26.02.

1154: Roger II – King of Sicily of Viking Origin with Arab Scientists at his Court

1154: Roger II – King of Sicily of Viking Origin with Arab Scientists at his Court
Photo Credit To http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2427/4098747118_b3b97e63b8.jpg

The court of Roger II was one of the most splendid and cultured in Europe. It is interesting that Roger’s royal cape had inscriptions in Arabic script, even though he was a Christian.

On this day the first man in history who bore the title of King of Sicily – the mighty Roger II from Hauteville dynasty – died. Why was Sicily, in his time, particularly important for Europe? Specifically, it represented a bridge between medieval Europe and the culturally more developed Arab countries. The court of Roger II was one of the most splendid and cultured in Europe.

It is an important fact that Roger II was of Norman origin. The Normans were descendants of Vikings who had come from Scandinavia to northern France and settled there. The country was named Normandy after them and the name has remained in use till this day. The Normans were very expansive and in 1066 they managed to rule in England (famous William the Conqueror). Indeed, the Normans conquered even countries in the Mediterranean Sea – in Southern Italy and Sicily. Of particular significance was the Norman Hauteville family – descended from Tancredo de Hautevillea, once a lord of a relatively small estate in Normandy. His numerous sons were able to dominate the whole range of properties in southern Italy and Sicily:

– William “Iron arm” became the count of Apulia
– Robert Guiscard “the Cunning” became duke of Apulia
– Roger I Boson became count of Sicily

The mentioned Roger II of Sicily was precisely the son of Roger I Boson. King Roger II united the Norman possessions in southern Italy, so he eventually ruled the entire area from the island of Sicily to the vicinity of Rome. His capital was in the city of Palermo in Sicily. At his court he also had Arab scholars, including the famous cartographer Al-Idrisi. It is interesting that Roger’s royal cape had inscriptions in Arabic script, even though he was a Christian.

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