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[Fwd: New Book: "Arabs and Normans in Sicily and the South of Italy"]

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  • Samia al-Kaslaania
    From another list. Samia ... Date: Fri, 22 May 2009 From: brian eskenazi/riverside book company We are very pleased to announce
    Message 1 of 1 , May 22, 2009
      From another list. Samia

      -------- Original Message --------

      Date: Fri, 22 May 2009
      From: brian eskenazi/riverside book company <eskenazi@...>

      We are very pleased to announce the publication of:

      "Arabs and Normans in Sicily and the South of Italy"

      by Adele Cilento and Alessandro Vanoli
      hardcover, 309 pages, 10-1/2 x 12-1/2"
      271 illustrations in color, 4 in b&w, 4 maps
      isbn: 978-1-878351-66-1
      published: April 2008

      Sicily has been at the crossroads of the Mediterranean for thousands of years. As close to
      Africa as it is to many parts of Europe, and directly astride major sea routes, it has been a
      convenient landfall for both merchants and warriors. Its invasion in the year 827 A.D. by
      Muslim armies from North Africa set the stage for a fascinating interplay of cultures. As these
      Arab and Berber soldiers slowly conquered Sicily and extended their reach to parts of the Italian
      mainland, they came in contact with, and for some two hundred years ruled over, Greek-speaking
      Orthodox Christians loyal to the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople, Latin-speaking
      Christians obedient to the pope in Rome, and small but significant communities of Jews.
      As the fortunes of attackers and defenders ebbed and flowed, fortresses and
      castles surrendered, cities and towns changed hands repeatedly, and local populations found
      themselves subject to first one and then another ruler, sometimes in quick succession. Despite the
      often brutal violence, victors and vanquished managed an uneasy accommodation in which
      different languages, multiple religions, and several ethnicities could coexist.
      Adding themselves to this mix, groups of Norman mercenaries arrived in southern Italy
      early in the eleventh century. They quickly found employment with one or another of the local
      Latin-speaking Longobard princes who were in constant conflict with each other and who also
      had to contend with a Greek-speaking Byzantine empire that was trying to expand its territory on
      the Italian mainland. The descendants of Viking raiders who had settled in the French province of
      Normandy, and kin to those who invaded England under William the Conqueror in the year 1066,
      these Normans, or Norsemen, were fierce fighters and soon began to accumulate power and influence
      in the Italian south. Muslims remained in control of Sicily, but the Normans saw their prospects
      improve with the arrival of Robert de Hauteville, a military leader of great energy and ability
      known to history as Robert Guiscard, or Robert "the shrewd one." With his younger brother Roger,
      later known as the Great Count, he eventually conquered Sicily and large parts of southern
      Roger's descendants Roger II, William I, and William II ruled in Sicily as kings until the
      late twelfth century. Very sympathetic to Muslim culture, in their dress and in their tastes they
      were more like Oriental potentates than European monarchs. Served by a civil bureaucracy largely
      staffed by Muslims that drafted documents in Latin, Greek, and Arabic, these Normans presided
      over a monumental building program that produced some of the most breathtakingly beautiful mosaics
      and building interiors in the world. Incorporating both Christian and Muslim motifs,
      these emphasized their divine right to rule as well as the luxury and magnificence of their
      court, in a style and manner meant to echo imperial Byzantium and the splendor of the East.
      This book is written by two expert scholars. It tells a fascinating story about a
      period during the Middle Ages when cultures collided and made war on each other over issues
      of politics, religion, and wealth (much like the present day). With many views of the famous
      mosaics in Cefalù, Monreale, and Palermo, its 275 color illustrations and four maps provide a
      beautiful visual complement to an authoritative text.

      Adele Cilento is Professor of Byzantine History
      at l'Università degli Studi in Florence. She
      received a doctorate in Medieval History from
      l'Università degli Studi in Turin, where she
      began her work on the period of Byzantine rule in
      southern Italy from the ninth to eleventh
      centuries, with particular attention to the
      history of monasticism. Along with her university
      teaching, she is active as a freelance journalist
      with magazines and specialized periodicals such
      as Medioevo. Among her publications are: Potere e
      monachesimo - Ceti dirigenti e mondo monastico
      nella Calabria bizantina, Florence, 2000; and
      Bisanzio in Sicilia e nel sud dell'Italia, Udine,

      Alessandro Vanoli teaches Comparative Politics of
      the Mediterranean at l'Università degli Studi in
      Bologna. He received a doctorate in European
      Social History from l'Università degli Studi in
      Venice, concentrating on the study of Islam and
      its interactions with Jewish and Christian
      culture from the Middle Ages up to the modern
      period. Prof. Vanoli has worked with the Rizzoli
      publishing house on various projects relating to
      Judaism and Islam. Among his publications are: I
      cammini dell'Occidente - Il Mediterraneo tra i
      secoli IX e X, Padua, 2001; Alle Origini della
      Reconquista, Turin, 2003; and La Spagna delle tre
      culture - Tra storia e mito, Rome, 2006.


      Brian Eskenazi
      Riverside Book Company, Inc.
      New York
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