INFORMATION ON SICILY
without Sicily, leaves no image on the soul, here is the key to everything...
Here are some websites on Sicily:
Here is a map of Sicily. To see where Montedoro is located click on the Caltanissetta region. It will be west and slightly south of the city of Caltanissetta.
Here is a brief overview of Sicilian History that I found on the web:
is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a region of Italy.
Sicily covers an area of ca. 25.000 km2 and is mostly mountainous with
a few river plains, the largest in the hinterland of Catania. In ancient
times Sicily was densely forested, but most of the forrests have been
cut down through the centuries. Sicily is currently divided in nine provinces:
Palermo, Trapani, Agrigento, Enna, Caltanissetta, Messina, Catania, Siracusa
(Syracuse) and Ragusa, each named after the provincial capital. The history
of Sicily covers three millennia so this page can only be a short summary.
Greek and Phoenician Colonization
Temple of Segesta
and Phoenician interests, the former expressed mostly by the rulers of
Syracuse, the latter by Cartage, soon collided violently, and for centuries
Sicily was regularly ravaged by war, between the the cities of Greek origin
and Cartage or between the Greek cities themselves. Some cities perished
in the wars, such as Motya in 397 BCE and Selinunte in 250 BCE.
from the Villa del Casale
the fall of the Roman Empire of the West, the situation of Sicily had
to change. The Vandals attacked Sicily from North Africa, first in 440
CE, and in 468-476 they took the whole island. They were soon replaced
by the Ostrogoths who kept control of Sicily until 535, when the Byzantine
general Belisarius conquered Sicily for the Byzantine Empire.
Sicily was only made a part of the Byzantine Empire in 692, but it remained
firmly attached to the eastern Mediterranean, in cultural, economical
and political terms. Sicily remained Greek. The last strings to Rome were
cut when the papal estates in Sicily were confiscated in 726 and the Sicilian
church placed under the patriarch of Constantinoble in 751.
the iconoclasm in Constantinoble the Byzantine hold on Sicily loosened.
In some occasions governors rose against their emperor, and with the Arabs
in control of North Africa the situation became critical. While there
had been numerous cases of attacks by Muslim pirates on Sicilian cities,
the Arabs had made no attempts at conquering the island. In 827 the Byzantine
general Euphemius rebelled, he defeated the governor, took Syracuse and
declared himself emperor. Shortly after one of Euphemius deputies
took up arms against him and Euphemius was forced to ask for help in Africa.
The Arabs were happy to help him out and landed in Mazara with 10.000
men. In the years to come the Arab forces conquered Sicily bit by bit.
Palermo fell in 831, Cefalù in 858, Enna in 859, Syracuse fell
in 878 and only some minor cites held out longer. Taormina fell as the
last in 902.
the fall of Syracuse, 1500 years of Greek cultural dominance in Sicily
ended. It had survived the Romans, the Byzantines and the conversion to
Christianity, but now the capital was plundered and the inhabitants killed
or enslaved. The cultural changes were profound. Christianity ceded to
Islam, Greek language to Arabic, and Palermo became the capital instead
of Syracuse. Antiquity had ended.
Emir of Sicily ruled from Palermo, that now became the leading city. Travelers
wrote that it could rival the large cities of the east in splendor, wealth
and culture. Palermo had over 300 mosques according to an Arab traveler.
Many other cities flourished and new cities were founded.
Muslims werent purged by the new Norman rulers. They were allowed
to remain, to work and to hold public office, which meant that the Arab
way of administration was maintained.
organization of the land, however, did change. The Normans introduced
West European style feudalism, which in effect was a reintroduction of
Arab architects continued to work for the Normal rulers, which led to
a strange architectural style called the Arab-Norman style. Many buildings
from this period can still be seen in Palermo, several with eyecatching
French and Aragon Domination
the expulsion of the Muslims the last thread of the former ties to the
east was cut, and Sicily has since been firmly oriented towards the west.
the Hohenstaufer dynasty in power, Sicily was dragged into a much wider
conflict. The Holy Roman Empire under the Hohenstaufer was in continuing
conflict with the Pope. The Norman rulers had been allied with the Pope
against the emperor, but suddenly Sicily was switched from a pro-papal
stance to one of opposition and the Pope was surrounded by the empire
on all sides. This was not a tenable position, so the Pope tried to drag
the French into Sicilian affairs.
I of Anjou intervened in Sicily and Southern Italy in 1266 at the Popes
request, and he first defeated and killed Manfred, an illegitimate son
of Frederick II, and two years later Conradin, the grandson of Frederick
II. Following this military success an Angevin kingdom was established
in Naples and Sicily, but Sicily soon went its own way.
I had great plans of taking over the Byzantine throne, and to finance
his plans he levied heavy taxed on his subjects. An episode (which may
be legend) in Palermo in 1282, where a French soldier harassed a local
woman on her way to evening mass, the vesper, spurred a popular rebellion,
called the Sicilian Vespers, against the Angevin rule. Within a day the
French garrison in Palermo was overrun, and in a short time the rebellion
had spread to all of Sicily, routing the French garrisons.
local leaders of the uprising soon understood that they had no chance
against a certain Angevin counterstrike, so they offered the Sicilian
crown to Peter III of Aragon and six months after the start of the rebellion
Peter III of Aragon is proclaimed King of Sicily. Both Peter III of Aragon
and Charles I of Anjou died within a few years, passing the claim on Sicily
on to different heirs. Sicily became a separate kingdom ruled by a branch
of the House of Aragon, but the conflict with the Angevins in Naples continued
for decades to come, with repeated and reciprocal invasions in Sicily
and Southern Italy. In 1409 the lines of succession within the House of
Aragon merged and Sicily was reunited with Aragon in Spain.
Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castille married in 1469 and Spain
was united, Sicily and Naples remained part of ever-growing Spanish empire.
With the Spanish expansion in the newly discovered Americas Sicilys
weight within the Spanish empire diminished further.
Spanish hold on Sicily had trembled in the last decades of the 17th century
when several Sicilian cities had rebelled, and when the death of Charles
II of Spain in 1700 lead to the start of the War of Spanish Succession
the future of Sicily became completely open. The only certainty was that
nobody would ask the Sicilians what they thought.
king of Savoy wasnt pleased with Sicily, so he swapped it for Sardinia
in 1720, and Sicily became a possession of Holy Roman Emperor Charles
VI and was subsequently under Austrian rule for a short period.
maintained a role as a semi-autonomous part of the kingdom, almost as
under the Spanish. The Sicilian elite bargained for a de facto autonomy
in internal affairs in return for acceptance of Italian sovereignty and
formal submission to the king.The result was very weak Italian control
of the Sicilian territory, resulting in widespread lawlessness, especially
in the countryside. Brigandage abounded, traveling unarmed impossible,
and bands of outlaws were often employed by the landowners to protect
their property. The Mafia is believed to have its origin among these groups
of paid criminals.
populace of Sicily, who had supported Garibaldi on promises of land reforms,
was deluded. For the common peasant and day-labourer little if anything
changed for the better. In the 1890s the land-labourers organized in the
so-called fasci, which occupied unused land and tried to obtain the promised
reforms of land ownership. Combined membership of all the fasci was as
high as a million. When the armed bands of the landowners couldnt
stop the fasci, the armed forces of the Italian state was called in and
the mostly peaceful movement was violently crushed. Deprived of hope for
a better future, huge numbers of land-workers emigrated to the Americas
in the following decades.
(not to be confused with fasci) didnt have widespread support in
Sicily, but neither did it meet much resistance. In the early 1920s the
fascists launched a high profile campaign against the Mafia, but it was
stopped from above when it closed in on Mafia supporters among the Sicilian
landowners, who were also supporters of the fascists regime.
War II came to Sicily in April 1943 when the Allied forces invaded the
island from N. Africa. Several Sicilian port cities sustained severe damage
from the allied aerial bombardments before and during the invasion.
gamble paid off, and in 1946 Sicily became the Autonomous Region of Sicily,
partly funded by the Italian state, but with self rule in practically
all internal affairs. When the republican constitution was adopted in
1948, the autonomy of Sicily was written into it.
as the landowners and the Mafia got organized after the war, so did the
peasants. In a movement that was almost a repeat of the fasci movement
sixty years earlier, the land workers formed cooperatives, occupied unused
land and demanded a land-reform. They were violently opposed by the landowners
and the Mafia in unison and hundreds of their leaders were assassinated.