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Hamburg, Germany. Second-placed Javier Gomez Noya of Spain is pictured in the background. III, pp. Here at The Catholic Gene , our readers and some contributors are made up of not only Catholic genealogists, but non-Catholics whose ancestors worshipped in the Catholic faith. We are a unique spot within the blogosphere. Another church frequented by tourists is St. The only remaining church designed by the first American-born architect Charles Bulfinch, its bell was cast by Paul Revere himself.
For more of this story, visit my article An American Treasure: St. Vincentius for his sister. Anthony Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both changed church buildings one because of an urban renewal project; one because its congregation moved uptown , but both still have thriving parishes today.
Stephen of Hungary. She has found family baptismal records at the church as far back as She has compiled photos of each of these churches with links to the articles she has written about them. Denise Levenick of The Family Curator has shared two articles with us. Her photos are an inspiration to us to preserve the memory of our own personal milestones.
How quickly our daily lives can turn into history! Ever heard of a Catholic church attached to a brewery? Patrick are close neighbors. The building is actually St. Speaking of neighbors, St. John the Baptist Church in Quincy, Massachusetts played a large role in the lives of members of the Tierney family for the majority of the 20th century — in many ways.
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John the Baptist Parish, Quincy, Mass. It looks to be straight out of a storybook! Joseph Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. It celebrates its th anniversary this year. In addition, south Italy was itself in political turmoil, susceptible to attack and open to outside interference. For adventurers, it also offered the possibility of operating beyond the control of the Aghlabid commanders whose ambitions on the Italian mainland were at times stymied by setbacks on the island. However, there was to be no sustained or systematic attempt to consolidate territory in Calabria or to establish defensible bridgeheads which would have facilitated a wider invasion.
Instead, Muslim raids tended to fulfil the immediate aims of acquiring quick booty or to act as a distraction for the disaffected among their ranks. The devastation they wrought on the population and rural economy was not recorded in detail by the Arabic chroniclers, but it was etched into the minds of the local peoples fearful of enslavement, and remembered with bitterness by Greek and Latin sources.
Within a century, its succession of dukes had come to be the most powerful force in the region, but they had never conquered Rome or all the Byzantine areas to the south. Greek rule in Apulia and on the tip of Calabria was thus pressed from the north, while in Campania. These maintained frequent contacts with the Muslims, notably via a mutual interest in overseas commerce and the need to form alliances due to their weakness relative to the power of the Lombard princes inland. Of the intermittent raids and poorly documented events of the s, three episodes stand out as having made a significant impact on the development of Muslim—Christian relations in the south Italian peninsula and which also serve to epitomise its political and military modalities.
As early as , Naples, when besieged by the Beneventan prince, Sicard, had appealed to the Muslims for help, leading to the first of several alliances. In the s and s, such political fraternising resulted in the excommunication of its bishop-prince, Athanasius; but the amount of gold and gold coinage found in the Amalfitan port towns reveals the high level of commercial exchange from this period and strengthens the perception that Muslim—Christian relations were not exclusively hostile.
With a couple of exceptions, the Arabic sources are silent about these warlords, so it is through the medium of hostile Latin sources, such as Erchempert, a ninthcentury chronicler from Montecassino, and the anonymous tenth-century sources of the Chronica Sancti Benedicti Casinensis and Chronicon Salernitanum, that most of our information is drawn. His name appears to be a Latinised version of the. First attested in , he allied himself, initially at least, with Siconulf against Radelchis. The Latin sources imply that these mercenaries had, at times, close relations with their paymasters, as shown by the levels of hospitality offered them, although this did not preclude double-dealing and treachery.
In addition to raids and mercenary deployments came a serious attack on Rome in August , when a Muslim expeditionary force sailed up the Tiber to sack the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul where they were said to have carried off the altarpiece above the tomb. The main achievement of this campaign was more political than military in that it eased the separation of Benevento into two. For his part, Louis II would become a major player in south Italian politics, launching two more expeditions in and , and eventually destroying the Muslim amirate at Bari in In the same year, a treaty was signed which formalised the split of Benevento.
Significantly, the agreement bound the parties to expel Muslim mercenaries and not to employ them in future. While not suggesting that the mercenaries were the cause of the conflict, their expulsion was seen at the time as a necessary ingredient for a peaceful and lasting solution. For their part, the Byzantines had played only minor roles in halting the Muslims, who within a few years of their arrival, had become ensnared in south Italian politics along with a number of other, often rival, players in the continual reshaping of alliances.
It was clear to medieval Latin chroniclers that the military leverage which the Muslim warlords provided, and which both sides sought, served to aggravate wider instability and, more specifically, to exacerbate the conflict in Benevento. However, before the signing of. The amirate of Bari —71 Concurrent with the Aghlabid invasion of Sicily and further raids on the mainland, was the establishment of Muslim control at Bari, a major port formerly under Byzantine control on the Adriatic coast.
Bari had been the target of an unsuccessful attack in but, once established there seven years later, the Muslims were able to launch a number of attacks across and beyond Apulia. In spite of this, there is no clear sense that the Muslims were much different from any other type of threat to physical or spiritual well-being at that time.
Thus, for example, in , he was in alliance with Radelchis and Beneventan forces in an attack against Capua. Muslim control of Bari also allowed considerable influence to be exerted over Apulia by forming a permanent and defensible base in a strategically important location on the Adriatic, although there was never any attempt to form a political axis between Bari and Palermo. It is presumed that the local Christians became part of a tribute-paying population theoretically living under Islamic law, but there seems to have been very little tangibly Islamic infrastructure.
Any administrative business that was done in Bari appears to have been conducted on an ad hoc basis in which tribute payments were exacted from particular towns in line with what would be expected in a booty economy reliant on conquest and plunder rather than trade or regular forms of taxation for its continued survival. Having built a congregational mosque, Mufarraj was killed when his comrades rose up against him for reasons about which we are ill-informed. Unlike another breakaway Muslim amirate of this period, Crete, where the rulers came with their wives and families, hereditary rule was not established at Bari.
Indeed, the actions of the rulers there appear to be those of single, male soldiers as scions from the Muslim army. Nor were they free of internal instability, which is shown.
It is tempting to link the fall of one with the rise of the other. However, it was also under his leadership that a request for recognition was made directly to the caliph al-Mutawakkil in Baghdad.
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The timing of the request was unfortunate in that the emissary was unable to leave before the caliph was murdered in December The siege failed, but it was a clear attempt by the Aghlabids to flex their muscles on the mainland. What is unclear is whether a powerful Muslim fort at the mouth of the Garigliano river was instigated by the Aghlabids or by another band of breakaway soldiers, operating on their own account. The Italian continent continued to.
Notes 1 The date for the creation of the Sicilian theme is controversial, although it is not thought to pre-date , and the term strategos is not attested before See N. On the wider context, T. Una storia del territorio ca.
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Palermo, ; T. Cambridge, , pp. For modern accounts of the emergence and historiography of the early medieval Mediterranean, complete with extensive bibliographical essays, see Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea. On Sicily: , —11, —1, , —8, —30, —3, —6, —40, —8? Jones ed. Jan T. Hallenbeck, The Transferal of the Relics of St. For both Bede and the slightly later Historia Langobardorum of Paul the Deacon, these events were either contemporary or had taken place in recent living memory.
See the useful discussions on sea travel in S. Fage ed. Udovitch ed. Princeton, , pp. I—1; BAS2 It. II—5; It. I—13; It. II—4; It. Such was immigration from the Muslim west that most attempts to corroborate settlement links end in speculation. I and ; BAS2 It. The Muslims of medieval Italy convegno internazionale, Palermo, 15—19 giugno Rome, , pp.
For analysis of events on the mainland in this period, see also G. II—70; English trans. Philip K. For an important discussion of the impact of Muslim raids in the region, see Armano O. Citarella and Henry M. The name is clearly problematic. The outline of the two names might easily be confused and the manuscript text of the latter presents a difficult reading. The consolidation of Muslim authority in Sicily On Sicily, after the capture of Castrogiovanni modern Enna in , the Aghlabids dominated the central regions of the island, enabling them to push into its south-eastern third or Val di Noto.
Spurred by the loss of Castrogiovanni, Byzantine forces arrived from overseas to save the remains of their authority in the east. Their advent coincided with an uprising of towns in the southwest including Agrigento, Caltabellotta and Platani which, until now, had remained largely quiescent after their conquest.
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Aghlabid Sicily was not to produce such a long-serving leader again. A number of these, Ragusa in for example, had already capitulated at least once before, but some appeared to have slipped out of their tribute-paying obligations, thus justifying their renewed subjugation. Noto, for instance, was reportedly taken twice in successive years between and When sieges failed to break the major towns such as Catania, Taormina and Syracuse, which were repeatedly targeted, it was the countryside and villages around them which were again pillaged.
And when a Byzantine naval expedition arrived to assist the relief of Syracuse, under attack in for the third time in as many years and its outskirts sacked, the Greeks were unable to translate moral and physical support into anything resembling an incisive counterattack. The reasons for his murder were not reported, but it is tempting to suggest a connection with tensions over the division of spoils between different sections within the army. He too was murdered in obscure circumstances, this time by his eunuch slaves in Between the murders of its governors, one of the relatively few successes of the Aghlabids in this period was to occur in an entirely new field of operations.
The expeditions against Malta and Syracuse Reported in a haphazard manner by Arabic sources, Malta, which had been raided in the mids, was devastated in August by an expedition launched from Sicily. Their terms of office are muddled in the sources, significantly so because it implies that political concerns at Palermo had distracted attentions away from all but the most pressing of engagements.
Against this background, Malta may have been quickly forgotten.
An Inclusive Approach
On the Italian mainland, the Muslims had lost ground after the failed siege of Salerno and fall of Bari, whose eventual restoration to Byzantine rule was an important factor in the subsequent reawakening of Greek power in Apulia. Significantly, the Arabic sources have little to say for the period in Sicily. As for Muslim Malta, its pre-Norman social history remains something of a conundrum.
The account is a controversial one since it suggests a scenario of complete, and for some, uncomfortable, disjuncture with the distant past. Above all, Syracuse remained beyond Muslim control. Its capture would not only guarantee enormous booty and keep up the conquest momentum, but it would also secure the Val di Noto and displace the sites of Christian opposition further into the hills of the north-east. In , the city, which juts out on a spit of land, was subjected to a prolonged blockade by land and sea, and was unable to be relieved by a Byzantine fleet.
Unlike predatory summer raids or regularly conducted attacks to exact tribute, the siege became a determined effort to break the resistance of the city. Sophisticated techniques of siege-craft were employed, including an innovative form of mangonel which had perhaps first been used at the siege of Salerno. Cracking Syracuse was a huge and long-anticipated victory for the Muslims, both materially and psychologically. The remainder were released — but only when ransoms were negotiated and paid seven years later, according to an anonymous, probably tenth-century Sicilian, source commonly known as the Cambridge Chronicle.
It was not. The latter in particular would come to be the focus of large-scale, but ultimately unsuccessful, engagements, and the town was attacked in the following year too. A naval campaign conducted against the Byzantines in the eastern Mediterranean resulted in a counterattack and in Greek forces landing in Sicily, where they were able to secure positions and make raids themselves in the mountainous north-east.
Further attacks on Taormina in —2 and —90 did not break the stronghold either. The taking of prisoners by both sides attests to the defensive strength of the Byzantines, who were then. In either case, a larger army required a wider distribution of spoils — if the campaigns were successful. Such tensions and mixed triumphs, underpinned violent events among sections of the army in the years of the s. The dividing lines came to be simplified in later sources as a conflict between ruling factions and rebels, which was frequently phrased in terms of an ethnic struggle between Arabs and Berbers.
In March , a revolt erupted at Palermo. This was such a serious insurrection that it could not be quelled until the following year. The Arabic sources for Sicily during these years are virtually silent as the expeditions against the Christian towns were halted and a truce agreed during —6.
The unusual details for the peace are striking: four times a year, over the course of forty months, the Christians released a total of 1, Muslim prisoners, by turns, a group of Arab captives and then a group of Berbers.
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Not only does this show the extent of Christian military. The reasons for this were never made explicit in the sources, although historians in the modern era have been tempted to consider it as an extension of the Arab—Berber tensions on the island: the Berbers being associated with settlement around Agrigento, whereas the Arab parties in the jund were Palermo-based. As we shall see, landholdings around the Agrigento area had long been a matter of dispute and were only to worsen in the tenth century where they can be seen more clearly as playing a role in sparking serious violence.
Strikingly, the Arabic sources did not cite ethnic tensions as the cause of the strife in the year , nor did they frame the fighting in such terms either. When the negotiations broke down, the Palermitans launched a failed attack. The ructions on the island did not escape the notice of the Byzantines, as noted by a contemporary mainland source, John the Deacon of Naples, and they took the opportunity to strengthen their positions in Calabria. A Byzantine counterattack by sea against Messina resulted only in their retreat and the reported impounding of at least thirty Greek warships.
The continual conflicts had produced no major success for almost twenty-five years. Ironically, his successes marked the high point of Aghlabid Sicily, but his character and leadership proved both a strength and a weakness for the dynasty as a whole. He was remembered in the ArabMuslim sources for his fearsome reputation in exacting justice and for vengefully suppressing all opposition. His last actions were to come in a south Italian context. The Arabic sources give only the sketchiest outline of the capture of Taormina on 1 August , although further details, including the martyrdom of its bishop, are found in a Greek source, the Life of Saint Elias.
In effect, for the first time after seventy-five years of almost constant campaigning, the Aghlabids could claim that all Sicily was under Muslim rule. It is unfortunate that the sources have provided so little for the reconstruction of other aspects of this period, such as the administration and social history.
Of this, the slim offerings which have appeared since the mids are hypothetical and remain contentious. Its academic value was greatly enhanced by a revised edition published in Catania during the s, which included extensive and erudite notes made by Carlo Alfonso Nallino. It is this edition of almost 2, pages which remains an essential foundation in its subject area to this day.
A rightfully appointed war commander was entitled to keep for himself one-fifth of this immovable booty, while the remainder was subject to division among the Muslim community by him into fifths. However, if the indigenous people had surrendered to Muslim rule and negotiated a treaty, then they were allowed to remain in possession of their land and retained the right to pass it on to their offspring.
Had the imposition of such a clearly schematic distinction been made in practice, then this should also have determined the ways in which lands came to be settled or continued to be settled. The presumed distribution of lands into allocations of variable size as part of the division of spoils to supporters would also be similarly affected by the ways in. But, from the very outset, the conquest of Sicily had been a contentious affair.
Rather than oblige them as the legal expertise of Asad had prompted him to do, the army generals had disagreed. When Asad died, their first action was said to have been to tighten their grip on the city. It is possible to see a murky transition in the historiography as later sources struggled to arrange the legal history into a convenient order. The gravest concerns of all were expressed by a contemporary source. For most of the Aghlabid period, whenever the jizya was attested, it appeared in the context of the capitulation of an entire non-Muslim community: in effect, on such occasions it seems to have served as a simple, collective tribute payment.
The strong and reasonable assumption is that, in return, they preserved their religious autonomy within the parameters of usual Islamic practice. First were those who paid the jizya as a capitation tax, but who could pass on or sell lands as they wished if they had rights over them. On the one hand, as non-Muslims, they paid a jizya as a head tax and, on the other, they paid a jizya on their lands which they were not free to sell.
The aim may have been to discourage the Christians from abandoning fertile? None the less, in all cases, one immediate benefit of conversion to Islam nominal or otherwise was that the jizya was remitted, and for those who paid the jizya on their lands, these could be disposed of as the convert pleased. Both assessment for, and collection of, the jizya was likely to have been an erratic and problematic affair, particularly if there was little or no regular, centralised infrastructure to co-ordinate the collection of revenues.
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Evidence of written records cannot be inferred until the Fatimid period in the tenth century, but the implementation under the Aghlabids of at least a crude mechanism by which proof of jizya payment could be demonstrated is shown by the discovery of a small group of wearable jizya seals datable to c. However, these letters date mainly from the eleventh century when authority at Palermo at least had developed to a much higher level of administrative complexity, if not subtlety and competence, prior to its fragmentation and collapse into civil strife.
Legal theories aside, there were practical problems of governance in Sicily: not least how best to manage a frontier colony with a fractious, diverse and changing population. As Byzantine resistance showed, many of the larger towns had been reluctant to surrender to the conquerors, and, wherever capitulation occurred, a new set of challenges faced the Aghlabids.
Of this, even before the conquest, we know little, but we can infer that nothing could otherwise have intervened in any place which had not yet made its surrender. Thus, long after the launch of the invasion, many Christians were still theoretically under Byzantine control, but lived with the prospect of gradually encroaching Muslim rule, their responses to. As ground was lost to the Aghlabids in the west, the Christians became more concentrated in the east, particularly in the mountainous strongholds of the north-east, the shortest distance from Byzantine south Italy with which there was always some communication, at least detectable through the remaining monastic houses.
Migratory movements can be detected within Calabria too as the Christian population later moved further north or into the hills in order to avoid falling victim to Muslim raids. Their role as intermediaries is shown by their high-profile diplomacy with the Muslims. The gradual but steady diaspora of Sicilian holy men carried their ideas and influence far beyond Sicily, but they left behind the remains of an ecclesiastical infrastructure which had fallen into severe crisis under Muslim rule.
Thus, Christianity survived even if the number of functioning monasteries and churches fell to critical levels outside the north-east. Indeed, in spite of the long-term, socio-cultural processes of assimilation towards the language and religion of the new rulers, it is clear from evidence found in later periods that many local Christian communities were less resistant to cultural change than to religious change.
By the mid-tenth century, the north-east of the island still retained communities in which Christian identities were conspicuously upheld. These complex dynamics find muted expression in the partial and gradual transformation of Sicilian toponymy from its Latin and Greek precedents into Arabic. The Val di Noto was more mixed, whereas the most dense clusters of toponyms of Arabic origin are to be found in the south-western third of the island — the Val di Mazara.
In the modern period, these Arabic names are still easily recognisable with the prefix Calta-, Calat a -, Cauta- and Carta-. In the apparent absence of bureaucratic offices to oversee grants of land to Aghlabid supporters, it is tempting to assume that these were names of army commanders to whom defensible locations and their surrounding areas had been initially awarded in the form of benefices.
However, not all these forts were necessarily linked to the Aghlabid jund. The names of settlements, particularly open estates, are found mainly in documents supplied by the Arab—Norman bureaucracy of the twelfth century, but the vast majority of these villages can be presumed to have been established much earlier. There are obvious methodological problems with this type of retrospective reconstruction using names and settlements, not least the almost insurmountable task of ascertaining when a particular place was settled, and whether or not the name had changed to reflect later landholders.
The lack of. Although power and wealth were inevitably more concentrated in some of the larger walled towns, there is no evidence in the Aghlabid period that urban sites developed into administrative centres or formed part of organised provincial structures. Such a movement in that direction can be detected for the first time only in the tenth century. The leading families derived wealth from the land and from taking booty in military forays, but they continued to live in the cities, especially Palermo, which was always the focus of political power, and in which they played conspicuous roles.
As we shall see, in some areas, for example around Agrigento, there was considerable competition over resources and over claims to various rights. It was not untypical among the Arabic names of villages and estates to find the inclusion of a personal name probably echoing that of the landholder or colonist. Many rural estates and. Indeed, non-Arabic names associated with estates and towns, founded or renamed in the Islamic period, are conspicuous by their absence.
Again, this late evidence comes from the s and must, therefore, be used with the utmost caution when applied to earlier periods. Some Sicilian toponyms evoke clan names, particularly those of Berber tribes and their branches. Assuming that the names of these places can be taken as dim indicators to illuminate something of settlement patterns, then native north African colonists can be inferred to have been more concentrated in unwalled estates on the agricultural lands of the west and south-west.
In the case of the latter, when individuals were later recorded by a third party in that period, tribal affiliations counted for little: such names are very rare in comparison with names that indicate a relationship with immediate family, a profession, a local place or a personal physical characteristic in the form of a nickname. For those required to identify themselves as witnesses or signatories, there was an aggrandising tendency to provide names that included a reference to a tribal confederation, usually some ancient Arab tribe or a Berber one.
That a phenomenon like this should occur as late as the twelfth century suggests that such distinctions still mattered in the minds of their authors, even if these identities had long since ceased to play any obvious role in the politics or culture of the islanders. First, there were those who had arrived as part of the original Aghlabid forces, and, as we have seen, within a decade of the fall of Palermo, some fought on their own account on the Italian mainland and founded the amirate of Bari.
Significantly, it was only briefly in the Aghlabid period that the Berbers in Sicily were conceived collectively and acting in concert, and even then, they feature momentarily in the slippery historical context of ructions within the army towards the end of the s. The strongly Arabised and Arabicised island which the Normans found in the mid-eleventh century suggests that the effects of acculturation had gradually and relentlessly worn down any Arab—Berber ethnic distinction as the steady trickle of incoming migrants were absorbed into the background culture of the island.
Thus, had Berber dialects ever been widely spoken in Sicily, they appear to have become muted quite quickly in the face of competition. Terms of Berber origin or usage are extremely rare in Sicily, although a small handful of Arabicised Berber words and usages exist. There is, however, no doubt that important socio-political networks operated at the level of extended families or kin groups. Indeed, by the end of the Islamic period, divisions over local political interests and issues of the day cut across all ethnic, sectarian and religious lines.
Otherwise, the status of Arabic as the prestigious, cultural and inter-communal spoken language of the island gave rise to bilingual Christian communities attested in later sources , affording them connectivity without conversion. Put crudely, the closer they were together physically, such as in western Sicily and some of the main towns, the more Arabicised and Islamicised they became over time. However, we are unusually well informed about a longer-distance relationship, as a remarkable and early example of diplomatic contacts and exchanges between Muslim and Christian powers shows.
From the Greek, it was rendered into Arabic. They included fifty swords, fifty shields, fifty spears, twenty garments woven with gold, twenty white eunuchs, twenty slave girls, ten large and fierce dogs, seven hawks, seven falcons, a silk tent, a multicoloured woollen garment, beads that drew out arrowheads and lance points and, finally, three Frankish birds which called out and beat their wings when presented with poisoned food. The eunuch envoy also bore a confidential message which was to ask for friendship and a marriage alliance. Clearly, nothing came of this for the ambi-.
The gifts would have allowed the caliph to participate in outdoor Tuscan life, but the conspicuous largesse was somewhat underwhelming by contemporary Abbasid standards. And a woollen jacket might have sent particularly confusing messages to a Muslim caliph. The only reason that the incident was recorded at all was the curious format and Latin palaeography of the letter itself, rather than the silk tent, eunuchs, hawks or spears that accompanied it.
I—14; BAS2 It. Brincat, Malta — Kramers ed. For an English translation of the Theodosios letter in an otherwise quirky history , see F. I— p. I—93 p. I—90; BAS2 It. Abdul Wahab and F. If the Latin toponyms Cutemi, Cutema and Gudemi are to be linked with them in Sicily, then they are unlikely to pre-date the tenth century. However, these are exceptional examples and not illustrative of wider settlement. These include: M. However, in Sicily, their privileged status and military roles marked them out as potential rivals to the old Aghlabid jund.
Ironically, it was the Norman kings of Sicily, with their hybrid notions of kingship, who led a revival of Fatimid art and administration in the twelfth century. Through them, God will empower the faith and the Muslims. Through them He will overcome polytheism and the polytheists! Rather, Ibn Qurhub had opted for greater autonomy by seeking to put himself under the theoretical control of a distant ruler. This failure further weakened Ibn Qurhub locally and his influence waned over a restless jund unable to raid the mainland. Built under the Aghlabids by , it was strategically located at the mouth of the Garigliano river to the south of Gaeta.
It was from here that raids had been launched against the monasteries of San Vincenzo al Volturno and Montecassino. The town of Fraxinetum modern La Garde-Freinet in southern Provence had been founded by the late s and survived until the early s. It was said by Liudprand of Cremona to have been settled by a small group of Andalusi Muslims. The catalyst for conclusive action, however, was not inter-state diplomacy, but the combined efforts of Church and nobility.
The capture of the abbot of Cluny, Majolus, while traversing the Great Saint Bernard pass in the Alps in , and his subsequent ransoming spurred into action a coalition force of French barons led by William I of Provence, which decisively defeated the Muslims at Tourtour the following year. The major campaigns of the s in Apulia, and particularly in Calabria, not only renewed the possibility for the jund to procure revenue from attacks, but also followed more coherent strategies of raiding than previously undertaken, aiming at specifically Byzantine territories in the south.
The campaigns of the s were a great success for the Muslims. In part, this explains an ambitious overseas operation in which a large Fatimid fleet plundered the north Italian port of Genoa and raided Corsica and Sardinia on its return leg during , showing the range and audacity of their naval power in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The ensuing siege of Agrigento was broken by the defenders, and the soldiers were pursued across the island where the insurrection rallied support among factions in Palermo, which now found itself under siege. The siege was eventually lifted but not before the revolt had spread across many of the key strongholds of western Sicily, including Mazara, Caltavuturo, Caltabellotta, Collesano and Platani. To complete the victory, all the rebel Agrigentan leaders, who were obliged to accompany him, drowned en route when their ship happened to sink.
The direct cause of the insurrection may have been sparked by a tax-related issue. Even so, the long-running disputes at Agrigento illustrate a number of points about the haphazard nature, cause and proliferation of disputes conflict on the island. In addition, it highlights the difficulty of reconstructing aspects of such a history in the absence of detailed and reliable sources. First, the town was said to have been abandoned after its initial conquest. Moreover, Agrigento had been taken in —9 by an army under the Byzantine Christian rebel Euphemios, when fighting with the Aghlabids.
After some unstated period of time had passed, the town attracted another group of settlers, whose cattle grazed on lands over which their owners allegedly had not been granted rights. These were joined by even more people using the land as pasturage. The original inhabitants were either killed or fled and the town was given over to the newer settlers.
No mention of Christians was made, so all involved are presumed to be Muslim. This is broadly consistent with later charter evidence relating to Agrigento, which suggests that Christian settlement in this area was light until the s. Having refused to supply the wood, which was normally plentiful on the island, Agrigento was repeatedly set upon by the army,.
Afterwards, the occupants of the town fled leaving it so seriously depopulated that the unnamed governor of the island ordered it to be resettled. At this point, the descendants of those who had been evicted, reappeared. Unable to substantiate their claim, the land was declared to be the property of the Muslim community as a whole by the irate governor.
His father had kept a tax register of the lands, until it was apparently burned during the revolt of —41 — a convenient and common device for retrospectively justifying a particular version of events. In this case, men from Agrigento, who had been caught deserting from campaigns waged on the mainland, were compulsorily required to relocate. When situated in their wider historical context, these anecdotal reports — by far the most complete evidence available — add to a skeletal account of parts of the evolving Muslim administration.
The name also carried a fiscal connotation, especially in the eastern provinces where it referred to lands held as the personal property of the ruler. This aside, it was not exceptional in the Islamic world to find fortified areas within a major political. To describe it as a city within a city is slightly misleading since it risks exaggerating its unverified but modest size and degree of self-sufficiency.
The division of labour in the Palermo administration remains obfuscated by lack of evidence, but it centrally oversaw an evolving, but evidently fragile, provincial structure managed in the regions by local tax officials who kept their own written records of different lands and the revenues due from them.
Either way, they were evidently unpopular figures who were occasionally expelled during uprisings, perhaps suggesting that they were not themselves local to the areas they oversaw. The little of the administration we can glimpse is derived largely from the problematic scenarios surrounding Agrigento: the extent to which such arrangements were reproduced elsewhere is unknown, although we shall revisit the question of provincial structures shortly.
There is thus evidence of greatly increased bureaucratic activity in the Fatimid period, and clearer support for the existence of a regular administration in the tenth century which is absent in the ninth century. These changes were compounded over time by the arrival and departure of yet more new settlers who had a range of motives and aims for their move, and who could come from diverse regional, economic.
However, this was to become an explosive issue bound up with taxation in the countryside in the following generation.