Throughout the ninth century, Arab ships dominated the Tyrrhenian Sea. Their pirates prowled the Italian coast launching hit and run attacks against the cities of Amalfi, Gaeta , Naples, and Salerno. During this period, as the cities took command of their own defences, the Duchies of Gaeta and Amalfi gained their independence from the Duchy of Naples . The Christian states of the Campania were not yet prepared, however, to ally against the new Saracen threat. Amalfi and Gaeta regularly teamed up with the Saracens and Naples was hardly better, all much to the chagrin of the Papacy. In fact, it was Naples that first brought Saracen troops to the south Italian mainland when Duke Andrew II hired them as mercenaries during his war with Sicard , Prince of Benevento , in 836. Sicard immediately responded with his own Saracen mercenaries and the usage soon became a tradition. In 880 or 881, Pope John VIII , who encouraged a vigorous policy against the Muslim pirates and raiders, rescinded his grant of Traetto to Docibilis I of Gaeta and gave it instead to Pandenulf of Capua.The Saracen camp at Minturno (in modern-day Lazio) by the Garigliano River became a perennial thorn in the side for the Papacy and many expeditions sought to get rid of them. In 915, Pope John X organised a vast alliance of southern powers, including Gaeta and Naples, the Lombard princes and the Byzantines; 'though, the Amalfitans stood aloof. The subsequent Battle of the Garigliano was successful, and the Saracens were ousted from any presence in Lazio or Campania permanently; 'though, raiding would be a continuous problem for another century. In 898 the Abbey of Farfa was sacked by "Saracens", who burned it to the ground. Abbot Peter of Farfa managed to organise the community's escape and salvaged its library and archives. In 905, the monastery was again attacked and destroyed by "Saracens". Other areas of historical Saracen presence in central and southern Italy include, Saracinesco, Ciciliano and Nocera Inferiore. The Battle of Garigliano was fought in 915 between Christian forces and the Saracens. Pope John X personally led the Christian forces into battle. The aim was to destroy the Arab fortress on the Garigliano river, which had threatened central Italy and the outskirts of Rome for nearly 30 years. After a series of ravaging attacks against the main sites of the Lazio in the second half of the 9th century, the Saracens established a colony next to the ancient city of Minturnae, near the Garigliano River. Here they even formed alliances with the nearby Christian princes (notably the hypati of Gaeta), taking advantage of the division between them. John X, however, managed to reunite these princes in an alliance, in order to oust the Saracens from their dangerous strongpoint. The Christian armies united the pope with several South Italian princes of Lombard or Greek extraction, including Guaimar II of Salerno, John I of Gaeta and his son Docibilis, Gregory IV of Naples and his son John, and Landulf I of Benevento and Capua. The King of Italy, Berengar I, sent a support force from Spoleto and the Marche, led by Alberic I, duke of Spoleto and Camerino. The Byzantine Empire participated by sending a strong contingent from Calabria and Apulia under the strategos of Bari, Nicholas Picingli. John X himself led the milities from the Lazio, Tuscany, and Rome. The first action took place in northern Lazio, where small bands of ravagers were surprised and destroyed. The Christians scored two more significant victories at Campo Baccano, on the Via Cassia, and in the area of Tivoli and Vicovaro . After these defeats, the Muslims occupying Narni and other strongholds moved back to the main Saracen stronghold on the Garigliano: this was a fortifited settlement (kairuan) whose site, however, has not yet been identified with certainty. The siege lasted for 3 months, from June to August. After being pushed out the fortified camp, the Saracens retired to the nearby hills. Here they resisted many attacks led by Alberic and Landulf. However, deprived of food and noticing their situation was becoming desperate, in August they attempted a sally to reach the coast and escape to Sicily. According to the chronicles, all were captured and executed. Berengar was rewarded with the papal support and eventually the imperial crown, while Alberic's prestige after the victorious battle granted him a preeminent role in the future history of Rome. John I of Gaeta could expand his duchy to the Garigliano, and received the title of patricius from Byzantium leading his family to proclaim themselves "dukes". Following the victory, the Byzantines, as the most important force during the battle, became the dominant power in southern Italy. Nicholas Epigingles (Νικόλαος Επιγίγγλης), better known by his Latinized surname Picingli, was a Byzantine general active in southern Italy and the Balkans. As strategos of the thema of Longobardia, he led the Byzantine contingent of the Christian league in the Battle of Garigliano in 915. He was killed fighting against the Bulgarians, probably in the Battle of Acheloos on 20 August 917. Nicholas was appointed as strategos of Longobardia sometime after the summer of 911 (his predecessor Ioannikios is last mentioned in May), most likely however after June 913. He is known to have corresponded with Niketas Paphlagon , probably in the 10th century, as well as with the Patriarch of Constantinople Nicholas I Mystikos, particularly during the latter's regency in 913–914. In his letters, Nicholas reports the dismal condition of the fortresses in southern Italy, which he attributes to his predecessor's negligence, while the Patriarch encourages him to persevere and confront the Arabs who were raiding the province from their base at the Garigliano River near Gaeta. Nicholas consequently participated in a league of the Christian princes of southern Italy, including Pope John X and the Lombard princes Alberic I of Spoleto, Landulf I of Benevento, and Guaimar II of Salerno. The rulers of Gaeta and Naples, hypatus John I and dux Gregory IV respectively, both technically Byzantine vassals, were given the title of patrikios during the negotiations. In August 915 (or 916) the Christian allies moved against the Arab stronghold at Garigliano. With the Byzantine fleet blockading the Arabs from the sea, the Christians besieged the stronghold for three months, until the starving Arabs tried to break through and escape. The battle was a decisive victory for the Christian league that restored a measure of security to southern Italy. After his victory Nicholas received a letter from the Patriarch, where the latter congratulated him and expressed his joy, adding that although he would like to reward him, in his present circumstances he could only pray for him. From commentaries on a series of manuscripts of the works of Plutarch, it is known that Nicholas died in battle against the Bulgarians ; the commentaries compare his death to that of Lucius Aemilius Paullus at the Battle of Cannae. M. Manfredini, the editor of these manuscripts, identified the battle with the disastrous Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Acheloos on 20 August 917. John I (died 933 or 934) was the second hypatus of Gaeta of his dynasty, a son of Dociblis I and Matrona, and perhaps the greatest of medieval Gaetan rulers. He began his rule as an associate of his father from either 867, right after his father's violent takeover, or 877, when he is first mentioned as co-regent. In that year he received the honorific patrikios from Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII. His father disappears from the annals in 906, but he is only confirmed dead in 914. Nonetheless, the intervening period was John's. He recognised his brother Anatolio as duke of Terracina and sold the castle of Dragoncello to his other brothers. He began to reverse the policy of his father of alliance with the Saracens and war with his Lombard and Greek neighbours. He married his daughters off strategically: Gemma to the Sorrentine prefect Marinus, Maru to the Salernitan nobleman Guaifer, and Matrona to Campolo, of an important Gaetan family. Probably from the earliest, in 906, John associated his own son Docibilis in a co-regency, certainly by 914. Together, father and son joined the Byzantine strategos Nicholas Picingli 's army marching with its Lombard allies to meet the papal and Spoletan forces. All together, the Christian league attacked the Moslems of the Garigliano and, in the subsequent battle, the Gaetan hypati distinguished themselves in victory. The Gaetan territory was extended to the Garigliano River. John continued construction on the palace his father had begun and he associated his grandson, John II, with him in 933. He died within the year and left three other sons (Leo, Constantine, and Peter), but Docibilis, who had taken the ducal title in 930, inherited alone and did not divide the realm. Thus, John is the last ruler of Gaeta who was not a duke. Gregory IV (died 915) was the firstborn son of Duke Sergius II of Naples and successor of his paternal uncle, Bishop Athanasius, in 898, when he was elected dux, or magister militum, unanimously by the aristocracy. His other paternal uncle, Stephen, succeeded Athanasius as bishop. According to the Chronicon ducum et principum Beneventi, Salerni, et Capuae et ducum Neapolis , he reigned for sixteen years and eight months. The Mezzogiorno in his time was under constant Saracen assaults. Around 900, Gregoy destroyed the castrum Lucullanum, a Neapolitan fortress just outside the city, to prevent the Moslems from taking it as a base. Otherwise, he reinforced the city walls and stored supplies to ensure survival in the event of a long siege. According to the much later chronicler Leo of Ostia , he signed a pact with the prince of Benevento and Capua, Atenulf, and the Amalfitans and attacked and defeated the Saracens. On 2 July 911, he signed another pactum with Atenulf's sons, the coprinces Atenulf II and Landulf I, whereby they shared the disputed territory of Liburia. In that same year, he participated in allied attacks on the Saracen fortress on the Garigliano. In 915, he joined the massive army of south Italian princes and the Byzantine strategos Nicholas Picingli and received the imperial title of patricius. The army met with the forces of the central peninsula under Alberic I of Spoleto and Pope John X. Together they led another assault on the encampment of the Garigliano. In the ensuing battle , it was on the misplaced (or mendacious) advice of Gregory that they charged the Saracen line. Nevertheless, it was a success and the enemy fled into the forest to be hunted down and slaughtered. Gregory did not long live to enjoy the fruits of victory, he died within months, late in the year 915, and was succeeded by his firstborn son, John II, who had been present at the battle. In 907 Gregory made a donation to the urban church of Saints Severinus and Sossus in Naples, which his forefathers had possibly founded.