Friday, May 4, 2012

Sicily Joins Europe!

This happened in the 1060s with the Norman Conquest led by Robert Hauteville and several of his brothers, including Roger. Known to history as Roger I, he was never king but he did sire Sicily's first king, Roger II. From the fall of the Western Roman Empire until the second half of the eleventh century, Sicily was ruled from Constantinople and then from North Africa and was not always regarded as "Western European." The Normans brought it into the Western orbit.

The copper tarì shown here dates from Roger's 30-year reign as Great Count of Sicily and - to the island's Arabs - Emir of Emirs. Originally an Arab coin, the tarì was minted, in one form or another, until 1860. It's just one of many pieces of Sicilian culture that disappeared when the island was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Read about Roger I of Sicily in this month's magazine.

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