The Franks in Italy and the Return of Rome Part 3
According to Collegesanduniversitiesinusa, the team of the Lombard duchy of Benevento loses its vigor as it is detached from the kingdom. Those few thousands of Lombards, here kept quite distinct from the rest of the population, who in the past managed to govern a vast and varied territory, are no longer able to do so. Causes or manifestations of weakness are: the autocratic tendencies of the principles; the spirit of rebellion in the aristocracy of the counts and gastaldi in charge of the cities and provinces; the elective character of the principality; the inability to subdue the regions that constituted the natural outlet to the sea, especially Naples, due to the lack of naval forces and the shrewd tenacity of those coastal cities; the work of disintegration carried out by the Greek empire which presses the principality from three sides; the rivalry between urban centers. Salerno, located on the sea, having become the seat of maritime traffic and exchanges with the interior, almost becoming the actual capital of the principality, in 840 it rebelled against Benevento, giving itself its own duke. After a while, the steward of Capua becomes the first vassal of the Duke of Salerno against Benevento, then ends up being completely independent, he too becomes a duke, finally a prince. This is the time when, even along the coast between Salerno and Capua, three small states emerge, distinct and independent: Naples, Gaeta, Amalfi. In short, political pulverization of the Lombards and Greeks in this region. The cities of Campania represent, together with Venice and, in a century or two, Bari and Genoa and Pisa, the maritime Italy that precedes in innovating socially and politically.
Worse, what happens in Sicily, where there is a rebellion in Byzantium. And the rebellion urges, with or without the invitation of rebellious Sicilians, the Arabs and Berbers, who have become masters of the exarchate of Africa for over a century. For some time, they had appeared threatening in the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas: first those of Spain, then those of Africa. Ponza, Ischia, the Calabrian coast, Sardinia and Corsica had felt the threat. And it was necessary, as King Charles and those who represented him in Italy, to provide for the defense. But now, in 827, 80,000 Berbers landed in Sicily and began to conquer it, to take root there, to tie agreements with lords and cities of southern Italy.
In the nearby mainland the prince of Benevento, Sicardo, is at war with Naples. A Muslim fleet attacks Sicardo and forces him to lift the siege from Naples. Was there a solicitation from the Neapolitans? Of course, these seafaring cities needed to sail in peace and, not being able to buy peace by force, they got it with agreements. Certainly, too, after that time there was a true alliance between Sergio Duke of Naples and the Saracens of Sicily, which lasted a long time. As soon as the Neapolitans felt threatened by Benevento, the Saracens took action, a little for the allies, even more for themselves. And in 837-8, they attacked the Lombard coast of Puglia, occupied Brindisi, then Taranto, of which they made a strong base and center of raids around. Even Radelchi of Benevento, at war with Siconolfo of Salerno, calls or, at least, it hires some. And so other gangs, perhaps from Africa, took Bari in 840, proceeding first between massacres and looting, then with a certain order: agreements with the bishop, promise of religious tolerance and respect for people, etc. Of course, they have a stable domination in sight, as already in Spain. Then, even Siconolfo sets out to hire infidels. Which are thus attracted more and more towards the interior of the country. Those of Bari make their presence felt throughout Puglia; those of Taranto over the whole Lombard Calabria. Around 840, a new Saracen nest, at Capo Miseno: and from here, the Roman countryside is run and sacked almost to the gates of the city; Fondi and Formia burned and destroyed. In short, new “barbarian invasions”, in regions that had already undergone the first invasions or had been spared from the first. Meanwhile, those of Sicily had taken Palermo in 831, perhaps Messina in 843. Then, gradually, almost everything else.