Period as an Emirate
In succession Sicily was ruled by the Sunni Aghlabid dynasty in Tunisia and the Shiite Fatimids in Egypt. The Byzantines took advantage of temporary discord to occupy the eastern end of the island for several years.
After suppressing a revolt the Fatimid caliph Ismail al-Mansur appointed Hassan al-Kalbi (948-964) as Emir of Sicily. He successfully managed to control the continuously revolting Byzantines and founded the Kalbid dynasty. Raids into Southern Italy continued under the Kalbids into the 11th century, and in 982 a German army under Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor was defeated near Crotone in Calabria.
With Emir Yusuf al-Kalbi (990-998) a period of steady decline began.
Under al-Akhal (1017-1037) the dynastic conflict intensified, with factions within the ruling family allying themselves variously with the Byzantine Empire and the Zirids
By the time of Emir Hasan as-Samsam (1040-1053) the island had fragmented into several small fiefdoms.
The Arabs initiated land reforms which in turn, increased productivity and encouraged the growth of smallholdings, a dent to the dominance of the landed estates. The Arabs further improved irrigation systems.
A description of Palermo was given by Ibn Hawqal, a Baghdad merchant who visited Sicily in 950. A walled suburb called the Kasr (the palace) is the center of Palermo until today, with the great Friday mosque on the site of the later Roman cathedral. The suburb of Al-Khalisa (Kalsa) contained the Sultan's palace, baths, a mosque, government offices and a private prison. Ibn Hawqual reckoned 7,000 individual butchers trading in 150 shops.
Throughout this reign, continued revolts by Byzantine Sicilians occurred, especially in the east, and part of the lands were even re-occupied before being quashed. Agricultural items such as oranges, lemons, pistachio and sugarcane were brought to Sicily, the native Christians were allowed freedom of religion but had to pay an extra tax to their rulers. However, the Emirate of Sicily began to fragment as intra-dynastic quarrels took place between the Muslim regime.
By the 11th century mainland southern Italian powers were hiring ferocious Norman mercenaries, who were Christian descendants of the Vikings; it was the Normans under Roger I who captured Sicily from the Muslims. The Norman Robert Guiscard, son of Tancred, invaded Sicily in 1060. The island was split between three Arab emirs, and the sizable Christian population rose up against the ruling Muslims.After taking Apulia and Calabria, Roger I occupied Messina with an army of 700 knights. In 1068, Roger de Hauteville and his men defeated the Muslims at Misilmeri but the most crucial battle was the siege of Palermo, which led to Sicily being completely in Norman control by 1091. After the conquest of Sicily, the Normans removed the local emir, Yusuf Ibn Abdallah from power, but did so by respecting Arab customs.
The loss of the cities, each with a splendid harbor, dealt a severe blow to Muslim power on the island. The city of Qas'r Ianni (modern Enna) was still ruled by its emir, Ibn Al-Hawas, who held out for years. His successor, Ibn Hamud, surrendered, and converted to Christianity, only in 1087. Afer his conversion, Ibn Hamud subsequently became part of the Christian nobility and retired with his family to an estate in 3Calabria provided by Roger I. In 1091, Butera and Noto in the southern tip of Sicily and the island of Malta, the last Arab stongholds, fell to the Christians with ease. By the 11th century Muslim power in the Mediterranean had begun to wane.
The Norman Kingdom of Sicily under Roger II was characterised by its multi-ethnic nature and religious tolerance. Normans, Jews, Muslim Arabs, Byzantine Greeks, Longobards and "native" Sicilians lived in harmony.
Arabic remained a language of government and administration for at least a century into Norman rule, and traces remain in the language of the island today.
] Rather than exterminate the Muslims of Sicily, the Roger II's grandson Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1215—1250) allowed them to settle on the mainland and build mosques. Not least, he enlisted them in his Christian army and even into his personal bodyguards.
A large scale Muslim rebellion broke out in 1190, triggering organized resistance and systematic reprisals and marked the final chapter of Islam in Sicily.
The Muslim problem characterized Hohenstaufen rule in Sicily under Henry VI (1194-97) and his son Frederick II (1197-1250).
In the 1220s, in order to stamp out the Muslim rebellion, Frederick adopted a programmatic system to remove Islam from Sicily entirely.
This was achieved with the expulsion and forced deportation to the Apulian town of Lucera where they were isolated.
The Normans gradually "Latinized" Sicily over the course of two centuries, and this social process laid the groundwork for the introduction of Catholicism (as opposed to Eastern Orthodoxy). The process of Latinization was fostered largely by the Roman Church and its liturgy.
The annihilation of Islam in Sicily was completed by the late 1240s, when the final deportations to Lucera took place.
On the death of William II, Duke of Apulia, in 1127, the Duchy of Apulia and the County of Sicily were united under the rule of Roger II of Sicily, one of the greatest rulers of the Middle Ages.
Roger threw his support behind the Antipope Anacletus II, who duly enthroned him King of Sicily on Christmas Day 1130.
Roger spent most of the decade beginning with his coronation and ending with his great Assizes of Ariano fending off one invader or other and quelling rebellions by his premier vassals: Grimoald of Bari, Robert of Capua, Ranulf of Alife, Sergius of Naples and others.
In 1139, the Treaty of Mignano granted Roger recognition of his kingship from the legitimate pope.
It was through his admiral George of Antioch that Roger then proceeded to conquer the Mahdia in Africa (Ifriqiya), taking the unofficial title "King of Africa." At the same time Roger's powerful fleet attacked the Byzantine Empire and made Sicily the leading maritime power in the Mediterranean Sea for almost a century.
Roger's son and successor was William the Bad, though his nickname derives primarily from his lack of popularity with the chroniclers, who supported the baronial revolts William crushed. His reign ended in peace (1166), but his son, William II, was a minor. Until the end of the boy's regency in 1172, the kingdom saw turmoil which almost brought the ruling family down, although the reign of the second William is remembered as two decades of almost continual peace and prosperity.
For this more than anything, he is nicknamed "the Good."
However, his death without heirs in 1189 threw the realm into chaos.
Tancred of Lecce seized the throne but had to contend with the revolt of his distant cousin Roger of Andria and the invasion of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor on behalf of his wife, Constance, the daughter of Roger II.
Constance and Henry eventually prevailed and the kingdom fell in 1194 to the Hohenstaufen dynasty. Through Constance, however, the Hauteville blood was passed to the great Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.