198. William II of Sicily (1153-1189)

Born in Palermo, William II of Sicily, called “the Good” was the son of William the Bad and Margaret of Navarre, remembered as one of Norman monarchs who had the greatest popular goodwill. William came to the throne at age twelve at the death of his father William I of Sicily at a time when the kingdom was in turmoil due to a series of quarrels among barons, clergy and the people. The first measures of the regency focused on reconciling population and nobility. Amnesties were granted and fiscal pardons. Vacant lands were feudalized and exiles welcomed. Under his ruling, the kingdom went through a period of relative stability and reconciliation in relations between the different factions.

Christ Pantocrator, Cathedral of Monreale
Christ Pantocrator, Cathedral of Monreale

William II was a fair monarch, respectful of laws and the people and highly educated. relative stability and reconciliation in relations between the different factions. He died at just 36 years and was buried at the foot of the main altar of the Cathedral of Monreale, so that those who officiated the Mass had to kneel at his tomb. His reign was particularly fruitful for the arts in Sicily. Among the works undertaken by William worth mentioning is the Cathedral of Monreale, built starting in 1174 with the blessing of Pope Lucius III, and the ‘ Abbey of Santa Maria di Maniace, strongly supported by the Queen Mother Margherita. Even the beautiful building of the Zisa, initiated by his predecessor William I, was completed under his reign. Major construction projects also were undertaken at the Cathedral of Palermo.

Cathedral of Monreale, interior
Cathedral of Monreale, interior

Read More:
1. Wikipedia, https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_II_di_Sicilia
2. Treccani, http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/guglielmo-ii-d-altavilla-re-di-sicilia_(Dizionario-Biografico)/

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