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The largest island in the Mediterranean. It is triangular in shape and was on that account called Trinacria by the ancients; it is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina, rather less than two miles wide. Its area, including the adjacent islands, is 9935 square miles. The northern chain of mountains, running from Cape Peloro (Messina) to Lilibeo (Marsala), is only a continuation of the Calabrian Appenines. The most elevated peaks are the Pizzo dell' Antenna (6478 feet), near the middle of the range, and Monte S. Salvatore (6265 feet); the remainder of the island is an undulating inclined plain sloping to the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. Near the middle of the eastern side rises the majestic volcano Etna, still active, 10,865 feet high, formed by successive eruptions and having a circumference of 87 miles at its base; it is covered with perpetual snow; on its slopes there are rich pastures, vineyards, gardens, arable lands, and forests; and vegetation flourishes up to an altitude of about 8200 feet. The chief Sicilian rivers are the Giarretta falling into the sea near Catania ; the Anopo, flowing for a short distance underground and emptying into the sea near Syracuse ; the Salso; the Platani. The two principal lakes are those of Lentini and Pergusa; on the southern coast there are very many lagoons and unhealthy marshes. Among the adjacent islands are the Lipari group (Aeolian Islands) and Ustica in the Tyrrhenian sea; the Egadi (Favignana, Marittimo, Levanzo) and the Formiche (Ants) near the western extremity; Pantelleria (the ancient Corcyra) between Malta and Tunisia. The northern and eastern coasts are generally steep, and the adjacent waters deep; the southern is shallow and has many sandbanks (Pesci, Porcelli, State, Madrepore). Considering the size of the island, it has many good harbours: Messina is the most important for commerce; Empedocle, the sulphur-exporting centre; Palermo, for oranges and lemons; Trapani, wines. Besides these there are Syracuse, Augusta, Catania, Milazzo, Licata, and Lipari. The climate is temperate, the mean summer maximum being 93.2 Fahrenheit; but Sicily suffers considerably from the sirocco.
The wealth of the country is chiefly dependent on agriculture, maritime trade, and mining, especially sulphur. Though in antiquity Sicily was the granary of Rome, the production of grain (22,275,000 bushels) is not sufficient for the home consumption, a fact to be explained either by the increase of population, or by the system of large estates, or by the primitive methods employed. The vintage amounts to about 6,325,000 bushels. There is a large export of fruits, including oranges and lemons, and of carob beans. Sicily produces three-quarters of the world's sulphur: in 1905 it amounted to 3,049,864 tons, of which 1,629,344 came from Caltanisetta, and 1,039,005 from Girgenti. Among the other mineral products are: antimony and lignite from Messina (61 and 70 tons); asphalt from Syracuse (105,217 tons); rock-salt (12,730 tons). Fishing, especially tunny-fishing, is very profitable; but the sponge trade is decreasing (1980 tons in 1899, but only 172 in 1909).
At the census of 1901 the population was 3,568,124, or 350 persons to the square mile; allowing for a mean increase of 1.3 per cent; the island probably contains 4,200,000 inhabitants at present (1911). The percentages of illiterates are 70.9, under 21 years of age, and 73.2, over 21 years, so that Sicily is more backward than Sardinia, Abruzzo, and the Apulias. However, this is not due to a great lack of schools, as there are 4156 elementary public, 563 private, and 310 evening schools ; 4 training colleges for teachers; 44 royal gymnasia (2 pareggiati , 27 non pareggiati ); 14 royal lyceums (2 pareggiati , 8 non pareggiati ); 34 technical schools besides 6 non pareggiati ; 7 technical institutes; 3 universities (Palermo, Messina, Catania ); and 1 conservatory of music (Palermo). Sicily is divided civilly into 7 provinces, with 24 circondarii, 179 mandamienti, and 357 communes. It has 5 archbishoprics and 12 bishoprics : Catania, without any suffragans; Monreale, with Caltamisetta and Girgenti ; Palermo, with Cefalù, Mazzara, and Trapani ; Syracuse, with Caltagirone, Notto, Piazza Armerina. The Bishop of Acireale and the Prelate of S. Lucia del Mela are immediately subject to the Holy See. The parishes in Sicily are few in number and consequently very large. While in the Marches and Umbria the average number of persons in a parish is 600, in the Sicilian dioceses it is 7000 (9000 in Syracuse and 8000 in Palermo).
According to the ancient writers, the first inhabitants of Sicily were the Sicani; later there came from the Italian peninsula the Siculi, who, however, do not seem to have been of the same race or to have had any national unity. The island was greatly frequented by Phoenician merchants, as it lay in their way towards Africa and Spain, and was besides a centre of their trade. The presence of these traders is attested by Phoenician inscriptions and coins as well as by articles of Phoenician trade. The names, too, of the chief towns on the coast are of Phoenician origin. With their trade they introduced the worship of Melkart (Heracles) and Astarte, especially at Mount Eryx (Monte S. Giuliano). While the Phoenicians who came to the main island continued as foreigners, the smaller adjacent islands — Lipari, Egadi, Malta, Cosura — became thoroughly Phoenician in population. The Greeks had established themselves at some of the ports as early as the time of the Trojan War. Greek colonization really began in 735 B.C., when the Athenian Theocles was driven thither by a tempest. He induced the Chalcidians of Eubea to settle at Naxos and the Dorians to found a new Megara. Next year the Corinthians expelled the Siculi from the island of Ortygia, thus establishing the cradle of the city of Syracuse. In five years the colonies of Leontini, Catana, Thapsos, Megara, and Hyblona all sprang up on the east coast of the island, and then the immigration into Sicily seems to have ceased for forty years. In 690 B.C., the Rhodians and Cretans founded Gela, on the river of that name (now the Terranuova), and from Gela Acragas (Girgenti) was founded in 582, both on the south-west coast. At the point nearest to the peninsula the Cumani pirates had founded Zancle in the eighth century, and that settlement had received the name of Messana in 729 from Anaxilas, the tyrant of Reggio. Himera, on the north coast, was a colony of Zancle (648). The Syracusans founded Acrae (664), Casmenae (644), Camarina (599). Selinus arose in 629, Lipara in 580. This active Greek colonization drove the Phoenicians more and more towards the west of the island; Motye Solveis (Salunto) and Panormus (Palermo) remained the principal centres of their commerce. The Carthaginians then felt the necessity of obtaining political power over the island, if the Phoenician and Punic trade was not to be destroyed by the Greeks. They rejoiced at the disunion among the Greeks, who — particularly the Dorians and Ionians — had brought to the island their mutual hatreds and jealousies. Moreover, in the principal cities — such as Girgenti, Messina, Catania, and Syracuse, the democratic and aristocratic governments had given way to the rule of tyrants, which resulted in frequent conspiracies, revolutions, and temporary alliances. During the sixth century B.C. it was chiefly Acragas, under the government of Phalaris (570-555), that upheld the prestige of Greece against Carthage. In 480 B.C., Hamilcar, invited by Terillos, tyrant of Himera, who had been overthrown by Theron, came with an immense army to restore Terillos, and later to subjugate the whole island. But Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, having been called on for aid, inflicted a great defeat on Hamilcar. That victory — which was not the first gained by Gelon over the Carthaginians — assured to Syracuse the hegemony of the Greek cities of the island. Gelon's brother Hiero being master of Gela and married to the daughter of Theon, tyrant of Acragas, Hiero succeeded him and defeated the Etruscans, enemies of the Cumani (474). The inhabitants of Catania and Naxos had to migrate to Leontini, and a Doric colony was established at Catania. But soon after Hiero's death (471) his brother Thrasybulus was expelled; democracy triumphed at Syracuse and the other Greek cities, and Greek unity was at an end.
Ducetius, one of the chiefs of the Siculi, who were still masters of the interior, then conceived the hope of uniting his race and expelling all the foreigners from Sicily. He succeeded in taking Catania (451) and defeated the Syracusans who had come to the aid of Montyon; but in 452 he met with a reverse at Normae, and his army disbanded. The Siculi made no further efforts. The old rivalries broke out among the Greeks, and Athens intervened at the request of Leontini (427). For a moment the Sicilian Greeks recognized the danger of such intervention. At the Congress of Gela (424) a confederation of the Sicilian cities was formed for defence against all foreign powers. This alliance did not last long. The dispute between Selinus and Egesta (416), and the aid given by Syracuse to the former, led to the war between Athens and Syracuse, in which the latter appealed to Sparta for help. The Syracusans were victorious on sea, and the Spartans on land (413). Egesta then called upon the Carthaginians, and Hannibal, the nephew of Hamilear, destroyed Selinus and, a little later, Himera (409). Encouraged by these successes and stirred up by the threats of the Syracusans, the Carthaginians again sought to subdue the whole island. In 406 came the turn of Acragas the richest city in the island; the year following Gela and Camarina fell into the hands of the Carthaginians. In that year, however, Dionysius, having become master of Syracuse, made peace with the Carthaginians, and so stopped their victorious march. To prepare for renewed war with them, he strengthened and extended his power by taking Catania, Enna, Naxos, and Leontini. In 397 he expelled the Carthaginians from Motye. Himilco, the Carthaginian general, then attacked Syracuse, which seemed to prefer the gentle sway of the Carthaginians to that of its tyrant. But the stubbornness of the Spartan Pharacidas and a pestilence gained Dionysius a victory (396) and supremacy over the Greek portion of the island. An attack on Messina by the Carthaginian Mago was repulsed (393).
A peace having been concluded, which assured each side its own territory, Dionysius thought of conquering Italy. Two other wars (383, defeat of Cronium; 368, capture of Selinunte and Entella) gave the advantage to neither party. When Timoleon defeated Dionysius II (343), the petty tyrants of the various cities again appealed for help to the Carthaginians, who were again defeated at Egesta (342). When Agathocles, the new tyrant of Syracuse, aspired to the supremacy of the island he had to fight the Carthaginians (312-306). Finally, however, the latter succeeded, by the treaty of peace, in securing their own possessions and the independence of the other Greek cities in the island, — preventing the union of the Greeks, among whom new tyrants arose, all fighting with one another. This led to the intervention of the Carthaginians, on the one hand, and on the other of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, then at war with Rome (281-75). Pyrrhus caused the siege of Syracuse to be raised, stormed Eryx and Panormus, and cleared the enemy out of the whole island, with the exception of Lilybaeum. But when he began to appoint governors in Sicily, the Sicilians had recourse again to the Carthaginians and Pyrrhus returned to Italy (279). Meanwhile a military republic of Campanian mercenaries had been formed in Messina, and conquered almost the entire northern coast. Hiero II of Syracuse attacked these (269). Then some of the Mamertines, an Italic people, appealed for aid to Rome, while others called upon Carthage. Both answered the appeal, but wished to act alone. In 264 Appius Claudius landed an army and defeated the Carthaginian and Syracusan forces which had united to oppose him. Some sixty-seven cities yielded to the Romans; and even Hiero became their tributary (263). In 262 Girgenti, then the centre of the Carthaginian military power in the island, was captured. The victories of Mylae (260) and Panormus (254), and the capture of the Egadi (241), secured to Rome the possession of the island, but the cities which voluntarily surrendered remained federated.
In the Second Punic War, Syracuse was allied with Hannibal, but was retaken by Marcellus (212). Sicily became a Roman province and acquired very great importance as the granary of Rome. It was divided into two quaestorships, Syracuse and Lilybaeum. The latinizing of the island continued, though the Greek element never entirely disappeared, so that in the Byzantine epoch the hellenization of Sicily progressed easily. In proportion as the political greatness of the Greek cities in the island increased, their artistic and literary fame diminished. The greed and cupidity of the praetors and other Roman officials (Verres, for instance) impoverished private individuals as well as the temples. The land fell into the hands of a few great landholders, who cultivated the rich soil by the labour of immense bands of slaves. These slaves rebelled in 135, proclaiming Eunus, one of their number, king. Eunus defeated the Roman army several times, but in 133 he was vanquished by Rufilius near Messina ; the war ended with the capture of Tauro- menium and Enna (132), and about 20,000 of the unfortunate slaves were crucified. A second furious revolt occurred between 103 and 100 under "King Trypho" and the leadership of Athenio. During the last triumvirate Sicily was the scene of a war between the triumvirs and Sextus Pompey, who, victorious at first, was finally defeated by Agrippa in the naval fight at Mylae (36 B.C.)
Another rebellion of the slaves took place under Valerian, and in A.D. 278 the island was devastated by a Frankish horde. From 440 on the Vandals repeatedly devastated the island, but they never obtained complete control of it. In 476 they abandoned it to Odoacer in return for an annual tribute, retaining, however, the region about Lilybaeum (Marsala). Theodoric recaptured Lilybaeum and ceased paying tribute. At the beginning of the Gothic War (535) Sicily was seized by Belisarius for the Byzantines ; Totila regained it (550), but not for long. Meanwhile Christianity had been established in the island. A few cities boasted of having been evangelized by St. Peter and St. Paul or by the immediate disciples of the Apostles (Catania, Messina, Palermo, Girgenti, Taormina). St. Paul stayed three days at Syracuse, without St. Luke's making any mention of his visiting the brethren, as he does at Puteoli. That St. Paul preached in Sicily, is recorded by St. Chrysostom . The "Praedestinatus" mentions bishops of Palermo and Lilybaeum in the first quarter of the second century; it is certain that in the latter part of that century Christianity was flourishing in the island. Pantaeneus, the teacher of St. Clement of Alexandria and director of the famous Alexandrian school was a Sicilian; Clement himself, in the voyages he made to increase his knowledge of Christianity, visited Sicily. From the letters of St. Cyprian we learn that the Church in Sicily was in frequent relations with the Church in Rome and in Carthage, and that the questions discussed at those centres were followed with interest in the island. Through the efforts of Heracleon, the Gnostics made some progress there. Some Christians were martyred at Catania ( St. Agatha , St. Euplus) and Syracuse (St. Lucy, St. Marcianus).
Christian cemeteries have been discovered at Catania, Girgenti (2), Lentini, Marsala, Mazzara, Messina, Palermo (5), Rugusa, Selinunte, Syracuse, and its environs (Valley of the Molinello, Canicatti, the Valleys of Priolo, Pantalica, S. Alfano, etc). Christian inscriptions, excepting those at Syracuse, are generally in Latin. As in all Italy south of the Po, the bishops of Sicily were immediately subject to the Bishop of Rome, by whom ordination was conferred, and to whom a visit was to be made every five years at least. For the election of bishops, at least in the sixth century, the pope was accustomed to appoint a visitor, who was charged with the administration during the vacancy, and presided at the election, which was afterwards confirmed by the pope, when the bishop-elect presented himself for ordination. At the commencement of the Saracen invasion there were the following sees: Syracuse, Palermo, Cefalù, Lilybaeum, Drepanum (?), Messina, Lipari, Girgenti, Taormina, Catania, Leontini, Thermae (Sciacca?), Alesa, Cronion, Camarina, Tindari (Patti), Malta. Till after the time of St. Gregory, and probably down to the eighth century, the Roman Rite was observed in the island, and the liturgical language was Latin. In the dogmatic controversies, the Sicilian bishops were always among the defenders of orthodoxy, except that in the fifth century Pelagianism (through the personal efforts of Pelagius and Celestius) and Arianism (one Maximinus their chief was aided by the Vandals ) obtained a foothold. Ecclesiastical affairs were thrown into disorder by the Vandal incursions, as is shown by the measures which Pope Gelasius was obliged to take. St. Leo the Great introduced into Sicily the obligation of celibacy even for subdeacons.
Sicily was of great importance from the point of view of the Roman Church on account of the great amount of ecclesiastical property there, which was divided into two patrimonia (Palermitanum and Syracusarum). Each patrimonium had a rector, with inferior officers, defensores, notarii, actionarii , etc. The rector was generally a subdeacon of the Church of Rome, and was empowered to intervene in the ecclesiastical questions of the various dioceses. The Churches of Milan and of Melitene in Armenia also had property in the island. Monasticism was first introduced into Sicily by St. Hilarion. It was greatly increased by the large number of bishops or monks who were expelled from Africa or forced to emigrate to escape the Vandal persecution. St. Benedict sent a colony of his monks to Messina, under St. Placidus ; the monastery was destroyed later by pagan (perhaps Slavic ) pirates. St. Gregory the Great personally founded six monasteries, among them that of St. Hermes at Palermo. The number of monks was increased by the bands that flocked from Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, when Islamism began its triumphant march, and the Monothelites and Iconoclasts drove them from the Orient. Thus a strong hellenizing element, which was certainly encouraged by the Byzantine Government, settled in the island; Greek replaced Latin in the liturgy in many of the Churches. Leo the Isaurian (718-41) afterwards detached Sicily and Southern Italy from the metropolitan jurisdiction of Rome, but it is to be noted that, 100 years later, Nicholas I protested against this abuse. In the ninth century Syracuse was raised by the Patriarch of Constantinople to the rank of metropolis of Sicily and the adjacent islands.
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Concerning the state of the Sicilian Church during the Saracen domination we have no information: not the name of a single bishop is known. In the eleventh century the hierarchy seems to have been extinct, so that Cardinal Humbertus (later of Silva Candida) was appointed by Leo IX as Bishop of Sicily, though he could not enter the island. The Saracen attempt to invade Sicily was in 669, after the assassination of the Emperor Constans II at Syracuse. The Arabs subsequently made several descents and raids on the island, but occupied it only when the Sicilians were weary of the Byzantine misgovernment. About 820 the patricus Elpidius, governor of Sicily, rebelled against the Empress Irene; but he was defeated before the arrival of the Arabs whose aid he had asked, and who in 820 captured Palermo, whence they were afterwards expelled by pirates. In 827 again, the general Euphemius, invited Ziadeth Allah, Prince of Kairowan, to come; the latter captured Girgenti the same year and then proceeded to make a conquest on his own account. The Byzantines made a gallant effort to repel an enemy so much superior to themselves. Messina was taken in 831, Palermo in 832, Syracuse was reduced by famine only in 878, Taormina fell in 902, and it was not until 941, after a struggle of one hundred and fourteen years, that the Arabs completed the conquest of the island.
The Arab domination was a benefit to Sicily from the point of view of material prosperity. To a certain extent liberty was enjoyed by the Christian population. Only those found in arms were reduced to slavery. This tolerance was, moreover, indeed, good policy on the part of the new masters, who, after the conquest, became independent of the great caliph. Agriculture flourished, new plants were introduced from Africa — the quince and the sugar-cane. Architecture was encouraged by the munificence of the princes (Palermo for instance had three hundred mosques); Arabic and Greek poets sang the beauties and the happiness of the island; not a few Arab writers were born there. The Aglabiti, and the family of Ziadeth were succeeded, in 909, as rulers by the Fatimidi, who were in their turn replaced, in 948, by the Kebbidi. The island was divided into three departments ( valli ); Val Demone in the north-east; Val Mazzara in the north-west; Val di Noto in the south; a division that was maintained later by the Normans. In a census taken at this time there were in the island 1,590,665 Mussulmans, 1,217,033 Christians, making a total of 2,807,698 inhabitants. The Byzantines were naturally desirous of reconquering the island, but the emperors of the West coveted it. Otho II had been negotiating with Venice about seizing it; Henry II, in the Treaty of Bamberg (1020), promised it to the popes. But it was the Normans who obtained it. Discord broke out in the Kebbidi family, and anarchy resulted: every alcalde and petty captain aspired to independence. Encouraged by these conditions, the Emperor Michael IV sent the catapan Leo Opus (1037) with a fleet, which, after varying fortunes, was forced to retire.
In the following year he sent George Maniakis with an army which contained some Normans who had chanced to be at Calabria. Messina and Syracuse were taken, and the Arabs badly defeated near Troina. But Maniakis offended the Normans; they returned to the peninsula, and then began their conquests there. The victories of Maniakis continued until 1040, but their fruits were lost when he was recalled. Meanwhile the Normans had formed a state on the peninsula. Roger, brother of Robert Guiscard , crossed the Strait in 1060. In the following year, Becumen, a Saracen noble, asked him for assistance. With this aid, the whole Val Demone was conquered within the year. If progress was not more rapid, it was because Roger had been recalled to Italy. We may mention the siege of Troina (1062), the battle of Cerami (1063), of Misilmeri (1068), the capture of Palermo (1072), which had been attempted previously by the Pisans (1063), the defeat of the Saracens at Mazzara, the capture of Syracuse (1086), Girgenti (1087), and Noto (1091). In thirty years the Normans had conquered the whole island. To ensure their conquest they had to grant religious liberty to the Mohammedans, whose emigration in a body would have been a great blow to the country. Sicily became subject to Roger, who assumed the title of "Great Count"; Robert Guiscard who had aided him in the conquest, reserved certain rights to himself. Palermo continued to be the capital. The prosperity that followed the coming of the Arabs continued under the Normans, and later under the Swabians. Roger was succeeded by his son, Roger II, who in 1127 on the death of William II, became master of all the Norman territory and obtained from the antipope Anacletus II (1130) the title of King of Sicily, which title was confirmed by Innocent II.
The government of the island was almost always different from that of the other parts of the kingdom. As Robert Guiscard had recognized the suzerainty of the Holy See over Calabria and Aquileia, paying an annual tribute, so Roger II recognized it over Sicily and paid an annual tribute of 600 schifati . Costanza and Innocent III fixed the tribute for the whole kingdom at 1000 aurei . The official title was "the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies", thus marking the distinction between Sicily on the hither side and the Sicily beyond the Faro (the Straits of Messina ). The custom of calling the south of Italy Sicily went back to the time of the Byzantine governors, who, while the island was under Arab domination continued to be called governors of Sicily. The Normans therefore considered that there were two Sicilies, one held by the Byzantines, and one held by the Arabs. For the Holy See the high sovereignty over that kingdom was necessarily a source of constant trouble and war. (For the history of the kingdom down to the Sicilian Vespers, see Naples ). The admission of the burghers to the Sicilian Parliament by Frederick II, in 1241, deserves mention here.
Immediately after the first conquest of the island the Normans re-established the dioceses, and in all of them the Latin-Gallican Rite was adopted. The Norman kings, moreover, considered ecclesiastical affairs as part of the business of the State, and this caused incessant difficulties with the Holy See, which was forced to make many concessions. Thus, Urban II granted to Roger I the right of putting into execution the orders of the pontifical legates. On the other hand, we must consider as apocryphal the document known as the "Monarchia Sicula", containing all the ecclesiastical rights and privileges presumed and exercised by the King of Sicily, among which, in particular, is the legatio sicula , making the king the legatus natus of the pope in that kingdom, whence it followed that the pope could not have any other legates in Sicily. The privilege granted by Urban II (1098) to Roger, confirmed and interpreted by Paschal II (1117), declares that Roger and his heirs held the vicem legati (the position of acting in place of a legate ), in the sense that what the pope would have done or ordered through a legate ( quoe per legatum acturi sumus ) was to be carried into effect ( exhiberi volumus ) by the king's diligence ( per vestram industriam ). The pope certainly contemplated the possibility of sending legates into Sicily. This was the interpretation put by Paschal II on the privilege. The kings, especially the Aragonese, claimed for themselves full ecclesiastical authority in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, excluding the right of the Holy See to intervene. On the other hand, it is an error to deny the authenticity of the privilege itself as granted by Urban II and Paschal II ( Baronius, Orsi, and others). Philip II (1578) sought to have the "Monarchia Sicula" confirmed, but did not succeed, notwithstanding which, in 1579, he established the office of the "judex monarchiae siculae", who in the king's name, exercised all the rights derived from the privilege of the Legation, and prohibited appeals to Rome from the decisions of that tribunal.
The disputes with the Holy See became exceedingly grave when Sicily was given to Amadeus of Savoy (1713). The judex monarchiae claimed the right of absolving from censures reserved to the pope. Clement XI (1715) declared the "Monarchia" at an end. But Benedict XIII (1728) thought it advisable to come to an agreement, and granted the king the right of nominating the judge of the Monarchy (always an ecclesiastic), who in that way became a delegate of the Holy See with supreme jurisdiction in ecclesiastical affairs. But the causes of dissension were not removed. Pius IX, in 1864, abolished the tribunal of the Monarchy. The Italian Government protested, but, in the Law of the Guarantees (art. 15), it expressly renounced all claim to the privilege. The Sicilian Vespers resulted in once more separating the island from the kingdom, which was then held by the House of Anjou. Peter of Aragon, who claimed the right, as heir of the House of Swabia, was summoned by the Sicilians, and defended the island against the Angevin fleet, in spite of the excommunication of Martin IV. His son James, in 1291, ceded the island to the pope, who wished to restore it to the Angevins, but the Sicilians, in the Parliament of 1296, proclaimed James's brother Frederick king. This caused a fresh war, which was ended by the Peace of Caltabellotta (1302), by which Frederick retained the title of King of Trinacria, but only for his life, and paid in return an annual tribute of 3000 ounces of gold to the Holy See. Contrary to the provisions of the peace, Frederick's son Pietro succeeded (1337) and, after him (1342), his five-year old son Louis, and to him again (1355) his brother Frederick III, then thirteen years of age.
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Frederick II ( Emperor Frederick II and Frederick I of Sicily) had restricted his own authority in favour of the Parliament. The barons profited by this to form four great divisions, over which they placed four great families, the Alagona, Chiaramonti, Palici, and Ventimiglia, whose bloody wars desolated Sicily. Roberto and Giovanna of Naples tried to take advantage of this state of anarchy to recover the island, but without success. In 1377 Frederick III was succeeded by his only daughter Maria, who married (1392) Martin, son of Martin of Momblanco, son of Peter IV of Aragon ; in 1409 the kingdom passed by inheritance to the elder Martin, and thus the island was united to the Kingdom of Aragon and ruled by a viceroy. The attempt of Martin II to break the power of the barons gave rise to the idea of having a national king, and so one Peralta was proclaimed at Palermo. But Catania and Syracuse would have no Palermitan king; Messina submitted spontaneously to John XXIII, who declared the Aragonese line deposed. The latter, however, took advantage of the prevailing discord: in 1412 Ferdinand, son of Martin II, was acknowledged, and succeeded in curbing the powers of the Parliament. His son Alfonso I (1416-58) united the Kingdom of Naples (1442) with Sicily. On his death, Sicily was given to John of Aragon, whose son Ferdinand (1479-1516) became King of Aragon and Castile (and of Naples, 1503). Sicily thus became a distant province of Spain. There were occasional Sicilian uprisings and conspiracies against Spanish rule: at Palermo, in 1511, there was a second Sicilian Vespers ; and in 1517 the whole island was thrown into confusion by the conspiracy of Gian Lesca. Then followed the civil war between the Luna and the Perollo (1529), the attempt of the brothers Imperatori and Marcantonio Colonna to conquer the island, and incursions of the Turks.
More serious were the revolts at Messina, Palermo, and other cities, in 1647, caused by famine. At Palermo Francesco Ventimiglia, a nobleman, was proclaimed king, and one Giuseppe Alessi captain of the people. Alessi met with the same fate as Masaniello at Naples, being slain by the populace whose idol he had been. As Messina, alone of all the cities, had preserved its municipal liberty; the attempt to destroy this provoked a rising (1674), and annexation to France was proclaimed. Louis XIV agreed to this arrangement, but in 1676 withdrew his troops and warships from Messina. In 1713, by the Peace of Utrecht, Victor Amadeus II was made King of Sicily, and the Sicilians were contented with independence. But in 1718 war broke out again; Victor Amadeus had to abandon Sicily and Sardinia, and the former was given to Austria. In 1736 it was again united to Naples. The reign of the Bourbons was certainly advantageous to the island. During the Parthenopean Republic (1798), and the reign of Joseph Bonaparte and Murat (1806-15), Sicily was the asylum of the royal family, and was protected by the British fleet. At that time (1812) the island had a Constitution like the English Constitution. But, on being restored to the Throne of Naples, Ferdinand IV revoked the Constitution, which indeed had not been very acceptable to the people; he also put an end to the Parliament and all the laws and privileges of the Sicilians, and the island was thus put on the same footing as all the other provinces of the kingdom (Organic Laws of 1817). This caused great discontent in Sicily.
When the Revolution of 1820 broke out at Naples, the Sicilians expected to obtain their independence; they received an evasive answer which diminished their hopes. General Florestano Pepe, sent into Sicily by the Neapolitan Parliament, was at first excluded from Palermo, but later welcomed, when he had given promises regarding their independence. These promises were not confirmed by the Parliament, which, to punish Palermo, declared Messina the capital of the island; widespread disorders followed, which made it easy for 12,000 Austrians to re-establish the authority of Ferdinand I in the island. The disturbances did not cease until they were put down by General Del Carretto. In 1847 a new agitation to obtain complete autonomy for Sicily, with its own Constitution, sprang up; but no one thought of Italian unity. On 10 July, 1848, Ferdinando Maria, Duke of Genoa, was proclaimed King of Sicily, but he refused to accept the throne. Peace having been restored on the Continent, the island was recovered in a few weeks (March and April, 1849). Some disturbances (as at Bentivenga, 1856) were crushed. Meanwhile, the idea of Italian unity had spread among the Liberals, while the populace continued to look forward to Sicilian independence. In 1862 Garibaldi's "Thousand" landed in Sicily and soon won the island for Victor Emmanuel II. The bright hopes of independence and prosperity, however, were not fulfilled; there were risings against the Italian Government (1867), though these were of little importance.
Among ecclesiastical events it should be noted that, in the general re-organization (1818) of the Church in the kingdom, the Dioceses of Caltagirone, Nicosia, and Piazza Armerina were established; in 1844 those of Noto, Trapani, and Caltanisetta were added, and Syracuse was restored to metropolitan rank.
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St. Faustina Kowalska
Saint of the Day for Wednesday, Oct 5th, 2022
Mysteries of the Rosary
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- Daily Readings for Wednesday, October 05, 2022
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- Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi: Prayer of the Day for Wednesday, October 05, 2022
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- St. Francis of Assisi: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, October 04, 2022
- St. Francis of Assisi's Vocation Prayer: Prayer of the Day for Tuesday, October 04, 2022
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