth as he concludes the history of the Normans and looks back on their magnificent, if often overlooked, achievement.
Episode 19 - Bohemond - Part 2 - Bohemond in the East
21:20The First Crusade fell like a present into Bohemond's lap. Italy wasn't big enough for his ambitions (especially with his uncle blocking him at every turn) and now here was an opportunity to win fame and wealth in the east, and to look pious while doing it. What better way to prove himself worthy of his father than by accomplishing Guiscard's glittering eastern dream? Join Lars Brownworth as he follows Bohemond on Crusade, where he again matched wits with his old nemesis Alexius, and carved out a kingdom around one of the Near East's most famous cities.
Episode 18 - Bohemond - Part 1
15:58A great father can be both a blessing and a curse, and no one was more aware of that than Bohemond de Hauteville. The first-born son of the adventurer Robert Guiscard, Bohemond spent most of his formative years trying to both prove himself worthy and escape his father's formidable shadow. At every turn, however, fate seemed to conspire against him. Disinherited before he reached the age of five, he was raised by a step-mother who was determined to keep him from an inheritance, and actively held back by more powerful members of his family. But Bohemond had Guiscard's blood flowing in his veins and an unwavering belief in his eventual triumph. Join Lars Brownworth as he traces Bohemond's struggle to claim a place in the sun.
Episode 17 - Stupor Mundi
23:56Frederick II was the most polarizing figure to rule as king of Sicily. To some he was the antichrist - a heretical monster whose harem and open contempt of Christianity was the scandal of civilized Europe. To others, however, he was Stupor Mundi - the 'wonder of the world'. He was in many ways a walking contradiction. A German Emperor who was raised on the streets of Palermo, a cynical Teutonic politician in love with the pomp and legends of the south, and a Renaissance monarch in the High Middle Ages. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the life of Frederick II, the grandson of both Norman Sicily's greatest king and its deadliest enemy.
Episode 16 - Tancred of Lecce
20:52Tancred of Lecce came to the throne of Sicily in its darkest hour. Mocked by his critics as the 'Monkey King', he was weakened by civil and religious unrest, and faced invasion by the mighty German Empire. But he never gave up, and through a mixture of energy and courage he fought his enemies at every step. His struggle against impossible odds illuminates the final gloomy days of the Kingdom of Sicily. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the tragic life of Norman Sicily's last Hauteville King.
Episode 15 - William the Good
24:06William II presided over a golden age of internal peace and prosperity, and when he died suddenly in the flower of his youth, he was mourned as no other king of Sicily. Yet, while he may have been outwardly splendid, he wasn't a good ruler. If there was peace it was accidental; he committed the kingdom to ruinous foreign adventures, and squandered its resources. Worst of all he promised the throne to Sicily's greatest enemy in exchange for a temporary peace. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the reign of William II, the irresponsible and foolish king remembered by history as William the Good.
Episode 14 - William the Bad
21:26If Roger II had been the 'baptized Sultan', his son William forgot the water. Despised by his legendary father and never intended for the throne, William the Bad dedicated his life to the comforts of the palace, stirring only to lead his armies on the battlefield, the one area in which he excelled. Though he could at times be energetic and even brilliant as a general, his reign was stained by internal rebellions and the loss of international prestige. But however much his reputation was blackened by subsequent historians, William I was hardly the failure that he was made out to be. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the life of William the Bad, the Norman Kingdom's most maligned king.
Episode 13 - Rogerios Rex
19:00In the Spring of 1133 the new Norman Kingdom of Sicily seemed about to be shattered. Roger II, its creator and first king had backed the anti-Pope Anacletus II to gain his crown and in the process earned the hostility of most of Europe. Ranged against him were the emperors of both East and West, the most powerful cleric in Christendom - Bernard of Clairvaux, and the rightful Pope. Secular and papal armies were already on the march and Sicily's very survival was at stake. Through a mixture of Norman daring and southern cunning, Roger managed to stay one step ahead of his enemies, triumphing to become the equal of any of his ancestors. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the conclusion of the career of Sicily's greatest king.
Episode 12 - Rise of a King
25:58Roger II was never supposed to inherit his father's possessions. He was the youngest of 18 children, and only five when the Great Count died. The nobility dutifully pledged their allegiance but there seemed little chance that his mother - an Italian foreigner in the Norman court - could hold the regency until he matured. And yet, against the odds Roger II emerged from his uncertain childhood as the most forceful personality on the Mediterranean stage. Under him Norman rule in southern Italy blossomed into its most brilliant flower. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the rise of Roger II, Sicily's first and greatest king.
Episode 11 - The Great Count
22:40Roger de Hauteville was a strange conqueror. The youngest of twelve sons he was the last to come to Italy and treated as the least capable of the siblings by a jealous Guiscard. His first raid in Sicily was a disaster that seemed to confirm the worst suspicions about him. But Roger persevered and over three decades he managed to carve out a kingdom that rivaled that of William the Conqueror's. Along the way he won one of the most spectacular battles in medieval history and managed to die with all of his vast conquests at peace. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the surprising life of the last Hauteville brother.