The Normans ruled Sicily for only 133 years but left a lasting mark. Apart from the glorious mosaics in Monreale, the Church of Martorana and elsewhere for which Sicily is famous, a glimpse behind this glittering facade shows what has been termed a political miracle. Perhaps others would call it common sense in that two of the Norman kings, Roger II and William II, managed to pull together the many peoples, languages and traditions of the island so that they worked together to the common good and prosperity. Laws were issued in Latin, Greek and Arabic as were trading standards and the clockwork of everyday life. The Norman kings have been held up to be the epitome of multi-culturalism; a concept they themselves wouldn’t have understood because that was not their aim.
This lecture investigates how Norman Sicily came to be and the legacy it left. Was it really as simple as it sounds?