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elections. This facet of the Papacy's alliance with the Normans continued the tradition established by Leo IX whereby the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ and His representative on Earth, could call for military support in order to enforce ecclesiastical policy, and direct armies in order to secure the best interests of Christendom. The fact that the specific ecclesiastical policy that the Papacy needed the Normans to enforce was the Papal election decree, which aimed to separate the Church from the influence of laymen, is indeed ironic; but the Normans did proceed in the following years to support canonically elected Popes against usurpers, and they never tried to install their own friends as popes after the fashion of the German Emperors.

The fervor with which the Normans carried out their job as Papal protectors, and thus went along with the doctrine of fighting under the Pope's--and by extension God's--command, spread quickly to their other campaigns. In his oath to Pope Nicholas II, Robert Guiscard calls himself "by the grace of God and St. Peter duke of Apulia and Calabria and, with the help of both, future duke of Sicily."37 Such ambitious wording in the context of an oath of vassalage to the Papacy obviously implies that the Papacy was ready to back a Norman attempt at conquering the island, from which Muslim pirates had been conducting devastating raids against the mainland for over two centuries. The cause was quite worthy of blessing, for it meant the subjugation of dangerous and belligerent infidels and the reunification of the Greek Christians of Sicily with the rest of the Christian world--or at least with the Latin Christian world over which the Pope exercised his authority.

Thus Pope Alexander II blessed Robert and sent him off with a Papal banner in


37. Oath of Robert Guiscard to Pope Nicholas II, trans. in Tierney 44.
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