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 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 settled ~ 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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