web counter








The Reconquest of Spain before 1095

Before the northward advance of the Moslem forces had run its full course at least one center of Christian resistance had made its appearance at the northern edge of the Hispanic peninsula. By the middle of the ninth century the princes of Asturias-Leon had extended their holdings southward across the Cantabrian mountains for a distance of some sixty miles from the coast of the Bay of Biscay. On the eastern coast of the peninsula, to the immediate south of the eastern Pyrenees, lay the Catalan counties of the Spanish March, Barcelona chief among them. In the western Pyrenees Navarre and immediately to her east Aragon were in a rudimentary stage of development. Within a century after the completion of the Moslem conquest, the centers of resistance from which the Christian reconquest of the peninsula was to emanate had all made their beginnings, but it was to be another two centuries before any semblance of concerted and continuing Christian aggression against the Moslem conquerors would be discernible.

The earliest firm tradition of a victory by Christian remnants and refugees after the final defeat of the Visigothic monarchy is localized in the Asturias, a region lying in the rugged terrain between the Cantabrian mountains and the north coast of the peninsula. It is adjacent to Galicia on its west and is separated from Cantabria to its east by the Picos de Europa. To the south of the Asturias, across the Cantabrian mountains lies Leon, early an object of Asturian conquest.

According to the tradition, after the defeat and death of king Roderic a certain Pelayo was acclaimed as king, and thereafter led his followers to victory over a Moslem force in the valley of Covadonga near his capital at Cangas de Onis. Although the earliest written account of the battle of Covadonga which has reached our time dates from some two centuries after the event, it is recorded by several Arabic historians unlikely to have made use of the Latin chronicle, and is so firmly established in tradition that there seems no reason for denying its foundation in fact. After allowance is made for exaggeration in numbers and embellishment with the miraculous or with supernatural interpretation of natural phenomena—arrows turning back from the mountain wall against the enemy, a mountain moving to engulf the retreating foe—the account may be accepted as the record of a successful skirmish fought by local inhabitants, Visigothic and other Christian refugees, following a long series of defeats. It is generally believed that Pelayo, whether or not that was his true name, was a member of the Gothic aristocracy, if not of royal blood. There is a tradition that he was in Cordova, presumably to attempt a negotiated settlement with the Moslem rulers, a year before the traditional date of the battle (718). At least this establishes at an early date the pattern of the frontier caudillos, often ready to treat with the Moslem in terms of alliance or feudal submission if such were the surest means for securing possessions and authority.

Pelayo was succeeded by his son, and subsequent successors are traced to relationship with him by blood or by marriage. The third prince in the succession, Alfonso I (737-756), son of the duke of Cantabria and son-in-law of Pelayo, broadened the base of operations by bringing the adjacent provinces into personal union with the Asturias and by moving westward into Galicia. In the latter move, he was able to take advantage of a Berber revolt which drew southward the scant Berber garrisons with which the Moslems had sought to hold the northwest of the peninsula. Although Alfonso I was able to strengthen the internal organization of his dominions to some degree, the counts of Galicia were by no means fully subjected and this northwest corner of Spain remained for generations a center for recurring revolt against hereditary succession and monarchical control. With the relaxation of their hold on the northwest, the Moslems established a frontier of firmly held places which may be traced from Coimbra through Coria, Talavera, Toledo, and Guadalajara to Pamplona. The last, however, was soon lost. This line left a rough square in the northwest corner of the peninsula, bounded by the northern wall of the Tagus valley below Talavera and following up the course of the river eastward and northward from that point to rest on the Pyrenees or, in the ninth century, on the boundaries of the Spanish March or its succession states.

The boundaries of Christian and Moslem tenure were not contiguous. Until the tenth century the line of the Douro was the outermost objective of durable Christian reconquest. Prior to the eleventh century, it was only temporarily and under the most favorable conditions that the Christian princes of the northwest were able to penetrate southeastern Castile to the Guadarrama mountains. Between the two cultures lay a no-man's-land, a desert, subject to repeated and destructive raids from both sides.

At the death of Alfonso I almost all Spain except the rectangle in the northwest corner was held in Moslem hands. Little progress was made toward the expansion of this territory during the next century and a half. Nevertheless, the Asturian monarchy showed its ability to survive internal dissension and attack from without. On the slopes of the Pyrenees and in Catalonia, Carolingian intervention forced back the Moslem frontier to some extent, and laid the foundations for Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia.

In the Asturias, Alfonso II, "the Chaste" (791-842), had to sustain three devastating Moslem attacks which carried deep into his own territory. He was, however, able to take advantage of the internal disorders under al-Hakam I to raid Moslem territory as far as Lisbon. He undertook the restoration of Braga in northern Portugal, and carried back from his raids numerous Christian subjects of the emir. These were used in repopulating the devastated areas of the frontier. He established his capital at Oviedo and undertook to improve the internal organization of the state by reactivating Gothic law, which had fallen into disuse. The first raids of the North men struck the shores of Galicia during this reign, and Alfonso had to overcome a revolt by the Galician nobility.

Discovery of what were believed to be the remains of St. James, and the founding of the shrine at Compostela, had even greater significance for the future than for Alfonso's own day. Not only was the possession of the relics a great inspiration to the Christian cause, but the shrine of Santiago de Compostela became a pilgrimage center of major importance for the Christian world, and the numerous pilgrims insured a substantial flow of wealth into Galicia. Alfonso turned to Charlemagne for alliance against the Moslems, and styled himself a client of the Frankish king. Although the reign of Alfonso II added little or no territory, its length and vigor and boldness proved the durability of the Asturian monarchy.

During the first decade of the ninth century, the foundation of the Frankish March of Spain was completed. The forces of Charlemagne had captured Gerona in 785 and Barcelona in 801, and subsequent campaigns carried the conquest to the Ebro, Peace was concluded with the Moslems in 810. Among the several counties established by the Franks Barcelona soon became preeminent. With the relaxation of monarchical controls in the course of the century, its counts became in effect independent.

The Basques of the western Pyrenees had traditionally opposed both Moslem and Frankish control. The reconquest of Navarre was therefore in the first instance a conquest from the Frankish counts. The chieftains at Pamplona found allies in the Bann-Qasi, the semi-independent Moslem princes of Saragossa. Liberated from the Franks, they were able to find allies in the counts of Cerdagne and Aragon for protection against the Moslems.

Ordoño I (850-866) was a vigorous campaigner. He overran and pillaged the territory between Salamanca and Saragossa—southern Leon, Castile, and the southern portion of what was later to become the kingdom of Aragon. He is particularly significant for rebuilding and repopulating devastated and deserted places and areas within his borders, among them Tuy on the northern bank of the lower Minho, Astorga in Leon, and the city of Leon itself. Orense on the Minho in Galicia was lost and won again. The rebuilding of Leon, which was to become the new capital of the dynasty, may have symbolized the emergence of the monarchy from the narrow limits of Asturias and Cantabria.

The son and successor of Ordoño, Alfonso III (866-909), continued the military and repopulation policies of his father. He attempted to establish himself south of the Douro. In Portugal between the Douro and the Mondego, the towns Lamego, Viseo, and Coimbra, and in Leon, Salamanca were successfully taken. On the upper course of the Douro he established strong points at Zamora, Toro, Simancas, and Dueñas. His raids carried him deep into Moslem territory. After repulsing a Moslem attack from Zamora he followed the retreat to Toledo but accepted a ransom to leave the city unharmed. At the end of his reign the populated southern frontier of the kingdom had been materially advanced from its location in the middle of the eighth century. The Mondego-Douro line was now firmly held in Portugal, Leon, and Castile. It is in the time of Alfonso III, about 884, that Burgos, seat of the early county of Castile, was founded by count Diego Rodriguez.

This reign of Alfonso III fell in a period of opportunity for the Christians, when the emirate was weakened by internal dissension. His reign ended in a disastrous division of territory forced on him by the revolt of his wife and his sons. During the tenth century, rivalries within the dynasty and struggles with an unruly aristocracy absorbed the energies of the Oviedo kings at a time when they were confronted with a comparatively strong Moslem state under Abd-ar-Rahman III and then the chamberlain al-Mansur. It was to be more than a hundred years before the Christian states could recover from their weakness and division in the face of strength.

The three sons of Alfonso III were assigned respectively Leon, Galicia and Lusitania (Portugal), and the Asturias. The disastrous effect of this division of inheritance was not immediately apparent. The oldest son reigned only three years, after which Ordoño II (914-924) reunited Leon and Galicia. In alliance with the king of Navarre he fought Abd-al-Rahman, winning one battle but losing a second. Following the death of Ordoño, his sons disputed the succession. During this period a separatist movement led by the counts of Castile began to make its appearance. This movement was comparable to the particularist movements in Galicia. Control over the counts on the frontier was seldom adequate. Negotiation with the enemy and disobedience to the sovereign were not uncommon. Under Ramiro II (931-951), the revolt of count Fernán González of Castile virtually nullified the advantage gained by a victory over (Abd-ar-Rahman III (939). The fame of the caliph—a title assumed by the emir in 929 was by this time so great that the victory was one of the few events of the peninsula to he noted by chroniclers north of the Alps. Although Fernán González was defeated and imprisoned, his following was so considerable that Ramiro was forced to release him, subject to an oath of allegiance and an arranged marriage between the count's daughter and the king's son, all too little effect.

The foundation of Ramiro's policy was a firm alliance with Navarre, which was governed by queen Tota, on behalf of her infant son. This vigorous lady was in the habit of leading her troops in battle. She had married her two daughters to the count of Castile and the king of Leon respectively. It was this complex of family alliances which was ultimately to accomplish a temporary unification which would save the Christian states from complete subservience to the caliphate.

In the period following the death of Ramiro, the Christian states became almost completely dependent. Directly and indirectly the Moslem power was able to interfere in internal affairs of the states by treaty, intervention, and negotiations with disloyal vassals. The case of Raimiro's second son Sancho the Fat is illustrative. His mother was a princess of Navarre. Tota, his grandmother, was still regent in Navarre. When the nobles of Leon deposed Sancho, ostensibly because he was too fat to cut a proper royal figure, he took refuge at his grand-mother's court at Pamplona. Tota got in touch with Abd-ar-Rahman III who was delighted, first to supply a physician and then to welcome king Sancho and his grandmother Tota to the court at Cordova as honored suppliants. Sancho returned to Leon without his surplus weight but with a Moslem army and with treaty obligations involving delivery of certain towns to the caliphate. Having regained his throne he showed no interest in fulfilling his promises until forced to do so. After Sancho had been conveniently poisoned, his successor, Bermudo II (984– 999), was plundered and exploited by his nobility until he appealed to the Moslem commander, the chamberlain Al-Mansur. The Moslem demanded submission, in return for which Al-Mansur placed Moslem garrisons in most of the Leonese fortresses. The king's efforts to escape from this burden led ultimately to the punitive sack and plundering of the shrine of Santiago at Compostela (997). The wealth of plunder reported to have been carried away is revealing. Large numbers of the turbulent Leonese and Galician nobility participated in the raid. In the west the Christian frontier retreated to the Douro.

Neither Bermudo II nor Al-Mansur long outlived the sack of Compostela. Bermudo's son and successor, Alfonso V (999-1028), was barely five years of age when he came to the throne. The caliphate in 1008 began to run toward its fall. Alfonso succeeded in effecting a substantial reorganization of the kingdom and attended to the rebuilding and repopulation of devastated places. He held a council in his capita] of Leon (1020) and granted a charter to the city. He pressed the campaign against the Moslems beyond the Douro in Portugal and died at the siege of Viseo. The ability of the count of Castile at this time to stand off and bargain with opposing Moslem factions who sought his services is a signal of the approaching disintegration of the caliphate. Bermudo III (1028-1037) succeeded his father on the throne. He was married to the sister of Garcia, count of Castile. Another sister of Garda was the wife of the king of Navarre, Sancho "the Great" (1000-1035). Count Garcia was murdered in 1028 as the result of a feud with another committal family. Immediately Sancho of Navarre advanced the claims of his wife to the county of Castile. War followed between Navarre and Leon. Difficulties were, at least temporarily, settled by mediators. Bermudo III was relegated to Galicia, and Sancho's second son Ferdinand was married to Bermudo's sister.

Sancho of Navarre now ruled over an impressive territory including in addition to Navarre, now extended beyond the Ebro, Leon with the Asturias, and Cantabria, the Basque provinces, the counties of Aragon, and suzerainty over the Catalan counties. Even though his authority over the Basque provinces east of Navarre and over Barcelona rested on a somewhat variable allegiance, his dominions included some third of the peninsula and extended from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. With the end of the caliphate of Cordova (1030) and the division of Moslem Spain into a score of rival petty emirates, no power in the peninsula could compare to his. But Sancho could not avoid a return to the practice of dividing his vast possessions among his heirs. His political testament recognized Garcia as his successor in Navarre but established the second son, Ferdinand (1035-1065), in Castile with the title of king. Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were given to Gonzalo but soon passed to the illegitimate son Ramiro, whom Sancho had named king in Aragon. Thus two new royal titles were created, and a new political history of Aragon had its beginning.

After the death of Sancho the Great, warfare between Ferdinand I and his brother-in-law Bermudo III of Leon again broke out. In 1037 Bermudo died in battle. Leon, Galicia, and Castile were united under the hand of Ferdinand. In the meantime, after the death of Al-Mansur the counts of Barcelona had regained their capital and other Catalan possessions which had been lost to the great Moslem commander and his son. In 1025 Berenguer I inherited the county.

Ferdinand I, to win the support of his new subjects, held a council in 1050 at which he confirmed all public charters granted by Alfonso V. He was drawn into conflict with his brother, Garcia of Navarre, who sought to restore the unity of their father's dominions. Garcia was defeated and killed in 1054. It was now possible for the king to address himself to the reconquest. He seized Lamego and Viseo in Portugal south of the Douro (1057-1058); and in 1064, with his conquest of the important city of Coimbra, carried his western border to the banks of the Mondego. He next attacked the Moslem territories to the south of Aragon and then seized additional fortresses south of the Douro, and raided the territory of the kingdom of Toledo as far as Alcala de Henares. The petty kings (reyes de taifas) of Toledo, Badajoz, and Saragossa became his tributaries. Toward the end of his life he raided the lands of Seville, destroying villages and crops until her king agreed to payment of an annual tribute. Ferdinand again divided his holdings, but his second son, Alfonso VI (1065-1109) of Galicia, succeeded in uniting the entire inheritance after long civil war.

Hitherto concerted action toward reconquest had been sporadic and dependent upon the fortunate accident of strong leadership combined with weakness in the enemy. Unity of action among the Christian princes was still far in the future. But in 1064 an international army, composed of Catalan, Aragonese, Norman, Aquitanian, and Burgundian (but not, as often alleged, papal and Italo-Norman) contingents, launched a successful attack against the Moslem stronghold of Barbastro, only to lose the thoroughly plundered town the following year. Whether pope Alexander I's fragmentary letters relating to French warriors en route to Spain to fight contra Sarracenos, and issuance of a plenary indulgence on their behalf, relate to this expedition or to a second, abortive one being organized in 1073 by Ebles II, count of Roucy, remains unclear. In any case, the crossing of the Pyrenees by French knights (a movement the chroniclers Raoul Glaber and Adhemar of Chabannes carry back to the time of Sancho the Great) and the intervention in the reconquest of the reform papacy (leading Gregory VII in 1073 and 1077 to claim suzerainty over all territories recovered from the infidel, and indeed all Spain) demonstrate how these extra-Iberian forces now viewed the peninsular struggle against Islam as a Christian holy war. At the same time Ferdinand I and Alfonso VI, in alliance with Cluny, who had himself proclaimed emperors of Hispania (all Iberia, Christian and Moslem), moved vigorously to reduce the Taifa kingdoms to vassalage or outright annexation through imposition of economically ruinous annual tributary exactions (parias).

After the reunion of Castile, Leon, and Galicia, Alfonso intensified the raids against the weak emirs. The tribute collected supplied his war chest, and on May 25, 1085, he occupied Toledo, bringing the frontier of Castile well to the south of the Tagus. By raids and seizures his forces made themselves felt against the Moslem borders in all directions, penetrating southward to the vicinity of Granada. Threatened with subjection or destruction, the Moslems reluctantly sought outside help. Al-Mutamid, the ruler of Seville and chief survivor of the internecine warfare among the petty kingdoms, sought help from Morocco. The Almoravid sect of veiled Touaregs from the Sahara had unified Morocco under Yasuf ibri-Tashfin, who now acceded to Al-Mutamid's request for aid, crossed to Andalusia in 1086, and annihilated Alfonso's army near Badajoz on October 23. His mission accomplished, he withdrew to Africa but returned with his Murabits in 1090 and quickly conquered all Moslem-held Spain except Saragossa. He also reconquered many of the border towns taken by the Christians.

Alfonso was able to retain Toledo while Rodrigo Diaz of Vivar, called the Cid, established himself in Valencia and was able for a time to oppose the advance of the Moslems into northeastern Spain. In 1095 the territory, of the peninsula was fairly evenly divided between the Spanish Christians in the north and the African and Andalusian Moslems in the south. Military power was in precarious and sensitive balance.



The Italian Cities and the Arabs before 1095


Long before pope Urban II made his impassioned plea at Clermont, the Italian cities were fighting the Saracens on land and sea. During the four centuries preceding 1095 they suffered from seemingly endless raids and plunderings; sometimes they allied themselves with the enemy to attack other cities; on occasion they met him with force, and these occasions increased in number and gained in success. Eventually, in 915 the southern cities, in alliance with Byzantine and papal forces, drove the Saracens from their last stronghold on the peninsula, and a century later the northern cities attacked the various Arab maritime bases nearby. Finally, in the eleventh century the Pisans and Genoese raided the African coast itself, and forced terms of peace upon the Saracen leader, among them the promise to refrain from further piracy. With this victory and peace, made in 1087, control over the western Mediterranean passed from the Arabs to the Italian cities.

The first period in the Italo-Arab relations ran from 652 to 827. During these years the Arabs attacked and plundered the south Italian cities and especially the nearby islands almost at will, because the Byzantines and Italians were unable to maintain garrisons everywhere. The attackers shifted their raids in accordance with the Italian defense and preparedness. But they remained mere pirates, since their mainland and maritime forces were occupied elsewhere. The Arabs, by force and diplomacy, had to subdue the Berbers of North Africa; temporarily united with them, the Arabs reached Gibraltar and easily crossed into Spain and advanced to the Pyrenees. Not until the Arabs were stopped in 732 and driven from Gaul in 769, that is, not until they had been stopped in western Europe, did they direct their main attacks upon mid-Europe, upon Italy and its neighboring islands.

The earliest recorded Arab raid upon Sicily took place in 652. A general of Muawiyah I directed it, very likely from Syria, seemingly as part of a determined campaign against Byzantine sea power. Syracuse felt the impact most and lost much of its wealth and treasures and many of its citizens to the plunderers. In 669 an Alexandrian fleet of two hundred ships pillaged Sicily again. These two expeditions, originating in the eastern Mediterranean, were possible because the Arabs had shattered Byzantine eastern naval power in a series of battles between 649 and 655. Western Byzantine naval strength suffered a disastrous defeat in 698, when the Arab land and sea forces of Hassan ibn-an-Nu'man captured Carthage. With its capture the Arabs acquired another maritime base of operations and began their control over the western Mediterranean. Both were of ominous significance for Italy and the Italian cities.

Musa ibn-Nusair, who became governor of North Africa shortly after the capture of Carthage, recognized the possibilities and need of maritime power. At Tunis he ordered the construction of harbor facilities and shipyards, and eventually of a fleet of one hundred ships. Nearby Italy soon felt the results of his activities. In 700 the Arabs took over Pantelleria, in 704 they successfully plundered western Sicily, and in 705 they attacked Syracuse, but lost ships and men in a storm. Elsewhere, the first Arab raid upon Sardinia took place in 711 and upon Corsica in 713, and both islands were soon controlled by Arab forces. Again in 720 Arab raiders touched upon Sicily and in almost every year between 727 and 734; negotiations were undertaken and a truce was signed in 728, but the truce did not prevent the raids of 18o ships in the next year. In 740 the Syracusans preferred to pay tribute to the attackers to avoid a greater loss of property and life. Not till 733 and 734 did the Arabs meet with resistance from Byzantine naval forces, and in 752 and 753 Byzantine ships and defenses again held off the Arabs, this time seemingly intent upon conquest rather than upon plunder. Thereafter, for about fifty years the Italians enjoyed a respite from Arab attacks. When the military successes and advances in Gaul stopped, and as the control of the eastern caliphs lessened, civil wars in North Africa broke out; through them strong-armed Berber and Arab leaders set up independent states in Spain and North Africa. Among these the Aghlabid state around Kairawan, the Idrisid state centered in Morocco, and Umaiyad Spain initiated and carried out raids and campaigns against Italy. When the Aghlabids began in earnest their conquest of Sicily in 827, the Italians realized that a new period in their relations with the Arabs had arisen.

The second period in the Italo-Arab relations, roughly covering the ninth century, was a disastrous period for the south Italian cities. The dukes of these cities fought one another instead of offering a united defense against the Saracens, and quite often in their inter-municipal rivalries they called in the common enemy. In their ambition for power and hope of independence they limited and curtailed the power and forces of old Byzantium in the east, of the new Carolingian empire in the west, and of the Roman papacy, none of which was capable of defeating the Saracens single-handedly. On the other hand, the various Arab groups, even though disunited, were strong enough individually to establish settlements because of the inadequate Christian forces. As a result, all south Italy, cities and country alike, suffered from Arab plunder and occupation. Not until the end of the period, when the two empires had already obtained partial successes and when the papacy offered vigorous leadership, did the south Italian cities make common cause with them, to Garigliano river.

The century began auspiciously. In 805 Ibrahim ibn-al-Aghiab, the emir at Kairawan, signed a ten-year truce and trade agreement with Constantine, the patrician of Sicily; the emir needed his forces and strength to consolidate his holdings in Africa, and he hoped that this arrangement might serve to curb the ambitions of the Spanish Umaiyads and the western Ithisids. In Europe Charlemagne fitted out an Aquitanian and an Italian fleet, partially built and manned by Italians, to patrol the western Mediterranean. But as before, the truce proved ineffective. On his side, the emir at Kairawan was in no position to speak for the other Saracens beyond his state, and Constantine could hardly control the actions and plans of the Byzantine emperor, of Charlemagne, and of the pope. Charlemagne's son, king Pepin of Italy, and his constable Burchard had minor successes, but failed to wrest Corsica from the Arabs in campaigns between 806 and 810. In one of these, in 806, Hadumarus, the first Frankish count of Genoa, lost his life. Both Corsica and Sardinia remained under Arab control. The Aghlabids directed other assaults upon Lampedusa, off the African coast, and upon Ponza and Ischia, off the Italian shore near Naples, all in 812. A Byzantine fleet under the patrician Gregory, refused aid by Naples, but helped by Gaeta and Amalfi, eventually defeated the attackers, and another truce was arranged in the next year. But while the Aghlabids were curbed, Umaiyads from Spain swept over the Tyrrhenian Sea and plundered Nice, Civita Vecchia, Corsica, and Sardinia, despite the defensive measures of Charlemagne and pope Leo III.

In 827 the Aghlabid conquest of Sicily began in earnest; it was not complete till 902. Ziyadat-Allah I, the third emir of Kairawan, felt himself strong enough to undertake an expedition of expansion, similar to the one into Spain a century before. Like that one, too, the Sicilian expedition was prompted by civil war and by a traitorous appeal for help by Euphemius, the Byzantine leader, who had set himself up as emperor. For Arab help and recognition of his imperial position in Sicily Euphemius agreed to accept the emir as his titular overlord and to pay a tribute consonant with that relationship. After considerable debate the Arab leader agreed to help, but the size of the Arab force indicated that the Arabs had plans quite different from those of Euphemius. A fleet of seventy or one hundred ships carried 10,000 foot-soldiers and seven hundred horsemen from Susa in Tunisia to Mazara in western Sicily, not merely to plunder and return, nor to help a usurper, but to conquer and remain. The Saracens defeated the outnumbered but heroic Byzantine garrisons, disregarded Euphemius and his troops, and moved inward and eastward, toward Syracuse.

That all-important city the Arabs besieged by land and sea for over a year; not until famine and pestilence had decimated some of their forces, and a Byzantine-Venetian fleet threatened the rest, did they raise the siege. They burned their own ships and fled into the interior; driven from Mineo and Enna and abandoning Agrigento, they returned to Mazara, their starting point two years before. Spanish Arabs, who unexpectedly appeared for purposes of plunder, supported the retreating Aghlabids, renewed the attack, and plundered as far as Minco, but then retreated to Mazara, whence they sailed to Spain. At the same time, in 828, a Frankish fleet under count Boniface of Tuscany cleared the waters around Corsica and Sardinia and successfully plundered the African coast between Utica and Carthage. Byzantine land and sea forces, aided by the Venetians, had frustrated for the moment the Arab conquest of the island.

The second effort at conquest, however, succeeded and eventually led to the occupation of the entire island. In 830 an African fleet of three hundred ships and some Spanish squadrons attacked and besieged Palermo, the second city on the island. After a year the strategic port fell to the besiegers, for whom it became the base of operations against the rest of the island and, more significantly, against the mainland. In spite of active Byzantine resistance and occasional successes the Arabs consolidated and increased their holdings. They took a decade to drive out stubborn garrisons and to capture strongholds; by 840 they controlled western Sicily and could turn to other parts of the island. In 843 they captured Messina after a long siege and a surprise land attack; with its capture they controlled the Strait of Messina and so could prevent the entrance of Byzantine naval forces into western waters. Actually, they were assisted by the Neapolitans, on whose behalf they had intervened against duke Sikard of Benevento, when the latter had laid siege to their city in 837. Not only political, but economic considerations, too, prompted the Christians of Naples to aid the enemy, for only in friendly alliance with the Arabs were they able to carry on their commerce since the eastern Mediterranean was already closed to them, by other Arabs and by the Venetians.

With Palermo and Messina in hand, the Arabs turned to the southeastern part of the island, especially toward Syracuse. They easily overran the countryside, and from its plunder and enslaved inhabitants they lived, but much more slowly did they conquer the fortified cities. But by constant attack, through devastation of the countryside, aided by starvation and plague, and on occasion by treachery, they took the cities that guarded the approaches to the all-important port. Modica fell in 845, Lentini in 847, and Ragusa in 848. Stubborn Enna in central Sicily was given to them by treachery in 859. The sea outpost Malta was captured in 870. Syracuse itself fell in 878 after a heroic nine-month defense against Saracen land and sea forces. One Byzantine fleet was defeated and partially captured during the period, and another was awaiting favorable winds in Greece when the siege ended. In 902 Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold on the island, fell to the Saracens. Here no heroic defense could be made, because the Byzantine admiral Eustace was in conspiracy with the enemy. The Arab conquest of Sicily was complete.

Even before the Arabs had acquired that island base, they had attacked the Italian cities on the mainland. Neither the measures of the Byzantine and Carolingian empires nor the appeals and plans of the Roman popes were sufficient to forestall Saracen plunder and settlement, while the inter-municipal rivalries and the constant strife between the coastal cities and the dukes of Benevento often were opportune for just such activities of the enemy.

The Arabs first appeared on the Italian mainland in 837, when the Napolitans begged them for help against the ambitious duke Sikard of Benevento, who was besieging their city. For the Napolitans it was an act of desperation, since their earlier appeals to Louis the Pious and other Christians remained unanswered. But the Arabs came, lifted the siege of the angry duke, plundered his own lands, and signed a treaty of friendship and trade with Naples. The latter reciprocated by aiding the Saracens at Messina in 842-843. But the friendship did not restrain the Arabs from occupying the islands of Ponta and Ischia and Cape Miseno on the mainland. Arab ships threatened the coastal shipping, and their land forces plundered the countryside. The new duke at Naples, Sergius I, repudiated the earlier policy and initiated an alliance with Gaeta, Amalfi, and Sorrento in 845; these cities fitted out ships to protect the Campanian shores and already in 846 duke Sergius broke up an Arab siege of his own city and led this fleet to victory over the Arabs off Point Licosa. In 846, too, Rome was visited by an Arab force of 73 ships. In spite of the walls rebuilt at the request of pope Gregory IV and the repeated warnings of the imminent attack, Ostia and Porto were overrun, and at Rome the basilica of St. Peter and the cathedral of St. Paul, on the right bank of the Tiber and outside the city-walls, were plundered. The Romans themselves and the small Frankish garrison were unable to stop the enemy, while the land forces of Louis II and the naval forces from the cities arrived too late to prevent the incursion. However, when the Saracens, already laden with Roman treasures, laid siege to Gaeta, they were stopped by allied fleets from Gaeta, Naples, and Amalfi. They were allowed to depart peaceably, only to be destroyed by storm; they lost their ships and their stolen treasures, but they retained their bases for further attack.

At Rome pope Leo IV wisely began the refortification of the city. The old walls and towers, partially destroyed in 846, were rebuilt and others were added, and the Porta Portuensis was constructed to guard and close the Tiber in case of another sea attack. All the Vatican area in which St. Peter's stood was walled in, to become the Civitas Leonina. The costs of construction were borne by the church and individual monasteries, by the nobles and citizens of Rome, and by the people of the Frankish empire, in which the emperor Lothair ordered a general subscription for the purpose. Leo IV also provided fortified places of refuge for Corsicans and others at Lorto and Leopoli, and at Orte and Ameria in interior Tuscany. Before the defenses were finished, however, the Saracens appeared. In 849 a large Saracen fleet assembled off the Sardinian coast and then sailed toward Ostia. The south Italian cities recognized the common threat and Caesarius, son of duke Sergius I of Naples, led a fleet from Naples, Gaeta, and Amalfi northward. Received with caution by the Romans, then hailed with joy, the fleet was blessed by pope Leo IV before giving battle to the enemy. During the battle a storm destroyed most of the enemy ships; many survivors were hanged, and others were put to work on the walls and towers. Of the Italian fleet little is known, but at least it had waylaid the Saracens until the storm approached. In the same year the Saracens also raided the Italian coast from Luni to Provence.

The Saracens were also active in the Adriatic and in southeast Italy, and here as on the other side of the peninsula they were aided by the differences among the Italians. In 838 they occupied Brindisi and ravaged the area about, but were driven out of the burnt-out city by duke Sikard of Benevento. In 840 his successor settled down in these southern bases, while others, some in compliance with the orders of Radelgis of Benevento, some in defiance of him, moved into the interior. Saracen bands plundered from Cannae to Capua and moved northward. Duke Siconolf of Salerno also called upon the Saracens of Taranto to join him against Radelgis and the Saracens at Bari. The rivalry of the two men brought the Saracen peril to all south-central Italy. Under the circumstances king Louis II, pope Leo IV at Rome, the doge Peter of Venice, and duke Sergius of Naples in 847 took a hand against the two dukes and the Saracen danger which the ducal rivalry had encouraged. The two dukes were forced to agree to a truce and to join the drive against the Saracens. An imperial force defeated and drove one Saracen group back to Bari, but it could not take the city; another force defeated the Saracens who were in the employ of Radelgis at Benevento. Unfortunately, the Arabs still maintained their control over Bari and Taranto, in which they strengthened the walls and towers, and over the southern provinces of the peninsula. In these areas other Arabs settled to give protection to the coastal bases. From them the Saracens repeatedly raided the interior and threatened Monte Cassino and San Vincenzo. King Louis, called in by the monasteries in 852, again failed before the walled cities. Within the same decade the threatened monasteries bought off other Saracen bands, and cities like Naples and Capua were plundered, all the duchy of Benevento was overrun, and most of Campania also, As long as the Saracens held their naval bases, they remained a threat, since neither the imperial nor the ducal forces were willing or able to drive them out

Finally, in 866 Louis II now emperor, heeded the persistent pleas of Benevento and Capua. He recruited large forces in north and central Italy and compelled the south Italian dukes and cities to abandon their local rivalries and to join him in a full-scale campaign against the Saracens at Bari. He carried out a methodical, but often interrupted, plan of attrition against the enemy by destroying or occupying the fortress towns in the approaches to the naval base. Canosa, Venosa, and Matera were occupied, but again he could not take Bari because of the lack of sea power. In 868 a large Byzantine fleet did appear before the city, but then the imperial land forces were inadequate and the four hundred Byzantine ships sailed back to Corinth when negotiations for the marriage between Louis's daughter and Basil I's son failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. A Venetian force, however, crippled a Saracen fleet off the port of Taranto in 867. The emperor also had to protect his land forces against attack from the rear by those Saracens who were coming into Italy through Naples, since there duke Sergius II, in order to maintain his independence of the emperor, had aligned himself with the enemy. However, the emperor was fortunate in having the active support of Venice and the Dalmatian towns. While their naval forces blockaded the port, he attacked the city on the land side. After four years of intermittent warfare the emperor successfully concluded the campaign by taking Bari in 871. It was a decisive blow to the Arabs and initiated the gradual lessening of their power on the mainland. But the leadership and success of the emperor Louis were repaid with treachery. Sergius of Naples, Waifar of Salerno, Lambert of Spoleto, and Adelchis of Benevento conspired against him, their henchmen ambushed him, and they held him prisoner till he swore never to return to southern Italy. In that way they hoped to maintain their independence of imperial sovereignty. But when a force of 30,000 African Saracens threatened Salerno it was another story. In 872 the traitors again welcomed the imperial forces, which drove out the Saracens and raised the siege of Salerno.

But the Saracen threat continued, and the Christian defense deteriorated in the last decades of the century, before the final decisive battle. The death of the emperor Louis II introduced civil war among the claimants to the imperial throne, and the eventual winner, Charles the Bald, could have little interest in southern Italy when his authority was questioned and his own Gallic domains were threatened. In southern Italy itself the cities and their dukes fought one another as before, made commercial and military agreements with the Saracens instead of presenting a united front, and so permitted the enemy to regain the initiative. In the Adriatic Saracens, possibly from Crete, in 887 ravaged the Dalmatian coast, especially the island of Brazza, and appeared before Grad and burned out Comacchio in 875, but Venetian squadrons maintained their supremacy there, even though limited by the Saracen occupation of Sicily and Crete. On land, only the revived Byzantine authority at Bari stopped the ravages in southeast Italy and in 880 a Byzantine force regained Taranto.

But these successes were neutralized by setbacks on the west coast. There, fear of the revived Byzantine power, hope of avoiding Saracen plunder, and expectation of commerce with Sicily prompted the Italian cities again to align themselves with the Moslems. Naples, Gaeta, Salerno, Capua, even Amalfi, joined with the Saracens to raid the Roman littoral in 876 and 877; Naples served as the base of Saracen operations. Pope John VIII was unable to prevent the spoliation of monastic lands and the capture of monks and nuns. Since he could not obtain aid from Charles the Bald, he was dependent upon the south Italian cities, who already had made common cause with the enemy, and upon Byzantium with which he was in conflict over the status of the patriarch Photius. Eventually, by threat and cajolery, by promise and gift, by negotiation to have the hated Byzantines patrol the Tyrrhenian Sea, he momentarily detached the cities from their Saracen alliance, but they returned to it when it served their interests. Amalfi agreed to protect the Roman coast against attack, but withdrew when the promised papal subsidy was not completely paid. Thus in 878 pope John VIII had to buy off the Saracens. To his dismay, the Amalfitans not only refused to return the 10,000 mancitsi already paid to them, but they formed an alliance with the Saracens. A proposal for combined action by Salerno, Benevento, and the Byzantine forces, which had already gained control over Calabria, also was nullified by the petty rivalry between the two cities over Capua after the death of its duke in 879. The cities and duchies of southern Italy refused to form a common anti-Saracen front under papal auspices; they cooperated with the Byzantines and aligned themselves with the Saracens in accordance with their individual ambitions and needs. As a result of this policy, the abbeys of San Vincenzo on the Volturno and the more famous Monte Cassino were burned and destroyed around 883, the abbey of Farfa was besieged in 890, and Subiaco was also destroyed. The Arabs entrenched themselves firmly and comfortably along the Garigliano river at Trajetto and, more closely to Rome, at Ciciliano and Saracinesco; from these bases they plundered at will. Finally, pope John X succeeded in organizing a successful campaign against them. He won over the Byzantines, some of the south Italian princes, and even cities like Naples, Gaeta, Capua, and Salerno. At the Garigliano river, in 915, this alliance — and pope John was on the field — defeated the last remaining Arab force on the Italian mainland; even in this battle the princely leaders of Naples and Gaeta connived to help the enemy escape. It was of no use; the Saracens were hunted down; and the period of Arab occupation in Italy was over.

In the final period of these relations, the chief, although not the exclusive, activity came from the northern cities of the peninsula. Like those of the south, they at first suffered from Arab attacks, but unlike those of the south they never formed alliances with them and very quickly took the offensive against them. To Genoa and Pisa falls the honor of having done most to clear the western Mediterranean of the Arab menace.

From Sicily and from Africa the Arabs harassed the southern cities after the events of 915. Taking Reggio in 918, the Arabs overran Calabria and sold many inhabitants into slavery in Sicily and Africa. They easily overcame the Byzantine resistance and laid siege to Naples. By continued threats and assaults upon Christian shipping they extorted tribute from the coastal cities, and when the latter refused to pay, they attacked them as well. Such was the case in 1016-1017 when Salerno was besieged and occupied, only to free itself with the aid of pilgrims returning from Jerusalem. In the southeast both Taranto and Bari suffered from similar assaults in 1002. Bari was saved by the timely aid of a Venetian fleet which came to the aid of the Byzantine forces. In a three-day battle the Venetians won a brilliant victory to enhance their own prestige and the standing of the doge Orseolo II. But smaller raids always took place and shipping was never secure.

In the tenth century the northern littoral also felt the fury of the Arab bands. Here around 888 Spanish Arabs established themselves at La Garde-Freinet (Fraxinetum) in Provence, in an almost impregnable position. On land they very soon controlled the Alpine passes and so endangered, and at times stopped altogether, the course of pilgrims and merchants between the west and Italy. They destroyed the abbey of Novalesa in 906 and plundered Aix-en-Provence around 935. In 931 a Byzantine fleet and Provençal land forces attacked, but did not eliminate, the base; and a more successful attack in 942 was partially nullified by king Hugh of Italy, who made a separate peace with the Arabs on their promise to hold the Swabian passes against Berengar of Ivrea. In 972 the Arabs finally overreached themselves by capturing the revered abbot of Cluny, St. Maiolus, and fellow pilgrims in the Great St. Bernard Pass. The cluniacs raised the enormous ransom demanded by the Arabs, but the count of Provence and Ardoin of Turin united to clear the enemy out of the passes and La Garde-Freinet.

Genoa and Pisa also suffered from various Arab fleets. In 934 and 935 the whole area between Genoa and Pisa suffered from attacks originating in Africa. Genoa especially was subjected to massacre, many women and children were enslaved, and many of the treasures of the city and churches were robbed. But Pisa suffered on several other occasions, in 1004, 1011…. In 1015 Spanish Arabs from Denia and the Baleares occupied Sardinia and raided the coast between Genoa and Pisa. From their many bases the Arabs easily controlled the western waters and so limited the economic life of the north Italian cities. In the previous period the coastal cities had suffered, to be sure, but the Saracens, once in control of or in alliance with these cities, were more active in the country and against the monastic centers. In this period, the country was relatively safe, but the coastal cities suffered most because their all-important commerce was being ruined, for they were the special targets of the Arab raiders, and their ships were the special goal of the Arab pirates.

That threat convinced the two northern communes that more than mere defensive measures were necessary. In the eleventh century Pisa and Genoa took the offensive, at times in joint enterprises, at times singly, to make the Tyrrhenian Sea and, if possible, the western Mediterranean safe for Christian merchants and ships. Pisa carried out a small raid of vengeance against Reggio and united with the Genoese in the larger expedition against the new Arab settlements on Sardinia. In 1015 the fleets of the two cities, encouraged by pope Benedict VIII, finally drove the Arabs from the island and the Pisans occupied it; al-Mujahid barely escaped, leaving wife and sons in the hands of the Italians. Several years later, in 1034, the Pisans, and possibly also the Genoese and Provençals, carried the offensive to Bona, the Saracen base in North Africa; the captured booty they gave to the monastery of Cluny. In 1062 or 1063 the Pisans forced their way into the harbor of Palermo and destroyed the Saracen arsenal, burned five merchantmen, and used the booty from a sixth to start construction of their duomo, Santa Maria Maggiore. In 1087 a combined force of Italian cities again carried the attack to an African base, this time against Mandia. From this base, Saracen pirates had plundered and captured Italian ships and merchants. Therefore pope Victor III found it easy to persuade the victims, Pisans, Genoese, Romans, and Amalfitans, to send a force of three to four hundred ships arid 30,000 men against such an enemy; the expedition served under the papal legate, bishop Benedict of Modena. The assault was tremendously successful, even though Tamim had warning of the threat. The Italians captured all of Zawilah, a merchant suburb, and almost all of Mandia itself before Tamim asked for terms of surrender. He paid out, according to various Arab sources, 90,000 to 100,000 dinars of gold and granted to the Pisan and Genoese merchants free access to Mandia and the area under his jurisdiction. In addition he freed his Christian prisoners and promised to stop piratical raids. The incidental plunder in gold, silver, silks, and vessels was extraordinary, and with it the Pisans and the Genoese began the construction of their churches dedicated to St. Sixtus, on whose feast day (August 6) the victory was gained!

In the Pisan annals of Bernardo Maragone the next reference is to the call of pope Urban II and to the Pisan participation in the First Crusade. It is not surprising. The Italian cities had fought and defeated the Arabs in the western Mediterranean, often upon the request of the Roman popes and under the leadership of papal legates. They had carried the battle to the Arab bases in Africa, Spain, and the Mediterranean islands, and in the last great campaign of 1087 they had won commercial rights and privileges. For them participation in the First Crusade was natural.



The Norman Conquest of Sicily

Although the Norman conquest of Sicily was probably the greatest triumph of Christians over Moslems in the eleventh century, it is hardly exact to describe it as a duel between Cross and Crescent. Count Roger invaded the island for the same reasons which had spurred the Vaudeville brothers to many wars against Christians, including the pope and both the eastern and the western emperor. "He was always eager to acquire," as his official historian and apologist, friar Geoffrey Malaterra, candidly states. He began the war as the ally of one of the rival emirs of Sicily, employed Moslem as well as Christian Calabrese auxiliaries as early as the  first year of the war, and throughout the war displayed toward Moslem, Greek, and Latin adversaries alike that peculiar admixture of cruelty and moderation, cunning and straightforwardness, avarice and generosity which was the secret of the stunning Norman successes. His conduct and that of his followers definitely disproves the rationalizations of ecclesiastical chroniclers who extolled the Normans as ardent champions of the faith. Obviously it was good politics to make capital of the difference of religion and to favor Latin Catholicism whenever it brought dividends. Inasmuch as the Normans were Catholic, closer identification of their interests with those of the Roman church in the long ran became unavoidable, but we must not confuse a by-product with an original cause. The process was opposite to that of the crusades: the religious motivation was not a prime incentive gradually pushed into the background by material incentives, but a thin cloak for material appetites which very slowly grew into a sincere sentiment.

Regardless of religious considerations, Sicily was a better prize than any of the other lands which the Normans had previously attacked. The island had not suffered as terribly as the Italian mainland from the wars among Goths, Byzantines, and Lombards, and it had never been severed from the cultural and economic community of the eastern world, which throughout the early Middle Ages was vastly superior to the barbarian west. Therefore it was easy for the Moslems to build a better structure upon solid Byzantine foundations. They lightened somewhat the heavy burden of Byzantine taxation, and they split many latifundia into small estates intensively cultivated by tenants and peasant proprietors. Agriculture remained by far the largest source of wealth, and grain continued to be the main crop, but commerce received a new impulse from the inclusion of Sicily in the immense economic commonwealth of Islam, and agricultural production was enhanced by the introduction of new methods and new plants. Industry does not seem to have progressed to the same extent. There were thriving craftsmen who supplied fine wares for the leisure class in the towns and catered to the humbler needs of the peasants, but one type of cloth is the only manufactured product mentioned as a Sicilian export in the sources before the Norman period. Moslem writers, on the other hand, stress the wealth of metals and other minerals, one of which was a valuable export. More important was the bilateral staple trade with nearby North Africa, which sent oil in exchange for Sicilian grain. Of the new plants which the Moslems introduced, cotton, sugar cane, and date palms were probably unsuited to the climate and gave small rewards for great efforts. Their culture has now disappeared. Hard wheat, sorghum, and bitter oranges (from which the sweet orange later developed) were durable acquisitions. Still more significant was the progress of market gardening. A supercilious visitor from the east deplored the heavy production and consumption of onions, which, in his opinion, depressed the intelligence and paralyzed the imagination of the inhabitants. We are not afraid of onions and we delight in spinach, melons, and other vegetables which Sicily transmitted from the Moslem to our world. It is worth noting that Arabic treatises on agriculture cite as a model the Sicilian horticultural methods and praise the skill of the Sicilians in growing cotton in inferior soils.

It is impossible to decide what share of the credit for this economic progress should be given the native Christian population and what was owing to the newcomers, nor is it possible to determine the proportions of Christians and Moslems in the agricultural population. We know that the Roman covered various layers of Greek colonists, North African Semites, and other immigrants besides the older Sicilian peoples. The Germans left small traces in the ethnic structure of the country, but the Byzantine period brought greater changes. The Slavic invasion of Greece toward the end of the sixth century, the Moslem conquest of North Africa during the seventh, and probably many of the other military, political, and religious commotions of the Byzantine empire drove to Sicily large numbers of refugees, who founded new villages and restored to cultivation stretches of deserted land. This, and the influence of the Byzantine government, partly offset centuries of Romanization and caused Greek rites and culture to reemerge. Then came several waves of Moslem invaders, chiefly Arabs and Berbers from North Africa, but also adventurers from Spain and the east, with a sprinkling of negroes and Slavs. The flow of immigration continued throughout the tenth century. As late as 1005 a famine in Africa drove hungry crowds off to Sicily; in 1018 and 1019 many heretics found shelter in the island. Conversions also swelled the Moslem element, especially in the western and southern provinces; in eastern Sicily, which was conquered last, the overwhelming superiority of Greek Christians was never shaken and there was a strong Latin minority. Judging from very meager sources, differences between Moslems and "infidels" were sharp only at the extremes. The aristocracy of fighters who lived on stipends was exclusively Moslem; the slaves were unconverted descendants of Byzantine slaves, unransomed Christian war prisoners, and strangers imported by slave merchants. The rustic masses consisted of hard-working tenants, often bound to the land, and of small proprietors who paid heavy taxes and were too busy making a living to be ardent supporters of any faith or party. The infrequency of peasant revolts even in times of civil war and invasion shows that their lot was not unbearable, and that they were resigned to it. We catch glimpses of their feelings in the account of a chronicler which shows the Christians of Val Demone as bringing "gifts" to count Roger while assuring the Moslem authorities that they had been forced to do so. During World War II there were Sicilian farmers who, caught between two armies, endeavored to escape punishment by similar acrobatics.

Leadership rested with the military, civil, and commercial upper class in the towns. Palermo, long the capital of the provincial governors sent from Africa and then that of the virtually independent Kaibid emirs, was now ruled by its own assembly of notables where Arabs of old noble stock held first place. It was the religious metropolis of both the Moslems and the Christians, one of the largest cities in the Moslem world, and larger than any Christian town except Constantinople. Hundreds of school teachers, lawyers, scholars, and poets made it one of the greatest intellectual centers in the world. It was a port of the first rank, an active center of ship-building and other crafts, and the residence of wealthy Jewish, Moslem, and Christian businessmen. Its stately buildings of stone, marble, and bricks sprawled from the old fortified center to many new suburbs brightened by gardens and fountains. Along the sea shore were the quarters of voluntary warriors for the faith —those fierce ghazis who caused al-Maqdisi, the great Palestinian geographer, to extol "Sicily, the fertile island whose people never tire of fighting the holy war." Farther south the inland town of Agrigento was a capital of peasants and the moral center of the Berbers, who often rose against the more refined and cosmopolitan but more relaxed Arab aristocracy of the north. Not far from it Enna, in a dominant position on a mountain top, was now the residence of  Ibn-al-Hauws, the strongest of the petty emirs who had gained control of the country after the collapse of the Kalbid monarchy, His brother-in-law and rival, Ibn-at-Tumnah, from Catania endeavored to extend his rule all along the eastern coast. Here Syracuse, the former Byzantine capital, and Messina were slowly recovering after their last-ditch fight against the invaders; the Christian population had lost its autonomy, but it shared with the Moslem minority the benefits of a fairly enlightened and progressive economic and administrative regime. There were many other thriving towns.

Yet this proud, brilliant civilization bore the germs of a disease which delivered it into the hands of an adventurer of genius. If we are to believe the poisoned pen of the arab writer in the late tenth century, already the ghazis of Sicily were nothing but "evildoers, rebels, rabble of many nations, panderers, contemptible men"; the teachers in Palermo were incompetent hypocrites who had embraced their profession to dodge military service; as for the other classes, here is how he summed up the state of Islam in the Mediterranean: "The Romans are attacking the Moslems, who find nobody to help them .... Our proud, greedy princes cowardly bow before the enemy; men of learning forget God and future life to do their pleasure; the wicked merchants neglect no opportunity of illicit profit; the bigots sail with every wind that blows". This indictment is of course exaggerated. It was not the lukewarmness of Islam but the recovery of Christian peoples that gradually turned the tide in the Mediterranean. The bands of holy warriors, like those of the crusaders, included many desperadoes, but they fought bravely; as late as 1035 many were killed while raiding Italy and Greece, and others were to show their gallantry in the fight against the Normans. What especially undermined Sicily was the chronic anarchy of Moslem society, which could be overcome for the sake of gaining a specific objective, but which reemerged soon after victory, as Ibn-Khaldun, the greatest historian of the Middle Ages, has so incisively stated. Neither the African who wrested Sicily from the Byzantines nor the Sicilian Kalbids who ruled it afterwards exceeded the one hundred and twenty years which Ibn--Khaldun regarded as the normal life span of a dynasty. In the early eleventh century rival Moslem factions called to their help respectively the Byzantines from southern Italy and the Zirids from North Africa. The former, led by George Maniaces, conquered the eastern part of the island; the latter swept through the rest of the country. The Sicilians had already repented of their rash appeals when fortune rid them of both invading armies. Court intrigues and more pressing wars led to the recall of Maniaces and his troops; the disastrous invasion of nomad tribes from the desert crippled the Zirids in North Africa and precipitated the departure of their armies. Sicily, left to itself, relapsed into anarchy. Its weakness whetted the appetite of the Normans, who were in the process of conquering the Byzantine and Lombard possessions of the Italian mainland. As early as 1059 Robert Guiscard styled himself "by the grace of God and St. Peter duke of Apulia and Calabria and, with their help, hereafter of Sicily". In 1061 Ibn-at-Tumnah invited Robert's brother and vassal, count Roger of Calabria, to help him fight Ibn-al-Hawas. He did not talk to deaf ears.

Inasmuch as the Zirids soon afterwards sent new contingents to Sicily, the struggle superficially recalled that of 1038-1042, when a duel between Christian and African "allies" overshadowed the strife of local factions but for a short time. Further progress of the nomads, however, had now cut so deeply into the Drill state that this was no longer capable of a sustained effort. Both the assets and the liabilities of the Normans also were different from those of Maniaces. Count Roger was at the same time a ruler and a general, perhaps a greater general than the able Maniaces and certainly a better statesman than any Byzantine emperor after Basil II. Though operations on the Italian mainland sometimes distracted him from the Sicilian campaign, he did not have to worry about distant wars in Asia. His financial resources, however, were far slimmer than those of the Byzantine treasury, his land army was small, and for a long time he had no fleet of his own. At the beginning of his career he had not been above stealing horses and robbing peaceful merchants. He soon learned how to make war by plundering enemy territory and levying high taxes on his own, so that his solvency steadily increased, but the Norman avarice in Sicily as in Italy bred much hatred and alienated populations whose friendliness would have been valuable. So did the atrocities which sullied the Norman campaigns especially during the first years. Their only moral justification, if there was any, was that which a beaten enemy, Ibn-Hamdis, invoked for earlier Moslem atrocities: "It was not cruelty, but [the self-defense] of the few who were surrounded by the many."

As a matter of fact, count Roger had at his disposal only a few hundred or, at the most, a few thousand Norman knights with perhaps three times as many armed valets —some of the knights, not including Roger's own son, proved trustworthy for the whole duration of the war — besides auxiliary forces from his county of Calabria, some intermittent and interested help from his brother, duke Robert Guiscard, and any other Christian or Moslem reinforcements which he might be able and willing to obtain through alliance. The number of non-Norman fighters and the part which they played is not easily assessed, because the only detailed accounts come from two Norman friars, Geoffrey Malaterra and Aime of Monte Cassino, who did not like to squander credit outside their own nation. It is evident that what naval activity was displayed must be ascribed to Italian auxiliaries since the Normans in Sicily were land troops. There are indications that auxiliaries and perhaps a Sicilian fifth column were at times useful in the battlefield and in the rear, but the Normans undoubtedly bore the brunt of the fight. They were splendid soldiers, probably the best in their time. Their exploits in France, in England, in Spain, in Italy, in the Byzantine empire filled the Norman chronicles, deeply impressed the conquered peoples, and were magnified in heroic literature. Actually the Normans were much like the ideal of the sagas and chansons — they were adventurous, fearless, unruly, insatiable, exceedingly gallant to willing and unwilling ladies of any social class, indiscriminately hard on unwarlike peasants and bourgeois of any nation, and frequently very devoted to Christ if not to his commandments. A handful of Normans, including two of Roger's elder brothers, already had assisted Maniaces in smiting Saracens and scorching the country, but their part had been far less important than certain sagas and chronicles represented it. Now a larger, if still fairly small, number were under the command of a ruthless and extremely gifted man of their own race. They outmatched their Moslem counterparts, the ghazis, and overpowered large militias of less martial men fighting for home and liberty. Though the numbers of their adversaries have been multiplied by the same chroniclers who passed by their allies, the very duration of the struggle — thirty years — shows that victory went not to the larger but to the braver army.

The background of the Sicilian campaign is more interesting than the campaign itself. The war was important for its results, not for its methods; there were innumerable skirmishes, raids, and counter-raids, but few battles, only one memorable siege, and no new weapons or tactics that had not been widely used elsewhere. Even before receiving the invitation of Ibn-at-Tumnah, Roger had carried out an exploratory raid across the Strait of Messina, which was unsuccessful but may have been instrumental in gaining the invitation. A second raid with the armed support of Ibn-at-Tumnah was equally unsuccessful; the Normans were driven back to the coast and feared total destruction as a storm prevented them from recrossing the Strait. Happily Roger, as the chroniclers tell us, calmed the waters by dedicating what booty he had taken to the reconstruction of a church in Calabria. Finally, in 1061, more careful preparation, shrewder strategy, and the personal intervention of Robert Guiscard enabled a larger number of Normans to dodge the fleet which Ibn-al-Hawas had sent to blockade the Strait, capture Messina, obtain the submission of Rametta, and reconquer for Ibn-at-Tumnah a large part of the northeastern region. The count and the emir did not succeed in capturing Enna, the fortress capital of Ibn-al-Hawas, but Palermo made overtures to embrace the party of the winners. So far the Normans had acted as allies of a Moslem emir, but this had not prevented them from killing or enslaving the Moslem inhabitants of Messina, nor had the friendly attitude of the Christian farmers restrained the undisciplined heroes from looting and raping. As a reward for their intervention they retained Messina and a few other places —probably by agreement with Ibn-at-Tumnah — and thus they secured a bridgehead across the narrow Strait, which even their small naval force could easily control. Meanwhile some Sicilian refugees easily persuaded the Zirid emir — the same al-Muyizz who twenty years earlier had intervened against Maniaces — to send a powerful fleet to the relief of their party. But a storm scattered the ships; those who were not drowned went back to Africa, where the nomads and other rebels intensified their attacks against the old and discredited emir.

Then, in 1062 and 1063, the tide seemed to turn against the Normans, who were saved only by their desperate bravery. Ibn-al-Tumnah was killed while fighting without their help and his successors withdrew from the struggle; the Christian population was so exasperated by their coreligionists that it made common cause with their enemies; Roger and Robert, back in Calabria, had a bitter fight which nearly wrecked their uneasy cooperation; Minim, the new Zirid ruler, sent to Sicily two of his sons with a fairly large army which crossed over safely, gained control of the larger part of the island including Palermo, and joined forces with Ibn-al-Hawas. Robert had remained on the mainland. Roger, alone in a hostile country, was almost besieged with a few hundred knights in the small town of Troina. But he broke out, made some successful raids, and defeated near Cerami a Zirid-Sicilian force which greatly outnumbered his troops. A chronicler, repeating and embellishing what he may have heard from some imaginative veteran, states that St. George took part in the battle, that one hundred and thirty-six Norman knights crushed 50,00o enemies, killing 15,000 of them, and that Roger sent four camels loaded with booty to pope Alexander II, who reciprocated with a blessing and a standard. Subsequent events show that the combat removed for the Normans the danger of being thrown back to the sea, but apart from this it was of no great consequence. When, a few weeks later, a Pisan fleet arrived at an eastern Sicilian port and invited Roger to take part in a combined attack on Palermo — possibly in execution of plans which had been made in agreement with Robert —Roger was unable to leave his corner around Troina. The Pisans alone broke into the port of Palermo and captured some ships, but they did not dare to storm the city without some help from land forces, and withdrew with the booty. The following year (1064) Robert Guiscard brought fresh troops and together with Roger tried to take Palermo by a land siege, but the attempt failed. Robert returned to the mainland —according to Aline of Monte Cassino, he realized that without "a multitude of ships" he could not stop the flow of supplies and reinforcements — and Roger alone during the four years that followed could do little to check the progress of the Zirid princes in western and central Sicily.

Once again, as twenty years earlier, the African allies became the masters of the Sicilian Moslems. Aiyub, the elder of the Zirid princes, became virtually the ruler of Agrigento, whose Berber inhabitants had a leaning towards African men and customs. Ibn-al-Hawas was killed as he endeavored to recover the town. His former followers and Palermo itself proclaimed Aiyub their sovereign. Had Aiyub been able to obtain reinforcements from Africa and to inflict a serious defeat upon the Normans, the fate of Sicily would have anticipated that of Spain, where the African Almoravids came as allies, defeated the Christians, and remained as conquerors. Tamim, however, had no reserves to spare, and Roger in 1068 beat the army of Aiyub at Misilmeri. Then the population of Palermo, which had forgotten how to obey, came to blows with the negro guard of the Zirids. Civil war broke out in the town and spread to other regions. Before the end of 1069 the disheartened Zirid princes returned to Africa with their troops and with a large number of Sicilians who read the writing on the wall and chose to follow them. One Ibn-Hammud, probably of a family which had given rulers to Cordova and Malaga, became the lord of Enna and Agrigento; Palermo recovered its liberty but for a short time. As a matter of fact, while Sicily was returning to independence and particularism, Robert Guiscard with Roger's assistance built up the sea power which he had lacked in 1064. He captured Bari, next to Venice the greatest Adriatic seaport and trading center, and he completed the conquest of the other maritime towns of Apulia.

Bari surrendered in April 1071 after a siege which lasted more than three years. In July 1071 Robert and Roger, accompanied by a brother of the Lombard prince of Salerno and by other barons, sailed to Sicily in an armada of fifty-eight vessels manned by Apulian, Calabrese, and Greek sailors. Their army included not only a substantial number of Norman knights but also conscripts and volunteers from southern, Italy and perhaps other regions. The Normans inaugurated their campaign by entering the port of Catania as allies — the heirs of Ibn-at-Turnnah while desisting from active operations had remained friendly — and treacherously occupying the town as conquerors. Then they laid siege to Palermo by land and sea. The town resisted for several months, and it received some naval help from Africa, but famine and discord slowly undermined the morale. The final assault began January 7, 1072; the old section of the town, attacked by Roger, held out, but Robert broke into a lightly defended suburb. While some of the citizens wanted to fight to the last, others opened negotiations which on January to led to surrender. Palermo preserved a large measure of autonomy and full freedom of worship, but the main mosque on the site of the former cathedral again became a cathedral, and the Normans built or restored two fortresses to teach discretion to Christians and Moslems alike. Mazara, the oldest Moslem possession on the island, after learning the fate of Palermo surrendered on similar conditions. Remarkably enough the chroniclers, who describe in glowing terms the happiness of the victorious Christian army, say nothing of the feelings of the local Christians. The Moslems on the whole seem to have accepted the foreign rule of the Norman "infidels" more easily than that of their African brothers, but many of the poets and scholars who had been the glory of Palermo became honored refugees in the several Moslem states from Spain to the Near East. Some of them wrote nostalgic poems and prophecies of revenge; one showed himself a spiritual neighbor of Dante, another poet and exile born in Italy of another faith. "0 my fatherland," he wrote, "you have abandoned me; I shall make my fatherland the saddles of generous steeds. On the earth I was born, any earth is my fatherland, any man is my brother".

After the fall of Palermo victory was so well assured that Robert and Roger partitioned the island between themselves. Robert, the suzerain, retained Palermo with some other places and struck coins with the Arabic inscription "King of Sicily". Roger, however, claimed the larger part of the island, which after the death of Robert was to become all his, to be bequeathed to Roger II, the first crowned king. Still it took nineteen years to subdue southern Sicily — and during these years two savage Moslem raids on the Calabrese coast recalled to the unfortunate population terrible memories of the ninth and tenth centuries. The first raid, which was followed by a landing in Mazara one year later, was a result of a short resumption of activity by the Zirids (1074—75); but Roger I averted further interference by concluding a treaty with Tamim. The emir had lost nearly all the African hinterland; he depended on Sicilian grain and free trade for his maritime cities. The second and wilder raid 1085 was one of many enterprises of the last Moslem leader in eastern Sicily, the emir of Syracuse, who fought bravely and ferociously to the last. But the struggle between the cornered, disunited defenders and the Normans whose land and sea forces continuously grew could not last forever; it would have lasted less long if Roger had not frequently diverted his activity to the Italian mainland. Some towns capitulated after a long resistance; others came to terms without direct pressure when their doom seemed imminent; the emir of Enna, whose wife had been captured by Roger, accepted baptism and was granted an estate in Calabria. The conquest was completed in 1091 with the bloodless, negotiated surrender of Noto and of the island of Malta.

Reconstruction and reorganization of the island began long before the end of the war. In this trying task the statesmanship of count Roger and of his son and successor, king Roger II, proved equal to their military achievements. During thirty years of warfare the population had been diminished by starvation, death in battle, deportation into slavery, and voluntary exile. Many of the splendid Arab buildings in the towns had been ruined and some villages had been wiped out. The uneasy equilibrium which long association had established among Moslems, Greeks, and Latins had been upset. The Norman knights and the "Lombards" (continental Italians) who immigrated in the early period of the Norman rule added other sharply discordant piece. The feelings of the average Norman toward other nations can be surmised when we read in Fra Malaterra's chronicle that both the Sicilian Greeks and the Calabresi are "ever wicked races"; the equally wicked Apulian Lombards are "never tired of betraying"; the Romans are shamelessly venal and disloyal; the Pisans are cowards interested only in commercial gain; and the Moslems, of course, are the scum of the earth. Granted that bigoted expressions of this kind are not uncommon in medieval writings and may still be heard too often in our own day, they were not a good omen for the moral unification of the Norman state. It took much wisdom and firmness for the new sovereigns to bring out of confusion and hatred one of the most brilliant and harmonious civilizations of the Middle Ages.

Roger I and Roger II owed their outstanding success as sovereigns of Sicily to the fact that they used indiscriminately the talents and labor of all their subjects, and that they chose from every culture the elements which seemed to function best. The local autonomies and religious or national differences they respected, and indeed protected enough to rule a divided country, yet not so much that the country might be split asunder. These policies have been justly praised by many medieval and modern historians of different nations, but they should be called opportunism rather than tolerance. True tolerance appeared only in the later years of the Norman state, under William II, who was a devoted Christian ruling a majority of old or new Christians, but who ignored the Moslem, religious practices of baptized pages in his own palace.

Lastly, it should be remembered that the main lines of the Norman policies largely followed examples which had been set by the earlier rulers of the Sicilian mosaic of peoples — the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Moslems. The Normans may have excelled all of them in many respects, but they did not escape the fate which ibn-Khalden predicts for conquerors. Their dynasty did not outlast one hundred and twenty years.



The Pilgrimages to Palestine before 1095

It is a common trait among men and women to wish to visit the sites connected with the lives of those whom they admire; and the idea of pilgrimage has played a large part in most of the great religions of the world. Before ever the Christian era began pious Buddhists were traveling to pay their respects at the shrines where the Buddha and his chief disciples had lived and taught. Later on Islam was to teach that the journey to Mecca should be the aim of every pious Moslem.

From the earliest times Christians felt a desire to see for themselves the places hallowed by the incarnate God, where Christ was born and preached and suffered. They inherited from the Jews a particular respect for the city of Jerusalem, and as the scene of the crucifixion it became doubly holy to them. Moreover, there soon arose a feeling that the martyrs when suffering for the faith were able to grant a special remission of sins, a libellus or warrant of reconciliation with God; and gradually it was believed that the spot where a martyrdom had occurred acquired something of the remissory power. Calvary, sanctified by the greatest martyrdom of all, was inevitably held to be peculiarly potent. At the same time relics, either the bodily remains of the saints or objects that had played a part in the life of Christ or of a saint, were popularly supposed to possess the same power; and in time, through stages that we cannot now trace, the church gave recognition to what had become an almost universal belief.

During the first two centuries of the Christian era it was not easy to make the pilgrimage to Palestine. Jerusalem itself had been destroyed by Titus, and the Roman authorities did not approve of journeys thither. The fall of Jerusalem had resulted in the triumph of St. Paul's conception of Christianity over that of St. James, and the church sought to stress its universality at the expense of its Jewish origins. But the holy places were not forgotten. It is significant that Hadrian, when he rebuilt Jerusalem, deliberately erected a temple to Venus Capitolina on the site of Calvary. When, after the triumph of the Cross, the empress Helena came to Palestine, the tradition that she found there was strong enough for her to be able to identify all the sacred sites. Even before her time pilgrims had travelled to Palestine. We hear of a bishop, Firmilian of Caesarea-Mazaca (Kayseri), who visited Jerusalem early in the third century, and of another Cappadocian bishop; Alexander, who followed a few years later. Origen about the same time talks of the "desire of Christians to search after the footsteps of Christ."

The official recognition of Christianity, combined with Helena's voyage and her pious labors, which her son Constantine endorsed by building the great churches of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem and the Nativity at Bethlehem, let loose a stream of pilgrims bound for Palestine. The first to leave an account of his travels was a man from Bordeaux, who wrote out his itinerary in the year 333, when the emperor had barely completed his buildings. Some fifty years later an indefatigable lady called Aetheria, who probably came from France or Spain, wrote in detail of her experiences, which included a visit to Egypt and to Mount Sinai. About the end of the century St. Jerome moved to Palestine and settled at Bethlehem, and in his train came a number of fashionable but godly ladies from Rome. By the beginning of the next century the number of monasteries and hostels in Jerusalem where pilgrims could be housed was said to be over three hundred?

The fathers of the church were not altogether happy about this new fashion. Even Jerome, though he recommended a visit to Palestine to his friend Desiderius as an act of faith and declared that his sojourn there enabled him to understand the Scriptures more clearly, confessed that nothing really was missed by a failure to make the pilgrimage. St. Augustine openly denounced pilgrimages as being irrelevant and even dangerous. Of the Greek fathers, St. John Chrysostom, while wishing that his episcopal duties did not prevent him from traveling, mocked at the sight of a whole world in motion merely to look at Job's dung-hill.  St. Gregory of Nyssa remarked that pilgrimages were nowhere enjoined by Holy Writ, and he saw no merit in visiting Jerusalem, which was a rather ordinary town, indeed fuller than most towns of wicked persons, merchants, actors, and prostitutes." But the general public ignored such strictures, preferring to believe that the interesting journey brought spiritual merit as well.

In the middle of the fifth century the empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius, settled in Jerusalem. It was then highly fashionable to reside there; and the empress showed her support of another fashion when she sent to her sister-in-law at Constantinople one of the most precious relics that she could find there, a portrait of the Mother of God said to have been painted by St. Luke. To many of the pilgrims crowding to Palestine half the point of the journey was the possibility of buying some important relic with which to sanctify their churches at home. The greater number of the early saints and martyrs had lived in the east, and it was in the east that their relics could be found. It was now generally held that divine aid could be obtained at the graves of the saints, as the Spaniard Prudentius and the Italian Ennodius taught, while St. Ambrose himself believed in the efficacy of relics and sought to discover some. St. Basil of Caesarea was a little more cautious. He was prepared to believe that relics might have some divine power, but he wished to be absolutely certain of their authenticity. Here again popular enthusiasm was undeterred by the caution of the fathers. The major Christian relics remained in the east, those of Christ being gradually moved from Jerusalem to Constantinople and those of the saints being preserved at their native homes. But it was often possible for a lucky pilgrim to acquire some lesser relic, while others were brought to the west by enterprising merchants. Not only did the hope of successful relic-hunting send more and more pilgrims to the cast, but also the arrival and possession of the relic of some eastern saint in their home town would inspire western citizens to visit the lands where their new patron saint had lived, Whole embassies would be dispatched with orders to bring home relics. Avitus, bishop of Vienne, sent special envoys to find him a piece of the True Cross at Jerusalem. St. Rhadegund, ex-queen of Clothar the Frank, employed agents who brought her a rich haul, including a fragment of the Cross, acquired at Constantinople, and the finger of St. Mamas of Cappadocia, several of whose other bones were obtained by pilgrims from Langres. Women were particularly zealous in this pursuit. It was a lady from Guienne who returned home with a phial containing the blood of St. John the Baptist, and a lady from Maurienne who brought back his thumb.

Throughout the sixth century pilgrims continued to visit the east in great numbers, and several Itineraries were written to help them on their way, such as those of the travelers Theodosius and Antoninus Martyr. There were still constant trade connections with the east; and it was not difficult for a pilgrim to obtain a passage in a merchant-ship, probably Syrian-owned, traveling between Provence or Visigothic Spain and the ports of Syria and Egypt."

With the Arab conquest of Syria and Egypt, the pilgrim-traffic was necessarily interrupted. For some centuries there was no sea-borne trade between the Moslem east and the Christian west. Pirates infested Mediterranean waters. The new rulers of Palestine were suspicious of strangers; and in any case the journey was increasingly expensive, and wealth in the west was declining. But intercourse was not entirely broken off; and the western church still thought with sympathy and longing of the holy places. Many of the popes were still of oriental origin and had oriental connections. In 652 pope Martin I was accused of friendly dealings with the Moslems and acquitted himself by showing that his motive was to be able to send alms to Palestine. While most pilgrims now contented themselves with journeys to nearer shrines, such as Rome, there were still some hardy enough to brave the perils of the east. In 670 the Frankish bishop, Arnulf, set out on travels that brought him to Egypt, Syria, and Palestine and home by Constantinople, but he was away for many years and suffered many hardships. We hear of other pilgrims of the time, such as the Picard, Vulphy of Rue, and the Burgundians, Bercaire and Waimer of Montier-en-Der.

In the eighth century the numbers increased. Pilgrimage was now fashionable amongst the English and the Irish, and seems to have been encouraged by the appearance of numerous Pognitentiedia, little books written by some hierarch recommending types of private penance. They were used first by the Celtic church; and the Anglo-Saxon expansion, combined with the missionary activities of such Celts as St. Columban, introduced them into general usage in the western church, They recommended pilgrimage as a means of penance, though they did not mention specific clesti¬nations.2° The most eminent of the English pilgrims was Willibald, who was to die as bishop of Eichstacht in Bavaria. In his youth, from 722 to 729, he made a long and uncomfortable journey from Rome to Jerusalem and back.21 Relations between the west and the Moslems soon, improved. When Charlemagne entered into some sort of alliance with the caliph Harun ar-Rashid, there was a sufficient number of pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the emperor to find it worth while to obtain permission to have a hostel set up for them in the holy city. There were women again amongst the pilgrims, and there were Spanish nuns living attached to the Holy Sepulcher. There was another slight interruption in the course of the ninth century, owing to the growth of Moslem power in the Mediterranean and the establishment of Arabs in Crete and Sicily and southern Italy. When the Breton Bernard the Wise set out in 870, he had to obtain a passport from the Moslem emir of Bari, which, however, did not permit him to land at Alexandria. When he eventually reached Jerusalem he found Charlemagne's establishments still in working order, but they were shabby and the number of visitors had sadly declined. At the same time the beginning of the Norse invasions of the west added to the perils of travel and brought poverty in their train. Pilgrimages were for a while too expensive for the average man and woman.

By the beginning of the tenth century conditions in the Mediterranean had improved. The Moslems had lost their foothold in southeast Italy and were soon to lose their last pirate-nests in southern France. Crete was recovered for Christendom half way through the century; and the Byzantine fleet was already able to provide an effective police force. The Italian maritime cities were beginning to open up direct commerce with the Moslem ports. In the east the Abbasid caliphate was declining. Its vice-roys in Palestine were ready to welcome visitors who brought money into the country and who could be taxed; and when the Fatimid’s succeeded to the possession of Palestine, the appearance of good-will increased. It was now not difficult for a pilgrim to take a boat at Venice or Bari or Amalfi which would take him direct to Alexandria or some Syrian port. Most pilgrims, however, preferred to sail in an Italian ship to Constantinople and visit the renowned collection of relics there, and then go on by land to Palestine. Land travel was always cheaper than sea travel, and the Byzantine roads through Anatolia down into Syria were excellent, Most of the pilgrims had no other motive than a pious desire to see the holy places; but that certain holy places endowed the visitor with peculiar spiritual merit was now generally accepted. Shrines such as those of St. James at Compostela in Spain or of the archangel Michael at Monte Gargano in Italy, and all the shrines at Rome itself were held to have this quality, but those connected with the actual life of Christ in Palestine naturally outshone the others, The penitential value of a pilgrimage was also widely recognized. The first pilgrim whose name has survived as having made his journey for definitely expiatory reasons was a nobleman called Frornond who went from France to Jerusalem in the mid-ninth century. In the tenth century we hear of many distinguished criminals who followed his example. The crime of murder in particular needed such an expiation. The system had a practical value, for it removed criminals from the community for several months; and if they survived the arduous journey they returned spiritually refreshed.

The names of the pilgrims that are known to us are all of eminent personages, such as Hilda, countess of Swabia, who died on her journey in 969, or Judith, duchess of Bavaria, sister-in-law to Otto I, who was in Palestine in 970. Amongst the pilgrim-noblemen of the tenth century were the counts of Ardêche, Arcy, and Anhalt, Vienne, Verdun, and Gorizia. Amongst the churchmen were the bishop of Olivola, who made his journey in 920, and the abbots of Aurillac, Saint-Cybar, Saint-Aubin, and Flavigny. St. Conrad, bishop of Constance, made the pilgrimage on three separate occasions, and St. John, bishop of Parma, no less than six. Most of these important travelers were accompanied by a number of humbler followers who took advantage of the security that a large and distinguished company offered. It is doubtful if during the early years of the century many poor folk ventured to set out without the protection of some magnate. But in 910 count William I of Aquitaine founded the abbey of Cluny, and in a few decades Cluny became the center of a vast ecclesiastical nexus, closely controlled by the mother-house, which itself owed obedience to the papacy alone. The Cluniacs took an interest in pilgrimage, and soon organized the journey to the Spanish shrines. By the end of the century they were popularizing the journey to Jerusalem and were building hostels along the route for the benefit of poorer pilgrims. They particularly encouraged pilgrims from the neighborhood of their great houses. It was due to their persuasion that the abbot of Stavelot visited Palestine in 990 and the count of Verdun in 997. The great abbot Odilon, though he never succeeded in making the journey himself, induced many of his friends to go. The dukes of Normandy and the counts of Anjou both were devoted patrons of the Cluniac movement; and we find Fulk Nerra of Anjou making three journeys to Palestine, all well merited by his sins, and Richard III of Normandy collecting alms for the Palestinian shrines, which his brother duke Robert visited at the head of a large company in 1035. But it was the poorer folk that the Ourtiacs particularly helped and enabled to go east in smaller independent groups.26

Political events aided the Cluniacs in their work. About the beginning of the eleventh century the mad caliph al-Hakim began to persecute the Christians throughout his dominions and to destroy their churches, including the church of the Holy Sepulcher itself; and during his reign pilgrimage was dangerous. Later, he persecuted the Moslems as well; and after his death there was a reaction in favor of religious toleration. The Byzantine emperor Romanus III made a treaty with al-Hakim's successors allowing him to rebuild the Sepulcher, and the treaty was confirmed in the time of Constantine IX, who sent his own workmen to set about the work. The frontier between Byzantium and the Fatimid caliphate now ran to the Mediterranean near the town of Tortosa; and the frontier-officials were used to pilgrims. In Europe the Hungarians were converted to Christianity in 975; and in 1019 the emperor Basil II, the "Bulgar-slayer", annexed the whole Balkan peninsula to the empire. A pilgrim from central Europe or Flanders could therefore travel through the lands of the western emperor till he reached the Hungarian frontier near Vienna. He then crossed Hungary to the Byzantine frontier-town of Belgrade, and on through the Byzantine empire past Constantinople till he reached the Fatimid frontier between Latakia and Tortosa. It was a simple journey and, for a pilgrim that went by foot, not at all expensive. Pilgrims from France or Italy preferred to go by road to Apulia and cross the narrows of the Adriatic, a short and cheap sea-journey, to Dyrrachium and so on to Constantinople by the Via Egnatia, now cleared of all dangers from Bulgarian marauders. There were several hospices in Italy at which a pilgrim could stay, and a great hospice at Melk in Austria. At Constantinople the hospice of Samson was reserved for western pilgrims and the Cluniacs had a hospice nearby, at Rodosto (Tekirdagh); and at Jerusalem, when many of the older hospices fell into decay the merchants of Amalfi built about 1070 a great hospital dedicated to St. John the Almsgiver.

Sea routes were not abandoned, but were used now mainly by pilgrims from the Scandinavian sphere. From the early years of the tenth century the emperor at Constantinople recruited Norsemen for his palace guard, and by the end of the century they were numerous enough to form a separate regiment, the Varangian Guard. Many Scandinavians would come, either by the old route up and down the Russian rivers and across the Black Sea, or still more, now, past Britain and the Strait of Gibraltar, to Constantinople, and after serving for some years in the emperor's armies and amassing a comfortable fortune there, they would visit Palestine before returning home. Others came merely to visit the holy places. A Varangian officer called Kolskeggr went to Palestine in 992. Harald Hardrade, most illustrious of the Varangians, was therein 1034. The missionary to Iceland, Thorvald Kodransson, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem about the year 990. After Olaf Trygvasson, first Christian king of Norway, mysteriously vanished in woo, many Norse pilgrims claimed to have seen him at the holy places. The Norse princes were particularly given to the crime of murder, and expiatory pilgrimages were therefore common amongst them. The half-Dane, Svein Godwinsson, set out barefoot with a party of Englishmen to seek pardon for a murder, and died of exposure while crossing the mountains of Anatolia. Lagman, king of the Isle of Man, who killed his brother, found peace for his conscience at Jerusalem. Most of the Scandinavian visitors made a round trip, coming by way of Gibraltar and returning by the Russian route.

By the middle of the eleventh century pilgrimages were under-taken on an enormous scale. An endless flow left western Europe in the early spring, uncertain when they would return, traveling sometimes in tiny groups and sometimes in parties of a thousand or more. The great pilgrimage led by German bishops in 10064 to 1065 was said to number over ten thousand men and women and probably in fact numbered seven thousand. It seems that great lords were allowed. to bring an armed escort, so long as it was well under control. But most pilgrims traveled unarmed. The pilgrimage was seldom risky to life, apart from the hazards of the weather in the Anatolian mountains. The roads were usually well policed, and food and water were usually available. The pilgrims were usually given a cordial reception by the local Orthodox at Jerusalem.31 But there were difficulties at times. When the Normans began to attack the Byzantine possessions in southern Italy, Norman pilgrims were treated very coldly by the emperor's officials. There were occasional troubles in Syria when some local emir rebelled against Fatimid rule. In 1055 the Byzantine governor of Latakia refused an exit-visa to bishop Lietbert of Cambrai, on the grounds that it was not safe for Christians to cross the frontier. The bishop, furious at this solicitude, was forced to go instead to Cyprus. He met several hundred Christians who had been turned out of Palestine. The great German pilgrimage, which crossed into Moslem territory against the advice of the Byzantines, found conditions there very unsatisfactory. It must, indeed,  have been difficult for the Moslem authorities to find food for so large and sudden an invasion, and the numbers roused resentment amongst the local Moslem population. There was trouble near Tripoli and a serious skirmish at Ramia. There were perpetual complaints of taxes and tolls levied by local authorities on travelers. The emperor Basil II told his customs-officials to levy a tax on pilgrims and their horses. Pope Victor H asked the empress Theodora to rescind the order in 1056. At the same time he complained that her officials levied taxes at the Holy Sepulcher itself. Presumably the Byzantines claimed the right to collect money there to pay for the work of restorations.

Such inconveniences were not frequent. Throughout the middle years of the eleventh century the travelers grew in numbers, encouraged by the ecclesiastical authorities. Eleventh-century literature bears frequent testimony to the desirability of the pilgrimage. The pilgrim was the exile of Christ, peregrinus or the poor man of Christ, pauper Christi. It seemed to the German pilgrims of 1064 that their coming to Jerusalem was the fulfillment of a prophecy? Pope Gregory VII condemned Cencius, who led a revolt against him in 1075, to the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There seems to have been some doubt how effective one pilgrimage alone was in remitting the sins of great sinners. In 1049 the citizens of Narni saw a multitude of men dressed in glowing raiment passing through their town, and one of these radiant beings declared that they were all souls who had earned everlasting felicity, but were still obliged to continue without ceasing on an endless penitential journey to the holy places. So essential was it considered now to make the pilgrimage that the heroes of the past were provided by popular legend with a journey to the Holy Land. King Arthur was said to have visited Jerusalem, while the pilgrimage of Charlemagne came to be given universal credence. The  effect of it all was to create and sustain in the west an undying interest in the Holy Land and the road to Jerusalem, and to rouse indignant interest when the road seemed likely to be blocked.

The Turkish invasions of Palestine from 1071 onwards did not at first interfere much with the pilgrims. The first Turkish governors were cultured princes who had no wish to suppress a harmless source of revenue. But the collapse of Fatimid power meant the emergence of a number of petty emirates along the road from the north, and every petty emir wished to extract his share of tolls. Every few miles there was a new greedy and officious tax-collector; and when Turkish governor Artuk died in 1091, his sons were less complaisant, fearing that the Christians were working for a Fatimid restoration; and a large number of priests were exiled from the city. The Turkish invasions of Anatolia increased the difficulties of pilgrims. In the course of wars and raids and migrations of whole districts, roads went out of use, villages decayed, bridges fell down, and wells dried up or were deliberately blocked.dm A few well armed and equipped expeditions like that of count Robert I of Flanders in 1089 succeeded in penetrating through to the Holy Land; but most pilgrims suffered the fate of Peter the Hermit who was turned back with insults by the Turks while he was still on his way.

That such difficulties should arise at a moment when the pilgrimage to Jerusalem played so large a part in the minds of western Europeans gave a great impetus to any movement that advocated direct action. Pope Urban's phenomenal success when he preached the crusade at Clermont was due to his combination of the idea of pilgrimage with that of the holy war.