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The Iberian imprint on Medieval Southern Italy

Oldfield, Paul (2008) The Iberian imprint on Medieval Southern Italy. History, 93 (311). pp. 312-327. ISSN 1468-229X

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Abstract

This article explores the Iberian influence on medieval southern Italy from the mid-eleventh to the mid-thirteenth century. While a great deal of historical research has uncovered the impact of many other regions on southern Italy that of Iberia has often been overlooked, at least before the famous Sicilian Vespers. Yet, both regions had notable commonalities and a variety of connections throughout the central middle ages. South Italian rulers demonstrated an enduring interest in the western Mediterranean (particularly in the Balearic Islands) and the security of its seas. King Roger II, William I and Frederick II all married Iberian princesses, each of whom played an important role in south Italian politics. These marriages maintained lines of communication between both regions and brought other Iberians to southern Italy. There is also evidence of contact through the development of scholarly courts and the emergence of centres of learning and translation in southern Italy and Iberia. Underpinning all of these relationships was the Mediterranean itself, which allowed for ease of movement, and on which thriving commercial activity connected the two regions. Finally, faith and pilgrimage offered another outlet for south Italians and Iberians of all denominations to interact with one another.

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