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prosperity they had brought to Sicily, which was at the center of the Muslim Mediterranean world and thus a thriving center for trade. But the Greeks must have been attracted by the prospect of being reunited with Christendom, and the Normans did what they could to cultivate this attraction and inspire the Greeks with the spirit of liberation from the clutches of the infidels. As soon as the Normans took possession of Messina in 1061 and sent the Saracen population of the city fleeing inland, Robert Guiscard organized a thanksgiving ceremony with the Greek population in their church in order to emphasize the spirit of deliverance.41 From Messina the Normans advanced inland through the Val Demone, where the Greek Christians did indeed view them as liberators: they greeted them enthusiastically, running out to meet them and bringing them gifts.42 The Norman "crusaders" thus succeeded in convincing their new Greek subjects to offer their loyalty.

The theme of the "Holy War" pervaded the entire venture to subdue the Muslims of Sicily. In 1063, when the Normans were outnumbered at the battle of Cerami and pondering retreat, Malaterra says that Roger encouraged them with these words: Arrigite animos vestros, o fortissimi christianae militiae tyrones. Omnes Christi titulo insigniti sumus. "Harden your spirits, most courageous recruits of the Christian militia. We are all inscribed with the sign of Christ." While the Great Count was speaking, apparuit quidam eques, splendidus in armis, equo albo insidens album vexillum in summitate hastilis alligatum ferens et desuper splendidam crucem. "A certain knight appeared, shining in arms, sitting on a white horse, carrying a white standard on the top of his lance and a shining cross from above." This was none other than St. George, who rallied the

 

 


41. Norwich 141.
42. Gaufredus Malaterra 2.14.

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