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Son of Melo de Bari and Maralda, Argiro played an important role in the history of southern Italy and in the consolidation of the Norman dominion.
In 1011, after the defeat of the father who had rebelled against the Byzantines, Argiro was taken prisoner and transferred to Constantinople with his mother. It is not known if Argiro was treated as a prisoner, or rather, he entered directly into contact with the court: in fact, it can not be excluded that Argiro (typically Greek name, perhaps his father Melo would not have put him) has not been its name of baptism, but a nickname given to it in Constantinople by the Roman Emperor III who belonged to the family of the Argiros.
Southern Italy in the 11th century.
His return to Apulia in 1039 was due to a precise military commission of high rank: the Emperor Michael IV Paflagonio sent him to Italy to restore order in Apulia where the troops, who in Sicily had opposed General Jorge Maniaces led an insurrection against the Catapán Nicéforo Dukiano and they had killed Mottola, an imperial official. The following year Argiro defeated them completely, the militias were dissolved, two of their chiefs, Musando and Juan de Ostuni, were taken prisoner in Bari, another four were hanged in the same city and another in Ascoli.
The scenario changed in 1041: with the death of Emperor Michael IV (December), Zoe of Byzantium fell into disgrace at the court and Argiro placed herself on the side of the Macedonian legitimists, who supported Zoe and Theodora of Byzantium (the daughters of Constantine VIII), against the new emperor Miguel V. Argiro supported the anti-Anguish revolt of the Lombards (led by Arduino de Melfi) and the Normans (with Rainulfo Drengot as chief) placing themselves in command of the insurrection; in February of 1042 in Bari in the church of San Apolinar the Norman knights, next to the bars, chose Argiro as their leader and they named him Duke of Apulia (the same title as his father Melo). In July Argiro also defeated Romano de Matera and conquered Giovinazzo, while often the Norman soldiers abandoned themselves to excesses after the conquest of the cities, against the will of Argiro.
Then Argiro returned to fidelity to Byzantium when Zoe returned to court and married Constantine IX Monomachus. The emperor invited Argiro to resume his role in the Byzantine army and in September 1042, during a siege that with the Normans had placed Trani, Argiro abandoned the insurgents and accepted, among other things, the appointment of commander of the armies Imperials in Italy.
The following year Argiro was defeated by the Normans in the battle of Venosa and given that the situation favored the Normans of Guillermo Brazo de Hierro, in 1046 he took refuge in Byzantium. Here he gained the esteem of the emperor by stifling in 1047 a revolt of Leon Tornikio Kontoleon, who had attempted against the emperor. Also at that time he came into conflict with patriarch Miguel Cerulario.
In 1050 he received the order of Magister, Vestis et Dux Italiae, Calabriae, Siciliae, Paphlagoniae, or again catapán: he returned to Apulia in March 1051, captured the governors of Bari, Pedro and Romualdo; and sent them chained to Constantinople; in August, obtained the support of the local population, he began to plot against the Normans, managing to assassinate his boss, Drogón de Altavilla. In 1052 he began talks with Pope Leo IX to defeat the Normans, who were increasingly increasing their dominions in southern Italy.
The decisive battle took place in Civitate on June 18, 1053: the pope, commanding the German and Lombard troops, was defeated and captured, while Argyrus in command of the Greeks was defeated in turn at Siponto, where he had arrived by sea: forced to flee, he took refuge in Vieste. In this place safer and defensible with respect to Bari, established the new headquarters of the catapanato of Italy (this would be confirmed by the presence in Vieste of the so-called Palazzo du Catapone, but Magister Vestis has no references to the city of Vieste). / p>
From there, Argiro sent an embassy to Enrique III with the hope of obtaining aid (May 1054), but his diplomatic attempts were abruptly interrupted: Miguel Cerulario, who in the summer had promoted the Eastern schism, thanks to the The influence he had on Empress Theodora brought Argyrus to Byzantium.
Only in 1057, with the accession of Isaac Comneno, Argiro was reinstated and was able to resume talks to combat the Normans: he contacted Pope Stephen IX, sent a letter to Berardo, abbot of Farfa, received an embassy of Desiderio, by then abbot of Montecassino. But again and after the death of the Pope and with him of the dialogue, since Nicholas II was aligned with the Normans, he was dismissed from the role of catapán. After this fact there is no more news about him. Perhaps he died in Bari in 1068 (some say that in Vieste, others in Atella). Before dying he donated six thousand Byzantiums and a silk dress to the Abbey of Farfa (this dress is still preserved).
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