|1018||Battle of Cannae||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||A Byzantine victory in their first clash with a gang of Normans||October 1018|
|War & Enemy:||
Norman Conquest of Southern Italy
|The Battlefield|| Location:
Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Basil II Bulgaroktonos)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||Catapan Basil Boioannes||Melus & Gilbert Buatère|
|Forces:||Unknown||250 Normans+unknown number of Lombards|
|Losses:||only 10 Norman knights survived|
|Background story:||When the Norman noble, Osmond Drengot, was exiled by king Richard I of Normandy for the murder of one of his relatives, Osmond, and his 4 brothers (including Gilbert Buatère and Rainulf Drengot) went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Michael, at Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano in the Byzantine Catepanate of Italy.
In 1016, this Norman band was recruited by the Lombard noble Melus (or Melo) of Bari, who had rebelled against his Byzantine overlords but who was currently on the run. Melus assured the Norman adventurers of the ease of victory and the abundance of spoils. In1017, the Normans were heading south. They joined with the Lombard forces under Melus at Capua and marched into Apulia, trying to catch the Byzantines off-guard. Successful in an encounter in May on the banks of the Fortore against forces sent by the catapan Leo Tornikios Kontoleon, they had seized all the territory between the Fortore and Trani by September and were ravaging Apulia. The Norman leader in this phase was Gilbert Buatère.
The new Greek catepan , Basil Boiannes, had gathered a massive force of reserves and a contingent of the famed Varangian Guard sent by Emperor Basil II. He met the Norman and Lombard hosts on the Ofanto river, at the site of the Romans’ defeat by Hannibal in 216 BC: Cannae. This second battle of Cannae was disastrous for the Lombards, who were routed. Melus of Bari managed to escape to the Papal States and eventually to the court of Holy Roman Emperor Henry II. The Normans lost their leader, Gilbert Buatère, and most of their group. Only 10 Norman knights survived. Among them was Rainulf (eventually Count of Aversa), who 20 years later helped the Byzantines against Muslim Sicily at Rometta .
|Aftermath:||What remained of this group of Normans was the first of many to go to southern Italy. By the end of the century, most of southern Italy was under Norman control.|