In a comprehensive 2002 account of the Arabic administration of Norman Sicily, the author demonstrates that, contrary to the traditional view, the Normans deliberately imported the island's Arabic administration from contemporary Egypt. He also suggests that its primary function was not administration but the projection of the royal image.
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'This is a compelling and accessible account of the Norman rulers and how they related to their counterparts in the Muslim Mediterranean.' Middle East
'… a meticulous study … It is a welcome addition to the limited corpus dealing with the Arabo-Islamic heritage in Sicily … the advantage of giving specialists in the divergent realms of Norman and Islamic studies glimpses of their familiar territories from a fresh angle … one of the strengths of this study is that it traverses boundaries of language and religion which more frequently remain uncrossed …' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
In the late eleventh century, Sicily - originally part of the Islamic world - was captured by Norman, French and Italian adventurers, led by Roger de Hauteville. For the next 150 years, Roger and his descendants ruled the island and its predominantly Arabic-speaking Muslim population. Jeremy Johns' 2002 book represents a comprehensive account of the Arabic administration of Norman Sicily. While it has generally been assumed that the Normans simply inherited their Arabic administration from the Muslim governors of the island, the author uses the unique Sicilian Arabic documents to demonstrate that the Norman kings restructured their administration on the model of the contemporary administration of Fatimid Egypt. Controversially, he also suggests that, in doing so, their intention was not administrative efficiency but the projection of their royal image. This is a compelling and accessible account of the Norman rulers and how they related to their counterparts in the Muslim Mediterranean.
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