Migrant Society to Island Nation: Sicily
By Charles Dalli
Immigration and emigration in historical perspective, edited by Ann Katherine Isaacs (Pisa University Press, 2007)
Abstract: The Norman conquest of Muslim Sicily resulted in the establishment of a new Latin Christian polity at the strategic crossroads of the Mediterranean world. From a province of Dar al-Islam, the island was gradually transformed into a Latin Christian society. Despite the lack of any reliable statistical data, enough evidence survives which points to the central role played by Latin Christian immigration from different parts of the Italian peninsula as well as lands beyond the Alps, in this transformation of the largest Mediterranean island. In particular, the Lombard communities mentioned by the chroniclers of 12th-century Sicily seem to have played a leading role in the inter- ethnic and religious strife which characterized the breakdown of coexistence at the end of the Norman period. The deportation of the last Muslims of the island to Lucera was completed by the mid-13th century. Less then two hundred years from the Norman conquest, the process of change was fundamentally completed: the Arabic-speaking, Muslim population taken by the Norman conquerors in the late 11th century had given way to a new population which was integrated into Roman Christianity, speaking varieties of the same romance tongue, and identifying themselves as Sicilians.