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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years

II: Conflict in the Mediterranean before the First Crusade,   pp. [30]-[79] PDF (10.8 MB)

Page 42

gotiations were undertaken and a truce was signed in 728, but the truce did
not prevent the raids of i8o 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 73~ 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 Aghiabid 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 halo-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 defeat the Arabs at the Garigliano river. 
 The century began auspiciously. In 805 IbrãhIm ibn-al-Aghlab, the
emir at Kairawan, signed a ten-year truce and trade agreement 
 1 However, it must also be noted that Byzantine naval policy toward the
west deserved little loyalty and gratitude from the Italian dukes and cities.
That it was a policy of short-. sighted neglect has been pointed out by John
B. Bury, "The Naval Policy of the Roman Empire in Relation to the Western
Provinces from the Seventh to the Ninth Century," 
Cenzenario della nascith di Michele Amari (z vols., Palermo, 191o), II, 21—34,
esp. pp. z5f. 

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