The Normans between Byzantium and the Islamic World

The Normans between Byzantium and the Islamic World


Dumbarton Oaks Papers: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C.(2001)


When dealing with the subject of monetary transactions and exchanges involving the Normans of Italy, Byzantium, and the Islamic world, scholars have been cautioned to use care when discussing terms such as influence (was there a donor culture?), borrowing (was it residual, recent, or antiquarian?), and propaganda which certainly played a role in Norman thinking and practice. What do we mean by “the Normans in Italy”? There were at least three or four Norman Italies: Byzantine, Lombard, Muslim, and French-Norman, each having its own monetary tradition, different from each other and well documented in charters and finds. The many frontiers of medieval Italy are particularly mobile and certainly existed in the period under examination, the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

I begin with a brief summary of the monetary areas in southern Italy in the eleventh century and how these changed in the twelfth. At the time of the Norman conquest of south Italy and Sicily there were essentially three different areas: Apulia, Campania, and Calabria. In Apulia, Byzantine coins were used more consistently than anywhere else, though their use was challenged by Lombard coins of Salerno and by silver denari of the north.

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