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was steady, it was so slow that an observer might have forecast its result as an eventual division between the two races, a repetition of the old division between Greeks and Phoenicians. But history did not repeat itself thus. The Greek states in the days of Gelon and of Dionysios were of different metal from the provincials who were under the protection of the Eastern Emperors. The Arabs were to do what the Phoenicians had failed to do, and make the whole island a portion of Asia in Europe.
The record, which has come down to us, of the incidents of the warfare chronicles the gradual reduction of town after town, fort after fort, but is so meagre that it offers little instruction or interest We may note the most important stages in the conquest and observe the efforts made by the Imperial government to drive out the invaders. The forces which had been sent by the Emperor Michael to the relief of Syracuse were commanded by Theodotos, a patrician who was not without military talent. He followed the enemy to Castrogiovanni, where he was defeated ? and driven to take refuge in the fortress, which the Arabs, after the death of Euphemios continued to besiege. But Theodotos soon had his revenge.
Sallying forth and gaining a victory, he surrounded and besieged the camp of the besiegers. They tried to escape at night, but the Greek general, foreseeing such an attempt, had secretly abandoned his own camp, and laid an ambush. Those who escaped from his trap made their way to Mineo, where he blockaded them so effectively that they were reduced to eating the flesh of dogs.
The Arab garrison in Agrigentum, seeing that the tide had turned, withdrew to Mazara ; and in the summer of A.D. 829 only Mazara and Mineo, far distant from each other, were held by the invaders. At this moment a powerful armament from Constantinople might have been decisive. But no reinforcements were sent. The successes of Theodotos
1 A seal of Theodotos (dLOUTATŲ πατρικίω βασιλικό πρωτοσπαθαρία dlockntņ Eckelias) is preserved, and as it may be referred to the ninth century probably belongs to this Theodotos. Schlumberger, Sig. 215.
2 Nuwairi (175) says that ninety “patricians” were taken prisoners.
“ Patrician" is used very loosely by Arabic writers, and here can mean no more than officer. Vasil'ev seems to take it literally (74).
3. During the siege Mohammad died and the army elected Zuhair to the command.
were probably taken to show that he would be able to complete his task alone, and then the death of Michael intervened. But if the government reckoned thus, it reckoned without Africa and Spain. Two hostile fleets sailed to the Sicilian shores. Ziadat Allah sent a new armament, and a Spanish squadron came to join in the warfare, for the sake of plunder, not of conquest, under Asbag ibn Wakil. The African Moslems, hard pressed at Mineo, proposed common action to the Spanish adventurers, and the Spaniards agreed on condition that Asbag should be the commander-in-chief and that the Africans should provide horses. But the confederates carried on their operations separately. Asbag and his men marched first to Mineo, which, still blockaded by Theodotos, must have been suffering the last distresses of hunger. They defeated the besiegers and Theodotos fell in the battle.3 Asbag burned Mineo, but his career was almost immediately cut short. A pestilence broke out among his troops while he was besieging another stronghold, and, like Asad, he fell a victim to the infection. His followers returned to Spain.
Meanwhile the Africans had laid siege to Panormos. This city held out for a year, but it seems to have been an easier place to besiege than Syracuse or Castrogiovanni. In the autumn of A.D. 831 the commander of the garrison surrendered, having bargained for the safety of himself, his family, and his property. The inhabitants were treated as prisoners of war. The bishop of Panormos escaped to Constantinople, bearing the news of the calamity.? The anxiety of the Emperor Theophilus to come to terms with the 1 Ibn al-Athir, 94 (A.D. 829). He
5 The siege
began Aug. 830 adds "the general number of ships (Nuwairi, ib.): the date of the capitureached 300. Amari, Storia, i. 288.
lation was Sept. 831.
See 1. Ibn 2 The Arabic writers are not clear al-Athir, 94, in the month corre. about the date. They mention the sponding to Aug. 14-Sept. 12, 831 ; arrival of the Andalusians under A.H. and 2. Cambridge Chronicle, 24, A. M. 214=A.D. 829 March-830 Feb. (Ibn 6340, ind. 10, which began Sept. 1, Adari, 146, Ibn al-Athir, ib.), but from 831. These notices together fix the Ibn Adari's narrative we may probably date between the 1st and 12th of Sept. date it (with Amari and Vasil'ev) to Cp. Vasil'ev, 107. On the other hand, there
6 See Joann. Neap. 430 ; De S. reason for not accepting
Philareto (who was put to death) in A.D. 829 as the date of the sending
A.S.S. April 8, t. i. 753., of the reinforcements from Africa. 3 July-August: Nuwairi, 175.
? He was accompanied by Simeon, 4 G. I-wali (Ibn Adari, ib.) Perhaps a spatharios (it has been conjectured Calloniana = Caltanisetta (Vasil'ev, that he was the governor, cp. Vasil'ev, 106).
107). Joann. Neap. 430.
A.H. 215. seems no
Caliph Mamun, points to his desire to concentrate the forces of the Empire on the defence of Sicily. But though he failed to secure peace in the East, we should expect to find that he made some extraordinary effort on the news of the fall of Panormos. There is, however, no record of the despatch of any new armament or relief to the western island at this time.
The winning of such an important basis and navall station marks the completion of the first stage in the Moslem conquest. If the operations hitherto had been somewhat of the nature of an experiment, the African Emir was now confirmed in his ambitious policy of annexing Sicily, and Panormos was the nucleus of a new province over which he appointed Abu Fihr as governor. It is probable that during the next few years progress was made in reducing the western districts of the island, but for nine years no capture of an important town or fortress marked the advance of the invaders. Abu Fihr and his successors won some battles, and directed their arms against Castrogiovanni, which on one occasion almost fell into their hands. Kephaloedion, on the north coast, now called Cefalù, was attacked in A.D. 838, but timely help arriving from Constantinople forced the enemy to raise the siege. It is probable that the success of the Greeks in stemming the tide of conquest was due to the ability of the Caesar Alexios Musele, who was entrusted with the command of the Sicilian forces. He returned to Constantinople (perhaps in A.D. 839) accused of ambitious designs against the throne, and after his departure the enemy made a notable advance by reducing the fortresses of Corleone, Platani, and Caltabellotta—the ancient Sican fortress of Kamikos (A.D. 840). Two or three years later, Al-Fald i See above p. 255.
5 Simeon (Cont. Georg. 794) otpatn. 2 Fald ibn Yakub and Abu 'l-Aghlab
λάτης και δούκα της Σικελίας.
The Ibrahim (A. D. 835).
appointment seems to have followed
soon after the marriage with Maria A.D. 837. Vasil'ev, 113. Some
(c. A.D. 836, see Appendix VI.). Acc. fortresses were taken (apparently on to Cont. Th. 108, Alexios was sent to the north coast) in A.D. 836, 837. Longobardia." Ibn al-Athir, 95; Ibn Adari, 147 6 Kurlun, Iblatanu, Hisn al-Ballut (whose M-d-nar is taken by Amari to
(Ibn al-Athir, ib.) He adds Marw, represent Tyndaris ; Amari ad loc. and
while Nuwairi (175) adds M.r.a. and Storia, i. 305-306). The Arabs also H.rha. The last supposed to be operated in the region of Etna in A.D. Gerace. M.r.a or Marw has been con836, Ibn al-Athir, ib.
jectured to be Marineo, or Calatamauro. 4 Ibn al-Athir, ib. “large maritime See Vasil'ev, 149. Amari, Storia, forces of the Greeks arrived in Sicily." i. 310.
achieved the second great step in the conquest, the capture of Messina. Aided by Naples, which had allied itself to the new power in Sicily, he besieged the town by land and sea, and after all his assaults had been repelled, took it by an artifice. Secretly sending a part of his forces into the mountains which rise behind the city, he opened a vigorous attack from the sea-side. When all the efforts of the garrison were concentrated in repelling it, the concealed troops descended from the hills and scaled the deserted walls on the landward side. The town was compelled to capitulate.
The invaders had now established themselves in two of the most important sites in Sicily; they were dominant in the west and they held the principal city in the north-east. In a few years the captures of Motyke 2 and its neighbour Ragusa gave them a footing for the conquest of the southeast. An army which the Empress Theodora sent to the island, where a temporary respite from the hostilities of the Eastern Saracens had been secured, was defeated with great loss ; 4 and soon afterwards the warrior who had subdued Messina captured Leontini. When Al-Fald laid siege to it, the Greek stratêgos marched to its relief, having arranged with the garrison to light a beacon on a neighbouring hill to prepare them for his approach. Al-Fald discovered that this signal had been concerted, and immediately lit a fire on three successive days.
successive days. On the fourth day, when the relieving army ought to have appeared, the besieged issued from the gates, confident of victory. The enemy, by a
1 The siege began in 843 or end of that the Greek army was largely 842 (in A.H. 228 which began Oct. 16, composed of troops of the Charsian 842, Ibn al-Athir, 95). In the same year province. The army would have been M.s.kan was taken: Amari (Storia, sent soon after the exchange of i. 314) identifies it with Alimena, captives in A.D. 845 (see above, p. 275), north-west of Castrogiovanni.
and the battle may have been fought 2 Modica,
845. Cambridge early in 846 (Vasil'ev). It is probably Chrom. 26, ind. 8 “Tuảo ngay và
to be identified with the battle which καστέλλια της τουρακιναίας και ο άγιος
Ibn al-Athir (96) records in A.D. 'Ανανίας της Μούτικας. Can Turakinaia 843-844, for he says that more than conceal Trinakia?
10,000 Greeks fell, and acc. to the Cam
bridge Chron. 9000 were slain. Ibn A.D. 848. Ragusa ('Poyol) seems to
al-Athir mentions the place of the be the ancient Hybla.
battle as Sh-r-t; Amari (ad loc.) 4 Cambridge Chron. ind. 9 (Sept. would identify it with Butera north of 845-Aug. 846) εγένετο ο πόλεμος του Gela. The Saracen general was Xapšaviti, which Amari and Vasil'ev Abu 'l-Aghlab al-Abbas, afterwards explain with probability by supposing governor.
feigned flight, led them into an ambush, and the city, meanwhile, was almost undefended and fell an easy prey.
The irregularity in the rate of progress of the conquest may probably be explained, at least in part, by the fact that the Moslems were engaged at the same time in operations in Southern Italy, which will presently claim our attention. For more than ten years after the fall of Leontini, the energy of the invaders appears to have flagged or expended itself on smaller enterprises ;2 and then a new period of active success begins with the surrender of Kephaloedion (A.D. 857-858). A year or so later, the mighty fortress of the Sicels 4 and now the great bulwark of the Greeks in the centre of the island, Castrogiovanni, was at last subdued. The capture of this impregnable citadel was, as we might expect, compassed with the aid of a traitor. A Greek prisoner purchased his life from the Arab governor, Abbas, by undertaking to lead him into the stronghold by a secret way. With two thousand horsemen Abbas proceeded to Castrogiovanni, and on a dark night some of them penetrated into the place through a watercourse which their guide pointed out. The garrison had no suspicion that they were about to be attacked; the gate was thrown open, and the citadel was taken (Jan. 24, A.D. 859). It was a success which ranked in importance with the captures of Panormos and Messina, and the victors marked their satisfaction by sending some of the captives as a gift to the Caliph Mutawakkil.
The fall of Castrogiovanni excited the Imperial government to a new effort. A fleet of three hundred warships
1 Date : between Aug. 846 and Aug. In the following year the Arabic 847 : Ibn al-Athir, ib., Cambridge writers chronicle depredations and Chron. 26.
the captures of unnamed forts. 2 In 851 Caltavuturo
A.H. 243=April 857-April 858. mountains south of Cefalù) was taken. 4 The Cambridge Chronicle calls it In the same year the governor Abu by its old name : "Evve (28). ’l- Aghlab Ibrahim died and Abu 5 The stratêgos of Sicily had re’l-Aghlab Abbas was elected in his moved his headquarters from Syracuse stead. A.D. 854 was marked by the to Castrogiovanni, as a safer place. siege of Butera (Boońp): the Cambridge Ibn al-Athir, 97. Chronicle, 28, states that it was taken 6 In A.D. 858 a naval battle was then, but Ibn al-Athir (103) that fought, in which the Greeks were after a siege of five or six months victorious. The Greek vessels, forty the inhabitants bought themselves in number, were commanded by "the off. So Ibn Adari (147 and in Cretan” (Nuwairi 175) whom Vasil'ev Vasil'ev, Pril. 114), who adds that proposes to identify with Joannes S-kh (or m)-r-n was taken. Amari Creticus, stratêgos of Peloponnesus conjectures Kamarina (Storia, i. 324). under Basil I. (Cont. Th. 303). The