- Medieval Duchy
- Contemporary Region in southeastern Italy.
It lies mainly east of the Apennines and extends from the spur of Italy round the heel to the instep.
Apulia was one of the regions formed in the reign of Augustus and did not then include the heel of Italy (which was then called Calabria, a name later transferred to the toe). When provinces were formed in Italy in the late 3rd century the two regions were joined together to form Apulia et Calabria.
The Byzantines recovered the region from the Ostrogoths for the Empire in the 6th century, but the Lombards later encroached and much of Apulia became part of the Duchy of Benevento. Arabs raided during the 9th century. During its third quarter, they settled along much of the Apulian coast, but Byzantine power revived and Apulia was reoccupied later in the century. The Byzantine authorities allowed Lombard law to continue, and called the region Longobardia.
The disputes and intrigues that arose from the fragmentation of southern Italy gave opportunities for adventurers, who were ready to hire themselves out as fighting-men, and in the 11th century many Normans, landless or poor or finding settled life tame, were ready to seize the main-chance in Italy. One such knight, known as William Iron-Arm, was elected Count of the Normans in Apulia in 1042. He came from a family in Hauteville in Normandy, and was followed as Count by two brothers, and then by a half-brother, Robert, called the Guiscard, the Trickster. In 1059 the Pope, who reckoned himself to be overlord of southern Italy, made Guiscard Duke of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily. By 1071 the Byzantines had been driven out of Italy; in the 1070s the Lombard Duchies disappeared, and when Robert died in 1085, he controlled much of southern Italy.
In 1127 his nephew, Roger II, who had been Count of Sicily since childhood, succeeded Guiscard’s grandson as Duke of Apulia, and in 1130 became King of Sicily. In the 1130s he added the hitherto independent territories, Naples and Capua, to his Kingdom. While the Normans ruled, the title of Duke of Apulia was used by the heir to the Kingdom of Sicily. Apulia remained part of the southern Kingdom – whether called Sicily, Naples, or the Two Sicilies – until Italian unification in 1860.
After World War II, but made effective only in the 1970s, Puglia became one of the autonomous regions of Republican Italy. It is comprised of the provinces of Foggia, Bari, Taranto, Brindisi, and Lecce.