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Weddinginsicily Taormina  weddinginsicily

Sicily history

The Island of Sicily
Sicily (Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia) is an autonomous region of Italy. Of all the regions of Italy, Sicily covers the largest land area at 25,708 square kms and
currentlyhas just over five million inhabitants.

It is also the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, several much smaller islands surrounding it are also considered to be part of Sicily.
Along with Sardinia, the island is officially classified as a region of Insular Italy. Throughout much of its history, Sicily has been considered a crucial strategic
location due in large part to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes.
The area was highly regarded as part of Magna Graecia, with Cicero describing Siracusa as the greatest and most beautiful city of all Ancient Greece.
Although a region of Italy today, Sicily was once its own country as the Kingdom of Sicily, ruled from Palermo.
The kingdom originally ruled over the island, the southern Italian Peninsula and Malta before the
Sicilian Vespers.
It later became a part of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons, with the capital in Naples rather than Sicily.
Since that time the Italian unification has taken place and Sicily is now an autonomous part of Italy.
Sicily is considered to be highly rich in its own unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, cuisine, architecture and language.
The Sicilian economy is largely based on agricolture (mainly orange and lemon orchards, olive oil, wine and olives); this same rural countryside has attracted
significant tourism in the modern age as its natural beauty is highly regarded.
Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica and the Valley of the Temples


Ancient Tribes
The original inhabitants of Sicily were three defined groups of the Ancient peoples of Italy.
The most prominent and by far the earliest of which was the Sicani, who according to Thucydides arrived from the Iberian Peninsula (perhaps Catalonia). Important historical evidence has been discovered in the form of cave drawings by the Sicani, dated from the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, around 8000 BC.
The Elymians, thought to be from the Aegean Sea, were the next tribe to migrate to join the Sicanians on Sicily.
Although there is no evidence of any wars between the tribes, when the Elymians settled in the north-west corner of the island, the Sicanians moved across eastwards.
From mainland Italy, thought to originally have been Ligures from Liguria, came the Sicels in 1200 BC; forcing the Sicanians to move back across Sicily settling in the middle of the island.


Greek and Roman Period
About 750 BC, the Greeks began to colonise Sicily, establishing many important settlements. The most important colony was Syracuse;
other significant ones were Akragas, Gela, Himera, Selinunte, and Zancle.
The native Sicani and Sicel peoples were absorbed by the Hellenic culture with relative ease, and the area was part of Magna Graecia along with the rest of Southern Italy, which the Greeks had also colonised.
Sicily was very fertile, and the introduction of olives and grape vines flourished, creating a great deal of profitable trading.
A significant part of Greek culture on the island was that of Greek religion and many temples were built across Sicily, such as the Valley of
the Temples
at Agrigento.
Politics on the island was intertwined with that of Greece; Syracuse became desired by the Athenians, who during Peloponnesian War set
out on the Sicilian Expedition. Syracuse gained Sparta and Corinth as allies, as a result the Athenian army and ships were destroyed, with
most of the survivors being sold into slavery. While Greek Syracuse controlled much of Sicily, there were a few Carthagian colonies in the
far west of the island. When the two cultures began to clash, the Sicilian Wars erupted. Greece began to make peace with the Roman
Republic in 262 BC and the Romans sought to annex Sicily as its empire's first province.

Rome intervened in the First Punic War, crushing Carthage so that by 242 BC Sicily had become the first Roman province outside of the Italian Peninsula.The Second Punic War, in which Archimedes was killed, saw Carthage trying to take Sicily from the Roman Empire. They failed and this time Rome was even more unrelenting in the annihilation of the invaders; during 210 BC the Roman consul M. Valerian, told the Roman Senate that "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily".
Sicily served a level of high importance for the Romans as it acted as the empire's granary, it was divided into two quaestorships in the form of Syracuse to the east and Lilybaeum to the west. Although under Augustus some attempt was made to introduce the Latin Language to the island, Sicily was allowed to remain largely Greek in a cultural sense, rather than a complete cultural Romanisation. When Verres became governor of Sicily, the once prosperous and contented people were put into sharp decline, in 70 BC noted figure Cicero condemned the misgovernment of Verres in his oration In Verrem
.Christianity first appeared in Sicily during the years following AD 200, between this time and AD 313 when Constantine the Great finally lifted the prohibition, a significant number of Sicilians became martyrs such as Agatha, Christina, Lucy, Euplius and many more.
Christianity grew rapidly in Sicily during the next two centuries, the period of history where Sicily was a Roman province lasted for around 700 years in total.


Early Middle Ages
As the Roman Empire was falling apart, a Germanic tribe known as the Vandals took Sicily in AD 440 under the rule of their king Geiseric.
But they soon lost these newly acquired possessions to another East Germanic tribe in the form of the
Goths. The Ostrogothic conquest of Sicily under Theodoric the Great began in 488; although the Goths were Germanic, Theodoric sought to revive Roman culture and government and allowed freedom of religion. The Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire. Sicily was the first part of Italy to be taken under general Belisarius who was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian I. Sicily was used as a base for the Byzantines to conquer the rest of Italy. However, a new Ostrogoth king Totila, drove down the Italian peninsula, plundering and conquering Sicily in 550. Totila was defeated and killed in the Battle of Taginae by the Byzantine general Narses in 552. Byzantine Emperor Constans II decided to move from the capital Constantinople to Syracuse in Sicily during 660, the following year he launched an assault from Sicily against the Lombard Duchy of Benevento, which then occupied most of Southern Italy. The rumours that the capital of the empire was to be moved to Syracuse, cost Constans his life as he was assassinated in 668. His son Constantine IV succeeded him, a brief usurpation in Sicily by Mezezius being quickly suppressed by the new emperor. Contemporary accounts report that the Greek language was widely spoken on the island during this period.


In 826, Euphemius, the commander of the Byzantine fleet at Sicily, forced a nun into marriage. Emperor Michael II caught wind of the matter,
and ordered that general Constantine end the marriage, and cut off Euphemius' nose. Euphemius rose up, killed Constantine and proceeded to
occupy Syracuse; he in turn was defeated and driven out to North Africa. He offered rule of Sicily over to Ziyadat Allah, the Aaghlabid Emir of
Tunisia, in return for refuge, and the rank of a general; a Muslim army of Arabs, Berbers, Spaniards, Cretans and Persians was sent.
The conquest was a see-saw affair, with considerable resistance and many internal struggles; it took over a century for Byzantine Sicily to be
conquered. Syracuse held for a long time, Taormina fell in 902, and all of the island was eventually conquered by 965. Throughout this reign,
revolts by Byzantine Sicilians continuously occurred, especially in the east and parts of the island were re-occupied before being quashed.
Agricultural items such as oranges, lemons and pistachio were brought to Sicily. As ddhimmis, the native Christians were allowed freedom of
religion, but had to pay an extra tax to their rulers. However, the Emirate of Sicily began to fragment as intra-dynastic quarreling fractured the
Muslim regime. During this time there was also a minority Jewish presence. By the 11th century, mainland Southern Italian powers were hiring
ferocious Norman mercenaries, who were Christian descendants of the Vikings; it was the Normans under Roger I who conquered Sicily from the Arabs. After taking Calabria, he occupied Messina with an army of 700 knights. In 1068, Roger guiscard and his men defeated the Arabs at Misilmeri, but the most crucial battle was the siege of Palermo, which led to Sicily coming completely under Norman control by 1091.


Kingdom of Sicily
Palermo continued on as the capital under the Normans. Roger's son, Roger II of Sicily, was ultimately able to raise the status of the island to a kingdom in 1130, along with his other holdings which included the Duchy of Apulia and Calabria and the Maltese Islands. During this period the Kingdom of Sicily was prosperous and politically powerful, becoming one of the wealthiest states in all of Europe; even wealthier than England. Significantly, immigrants from Northern Italy and Campania arrived during this period. Linguistically, the island became Latinised. In terms of church, it would become completely Roman Catholic; previously, under the Byzantines, it had been more Eastern Christian. After a century the Norman Hauteville dynasty died out, the last direct descendent and heir of Roger; Constance married Emperor Henry VI. This eventually led to the crown of Sicily been passed on to the Hohenstaufen Dynasty who were Germans from Swabia. Conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy, led in 1266 to Pope Innocent IV crowning Angevin Dynasty duke Charles I as the king of both Sicily and Naples. Strong opposition of the French officialdom due to mistreatment and taxation saw the local peoples of Sicily rise up, leading in 1282 to an insurrection known as the War of the Sicilian Vespers, which eventually saw almost the entire French population on the island killed.

During the war the Sicilians turned to Peter III, son-in-law of the last Hohenstaufen king, of the Kigdom of Aragon for support after being rejected by the Pope. Peter gained control of Sicily from the French though the French retained control of the Kingdom of Naples. The wars continued until the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw Peter's son Frederick III recognised as king of the Isle of Sicily, while Charles II was recognised as the king of Naples by Pope Boniface VIII.
Sicily was ruled as an independent kingdom by relatives of the kings of Aragon until 1409 and then as part of the Crown of Aragon.


The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 saw Ferdinand I decreeing the expulsion of every single Jew from Sicily. The island was hit by two very serious earthquakes in the east in both 1542 and 1693, just a few years before the latter earthquake the island was struck by a ferocious plague. There were revolts during the 17th century, but these were quelled with significant force especially the revolts of Palermo and Messina. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 saw Sicily assigned to the House of Savoy, however this period of rule lasted only seven years as it was exchanged for the island of Sardinia with Emperor Charles VI of the Austrian Habsburg Dynasty. While the Austrians were concerned with the War of the Polish Succession, a Bourbon prince, Charles from Spain was able to conquer Sicily and Naples. At first Sicily was able to remain as an independent kingdom under personal union, while the Bourbons ruled over both from Naples. However the advent of Napoleon's FirstFrench Empire saw Naples taken at the Battle of Campo Tenese and Bonapartist Kings of Naples were instated.
Ferdinand III the Bourbon was forced to retreat to Sicily which he was still in complete control of with the help of British naval protection.
Following this, Sicily joined the Napoleonic Wars, after the wars were won Sicily and Naples formally merged as the Two Sicilies under the
Bourbons. Major revolutionary movements occurred in 1820 and 1848 against the Bourbon government with Sicily seeking independence; the
second of which, the 1848 revolution was successful and resulted in a sixteen month period of independence for Sicily, until the armed forces
of the Bourbons regained control by May 1849.


Italian Unification
After the Expedition of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860 as part of the risorgimento. The conquest started at Marsala and was finally completed with the Siege of Gaeta where the final Bourbons were expelled and Garibaldi announced his dictatorship in the name of Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia.
An anti-Savoy revolt pushing for Sicilian independence erupted in 1866 at Palermo; this was quelled brutally by the Italians within just a week. The Sicilian economy collapsed, leading t oun unprecedented wave of emigration.Organisations of workers and peasants known as the Fasci Siciliani, who were leftist and separatist groups rose and caused the Italian government to impose martial law again in 1894.
The Mafia, a loose confederation of organised crime networks, grew in influence in the late 19th century; the Fascist regime began suppressing them in the 1920s with some success. There was an allied invasion of Sicily during World War II starting on July 10, 1943.
The invasion of Sicily was one of the causes of the July 25 crisis; in general the Allied victors were warmly embraced by the Sicilian population. Italy became a Republic in 1946 and as part of the Costitution of Italy, Sicily was one of the five regions given special status as an autonomus region. Both the partial Italian land reform and special funding from the Italian government's Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (Fund for the South) from 1950 to 1984, helped the Sicilian economy improve.


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