1061.38 The contemporary sources indicate that Robert himself adopted some of this enthusiasm for the divine cause. Amatus (who, admittedly, sought to glorify Robert Guiscard and Richard of Capua) claims that reports of the Saracens oppressing the Christians in Sicily stirred Robert. Inspired to cross the straits of Messina and liberate his Christian brothers, he cried out to his knights:
He then gathered an army, and according to Gaufredus Malaterra, a monk of Sant' Agatha in Catania (Sicily) who chronicled the Normans' exploits at the request of Count Roger I, Robert called on his followers before they left the mainland to confess their sins and place their trust in Spiritus Sanctus cooperator, "the Holy Spirit our ally," and Deum ordinatorem et fortiorem gubernatorem, "God our commander and steadfast guide."40 The Norman leaders thus used the pretext of fighting, with God's assistance, for fellow Christians against enemies of Christendom in order to boost the morale of their expeditionary force. The Norman knights were presumably inspired by their sanctified cause, and motivated to put forth their best effort in the upcoming campaign.
The Normans could also hope to utilize the "Holy War" mentality in order to gain the support of the Greek Christian population of Sicily. The Muslim emirs who had ruled the island since the ninth century, however, had not oppressed the Greek Sicilians. The Saracens were tolerant of their religion, and they did not exclude the Greeks from the
38. Douglas, The Norman Achievement, 102.
39. Aime 5.12.
40. Gaufredus Malaterra, De Rebus Gestis Rogerii Calabriae et Siciliae Comitis et Roberti Guiscardi Ducis Fratris Eius (Bologna: Nicola Zanichelli, 1928), 2.9.