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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 47

Radelgis, hired Saracen mercenaries to fight the duke of Salerno, and provided
them with a landing and camping place just outside Ban. It was foolhardy.
The Saracens made a surprise night-attack upon the city, murdered many of
the inhabitants, enslaved others, and took command of the city. They used
it as their Adriatic base of operations for the next thirty years. In the
same year they also occupied Taranto and to the west plundered throughout
Calabria and* southern Apulia. In the Adriatic their naval squadrons harassed
Christian shipping. Venice, in alarm over these events, gladly answered the
plea of the emperor Theophilus and sent out sixty ships to wrest Taranto
from the marauders, but the entire force was lost. The Adriatic cities themselves
suffered intermittently from attacks. Ancona was plundered and burned in
840; Adria, in the delta of the Po, was unsuccessfully attacked in the same
year; across the sea Ossero on the island of Cherso was pillaged and burnt.
On the sea two Venetian fleets were defeated, one near Ancona in 840, another
at Sansego, just south of Cherso, in 842, and everywhere Venetian merchantmen
were robbed and captured. Venetian control over the Adriatic was disappearing,
and Venetian trade with Sicily and Byzantium was becoming hazardous.~ 
 Many Saracens 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 Ban. 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 Ban, 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 Ban and Taranto, in which they strengthened the walls and towers,
and over the southern provinces of the peninsula. In these areas other Arabs
 ~ References to early Venetian trade with the Saracens are found in A. Schaube,
Handelsgeschichte der romanischen 1/ölker des Mittelmeergebiets bis
zum Ende der Kreuzzüge (Munich and Berlin, 1906), PP. 21—24, but
the references are generally for a later period. In 971 the Byzantine emperor
forbade the Venetians to send iron, arms, and timber to Moslem countries.

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