Anonymous Vaticanus: Another Source for the Normans in the South?
SESSION V: Warfare in the Mediterranean
Charles D. Stanton (Independent Scholar)
There were two manuscripts where there is a piece written by an anonymous writer that sheds light on the Norman Invasion of Sicily. At the beginning of the 11th century, the Mediterranean was basically a ‘Muslim lake’. Muslims had control over the whole of the Mediterranean. By the end of the 11th century, Stanton argues, it was back in Christian hands largely due to the Norman Conquest of Sicily.
Only other Latin source that describes the Norman experience in the South. Modern scholars largely dismiss the story of the Anonymous Vaticanus.Why is this? Those who preceded this account regard this as a crude story of the events of the Conquest. Anonymous used several chronicles to fashion his account – he modeled his story on Malaterra’s account. Modern scholars conclude Anonymous wrote around 1147 and that the work was done by two possible writers. He is almost certainly Sicilian.
Anonymous used different names for the players of this Conquest – he seemed to have more accurate information than Malaterra. There were noticeable disparities in detail as well; Anonymous may have drawn from an Arabic account that is no longer available. He does not allude to the aborted siege of Palermo but in most cases, he was better informed than other accounts, writing as if he was looking back in hindsight.
There were 6 copies of the text. These appear in manuscript 6206. This account is no mere account of Geoffrey of Malaterra’s work, he clearly had additional sources available. This was a useful supplementary source of the events in the Conquest to the South.