At the turn of the first millennium, a group of Norman adventurers arrived in the Byzantine territories of southern Italy and within a century had conquered the entire region, putting an end to imperial rule in the Mezzogiorno. This thesis examines the reactions of cities to the Norman Conquest as imperial forces crumbled in the face of their advance. After centuries of Byzantine rule in the region, urban polities had grown accustomed to a mode of government that acknowledged the legitimacy of popular political participation, which may have had its roots in the often ignored republican heritage of citizens of the Eastern Roman Empire. The presence of political agency challenges our conception of imperial authority as tyrannical and unresponsive. In the final analysis, cities exhibited hitherto unacknowledged political agency as they sought to defend their urban autonomy during the transition to Norman rule at the close of the eleventh century.
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Thesis advisor: Krallis, Dimitrios
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