What prevented Arab invasion of the Italian Peninsula?

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,637
Western Eurasia
#11
I think you need to ask yourself why they conquered Spain. They had a ready-made ally in Ceuta/Tangier, the ex-Bizantine governor now part of the Visigothic sphere. You had a fair number of disaffected Goths, probably an agreement with repressed jews. You then had a small stretch of water between Ceuta and Algeciras and the former imperial ships to ferry them over. You also had access to local berber/mauri troops requiring loot.

None of this applies to 'Italy' as far as I know so the 'Spanish' option was much much easier. What I have read is that they needed the old imperial ships in Ceuta because their own ships were tied up fighting in the central Med.
The muslims had no lack of local christian allies in Italy either (like Euphemios in Sicily helping the initial invasion), but yes i think they could have problems recieving sufficient backup from Africa, and they were also too often busy playing civil war with each other.
Not connected to the Sicilian muslims, rather to the Andalusians, but it was also quite interesting how could those guys (probably a small group) establish and maintain a base for almost a century in Fraxinetum and disturbing North Italy too from there.
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
4,935
Canary Islands-Spain
#13
The Arabs actually conquered important cities of Southern Italy, and operated in the area for long time

In the case of Italy, political fragmentation played in favour of Christians. In Spain, a weak monarchy ruled through the entire country means that a few crushing defeats could give Muslims large territories. In Italy, the defeat of a single duchy, county, principality etc whose territory was also heavily fortified means that they could conquer just a few hundreds km2 and limited areas. It is the same principle behind the resistance of feudal Europe against foreign invaders

This small states were unable to launch long lasting or long range expeditions, but they were excellent to defend themselves for very long
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,688
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#15
We could say that the Normans were able to teach to Arabs how to conquer Southern Italy coming from the Sea ...

And here we can remember that also in Spain they played a not irrelevant role in the "Reconquista". We could mention "Le Mangeur de Maures " [the eater of the Moors].

Regarding the capability of little Italian states to defend themselves ... there is something true, even if it depended on which power was attacking and how. After the Normans, French and Spaniards were able to conquer large parts of these lands.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,551
Blachernai
#16
Regarding the capability of little Italian states to defend themselves ... there is something true, even if it depended on which power was attacking and how. After the Normans, French and Spaniards were able to conquer large parts of these lands.
Indeed, and one wonders how objectionable Arab rule was at certain points. It was not for nothing that in the Life of Neilos of Rossano, the Byzantine governor gave orders for the cities of Calabria to prepare ships for an expedition to Sicily and they burned the ships and beheaded the captains.
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
4,935
Canary Islands-Spain
#17
We could say that the Normans were able to teach to Arabs how to conquer Southern Italy coming from the Sea ...

And here we can remember that also in Spain they played a not irrelevant role in the "Reconquista". We could mention "Le Mangeur de Maures " [the eater of the Moors].

Regarding the capability of little Italian states to defend themselves ... there is something true, even if it depended on which power was attacking and how. After the Normans, French and Spaniards were able to conquer large parts of these lands.
By the time of the French and Spanish intervention, all of southern Italy had been unified in the Kingdom of Naples; thus totally different scenario
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,688
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#18
By the time of the French and Spanish intervention, all of southern Italy had been unified in the Kingdom of Naples; thus totally different scenario
Well, in IX century Spain and France weren't. Anyway pay attention that the Kingdom of Naples has never been Italian in the proper sense. It came from the Reign of Sicily, which was Norman, passing from a Germanic and a French presence as well.

Probably it's more relevant for the topic to compare the Arabs who enjoyed an enormous Muslim background and possible support ... with Normans who were absolutely far from their lands of origin and without any background.

Normans conquered a good part of Southern Italy, Arabs didn't.
 
Apr 2018
226
Italy
#19
I think that what prevented the conquest of Italy was the disintegration of Islamic Caliphate under Abbasids in IX century, that happened during the conquest of Sicily more or less. A strong caliphate under a capable rule who had the intention of conquering Italy would have succeded in take it.
 
Nov 2010
7,269
Cornwall
#20
The Arabs actually conquered important cities of Southern Italy, and operated in the area for long time
Of course they did. Not sure what some posters are talking about to be honest

Portugal was lucky not to be attacked by the Muslims, on the contrary they were all expelled from Portugal in the year 1249
If nothing else you do provide entertainment on here Latino. It was a muslim land for 300 years?!!!

Indeed, and one wonders how objectionable Arab rule was at certain points. It was not for nothing that in the Life of Neilos of Rossano, the Byzantine governor gave orders for the cities of Calabria to prepare ships for an expedition to Sicily and they burned the ships and beheaded the captains.
Having studied it all for so long, I am firmly under the impression that the sread of the 'arab empire' across the map was at least in part due to the desperation with the brutal and hierarchical rule of the Byzantines in the Middle East and North Africa and the Visigoths in Hispania

Normans conquered a good part of Southern Italy, Arabs didn't.
Yes they did, see above. Normans conquered 'muslim Sicily'

I think that what prevented the conquest of Italy was the disintegration of Islamic Caliphate under Abbasids in IX century, that happened during the conquest of Sicily more or less. A strong caliphate under a capable rule who had the intention of conquering Italy would have succeded in take it.
Interestingly it seems that muslim settlement started a good time before muslim rule, suggesting either some sort of vacuum or at least acquiescence. I think it's another example of today's thoughts being coloured by the crusading era later.

In the 10th century tha Caliphate of Cordoba reached it's height, militarily and economically. Their next door neighbours and enemies, the Fatimids would have been much more likley to take over Sicily. But it remained an independent Emirate which, presumably, left it ripe for eventual Norman invasion

Interestingly the Normans of course held possessions in Ifriqiya, modern day Tunisia, until they were evicted by the expansion of the Almohad Empire. At one stage only Mahdia remained, a very denfensible sort of Peninsula. The Normans defended it with some brilliance for a long time, until suurender was inevitable. So much brilliance that the Caliph Abd Al Mu'min was moved to grant the remaining Normans free passage back to Sicily on their ships as a reward for their bravery.

Unfortunately a storm came off the coast of Siciliy and they all drowned.

As related by Huici Miranda in his hstory of the Almohad Empire
 

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