The Norman conquest of southern Italy and Sicily was one of the most dramatic events of the eleventh century. To understand the magnitude of the Normans' achievement, and especially those of Robert Guiscard and Richard of Aversa, it is essential to know something of the world in which they lived and the manner in which they were able to create a Norman state in territories with a very different cultural tradition.
Amatus of Montecassino was the earliest historian of the Norman conquests in Italy. His 'History of the Normans', written c. 1080, not only provides a fascinating insight into this neglected area of medieval history, but is also a text of great value for study of the Gregorian Reform and of the abbey of Montecassino, one of the most important cultural and religious centres of eleventh-century Christendom. This book provides a vivid translation of this intriguing contemporary history; while the introduction and extensive annotation locate the 'History' securely in its contemporary context and provide a full discussion of its purpose and themes, and of the various problems of authorship and transmission associated with it.
Given the collective expertise accumulated here, this annotated translation is now the text's indispensable introduction. [...] Loud's annotations are invaluable: they concentrate on the parallel primary sources, not on secondary commentary; they highlight agreements and conflicts. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW