Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Δευτέρα, 14 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The byzantine greek history in the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica

As the Roman Empire was falling apart, a Germanic tribe known as the Vandals took Sicily in 440 AD under the rule of their king Geiseric. The Vandals had already invaded parts of Roman France and Spain, inserting themselves as an important power in western Europe. However, they soon lost these newly acquired possessions to another East Germanic tribe in the form of the Goths. The Ostrogothic conquest of Sicily (and Italy as a whole) under Theodoric the Great began in 488; although the Goths were Germanic, Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government and allowed freedom of religion. The Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Sicily was the first part of Italy to be taken under general Belisarius who was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian I. Sicily was used as a base for the Byzantines to conquer the rest of Italy, with Naples, Rome, Milan and the Ostrogoth capital Ravenna falling within five years. However, a new Ostrogoth king, Totila, drove down the Italian peninsula, plundering and conquering Sicily in 550. Totila, in turn, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Taginae by the Byzantine general Narses in 552. When Ravenna fell to the Lombards in the middle of the 6th century, Syracuse became Byzantium's main western outpost. Latin was gradually supplanted by Greek as the national language and the Greek rites of the Eastern Church were adopted.
The Byzantine Emperor Constans II decided to move from the capital Constantinople to Syracuse in Sicily in 663, the following year he launched an assault from Sicily against the Lombard Duchy of Benevento, which then occupied most of Southern Italy. The rumours that the capital of the empire was to be moved to Syracuse, along with small raids probably cost Constans his life as he was assassinated in 668. His son Constantine IV succeeded him, a brief usurpation in Sicily by Mezezius being quickly suppressed by the new emperor. From the late 7th century, Sicily joined with Calabria to form the Byzantine Theme of Sicily. The Theme of Sicily (θέμα Σικελίας - Thema Sikelias) was a Byzantine military-civilian province (thema, theme) existing from the late 7th to the 10th century, encompassing the island of Sicily and the region of Calabria in the Italian mainland.
Following the Muslim conquest of Sicily, from 902 the theme was limited to Calabria, but retained its original name until the middle of the 10th century. Ever since its reconquest from the Ostrogoths by Belisarius in 535–536, Sicily had formed a distinct province under a praetor, while the army was placed under a dux.  A strategos (military governor) is attested on the island in Arab sources between 687 and 695, and it is at that time that the island was probably made into a theme. The theme was based in Syracuse, traditionally the chief city of Sicily. It comprised not only the island, which was divided into districts called tourmai, but also the mainland duchy of Calabria (δουκατον Καλαυρίας, doukaton Kalavrias), which extended roughly up to the river Crati. In addition, the strategos of Sicily exercised some authority varying according to the prevailing local political faction over the autonomous duchies of Naples, Gaeta and Amalfi. The Muslim conquest of the island began in 826. Following the fall of Syracuse in 878 and the conquest of Taormina in 902, the strategos moved to Rhegion, the capital of Calabria. During the first half of the 10th century, the Byzantines launched a number of failed expeditions to regain the island and maintained a few isolated strongholds near Messina until 965, when Rometta, the last Byzantine outpost, fell. The post of "strategos of Sicily" was thus retained as the official title until the mid-10th century, when the "strategos of Calabria" begins to appear in the lists.
In 826, Euphemius, the commander of the Byzantine fleet of Sicily, forced a nun to marry him. Emperor Michael II caught wind of the matter and ordered that general Constantine end the marriage and cut off Euphemius' nose. Euphemius rose up, killed Constantine and then occupied Syracuse; he in turn was defeated and driven out to North Africa. There, Euphemius requested the help of Ziyadat Allah, the Aghlabid Emir of Tunisia, in regaining the island; an Islamic army of Arabs, Berbers, Moors, Cretan Saracens and Persians was sent. The conquest was a see-saw affair; the local population resisted fiercely and the Arabs suffered considerable dissension and infighting among themselves. It took over a century to complete the conquest (although practically complete by 902, the last Byzantine strongholds held out until 965).
Throughout this reign, continued revolts by Byzantine Sicilians happened, especially in the east, and part of the lands were even re-occupied before being quashed. Agricultural items, such as oranges, lemons, pistachio and sugar cane, were brought to Sicily, the native Christians were allowed nominal freedom of religion with jaziya (tax on non-Muslims, imposed by Muslim rulers) to their rulers for the right to practise their own religion privately. However, the Emirate of Sicily began to fragment as inner-dynasty related quarrels took place between the Muslim regime. In 860, according to an account by the Norman monk Dudo of Saint-Quentin, a Viking fleet, probably under Björn Ironside and Hastein, landed in Sicily, conquering it . Many Norsemen fought as mercenaries in Southern Italy, including the Varangian Guard led by Harald Hardrada, who later became king of Norway, who conquered Sicily between 1038 and 1040, with the help of Norman mercenaries, under William de Hauteville, who won his nickname Iron Arm by defeating the emir of Syracuse in single combat, and a Lombard contingent, led by Arduin. The Varangians were first used as mercenaries in Italy against the Arabs in 936. Runestones were raised in Sweden in memory of warriors who died in Langbarðaland (Land of the Lombards), the Old Norse name for southern Italy. Later several Anglo-Danish and Norwegian nobles participated in the Norman conquest of southern Italy, like Edgar the Ætheling, who left England in 1086, and Jarl Erling Skakke, who won his nickname ("Skakke", meaning bent head) after a battle against Arabs in Sicily. On the other hand, many Anglo-Danish rebels fleeing William the Conqueror, joined the Byzantines in their struggle against the Robert Guiscard, duke of Apulia, in Southern Italy. Palermo continued on as the capital under the Hauteville. Roger's son, Roger II of Sicily, was ultimately able to raise the status of the island, along with his holds of Malta and Southern Italy to a kingdom in 1130. During this period, the Kingdom of Sicily was prosperous and politically powerful, becoming one of the wealthiest states in all of Europe; even wealthier than England. The Siculo-Norman kings relied mostly on the local Sicilian population for the more important government and administrative positions. For the most part, initially Greek remained as the language of administration while Norman was the language of the royal court. Significantly, immigrants from France, North Europe, Northern Italy and Campania arrived during this period and linguistically the island would eventually become Latinised, in terms of church it would become completely Roman Catholic, previously under the Byzantines it had been more Eastern Christian. The most significant changes that the Normans were to bring to Sicily were in the areas of religion, language and population. Almost from the moment that Roger I controlled much of the island, immigration was encouraged from both France, North Europe, England, Northern Italy and Campania. For the most part, these consisted of Normans and Lombards who were Latin-speaking and more inclined to support the Western church. With time, Sicily would become overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and a new vulgar Latin idiom would emerge that was distinct to the island. Roger II's grandson, William II (also known as William the Good) reigned from 1166 to 1189. His greatest legacy was the building of the Cathedral of Monreale, perhaps the best surviving example of Siculo-Norman architecture. In 1177, he married Joan of England (also known as Joanna). She was the daughter of Henry II of England and the sister of Richard the Lion Heart. When William died in 1189 without an heir, this effectively signalled the end of the Hauteville succession. Some years earlier, Roger II's daughter, Constance of Sicily (William II's aunt) had been married off to Henry VI of Hohenstaufen, meaning that the crown now legitimately transferred to him. Such an eventuality was unacceptable to the local barons, and they voted in Tancred of Sicily, an illegitimate grandson of Roger II.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Sardinia was subject to several conquests. In 456, the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe, coming from North Africa, occupied the coastal cities of the island; they imposed garrisons guarded by African auxiliaries, like the Mauri. The Vandals followed Arianism and deported a number of african Bishops in the island such as Fulgentius of Ruspe. In 533, Sardinia rebelled under the vandal governor Godas, a Goth, who proclaimed himself rex of Sardinia asking aid to the Byzantines. In the summer of 533 Vandal forces (5000 men and 120 ships), led by Tzazo, arrived in Sardinia to stifle the Godas' rebellion and conquered Caralis, killing Godas and his followers . In the early 534 the Vandals of Sardinia surrendered immediately to the Byzantines when faced with news of the Vandal collapse in Africa; thenceforth the island was part of the Byzantine Empire, included as a province in the Praetorian prefecture of Africa. The local governor sat in Caralis. During the Gothic Wars much of the island fell easily to the Ostrogoths, but the final fall of the Germanic resistance in mainland Italy reassured Byzantine control. Sardinia was subsequently included in the Exarchate of Africa until its end by the Arabs in 698 AD when the island was likely aggregated to the Exarchate of Ravenna. In 599 and during the 7th century the Longobard fleet tried to assault Caralis and Turris Libissonis (Porto Torres) but in vain. One of the few ethnic Sardinians known from this period was Ospitone, a leader of the Barbaricinos (people of Barbagia). According to the Pope Gregory I's letters, in the island co-existed a Romanized and Christianized area (that of the provinciales) with, in the interior, pagan or semi-pagan cultures (Gens Barbaricina). The ruler of one of the latter, Ospitone, converted to Christianity in 594 after a diplomatic exchange. Christianization however remained for long influenced by eastern and Byzantine culture. Other known religious figures of probable sardinian origin of that period (5th-6th century) are Pope Hilarius and Pope Symmachus. Starting from 705–706, the Saracens from North Africa (recently conquered by the Arab armies) harassed the population of the coastal cities. Details about the political situation of Sardinia in the following centuries are scarce. Due to Saracen attacks, in the 9th century Tharros was abandoned in favor of Oristano, after more than 1.800 years of human occupation while Caralis was abandoned in favor of Santa Igia; numerous other coastal centres suffered the same fate (Nora, Sulci, Bithia, Cornus, Bosa, Olbia etc). There was news of another massive Saracen sea attack in 1015−16 from Balearics, led by Mujāhid al-ʿĀmirī (Latinized as Museto), the Saracens' attempt of invasion of the island was stopped by Sardinian Giudicati with the support of the Fleets of the Maritime Republics of Pisa and Genoa, called by Pope Benedict VIII. From the mid-11th century the Giudicati ("held by judges") appeared. The title of Judex (judge, judike in Sardinian) was an heir of that of the Byzantine governor after the creation of the Exarchate of Africa in 582 (Prases or Judex Provinciae). In the 8th and 9th centuries the four partes depending from Caralis grew increasingly independent, after that Byzantium was totally cut off from the Tyrrhenian Sea by the Muslim conquest of Sicily in 827. A letter from Pope Nicholas I in 864 mentions for the first time the Sardinian judges, and their autonomy is clear in a later letter by Pope John VIII, which defined them as "Princes". A letter by Mieszko I to Pope John XV proves that the Giudicati were known even in Poland, and that they played a prestigious role in Medieval Europe. During the judical era Sardinia had some 300.000 inhabitants, of which slightly more than 1/3 were free. These were subjected to the authority of local curators (administrators), in turn subjected to the judge (who also administrated justice and was the commander of the army). The church was also powerful, and at this time it had completely abandoned the Eastern Rite. The late 11th-century arrival of Benedictine, Camaldolese and other monks from the Italian Mezzogiorno, Lombardy and Provence, especially the monasteries of Montecassino, Saint-Victor de Marseille and Vallombrosa, boosted the agriculture in a land which was extremely underdeveloped. The condaghes (catalogues, cartularies) of the monasteries, which record property transactions, are an important source for the study of the island and its language in the 11th and 12th centuries. Evidence from the condaghes of San Pietro di Silki, in Sassari, and Santa Maria di Bonarcado concerning the children of slaves has been adduced to show that differences in agricultural lifestyles between regions may affect the survival rate of females, hypothetically through increased infanticide of baby girls. The abbacy of Santa Maria di Bonarcado contained more central, upland regions where a pastoral economy dominated and women were less economically useful; among children in that region, sex ratios are highly skewed in favour of men. On the other hand, in the region of San Pietro di Silki, less pastoral, child sex ratios are not skewed abnormally. There were four (historically known) Giudicati: Logudoro (or Torres), Cagliari (or Pluminos), Arborea and Gallura. Cagliari and Arborea and Logudoro (and perhaps Gallura) were united for a time in the 11th century.
The initiatives of the Gregorian reformers led to greater contact between Sardinia and the Italian peninsula, through the desires of the judges to establish monasteries with monks from continental monasteries at Montecassino and Marseille. By the 12th century, the Sardinian Giudicati, though obscure, are visible through the mists of time. They professed allegiance to the Holy See, which put them under the authority of the Archdiocese of Pisa, superseding the ancient primacy of the Archdiocese of Cagliarion the island. Often quarreling between one another, the Giudicati made a great number of commercial concessions to the Pisans and the Genoese. The Repubbliche Marinaresoon became the true masters of the Sardinian economy. In the late 12th and early 13th centuries, all four Giudicati passed to foreign dynasties and the local families were relegated to minor positions. Arborea passed to the Catalan House of Cervera (Cervera-Bas) in 1185, though this was contested for the next few decades. In 1188, Cagliari was conquered by the House of Massa from the Republic of Pisa. Gallura became by marriage it had been inherited by a woman, Elena a possession of the House of Visconti, another Pisan family, in 1207. Only Logudoro survived to the end under local Sardinian rulers. However, its end was early. It passed to Genoa and to the Doria and Malaspina families in 1259 after the death of its last judge, Adelasia. Only a year before the others Giudicati and the Pisans besieged Santa Igia and deposed the last ruler of Cagliari William III. Gallura survived longer, but the enemies of the Visconti in Pisa soon removed the last judge, Nino, a friend of Dante Alighieri, in 1288. About the same time, Sassari declared itself a free commune allied to Genoa. In the early 14th century, much of Eastern and Southern Sardinia, including Castel di Castro (Cagliari), was under the authority of Pisa and of the della Gherardesca family, who founded the important mining town of Villa di Chiesa (now Iglesias). Arborea, however, survived as the only indigenous kingdom until 1420. One of the most remarkable Sardinian figure of the Middle Ages, Eleanor of Arborea, was co-ruler of that region in the late 14th century; she laid the foundations for the laws that remained valid until 1827, the Carta de Logu.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Corsica became an easy target for predation by migrant peoples and corsairs, notably Vandals, who plundered and ravaged at will until the coastal settlements fell into decline and the population occupied the slopes of the mountains. Rampant malaria in the coastal marshes reinforced this decision. Due largely to competition for the island from Ostrogoths Foederati who had settled on the Riviera, the Vandals never penetrated much beyond the coast and their stay in Corsica was relatively short-lived, just long enough to prejudice the Corsicans against foreign adventurers on Corsican soil. In 534, the armies of Justinian recovered the island for the empire, but the Byzantines were not able to effectively defend the island from continuing raids by the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, and the Saracens. The Lombards, who had made themselves masters of the war- and famine-shattered Italian Peninsula conquered the island in c. 725. The Lombard supremacy on the island was short lived. In 774, the Frankish king Charlemagne conquered Corsica as he moved to restore the Western Empire. For the next century and a half, the thus established Holy Roman Empire continually warred with the Saracens for control of the island. Circa 930, Berengar II, the rising Lombard king of Italy invaded and subdued the imperial forces. Otto I destroyed the Lombard kingdom, restoring Corsica to nominal imperial control in 965. Its external threats mostly vanquished, a period of feudal anarchy followed as local Corsican-based nobles warred on each other and struggled for control, culminating in the transfer of the island – at the request of its population – to the papacy in 1077. The Pope yielded civic administration to Pisa in 1090, but contention between the Pisans and their rival Genoese soon engulfed Corsica. Repeated truces proved fleeting as the two naval and trading powers clashed for supremacy in the Western Mediterranean. The various Italian republics that arose began to assume responsibility for the security and prosperity of Corsica, starting with Tuscany, the closest. Corsica was finally removed from the fighting by annexation to the Papal States in 1217. Corsica was engaged in a long confrontation with the Moors, 850 to 1034.

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