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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 49

welcome4 the imperial forces, which drove out the Saracens and raised the
siege of Salerno.4 
 But the Saracen threat continued, and the Christian defense deteriorated
in the last decades of the century, before the final decisive battle. The
death of the emperor Louis II introduced civil war among the claimants to
the imperial throne, and the eventual winner, Charles the Bald, could have
little interest in southern Italy when his authority was questioned and his
own Gallic domains were threatened. In southern Italy itself the cities and
their dukes fought one another as before, made commercial and military agreements
with the Saracens instead of presenting a united front, and so permitted
the enemy to regain the initiative. In the Adriatic Saracens, possibly from
Crete, in 872 ravaged the Dalmatian coast, especially the island of Brazza,
and appeared before Grado and burned out Comacchio in 875, but Venetian squadrons
maintained their supremacy there, even though limited by the Saracen occupation
of Sicily and Crete. On land, only the revived Byzantine authority at Ban
stopped the ravages in southeast Italy and in 88o a Byzantine force regained
 But these successes were neutralized by setbacks on the west coast. There,
fear of the revived Byzantine power, hope of avoiding Saracen plunder, and
expectation of commerce with Sicily prompted the Italian cities again to
align themselves with the Moslems. Naples, Gaeta, Salerno, Capua, even Amalfi,
joined with the Saracens to raid the Roman littoral in 876 and 877; Naples
served as the base of Saracen operations. Pope John VIII was unable to prevent
the spoliation of monastic lands and the capture of monks and nuns. Since
he could not obtain aid from Charles the Bald, he was dependent upon the
south Italian cities, who already had made common cause with the enemy, and
upon Byzantium with which he was in conflict over the status of the patriarch
Photius. Eventually, by threat and cajolery, by promise and gift, by negotiation
to have the hated Byzantines patrol the Tyrrhenian Sea, he momentarily detached
the cities from their Saracen alliance, but they returned to it when it served
their interests. Amalfi agreed to protect the Roman coast against attack,
but withdrew when the promised papal subsidy was not completely paid. Thus
in 878 pope John VIII had to buy off the Saracens. To his dismay, 
~ Evidence for trade between Amalfi and the African Saracens appears in this
Merchants of Arnalfi trading in Mahdia were told by an Arab of the impending
attack upon 
Salerno, and he urged them to warn count Waifar. Michele Amari, Storia dei
Musulmani di 
Sicilia (3 vols., Catania, 1933—1939), I, 524—526. The episode
appears in the Chronicon 
Salernitanum (MGH. SS., III), p. 528. 

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