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Title: Muslim Lucera
Author: Taylor, Julie Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2673 5478
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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The Emperor Frederick II established a Muslim colony at Lucera during the early 1220s. In transferring the Muslim population of Sicily to the mainland, Frederick evidently intended to establish order and his authority in Sicily and to create an economic and military resource in northern Apulia. The resistance of some Muslim communities on the island to Frederick was so great that military forces had to be sent there. The transfer of rebel populations was not uncommon during the Middle Ages, but since the people who were relocated to Apulia were Muslims, the Lucerine settlement is of particular historical interest. Muslims and Jews were defined by Frederick and his Angevin successors as servi camerae. Like Muslims in medieval Aragon, they were considered to be the property of the ruler. Both groups had a protected status because of their relationship to the the crown and because their right to live within Christendom was sanctioned by canon law. There are comparisons to be made between the Muslims of Lucera and the dhimmi living in Muslims lands. They were allowed to practise Islam, but they had to pay the jizya, a tax which was transliterated into Latin as gisia. Most land at Lucera was owned by monasteries and other Christian landlords who allowed Muslim farmers to cultivate lands in exchange for payment of a tax called the terragium. The heavy tax burden placed on the Muslim colonists by the crown and such property owners and the labor required from them for construction projects drove many people to leave Lucera, prompting the crown to call for restrictions on their movement. While most Muslims were engaged in farming, a diversified economy developed in the city. There were merchants, tailors, shepherds, potters, and smiths. Muslim military skills, particularly in archery, were highly valued by the crown. Muslims served both in Hohenstaufen and Angevin military campaigns, and a number of men were knighted. Some members of the military elite at Lucera became wealthy, owning properties not just in the colony but in neighboring Christian cities as well. Since in his last will and testament Frederick called for the restoration of the Lucerine church, he evidently did not intend to establish a permanent Muslim presence in northern Apulia. The papacy targeted Muslim Lucera in its polemics against the emperor and his son Manfred, but when Charles of Anjou took over the kingdom in 1266 he does not appear to have been put under pressure to dismantle the settlement. The conquest of the Kingdom of Sicily had been costly, and the colony was a source of revenue. Charles I did attempt to increase the Christian presence at Lucera by bringing Provencal settlers to the city in the 1270s, and he participated in the crusade against Tunis. Muslim Lucera was destroyed in August 1300 on orders of Charles II. Having never participated in a crusade, Charles appears to have been motivated primarily by religious considerations. The destruction of the settlement was praised by Popes Boniface VIII and Benedict XI who, during an age of crusades and reconquests, apparently viewed it as a positive step towards a united Christendom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: JISC Digital Islam
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral