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 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 Taranto. 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 episode. 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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