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The Emirate of Sicily or Fatimid Sicily (Arabic: إِمَارَة صِقِلِّيَة, romanized: ʾImārat Ṣiqilliya) was an Islamic kingdom that ruled the Muslim territories on the island of Sicily between 831 and 1091.[failed verification] Its capital was Palermo (Arabic: Balarm), which, during this period, became a major cultural and political center of the Muslim world.
Emirate of Sicily
إمارة صقلية (Arabic)
|Common languages||Sicilian Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Berber languages, Judeo-Arabic|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
|Today part of||Italy|
|Historical Arab states and dynasties|
Sicily was part of the Byzantine Empire when Muslim forces from Ifriqiya began launching raids in 652. Through a prolonged series of conflicts from 827 to 902, they gradually conquered the entirety of Sicily, with only the stronghold of Rometta, in the far northeast, holding out until 965.
Under Muslim rule, the island became increasingly prosperous and cosmopolitan. Trade and agriculture flourished, and Palermo became one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Europe. Sicily became multiconfessional and multilingual, developing a distinct Arab-Byzantine culture that combined elements of its Islamic Arab and Berber migrants with those of the local Greek-Byzantine and Jewish communities. Beginning in the early eleventh century, the Emirate began to fracture from internal strife and dynastic disputes. Christian Norman mercenaries under Roger I ultimately conquered the island, founding the County of Sicily in 1071; the last Muslim city on the island, Noto, fell in 1091, marking the end of Islamic rule in Sicily.
As the first Count of Sicily, Roger maintained a relative degree of tolerance and multiculturalism; Sicilian Muslims remained citizens of the County and the subsequent Kingdom of Sicily. Until the late 12th century, and probably as late as the 1220s, Muslims formed a majority of the island's population, except in the northeast region of Val Demone, which had remained predominantly Byzantine Greek and Christian, even during Islamic rule. But by the mid thirteenth century, Muslims who had not already left or converted to Christianity were expelled, ending roughly four hundred years of Islamic presence in Sicily.
Over two centuries of Islamic rule by the Emirate has left some traces in modern Sicily. Minor Arabic influence remains in the Sicilian language and in local place names; a much larger influence is in the Maltese language that derives from Siculo-Arabic. Other cultural remnants can be found in the island's agricultural methods and crops, the local cuisine, and architecture.