Against All Odds – Stunning Victory That Should Be Remembered
Just three years before the Battle of Hastings, a small band of insanely courageous Norman adventurers won one of the most astounding victories ever a vast North African army on the Italian island of Sicily.
The Battle of Cerami was fought in June 1063 and was one of the most significant battles in the Norman conquest of Sicily, 1060–1091. The battle was fought between a Norman expeditionary force and a Muslim alliance of Sicilian and Zirid troops. The Normans fought under the command of Roger de Hauteville, the youngest son of Tancred of Hauteville and brother of Robert Guiscard.
The battle was a resounding Norman victory that utterly routed the opposing force, causing divisions amongst the Muslim aristocracy which ultimately paved the way for the eventual capture of the Sicilian capital, Palermo, by the Normans and subsequently the rest of the island.
The initial battle took place at the hilltop town of Cerami, around five miles to the west of the Norman stronghold at Troina. However the main battle was joined in the valley just to the south. The Normans, numbering 136 knights with probably only slightly more infantry, were heavily outnumbered by their Muslim opponents who some sources claim were as many as 50,000 strong. The best surviving source of information for the battle is found in Geoffrey of Malaterra’s De rebus gestis Rogerii Calabriae et Siciliae comitis et Roberti Guiscardi Ducis fratris eius.
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