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1041 Battle of Olivento ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: The first big Norman success against the Byzantines of South Italy 17 March 1041
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Normans, Lombards
Norman Conquest of Southern Italy
Battle Type:
Pitched Battle
The Battlefield Olivento Location:
At the feet of the Monte Vulture, near the Olivento river, in Apulia, southern Italy
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Michael IV the Paphlagonian) The Enemies
Commander: Michael Doukeianos Rainulf Drengot, Arduin, William of Hauteville
Forces: Unknown 700 cavalry, 500 infantry
Background story: Arduin, a Greek-speaking Lombard was one of the leaders of the "Franks" -as the Greeks called all westerners- that had fought for the Byzantines in Sicily, during the campaign of George Maniakes. Apparently the booty from Sicily was not distributed fairly and Alduin went to see the catepan of Italy, asking for a better share for his soldiers. His behavior was insulting towards the Greeks and the Byzantine leader, Maniakes or the catepan Doukeianos, had him flogged. The beating of Alduin provoked a rebellion in coalition with the Normans Rainulf Drengot and the Hauteville brothers, and the Lombards Atenulf of Benevento and Argyrus of Bari (son of Melus).
The Byzantine catepan of Italy, Michael Doukeianos, moved from Bari with the few troops he could muster, including some Varangians, troops from the Opsikion tagma and several Thracians. He was able to defeat the first rebel troops he met, and he pursued them at Ascoli Satriano. Here he was met by an army of 700 horsemen and 500 infantry.
The Battle:
Normans attacking
The final clash took place at the feet of the Monte Vulture, near the Olivento river. The rebels had deployed the cavalry in the center, with the infantry on the wings. The Byzantines launched several waves of attacks against the rebels' cavalry. However, the Normans resisted and counter-attacked, defeating the Byzantines with a decisive cavalry charge. The Greek troops fled, and many of them drowned in the river. The catepan himself was barely able to escape alive.
Aftermath: It was the first of the numerous successes scored by the Normans in their conquest of southern Italy. After the battle, they conquered Ascoli, Venosa, Gravina di Puglia. It was followed by other Norman victories over the Byzantines.