Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years
II: Conflict in the Mediterranean before the First Crusade, pp. - PDF (10.8 MB)
Ch. II THE ITALIAN CITIES AND THE ARABS 43 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 Idrisids. In Europe Charlemagne fitted out an Aquitanian and an Italian fleet, partially built and panned 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 8o6 and 8io. In one of these, in 8o6, 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 8rz. 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 Aghiabids 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 Aghiabid 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.
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