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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311

I: The Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Crusades,   pp. 2-43 PDF (16.9 MB)

Page 6

 On the other hand, the political tradition that Roger II inherited from
his father, count Roger I of Sicily, was quite different from that of the
Apulian and Antiochene members of his house. To be sure, contemporaries looked
on Roger I as a true crusader. Pope Urban II may have invited him to participate
in the First Crusade in 1089 at Troina.3 But the count could not afford to
strain the loyalty of his Saracen subjects by sharing in such a great Christian
enterprise against Islam. Besides, he had more immediate and pressing cares.
He was primarily concerned to heal the scars of war in Sicily, to repopulate
the island and revive its economy. In at least one case we know of, he even
persuaded some pilgrims, passing through Sicily on their way to Palestine,
to stay and settle on land that he granted them.4 When the First Crusade
was getting under way, count Roger was busy helping his nephew duke Roger
Borsa, who had succeeded his father Robert Guiscard, to quell the rebel lions
of his Apulian vassals and cities. It was during one of these joint actions,
at the siege of Amalfi in 1096, that the Norman princes, Bohemond among them,
first encountered crusaders. Bohemond and many another young man in their
armies took the cross. Deserted by the majority of their knights, the two
Rogers "sadly" lifted the siege and returned to their respective
lands. There was no doubt about their unwillingness to participate in any
common enterprise against the "infidels". Indeed, count Roger of
Sicily did not even believe in the religious ideal of the crusades.5 
  K. Erdmann, Die Entstehung des Kreuzzugsgedankens (Stuttgart, 1935), pp.
296 if. Erdmann believes that at the meeting of Troina Urban proposed that
Roger accompany him to Constantinople and participate in the war against
the Turks. On Urban's negotiations with Constantinople, see volume I of the
present work, chapter VII, p. 226. 
 4 The document is printed in K. A. Kehr, Die Urkunden der normannisch-sicilischen
Konige, no. 2 (1085?), p. 410. See Caspar, Roger II, p. 13. It is believed
that Roger I started the policy of settling "Lombards" (Italians)
on the island. It was continued throughout the twelfth and part of the thirteenth
centuries. See Chalandon, Domination normande, I, 349, and Amari, Storia
dei musulmani di Sicilia, III, 223-231. 
  For the scene at Amalfi, see G. Malaterra, De rebus gestis Rogerii Calabriae
et Siciliae comitis et Roberti Guiscardi ducis, IV, 24 (ed. E. Pontieri,
RISS, V, 1927), p. 102; also Anonym: 
gesta Francorum, IV (ed. Hagenmeyer), p. 152: "Coepit tunc ad eum [Bohemundum]
vehementer concurrere maxima pars militum, qui erant in obsidione illa adeo
ut Rogerius comes pene solus remanserit reversusque Siciliam dolebat et maerebat
quandoque gentem amittere suam." In this version, Roger Borsa is not
mentioned; see Caspar, Roger II, p. 14, and E. Pontieri, "I Normanni
dell' Italia meridionale e la prima crociata," Archivio storico italiano,
CXIV (1956), I if. Ibn-al-Athir tells us that count Roger rejected a crusading
proposal on the grounds that this would ruin his trade with the Moslems of
Africa: Al-kamil fi-t ta'rikh . . . [Perfection in History . . . ] (Amari,
BAS, I), pp. 450-452; cf. Amari, Storia dei musulmani, III, 192-193. Giunta
(Medioevo mediterraneo, p. 88) points out that the crusade had no part in
Sicilian tradition; much later, when Henry VI planned his crusade, it was
purely a German venture, looked upon by the Sicilians only as a means of
their being exploited. Compare Cerone, L'Opera . . . di Ruggiero II in Africa
ed in Oriente, p. 10. 

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