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to regain the Eastern Empire's traditional holdings from the Muslims and Lombards alike, and the German Emperors too tried their best to make inroads there.4 All of these groups were to provide opposition to the Normans who sought to carve out holdings for themselves in Sicily and Southern Italy. Furthermore, the Normans themselves opposed each other. Robert Guiscard ("the Wily"), his relatives, and his Norman peers were fortune hunters who typically harbored no loyalties to their fellow countrymen or anyone else except when they could expect personal gain.5

The Normans, who were Latin Christians, found that the peoples of Sicily and Southern Italy were just as divided religiously as they were politically. Sizable Jewish communities were scattered throughout the region.6 The Sicilian emirates, foremost among which was the thriving metropolis of Palermo, were located at the center of the vast Muslim community that dominated the Mediterranean from Spain to the Levant. The Muslim inhabitants of the island were thus tightly connected to the vast world of Islam. Even though their overlords were Muslims, the Greeks in Sicily were not forced to convert and instead managed to maintain their religious identity.7 The Greek Christians in Sicily and on the mainland adhered to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and so practiced their religion according to the Greek tradition.8 The Lombards on the mainland followed the rites as they were practiced in Latin Christendom and looked to the Popes of Rome for ecclesiastical guidance. Affirming the primacy of the See of St. Peter, the Popes dreamed of forcing the Greek


4. Donald Matthew, The Norman Kingdom of Sicily (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 11-14.
5. David C. Douglas, The Norman Achievement, 1050-1100 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969), 68.
6. Matthew 92f.
7. Aziz Ahmad, A History of Islamic Sicily (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1975), 22.
8. Matthew 93-97.

 

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