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)
6 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 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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