The Muslim Colony of Luceria Sarracenorum (Lucera)

The Muslim Colony of Luceria Sarracenorum (Lucera)

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The Muslim Colony of Luceria Sarracenorum (Lucera): life and dispersion as outlined by onomastic evidence

By Mario Cassar and Giuseppe Staccioli

Published Online (2010)

Abstract: The life and dispersion of Lucerine Muslims in Apulia (c.1220–1300) are examined from the onomastic point of view. Many Muslim names are recorded in Latin-scripted official documents. These do not differ greatly from those reported by Salvatore Cusa and those found in the Maltese Militia List of 1419/20. Some Lucerine names present several variants which can be used as ‘markers’ to locate the presence of Muslims after their dispersion.

The diffusion of modern surnames related to these markers confirms reports in Angevin documents, namely that the cities of Naples and Barletta were the main centres for the subsequent relocation of Muslims. However, large concentrations of these surnames are to be found also in the regions of Latium and the Marches.

Introduction: In the 1220’s Frederick II, for the purpose of eradicating political and social upheaval in Sicily and of creating an economic and military station in Apulia, began to transfer part of the Muslim population of Sicily (ca. 15,000–20,000 people) to Lucera, a city located in the Capitanata, the northern corner of Apulia.

According to Riccardo di S. Germano, the places in Sicily drained by the transfer of Muslim deportees were later occupied by families from Celano, city of Abruzzo, whose population had revolted, bravely but unsuccessfully, against Frederick II. Further Muslim populations came to Lucera from another area of the reign; in 1249, according to Ibn Khaldūn, the emperor decided to expel the Muslims of Malta, and some of them were also deported to Lucera. However, Muslim resistance in Sicily seems to have been obliterated altogether by 1246; presumably, Ibn Khaldūn was actually giving a partially accurate description of the events of 1224, when Frederick II was effectively in Sicily and crushed the Sicilian Muslims.

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