Sibylla of Acerra

Sibylla of Acerra.

Sibylla of Acerra (1153–1205) was Queen of Sicily as the wife of King Tancred.[1] She was regent in 1194 for their son, King William III. She was the sister of Count Richard of Acerra.


Tancred was always in struggle with his aunt Empress Constance and her husband Emperor Henry VI who had been claiming the Kingdom of Sicily since Tancred's accession. In 1191 Henry attempted to invade Sicily but failed and retreated, while Constance was left behind and captured. Tancred initially imprisoned Constance at Palermo under supervision of Queen Sibylla. Sibylla strongly opposed Tancred honoring Constance, believing this would implicitly acknowledge the claim of the latter. Finding local populace was sympathy of Constance with whom she once quarreled, she suggested her be put to death, but Tancred, worrying this would harm his popularity and viewing a living Constance in his hand as a chance to force Henry into a cease-fire, did not agree. So she and Chancellor Matthew d'Ajello after a discussion persuaded Tancred to lock Constance in Castel dell'Ovo at Naples, a castle on an island and surrounded by water, instead. However soon under the pressure of Pope Celestine III Tancred had to send Constance to Rome to exchange for his recognition from the Pope, and on the way Constance was released by German soldiers, in summer 1192.

It was Queen Sibylla who, as regent, when Emperor Henry VI crossed the Straits of Messina in Autumn 1194, negotiated an agreement whereby the young William III, now whisked off to safety, should retain the county of Lecce.

Sibylla attended the consequent coronation of Henry in the Cathedral of Palermo. Days after the coronation, Queen Sibylla, along with her erstwhile supporters Nicholas of Ajello son of Matthew, Archbishop of Salerno, and Margaritus of Brindisi, was arrested and imprisoned in Germany with her son and daughters. She managed to escape to France while Pope Innocent III petitioned Henry for her release. Her brother Richard was hanged by Henry in revenge of the capture of Constance.



  1. The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 4, C.1024-c.1198, Part II, ed. David Luscombe and Jonathan Riley-Smith, (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 760.
  2. Caffaro, Genoa and the Twelfth-Century Crusades, transl. Martin Hall and Jonathan Philips(Mike Carr), Crusades: Volume 14, ed. Nikolaos G. Chrissis, Benjamin Z Kedar and Jonathan Phillips, (Ashgate Publishing, 2015), 248.


Royal titles
Preceded by
Joan of England
Queen consort of Sicily
along with Irene Angelina

c. 1189 – 20 February 1194
Succeeded by
Constance of Aragon

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