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Tancred (d. 1194), King of Sicily, an illegitimate son of Roger, the eldest son of King Roger II, was crowned in January 1190 in succession to William II.

He was supported by the chancellor Matthew d'Ajello and the official class, while the rival claims of Roger II's daughter Constance and her husband, Henry V, king of the Romans and emperor, were supported by most of the nobles. Tancred was a good soldier, though his tiny stature earns from Peter of Eboli[?] the nickname "Tancredulus." But he was ill-supported in his task of maintaining the Norman kingdom, faced with general apathy, and threatened by a baronial revolt, and, in addition, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, at Messina, 1190, threatened him with war.

Henry, skilfully winning over Pisa, Genoa and the Roman Commune, isolated Tancred and intimidated Celestine III, who, on April 14 1191, crowned him emperor at Rome. He, however, failed to capture Naples in August and retired north, leaving garrisons along the frontiers of the Regno. Tancred now sought to win over the towns by extensive grants of privileges, and at Gravina[?] (June 1192) was recoenized by the pope, whose ineffectual support he gained by surrendering the royal legateship over Sicily. In 1192 and 1193 he commanded personally and with success against the Apulian barons, but his death at Palermo (February 20, 1194) a few days after that of Roger, his son and joint-king, made Henry's path clear.

His wife Sibilla indeed maintained a regency for her second son William III, but on Henry's final descent, Naples surrendered almost without a blow in May 1194, and the rest of the Regno followed. Sibilla and the loyal Margarito prepared to defend Palermo, but the citizens admitted the emperor on November 20 1194. Tancred's family fell into Henry's hands, and William III seems to have died in Germany in 1198.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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