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Invasion of Sicily by the Moors: the Western half of the island conquered— Civil wars in Southern Italy—The Moors invade Italy—Pope Leo's victory at Ostia—Quarrels of the Eastern and Western Churches—The False Decretals—Campaigns of the Emperor Lewis II. against the Moors—Anarchy in Italy after his death—The Byzantines reconquer Southern Italy—The Moors in Campania—Civil wars of Wido and Berengar—King Arnulf's invasion of Italy—Long period of anarchy after his departure.
ON the fortunes of the kingdom of Italy, that is, of the old Lombard realm, which had now become a province of the empire of Charles the Great, we have already had occasion to touch on more than one occasion. But while northern Italy with its king established at Pavia, and central Italy with its pontiff and its turbulent Roman mob, have from time to time claimed our attention, we have had little necessity to mention the southern third of the peninsula, or the great island which faces it across the straits of Messina. In the ninth century the bulk of southern Italy, all those valleys of the Apennines, which had in ancient days bred the warlike Samnite race, was still in the hands of the dukes of Benevento. We have mentioned that they had more than once been forced to pay homage to Charles the Great, but state of south. since his day the empire had left the duchy alone. ern Italy. Two dukes, Sico and Sicard, had held Benevento during the reign of Lewis the Pious, and had to do with his son Lothair, the sub-king of Lombardy. Luckily for them the heir of * empire was more set on maintaining a hold north of the Alps than on completing the Frankish supremacy in Italy. But it was not the whole of south Italy that the Beneventan dukes ruled. The East Roman emperors had never lost hold of the ‘toe and heel” of the peninsula (if we may use the familiar phrase that describes so well the shape of Italy). In Brindisi dwelt a strategos, whose authority extended over the southern part of the ancient Apulia. In Reggio another governor ruled the ancient land of Bruttium, now known by the name of Calabria. Beyond the straits of Messina a third military ruler had the hard task of preserving from the Saracen the half-lost ‘theme' of Sicily, where since 828 an unending struggle with the Moslem invader had been raging. Beside the Beneventan duchy and the Byzantine themes, there were yet more states in south Italy. Naples preserved a precarious independence under a series of hereditary consuls: it still paid a shadowy allegiance to the Eastern Empire, as did also the neighbouring Amalfi and Gaëta, which, like Naples, had never fallen into the hands of the Lombards. But these cities were rather allies than subjects of the Byzantines, and paid no obedience to the governors of the neighbouring themes. The one important element in the politics of southern Italy during the ninth century must be sought in the approaching peril of conquest by the Saracen. At first it was only the Byzantine possessions that were endangered, but very soon the whole of the Christian states were involved in the same trouble. The storm-cloud from the south, which had threatened Constantinople in 720 and Gaul in 735, had now shifted its position. The new attack was in the centre, not on the eastern or the western flank of the line of defence of Christendom. For twenty years Italy was to be in deadly peril, and there appeared every prospect that Naples and Benevento, if not Rome also, would share the fate that had fallen on Carthage and Toledo a hundred and fifty years before. The trouble began with the landing of a Mussulman army in Sicily during the year 827. They had been called in by a a traitor named Euphemius, a turmarch in the Sicilian theme, who rebelled against the emperor Michael the Amorian. Euphemius Euphemius had carried off a nun from a convent, rebels in and the emperor had ordered the strategos of *** Sicily to punish him by cutting off his nose. But the soldier, instead of submitting, slew the governor, induced his troops to rebel, and seized Syracuse. His rising was put down by a fleet sent from Constantinople, but Euphemius himself escaped by sea, and took refuge with Ziadet-Allah, one of the Aglabite monarchs who ruled in northern Africa since that land had shaken off its allegiance to the Caliph at Bagdad. The Moor consented to lend Euphemius his aid, not in order to replace him on the Sicilian throne, but in the hope of winning Sicily for Islam, and adding it to his own dominions. He proclaimed the holy war, and named as general Ased-ibnForat, an aged doctor of law, who was worshipped as a saint by all Africa. The preaching of Ased gathered a multitude of fanatical adventurers—Arabs, Berbers, and Moors—to join the regular troops whom his master placed under his orders. Taking Euphemius with them, in the hope that the Sicilians Euphemius would rise in his behalf, the Saracens landed at calis in the Mazara, on the south coast of the island early in Moors. June 827. The natives execrated the traitor, and refused to join him, but when the strategos Photinus led the army of Sicily against the invaders he was completely defeated. The fanatical fury of the Mussulmans swept all before it; we are told that the aged Ased himself charged in the front rank in spite of his seventy years, and slew so many Christians that the clotted blood glued his lance to his hand. The army of Sicily was almost exterminated, and its commander fled to Calabria, and died there. The Mussulmans then seized Girgenti and marched to besiege Syracuse. But before its walls, while they camped in the marshes of the Anapo, they were smitten by the same deadly marsh-fever which has struck down so many other besiegers of that ancient city. Ased died of the pestilence, and his army fled from their plague-stricken camp, and fell back on Castrogiovanni (Enna), to which they laid siege. Here the traitor Euphemius fell—as he well deserved—himself the victim of treachery. He was tampering with the officers of the garrison, to induce them to surrender the place, when two brothers, who pretended to listen to his offer, enticed him to rhome... ... meet them under the walls, and promptly cut off pelled from his head when he came to the secret interview. **** The siege of Enna was soon afterwards raised by a force sent from Constantinople, and the Mussulmans fell back on the fort of Mineo, where they were beleaguered by the Byzantines. But just as victory seemed about to crown the East Roman banners, the whole aspect of the war was suddenly changed by the arrival of two new Saracen hosts. A force despatched by Ziadet-Allah to aid his first army fell upon Palermo and took it. A second force, composed of Moors of Spain, a band of exiles driven out of their own land by civil war, landed on the south coast, relieved their besieged co-religionists at Mineo, and defeated the strategos of Sicily in the open field. For some time the emperor Theophilus, who had just succeeded his father Michael on the Byzantine throne, continued to send succour to Sicily. But in 832 he became involved in a desperate war with the caliph Motassem, which distracted all his attention to the East. This war in Asia proved the ruin of Sicily. The African Moors kept pouring in fresh fanatical hordes, and gradually subdued all the cities of the western half of the island. For a moment it seemed likely that Sicily would be permanently divided between re. Meer, Greek and African, just as it had been twelve conquer East hundred years before, in the days of Dionysius * and Hiero II. But at last the stubborn defence of the Byzantines was broken down by two fatal blows, the fall of Messina in 842, and that of Enna, the strongest post in the centre of the island, seventeen years later, in 859. This drove the East Period i. 2 F
Romans back to the eastern coast, where they retained no more than the sea-girt city of Syracuse and the strong towns about the roots of Mount Etna—Taormina, Catania, and Rametta. The Moslems, masters of the bulk of the island, were now at leisure to turn their arms farther afield, and to cross the Straits of Messina to invade the mainland. In south Italy all the elements of disaster were ready and prepared. Sicard duke of Benevento, a ruffian and an oppressor, had been assassinated by his outraged subjects in 839. The Beneventans then proclaimed a certain count Radelchis as their prince. But the important towns of Capua and Salerno adhered to Siconulf, the brother of the deceased tyrant. A civil war broke out between these two pretenders, which was destined to last, with many variations of fortune, for no less than twelve years. In the second year of the struggle (840) Radelchis, hard pressed by his rival, had the unhappy inspiration of asking aid from the Moslems of Sicily. The chance was too good to be lost, and a Moorish army was landed at Bari, where it was received by the partisans of Radelchis, and allowed to take possession of the town. Then Siconulf, as mad as his enemy, answered evil with evil by sending to Crete to call in to his aid the Saracen pirates of Candia. The Dukes of They came, and the same sight was seen which Bjail occurred six hundred years later, when the rival in the Moors, emperors of Constantinople called in the Turks. 84o. The auxiliaries of each prince sacked the towns held by his rival, and generally ended by garrisoning them, and holding them on their own account. Apulia and Lucania were overrun by the Moors and Cretans, while, at the same moment, the Sicilian Saracens crossed the straits—Messina had just fallen—and swept all over the Byzantine possessions in Calabria. Between 843 and 851 the whole of Italy, from Reggio to the gates of Rome, was overrun by the Moslem marauders, and it seemed as if Christendom was to lose the southern part of the peninsula. Half its towns, Bari, Taranto, Reggio, Brindisi, even the castle of Misenum at the very gates