Medieval Sicily Course: Byzantines, Arabs and Normans
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Sicily is located in the centre of the Mediterranean and has always been a cross roads of various cultures. In late antiquity the island was ruled by the Vandals, Goths and then the Byzantine Empire. In mediaeval times Sicily was invaded by Muslims from North Africa who created a dynamic multi-cultural society. Their ‘Emirate of Sicily’ was conquered in 1061 by the Norman Dukes Robert Guiscard and Roger I. Roger II subsequently created a tolerant and sophisticated society which saw a fusion of cultures. Rule of the island passed to Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty in the early 13th Century before it was taken over by the Kings of Aragon.
At the completion of this history course, participants should be able to:
- Understand how the Normans came to conquer Sicily
- Examine the multi-cultural society of 12th Century Sicily
- Comprehend the chronology of medieval Sicily
- Explore the influence of Muslim culture in Sicily on medieval Europe.
Vandals, Goths and Byzantines
The Vandals took Sicily under King Genseric in AD 440 and went on to sack Rome in 455. Not long afterwards the Ostogoths asserted their power. In the 6th Century Sicily came under the control of the Byzantine Empire and was made a province.
Sicily came under the control of the Arabs (the Aghlabid Dynasty) from the 9th Century but was only fully conquered by the Arabs in 965. The Emirate of Sicily ruled the island from Palermo and Sicily became a dynamic multicultural society.
By the 11th Century mainland southern Italy hired Norman mercenaries. Arab Sicily would be conquered by Roger I with just 700 knights. The entire island came under Norman control from 1072. Admiration of the Muslim language, literature and dress saw the Normans create a brilliant centre of culture which attracted scholars from all over Europe and the Middle East.
Roger II and the Kingdom of Sicily
Roger II was able to raise the status of the island to that of a kingdom in 1130 incorporating into it southern Italy and Malta. During this period the kingdom was prosperous and powerful, becoming one of the wealthiest kingdoms in Europe.
Frederick II and his Heirs
Control of Sicily passed from the Normans to the Holy Roman Empire. The most fascinating ruler of the early 13th Century was Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty who viewed himself as the heir of the ancient Roman Emperors. Rule of the island later subsequently passed to the Kings of Aragon.
- Expert trainers
- Central locations
- Small class sizes
- Free, expert advice
- Student materials – yours to keep
- Certificate of completion