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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

I: The Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Crusades,   pp. 2-43 PDF (56.8 KB)


Page 22

 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES II 
guarantees against Savonese piracy and the promise of one Savonese galley
to help police the sea from Savona to Sicily and from "Nubia" (Numidia)
to Tripoli.31 
 Until the peace of Mignano in 1139, when his hold on the Italian mainland
was finally made secure, Roger could interfere in Mahdia actively only in
1134-1135 during a short lull in Europe. Meanwhile, however, he spun the
net of intrigue in which he eventually trapped his victim. He used "peaceful"
infiltration, political and economic blackmail, and intimidation, as well
as force. In 1134 Roger heeded the call of al-Hasan for help against Yahya,
the emir of Bougie, who was besieging Mahdia. Roger's navy helped to relieve
Mahdia. Although al-Hasan would not allow the Sicilians to destroy his rival,
he was keenly aware of his need for Roger's friendship, and accepted his
hard terms for a defensive and offensive alliance. 
 In 1 135 Roger sent a strong force that included Frankish knights and Moslems
from Sicily to the Gulf of Gabes in order to take the island of Jerba. It
was his first conquest in this region, and proved an excellent base for future
operations. The conquerors mistreated the population, described as consisting
of criminals and freebooters who "had never before obeyed the rule of
a sultan". Those who survived the first onslaught were reduced to servitude,
and the island was subjected to the rule of an official (Arabic, 'amil) appointed
by Roger. The intervention at Mahdia and the conquest of Jerba, though not
followed by new military aggressions for several years to come, caused considerable
stir among Roger's enemies. Arab observers predicted the doom of the "province
of Mahdia" and, as we saw above, Roger's successes gave the Byzantine
and Venetian ambassadors at Merseburg grounds for apprehension. 
 In 1141-1142, with famine and plague harassing the people of Tunisia, Roger
demanded that his agents be paid what the emir owed them. When al-Hasan declared
his insolvency, Roger sent twenty-five ships under the command of George
of Antioch, who confiscated Egyptian ships anchored in the harbor of Mahdia
and a ship belonging to al-Hasan, about to sail for Cairo with gifts for
the caliph al-Hafiz. Next, Roger forced new agreements upon al-Hasan, attaching
so many conditions that, as one Arab author puts it, al-Hasan was in the
position of Roger's 'amil. Roger 
 31 Caspar, Roger II, Regesten, no. 54. The treaty is printed in G. Filippi,
"Patto di pace tra Ruggiero II normanno e la città di Savona,"
Archivio storico napoletano, XIV (1889), 750-757. On its content, see Caspar,
Roger II, pp. 77-78, and Cohn, Geschichte der Flotte, pp. 23 ff. The printed
text has Nubia, but this must be an error for Numidia. 


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