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History of Jihad Against The Italians (812-1571)

(This Article used by permission of "History of Jihad.Com.")

The fierce struggle of how the Franks, Normans, Venetians and the Knights of Malta doughtily faced the Arabs and the Turkish Jihadis on land and sea, finally defeating them in both theaters.

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According to the early Muslim Jurist al-Ghazali "The "contract of the payment of the penal tax "jizya", or "dhimma" also encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim "dhimmi" peoples. Collectively, these "obligations" formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims – Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists – subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished non-Muslims (dhimmis), and the ringing of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims."

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Many of us would be startled if we are told that in the 9th century, an Arab fleet based in Sicily sailed up the Tiber and occupied and sacked Rome and the Vatican for days together till they were defeated and expelled by the papal militia along with the armies of the Holy Roman empire and Frankish contingents. This attack was brief, mercifully very brief, but the Arabs could reach Rome – a feat that even Hannibal could not achieve! To be precise the Arab attack took place on August 28, in the year 846 CE when the Arabs arrived at the mouth of the river Tiber and sailed into Rome.

The Arabs did not succeed in entering the fortified inner city of Rome that was defended by the Romans, but the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, in today’s Vatican that lay outside the fortified boundaries of Rome, were violated by the Arabs. The Pope Leo IV had to briefly flee Rome and appeal for help from the neighboring kingdoms.

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After the Muslim occupation of Sicily, the Christian resistance began immediately to recapture the island. The Franks tried to take back the island in the 9th century, but failed. By the 11th century, the baton of resistance to the Saracens was taken up by the Normans. The Normans undertook an attempt to liberate Sicily by sending in an expeditionary assault in 1068 with just sixty knights. But with their shock tactics, they gave a stunning blow to the Arab chieftain Ayub ibn Temim at the Battle of Misilmeri (then called by the Arabs Menzil el Emir), outside Palermo.

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In response to the Papal plea for help, an army started the descent by land from Civitavecchia in direction of Rome. Another army began the march from Portus and Ostia.

Uselessly Saxons, Longobards, Frisians and Franks defended St. Peter up to the last man. The Arabs brought away all the treasures of St. Peter, they tore the silver leaves of the doors, the gold foils of the floor of the confession, devastated the bronzy crypt of the apostle, took the gold cross that stood on the grave of Peter. They laid waste all the churches of the district Suburb.

The marquis Guy of Spoleto, arrived to help Rome, and with small band of bravehearts succeeded in defeating the Arabs who withdrew partly towards Civitavecchia and partly towards Fondi, following the Appian Way.

During their retreat, the Arabs’ in flight, inflicted ruin and devastation in all the Roman countryside. At Gaeta, the Longobard army clashed again with the Arabs. Guy of Spoleto found himself in serious difficulties, but the Byzantine troops of Cesarius, son of Sergius, magister militum in Naples, arrived in time. But in November of 846 a storm provoked numerous damages to the ships of the Arabs, some of which were shipwrecked on the coast.

Taking advantage of this Arab retreat, the Pope Leo IV, in consequence of the attack against St. Peter, in 848 undertook the construction of the Civitas Leonina to protect the Vatican hill. The enclosing walls were completed in June 27 in the year 852 CE.

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The fortress of Palermo whose name derived from the Arab Balarm – defines its origins as an Arab city. Palermo, when it was an Arab emirate for five hundred years, was described as "the city of the 300 mosques, very few of which survive today, with most of them having been converted into Churches by the Franks who liberated Palermo.

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The Arabs to the assault of the coasts and the Italian islands (813)

The Arab attack on Italy began in 813 when they attacked and occupied Centumcellae (Civitavecchia) by surprise. Ischia and Lampedusa were also devastated and occupied. The Arabs also attacked Sardinia and Corsica in the same year.

The Arabs attack on Ancona (848)

In 848 the Arabs ransacked Ancona.

The Arabs defeated in the naval battle of Ostia (849)

But in 849 it was rumored of the organization of a great Arabic fleet that would have attacked Rome from Sardinia. In response to this rumor, a league was constituted among the maritime cities of the South: Amalfi, Gaeta and Naples gathered their fleets to the mouth of the river Tiber near Ostia.

When the Arabic ships appeared on the horizon the Italian fleet, led by Cesarius, attacked. The Arabs were defeated. The survivors were made prisoners and enslaved. These Arab slaves were conscripted to contribute with their work to the reconstruction of what they had destroyed three years before! And so justice prevailed.

But in consequence of these attacks of the Arabs, the Christian population abandoned Ostia, and withdrew to Portus where there created some fortifications to ward off further Arab attacks. Portus survived as a Christian Corsican colony thanks to these fortifications.

The Arabs attack Canosa (856)

In 856 the Arabs attacked and destroyed the Cathedral of Canosa in Puglia.

The Arabs assault against Ascoli (861)

In 861 the Arabs occupied Ascoli in Marche, they destroyed all the Churches and slaughtered the children, while they carried off the adults as slaves. The women were forced into Harems of the Arabs as sex slaves.

The Arabs besiege Salerno (872)

In 872 the emperor Ludovicus II attacked and freed Salerno from the Arabs who had been besieging the fortified town for six months.

The Arabs in Latium and in Umbria (876)

Despite these reverses at the hands of the Franks and Italians, the Arabs regrouped and again attacked Rome in 876. Before reaching the city, the Arabs ransacked the surrounding villages, the farmers slaughtered, the villages and churches knocked down. The Roman countryside was turned by the marauding Muslim Arabs into an lifeless desert.

In response to this carnage, John VIII fitted out a fleet and led it to the victory against the Arabs at Circeo. 18 vessels were captured and 600 Christian slaves were freed from Muslim captivity. But inspite of this defeat, the Arabs regrouped and continued to devastate Latium both along the coast and in the hinterlands. In these attacks they overran and destroyed the significant town of Subiaco for the second time.

The Arab invaders arrived at around Tivoli which defended itself by resisting the Arab assault on the ca
stle of Saracinesco. A reporter Benedict of Saint Andrea of the Soratte wrote: "regnaverunt Agareni in romano regno". "Narni, Nepi, Orte, the countries of the Tiburtino, the valley of the Sacco, the lands of Tuscia, the Argentario mountain fell into the hands of the infidels."

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In 1127, Roger II the son of Count Roger, led a second invasion of Malta; having overrun the Island he placed it under a more secure Norman domination under the charge of a Norman governor. He also garrisoned with Norman soldiers the three castles then on the islands. From about this period the Maltese moved back gradually into the European orbit to which they had belonged for a period of five hundred years prior to the Arab interlude.

After the Norman liberation, there were no Muslims left in Sicily, Malta, Sardina and other surrounding islands that had been under Muslim occupation. All the Muslims were reconverted to Christianity. This ensured that the population forgot about the Islamic interlude. The Normans acted as an exorcist to exorcize the influence of Islam on the population and returned the lands to Christendom.

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The Arabs in Campania (881)

In 881 the Bishop of Naples Athanasius played traitor when to compete with against Rome and against Byzantium he entered into an alliances with the infidel Arabs. As part of this nefarious alliance, the Arabs established at the feet of Vesuvius and at Agropoli, near Paestum.

Another traitor, Docibile, the duke of Gaeta, enemy of the Pope, granted the Arabs the right to settle near Itri, then on the right bank of Garigliano near Minturno. The Arabs built a castle, from which they conducted repeated raids on the countryside. They attacked the monasteries of Montecassino and St.Vincenzo and set them on fire.

The Arabs at Farfa (890)

In 890 the Arabic troops set siege to the Abbey of Farfa, in Sabina. The Abbot Peter resisted for six months then he was forced to surrender due to lack of food supplies for his flock. In consequence the Arabs slaughtered the inhabitants who had surrendered in good faith. The Arabs occupied Farfa and made it their base in Sabina.

The Arabs defeated and expelled from Latium and Garigliano in the year 916 CE

Mercifully, in the 10th century the Kingdom of Italy was reconstituted. In December of 915 CE Berengarius was crowned by the pope John X. And in April in the spring of 916 the struggle against the Arabs acquired a new impulse.

Berengarius put at disposal the Tuscan troops of the marquis Adalbertus and those Umbrian of the marquis Albericus of Spoleto. The Byzantine emperor Constantine sent his own fleet to the orders of the strategist Nicolaus Picingli. Landulf, prince of Capua and Benevento, Gaimar, prince of Salerno, and the dukes of Gaeta and Naples entered the alliance. Pope John X personally put himself to the head of the land troops.

The Longobards of Rieti, led by Agiprandus, advanced towards Sabina and liberated it. The troops of Sutri and Nepi defeated the Arabs near Baccano on the Cassian Way. Pope John X carried off another victory between Tivoli and Vicovaro. The Arabs were forced to withdraw to their fortress at Garigliano.

In June 916 CE, another attack was launched against the Arabs. For three months the Arabs resisted waiting for reinforcements from Sicily. When the reinforcements were intercepted and defeated the Arabs occupying the besieged fortress at Garigliano escaped from the fortress when the Italians stormed into it. The fleeing Arabs tried to flee into the mountains, but they were overtaken and defeated by the Italian troops. Italy had convincingly defeated the assault of the Arabs on Italy. But Sicily was still prisoner of the infidels. The attack and occupation of Sicily is one painful but less known chapter in Italian history.

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The Turks launched two attacks against the island in 1547, and again in 1551 and again in 1565 till they were finally routed decisively at the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Turks had a policy of ravaging the Maltese countryside to terrorize the peasantry, while they ignored the fortified towns. They turned their attention to the island of Gozo and carried away the entire Christian population into slavery, the children being brought up as Muslims who were to be thrown into battle as suicide warriors named Janissaries (from Jan = life and Nisar = given away).

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The Arab occupation of Sicily

The Arab attack on Sicily in the 7th century initially was confined to the coastal zone and the smaller islands off the coast. But gradually the Arabs established their based at Palermo and from there proceeded to attack and occupy the entire island of Sicily.

But before this could happen, Sicily resisted for many decades and forced the armies of the invaders to retreat albeit temporarily. But the Sicilians finally had to surrender and accept Muslim rule over their homeland. Once the Arabs overran Sicily they set about the Islamification of Sicily through the destruction of churches and ertection of Mosques over the sites, they changed the composition of the population with the hundreds of thousand of Muslim immigrants who destroyed a civilization that had lasted from the 8th century before Christ had contributed to the creation of the identity of the West.

After the rampage in Sicily, the Arabs used it as a base to attack Italy (they overran Ponza, Gaeta, Ancona, Ascoli, and Civitavecchia) and eventually they also occupied Salerno, Naples, Bari, Brindisi, Taranto. Finally they resolutely headed for Rome to strike to the heart the Christianity.

The infidels profaned St. Peter but the Aurelian walls resisted to the assault and Rome within its fortified walls was safe.

To resist the initial attacks Pope John X, himself formed an army of Italians of various origin (Romans, Greeks, Longobards, Franks, etc.), speaking different languages but united by faith and culture. This army eventually defeated and drove from Lazio and Campania, the Arabs, who after their brief attack and occupation of Rome had constituted a Muslim state near the Garigliano.

The Arabs conquer Sicily after a sustained and bloodied assault (827-965)

In 805 the Byzantine governor of Sicily stipulated an essay with the Aghlabidi rulers of Tunisia. In 813 the Byzantine governor of Sicily signed a decennial truce with the Arabs.

But resistance to the Muslims began almost immediately. In 827 the Byzantine admiral Euphemius who had earlier surrendered to the Muslims, rebelled and killed the Muslim governor of Sicily. He conquered Syracuse and proclaimed himself emperor independent of Byzantium. But when the troops faithful to Byzantium, led by the Armenian general Palata, resumed the control. Euphemius fled to Africa.

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In 1571, Don John of Austria commanding the fleet of the Holy League, met the Ottoman Turks in the waters at the mouth of the Gulf of Patros. Don John of Austria met his fleet off Messina and saw that he had 300 ships, great and small, under his command. The Pope himself had outfitted twelve galleys and the depth of his war chest had paid for many more. The next largest contingent was that of Venice.

Although they were no longer the dominating power of yesteryear, the Venetians could still assemble a fleet of more than a hundred vessels beneath the w
inged Lion of St. Mark’s standard. The Venetians provided the technological cutting edge that was to win the battle.

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Then Euphemius proposed to the Aghlabide emir of Kairuan, Ziyadat Allah I, to conquer Sicily and to make it tributary province. In exchange he asked to be recognized as governor with the title of emperor.

On June 17th 827, the Saracen general Asad ibn al-Furat with an army of 10,000 soldiers and 7000 cavalrymen disembarked at Mazara del Vallo. The general Theodorus stopped and defeated the Arab army before it reached Syracuse. So a new Arab army was sent to the help of the Arabs who decided to head for Palermo rather than Syracuse. On September 11th 831 Palermo fell. In 835 the Arabs took Pantelleria and in 843 Messina.

But Enna and Cefalù fought for years before being conquered, razed to the ground and burnt. Cefalù fell in 858. Enna fell in 859 through treason. Then it was the turn of Malta.

Syracuse was conquered only in 878. The Arabs massacred the entire Christian population. The Greek language was replaced by the Arabic. Christianity was replaced by the Islam. The bloodied sword of Islam dominated from Palermo, Sicily’s new capital. Sicily was lost for the next few centuries.

Syracuse never regained the role, that it had had for 1500 years, of being the primary city of Sicily. The glorious history of ancient Sicily finished in the bloody struggle with the Muslims.

But the Muslim occupation was never complete. Some hotbeds of resistance kept recurring. Taormina resisted up to 902, it was finnaly overrun and then was burnt and all its inhabitants killed. Rometta, on the mountains west of Messina, was the last to fall in 965.

An African Muslim army in 938-940 devastated wide zones of the southwest of Sicily, but at that point there was nothing more to be plundered.

In the cities that had opposed resistance all the residents were killed and the women and the boys reduced in slavery. The women and the most beautiful boys were sent to Africa for the pleasure of the conquerors and their co-religionists.

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Sicily had been under Muslim occupation for nearly three centuries from 812 up to 1071. The population had been wholly converted to Islam, and there was not a single church left standing. They had either been reduced to rubble or burnt and had been converted into Mosques.

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The inhabitants of the Sicilian cities that had surrendered without fighting could keep on practising the Christian religion but:
– they had to bring identification marks on their suits and on their houses;
– they had to pay more taxes (Jaziya);
– they could not occupy positions that entailed authority over the Muslims;
– they could not marry a Muslim (but a Muslim could marry a Christian);
– they could not build new churches;
– they could not ring Church bells;
– they could not organize processions;
– they could not read the Bible within the earshot of a Muslim;
– they could not drink wine;
– they had to get up when a Muslim entered the room;
– they had to let the Muslims pass first in the public road;
– they could not bear weapons;
– they could not ride horses;
– they could not saddle their mules;
– they could not build great houses as those of the Muslims.
The Christian women could not have access to the baths.

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After the victory at the battle of Palermo, all mosques that had been churches (before the Arabs’ arrival two centuries earlier) were re-converted into Churches. But even after the conquest of Palermo, the Normans had liberated only a part of Sicily, the rest of the island still lay under Arab occupation.

Illustration courtesy: Nafpaktos

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After the Arab conquest, hundreds of thousand of Muslims immigrated to Sicily. The juridical advantages granted to them, the availability of lands seized to the Christians, the possibility to have labor at low cost (Christians driven to hunger because of plunderings), the abundance of slaves (girls and boys) constituted an irresistible attraction for people who lived in the desolation of the desert. The Africans found in Sicily a terrestrial heaven, the Christians found it to have become the proverbial hell.

The Arabs at Centumcellae (829)

In 829 the Arabs destroyed Centumcellae.

The Arabs at Naples (836)

In 836 the Longobards of the dukedom of Benevento laid siege to Naples, a Byzantine city. Shamelessly, the Neapolitans asked help to Ziyadat Allah I, aghlabide emir of Tunisia. Taking advantage of this intra-Christian war, Ziyadat sent a fleet that forced the Longobards to interrupt the siege.

The Arabs at Subiaco (840)

In 840 the Arabs devastated the monastery of Subiaco.

The Arabs conquer Bari (840-871)

In 840 the Longobard Radelchi, duke of Benevento, was engaged in fighting against the rival Siconolfo. The Arabs intervened and they took advantage for conquering Bari. But in 871 the Carolingian emperor Ludovico II succeeded in freeing the city.

The Arabs at Ponza and Capo Miseno (845) In 845 the Arabs took possession of Capo Miseno, in the gulf of Naples, and of Ponza, to make of them bases in view of an attack against Rome.

The Arabs at Brindisi and Taranto (846-880)

In 846 the Arabs ransacked Brindisi and conquered Taranto. But in 880 the Byzantine emperor Basil I the Macedonian succeeded in freeing Taranto.

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With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the prospect of the conquest of Europe was reignited in Muslim hearts. This prospect had been defeated at the battles of Poitiers and Palermo and had been rolled back by the Reconquista in Spain.

After the conquest of Constantinople, the Ottomans now moved toward Malta which had remained a peaceful Christian bastion for more than four centuries after its liberation by the Normans in 1127. In the meanwhile Malta had become the base for the Crusader knights of Malta and it played an important role as a transit point for the crusaders to go to the holy land.

So Malta was a marked fortress for the Muslims who bided their time to seek revenge when they could again come within striking distance. This was the second Muslim lunge at Italy.

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But in spite of their raids into Italy, the sustained Muslim occupation of a part of Italy was in Sicily when the island was tyrannized by the Muslim for three centuries.

By the mid 7th century, after overrunning North Africa, the Arab Muslims turned their attention towards the North Mediterranean coast in an effort to invade the Byzantine Empire from the West. By then the Arabs, who already controlled the North African coast and Spain, considered Sicily a highly strategic step for their expansion towards the north of Italy and an advance into Europe.

The Arabs who had started developing pretensions of becoming a naval power, sent a fleet to Sicily and conquered the undefended fortress of Palermo in Sicily in 830. With Sicily as a base they started harassing the mercantile shipping in the Mediterranean, and more importantly they tried
repeatedly to invade Italy from Sicily.

The Battle of Palermo

The Christian resistance began immediately to recapture the island of Sicily. The Franks tried to take back the island in the 9th century, but failed. By the 11th century, the baton of resistance to the Saracens was taken up by the Normans. The Normans undertook an attempt to liberate Sicily by sending in an expeditionary assault in 1068 with just sixty knights. But with their shock tactics, they gave a stunning blow to the Arab chieftain Ayub ibn Temim at the Battle of Misilmeri (then called by the Arabs Menzil el Emir), outside Palermo.

This was followed by the main Norman assault in 1071, when they attacked and defeated the Arabs at Palermo. This fortress whose very name derived from the Arab Balarm – defines its origins as an Arab city. Palermo, when it was an Arab emirate for five hundred years, was described as "the city of the 300 mosques, very few of which survive today, with most of them having been converted into Churches.

Norman Valor drove the Arab Muslims from Sicily

The Battle of Palermo stands as one of the most astounding Norman escapades in Italy against the Muslims. It rivals the Battle of Hastings (1066) in importance. Socially, the Normans’ occupation of Arab Palermo was far more significant than their conquest of Saxon London, as it brought Sicily back into the European orbit, a development which eventually established an Italianate presence in the central Mediterranean.

The Normans had taken Messina during an early morning battle in Spring 1061. In the ten years since, they had sought to consolidate their control of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, fighting the Arabs in a string of skirmishes. At Palermo, the Arabs were again led by their wily and intrepid commander Ayub ibn Temim and the Normans by a young and energetic leader named Robert Guiscard de Hauteville and his younger brother, Roger de Hauteville.

But the Normans with their conquests in other parts of Europe, notably England, where they fought the battle of Hastings in 1066 and defeated the Saxons, were chronically short of trained knights. (Indeed, it would be years following the Battle of Palermo before they could wrest back control of Enna, from the Muslims. Enna had been an Arab-Muslim stronghold in east-central Sicily

In 1072 Palermo had something over a hundred thousand residents. On the morning of January 5, 1072 Robert’s cavalry attacked the al Kasr district (high ground near what became the cathedral, Piazza Vittoria and the Norman Palace). Fighting was fierce, and penetrating the walls seemed like an impossible feat. Leaving his brother, Roger, to maintain the attack on al Kasr, Robert and some knights attacked al Khalesa, the administrative district on the coast, built around the emir’s fortress.

Re-conversion of Mosques into Churches and of the Muslim populace into Christianity rolled back the Jihad in its entirety

This was taken by nightfall, though most of the adjacent al Kasr district, further inland, remained in Saracen hands. Nevertheless, a Saracen delegation surrendered to the Normans the following morning. Specifically, the Normans first entered al Khalesa over a wall near what is now the Spasimo. (In a corner of this structure there remain the vestiges of an eight-century Mosque that the Normans changed into a church. The traces of this change can be seen clearly even today.)

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Sicily had been under Muslim occupation for nearly three centuries from 812 up to 1071. The population had been wholly converted to Islam, and there was not a single church left standing. They had either been reduced to rubble or had been burnt and converted into Mosques. When the Normans retook Sicily, they reversed history in equal measure and with equal ruthlessness.

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The ceremonial entry of the Norman Christians into Palermo took place on January 10, 1072 with a Greek Rite mass celebrated by the Orthodox bishop Nicodemus of Palermo in the old cathedral (on the site of the present one), that had then been hastily re-converted into a church from its use as a mosque.

Here was a historic juncture where Robert and Roger chose to defy convention and their own Christian tradition. All mosques that had been churches (before the Arabs’ arrival two centuries earlier) were re-converted into Churches. But even after the conquest of Palermo, the Normans had liberated only a part of Sicily, the rest of the island still lay under Arab occupation.

But in spite of the Norman attack, the Arabs in Sicily were divided, and taking advantage of the situation, Count Roger, after a series of campaigns, subdued the rest of the island and brought it under Norman Rule. Count Roger also invaded other islands to make sure his southern flank was secure from a possible Arab attack, having reduced the Arabs to a state of vassalage and releasing the foreign Christian slaves, he returned to Sicily without even bothering to garrison his prize.

In 1127, Roger II the son of Count Roger, led a second invasion of Malta; having overrun the Island he placed it under a more secure Norman domination under the charge of a Norman governor. He also garrisoned with Norman soldiers the three castles then on the islands. From about this period the Maltese moved back gradually into the European orbit to which they had belonged for a period of five hundred years prior to the Arab interlude.

Lessons from the Battle of Palermo

Sicily had been under Muslim occupation for nearly three centuries from 812 up to 1071. The population had been wholly converted to Islam, and there was not a single church left standing. They had either been reduced to rubble or had been converted into Mosques. When the Normans retook Sicily, they reversed history in equal measure and with equal ruthlessness. After the Norman liberation, there were no Muslims left in Sicily, Malta, Sardina and other surrounding islands that had been under Muslim occupation.

This ensured that the population forgot about the Islamic interlude. The Normans acted as an exorcist to exorcize the influence of Islam on the population and returned the lands to Christendom.

The second Muslim lunge at Italy

Although Sicily was never directly threatened again, the shadow of the Islamic Jihad loomed once again over Italy when the Ottoman Turks started moving into the Mediterranean after 1500 A.D. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the prospect of the conquest of Europe was reignited in Muslim hearts. This prospect had been defeated at the battles of Poitiers and Palermo and had been rolled back by the Reconquista in Spain.

After the conquest of Constantinople, the Ottomans now moved toward Malta which had remained a peaceful Christian bastion for more than four centuries after its liberation by the Normans in 1127. In the meanwhile Malta had become the base for the Crusader knights of Malta and it played an important role as a transit point for the crusaders to go to the holy land.

So Malta was a marked fortress for the Muslims who bided their time to seek revenge when they could again come within striking distance.

Turks ravaged the Maltese peasantry to instill terror

And so as if to prove the point, the Turks launched two attacks against the island in 1547, and again in 1551 and again in 1565 till they were finally routed decisively at the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Turks had a policy of ravaging the Maltese countryside to terrorize the peasantry, while they ignored the fortified towns. They turned their attention to the island of Gozo and carried away the entire Christian population into slavery, the children being brought up as Muslims who w
ere to be thrown into battle as suicide warriors named Janissaries (from Jan = life and Nisar = given away).

That same year the Turks drove the Knights out of Tripoli. These attacks stung the Knights into feverish activity to improve the islands’ defenses in anticipation of another, and possibly bigger, attack. On the 18th May, 1565, the Ottoman Turks and their allies pitted 48,000 of their best troops against the islands with the intention of invading them, and afterwards using them as a base to make a thrust into Southern Europe by way of Sicily and Italy.

Pan-European Christian alliance defeats the Turkish Jihad

At the battle of Malta, against the Turks were drawn up some 8,000 men: 540 Knights; 4,000 Maltese; and the rest made up of Spanish and Italian mercenaries. Landing unopposed, the first objective of the Turks was to secure a safe anchorage for their large invasion fleet, and with that in mind, launched their attack on St.Elmo. After a heroic resistance of thirty one days the fort succumbed to the massive Turkish bombardment and continuous cavalry charges.

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The Turkish fleet under the command of Ali Pasha had been reinforced by a Calabrian traitor fisherman who had turned Moslem. His name was Uluch Ali and he was now the Bey of Algiers, that notorious nest of the Muslim corsairs feared by all Christian ships plying their trade in the Mediterranean. Don John moved his force towards the anchorage of Lepanto where he knew the Turks to be waiting and during the night of October 6th, with a favorable wind behind him, Ali Pasha moved his fleet westward towards the mouth of the Gulf of Patras and the approaching ships of the Holy League.

The action that was to follow was the biggest naval engagement anywhere on the globe till then.

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After the fort had been reduced, the Ottomans turned their attention to the two badly fortified towns overlooking the harbor. Subjected to a ceaseless bombardment, the Christian forces held back the enemy behind the crumbling walls, and against all odds, kept the enemy at bay until a small relief force of some 8,000 troops arrived from Sicily (a smaller relief force of 600 men had previously landed at about the time that St.Elmo had fallen).

These attacks in addition to their losses from disease, fire and steel, totally demoralized the Turks. Added to this was the fact that their supplies were running low. The Turkish invaders were in no position to offer further battle, and the Turks retreated never again to attempt another invasion in that part of the Mediterranean.

The Battle of Lepanto

In 1571, Don John of Austria commanding the fleet of the Holy League, met the Ottoman Turks in the waters at the mouth of the Gulf of Patros. Don John of Austria met his fleet off Messina and saw that he had 300 ships, great and small, under his command. The Pope himself had outfitted twelve galleys and the depth of his war chest had paid for many more. Don John’s eye must have gazed with pride on the 80 galleys and 22 other ships that had been provided by his half-brother Philip II of Spain.

Each of these Spanish galleys held a hundred soldiers on top of the rowers who propelled the ship through the water and no less than 30,000 men in the service of Spain would fight at Lepanto. The next largest contingent was that of Venice.

Although they were no longer the dominating power of yesteryear, the Venetians could still assemble a fleet of more than a hundred vessels beneath the winged Lion of St. Mark’s standard. The Venetians provided the technological cutting edge that was to win the battle.

The Turkish fleet under the command of Ali Pasha had been reinforced by a Calabrian traitor fisherman who had turned Moslem. His name was Uluch Ali and he was now the Bey of Algiers, that notorious nest of the Muslim corsairs feared by all Christian ships plying their trade in the Mediterranean. Don John moved his force towards the anchorage of Lepanto where he knew the Turks to be waiting and during the night of October 6th, with a favorable wind behind him, Ali Pasha moved his fleet westward towards the mouth of the Gulf of Patras and the approaching ships of the Holy League.

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The Turkish flotilla initially arrayed in a giant crescent-shaped formation, quickly sliced into three sections by two concentrated charges of the Venetian navy. The centre, under Ali Pasha, nevertheless pushed forward and the action opened when the cannon of Don John’s two centre galleasses (gunships) began to do great execution among Ali Pasha’s advancing ships.

Seven or more Turkish galleys went down almost immediately as a result of the longer range of the Christian fleet. The Turks were not lacking in murderous instinct, however, and they pressed on in the face of intense fire from the galleasses, the galleys’ guns and crossbowmen on the Christian decks.

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The action that was to follow was the biggest naval engagement anywhere on the globe till then. The Turkish flotilla initially arrayed in a giant crescent-shaped formation, quickly sliced into three sections by two concentrated charges of the Venetian navy. The centre, under Ali Pasha, nevertheless pushed forward and the action opened when the cannon of Don John’s two centre galleasses (gunships) began to do great execution among Ali Pasha’s advancing ships.

Seven or more Turkish galleys went down almost immediately as a result of the longer range of the Christian fleet. The Turks were not lacking in murderous instinct, however, and they pressed on in the face of intense fire from the galleasses, the galleys’ guns and crossbowmen on the Christian decks.

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At Lepanto, in a wild melee of attack, retreat and counterattack played out on decks awash with the blood of the slain, the air rent by the screams of the wounded and dying seamen from both sides, the Spaniards forced their way onto the Turkish galley three times. Twice they were beaten back but finally they stormed the Turkish poop and a wounded Ali Pasha was beheaded on the spot. His head was spitted on a pike and held aloft for all the Turkish fleet to see and the Ottoman battle flag, never before lost in battle, was pulled down from the mainmast. The Muslim centre broke and retired as best it could, their courage forgotten in face of the grisly sight of their admirals head held aloft by the elated Spaniards. Amen.

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Christians follows Muslim tactics and outdo the Muslims

Ali Pasha tried to come alongside the Christian ships in the hope of boarding. Here the legendary steadfastness under fire of the 16th and 17th century Spanish infantryman came to the fore and attack after attack was beaten off by killing shots from their guns and engaging in hand to hand combat by the Spanish swordsmen. Then Don John gave the order to board Ali Pasha’s flagship.

In a wild melee of attack, retreat and counterattack played out on decks awash with the blood of the slain, the air rent by the screams of the wounded and dying seamen from both sides, the Spaniards forced their way onto the Turkish galley three times. Twice they were beaten back but finally they stormed the Turkish poop and a wounded Ali Pasha was beheaded on the spot. His head was spitted on a pike and held aloft for all the Turkish fleet to see and the Ottoman battle flag, never
before lost in battle, was pulled down from the mainmast. The Muslim centre broke and retired as best it could, their courage forgotten in face of the grisly sight of their admirals head held aloft by the elated Spaniards. Amen.

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Lepanto was a battle to death for both sides. Negotiations were never on the agenda. The options were fight, flight or death. The first mistake made by Rodrigo in Spain when he faced the first Muslim Jihad in 711, he had tried to walk his way out by negotiating his freedom, only to be betrayed and having his head sawed off to be paraded before the Visigothic Spanish army – a grisly sight that numbed and demoralized the Visigoths at the Battle of the Guadalete river between the Muslims and the Visigothic Spaniards.

From Guadalete to Palermo, the Christians had come a long way, learning what their enemy was all about. Once having seen the bestiality of the Muslims, the Christians never forgot nor forgave the Muslims.

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Lessons of the Battle of Lepanto

The Christians had now learnt their lessons. Lepanto was a battle to death for both sides. Negotiations were never on the agenda. The options were fight, flight or death. The first mistake made by Rodrigo in Spain when he faced the first Muslim Jihad in 711, he had tried to walk his way out by negotiating his freedom, only to be betrayed and having his head sawed off to be paraded before the Visigothic Spanish army – a grisly sight that numbed and demoralized the Visigoths at the Battle of the Guadalete river between the Muslims and the Visigothic Spaniards.

From Guadalete to Palermo, the Christians had come a long way, learning what their enemy was all about. Once having seen the bestiality of the Muslims, the Christians never forgot nor forgave the Muslims. And so "mercy" was a quality not much in vogue any longer in the wars between the crescent and the cross.

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Beheading and sticking the severed head on to a pike and parading it were unchristian and uncivilized practices, but it was the Muslims who had introduced them into Europe, and the Christians were quick to learn and use them against the Muslims. A lesson we need to relearn, not to behead and stick the head once again on a pike, but to unleash a nuclear and neutron assault on the enemy, before he does it to us at New York, London, Madrid, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, Berlin or in any city in the civilized world.

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The Christians were quick to learn the tactics of foul warfare from the Muslims and turn their new learning against a ruthless adversary. Apart from the bravery of soldiers on both sides, the tactic that clinched victory was the gruesome act of beheading of the Turkish Admiral Ali Pasha and his deputy Uluch Ali.

Beheading and sticking the severed head on to a pike and parading it were unchristian and uncivilized practices, but it was the Muslims who had introduced them into Europe, and the Christians were quick to learn and use them against the Muslims. A lesson we need to relearn, not to behead and stick the head once again on a pike, but to unleash a nuclear and neutron assault on the enemy, before he does it to us at New York, London, Madrid, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, Berlin or in any city in the civilized world.

The engagement at Lepanto had lasted for more than four hours and when the smoke finally cleared it became apparent that this was a major victory for the Holy League and a bitter defeat for the Ottoman Turks. Almost 8,000 of the men who had sailed with Don John were dead and another 16,000 wounded.

On the brighter side 12,000 Christian galley slaves had been released from their servitude to the Ottomans. The Turks and Uluch Ali’s Algerines had suffered much more grievously. Of the three hundred and thirty Turkish ships, fewer than fifty managed to escape and most of them were burned because they could not be made sufficiently seaworthy for further use; one hundred and seventeen Muslim galleys were captured intact and the rest were sunk or destroyed after they had been run ashore by the fleeing Turks.

More than fifty thousand of the seventy-five thousand men who had entered the battle on the Muslim side were killed, five thousand were taken prisoner (with at least twice that number of Christian galley slaves liberated), and only a few were able to escape either by ship or by swimming ashore. Turkey, for the first time in several centuries, was left without a navy

The day belonged to Don John, the Holy League and Christendom. When the news of the victory broke, church bells were rung all over in Europe in a spontaneous outburst of joy and thanksgiving. The victory at Lepanto, put paid any further Turkish adventure to invade Italy by sea. More so it left the European powers without any formidable rival on the seas, paving the way for aggressive and bolder forays by the European maritime powers to sail across all the oceans and establish colonies in the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia.

The Jihad had a penultimate break at Lepanto, the final one was to come a century later at Vienna in 1683, that put paid all attempts of the Muslims to overrun Europe. Muslim rule was thenceforth confined to the south eastern corner of Europe in the Balkans where the seed of Islam was not uprooted when the Christians liberated those lands between 1850 and 1920.

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The overarching relevance of the Battles of Palermo and Lepanto was that they saved the Italian mainland from a Muslim invasion and so also indirectly prevented (or should we say delayed) the Islamization of Europe (or Eurabia) when there was no power strong enough in Central Europe in the 10th to the 15th centuries to resist a successful Muslim onslaught.

But modern Europeans have become enfeebled by modernism and liberalism, qualities that the Muslim immigrants will have nothing to do with. And if we do not wake up and reinvent the spirit of Palermo, we shall lose our homelands to the Muslims in a few decades from today. What the Muslims failed to achieve on the battlefields of Lepanto and Palermo, they will achieve through lax immigration laws, and the sacrifices of our brave knights at Lepanto and Palermo would ultimately prove to have been in vain.

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Modern liberalism has set the lethargy in motion that prevents the immediate decimation of the Muslims who are a perennial threat to civilization

Modern liberalism had set the lethargy in motion a lethargy that came to roost at Mostar and other cities in the Balkans which saw the slaughter by the Muslims and Christians of each other. Howsoever ideal may liberalism be, it is of no value when dealing with the blood-thirsty Muslims. This is the lesson which the Serbs and Croats learnt in the 1990s. But these being Christian lands originally, it was the Muslim who were the occupiers and even if we forget the concept of anyone being an occupier, since the world belongs to all humans, with their beastlike behavior, the Muslims became unwelcome citizens wherever they attacked ravaged and imposed their beastlike cult on their unwilling victims. The Muslims have quarreled and fought with everyone wherever they went, and when there were no non-Muslims a
round, they fought among themselves. Such is the beastlike legacy that Islam has given the modern age.

But the overarching relevance of the Battles of Palermo and Lepanto was that they saved the Italian mainland from a Muslim invasion and so also indirectly prevented (or should we say delayed) the Islamization of Europe (or Eurabia) when there was no power strong enough in Central Europe in the 10th to the 15th centuries to resist a successful Muslim onslaught.

But modern Europeans have become enfeebled by modernism and liberalism, qualities that the Muslim immigrants will have nothing to do with. And if we do not wake up and reinvent the spirit of Palermo, we shall lose our homelands to the Muslims in a few decades from today. What the Muslims failed to achieve on the battlefields of Lepanto and Palermo, they will achieve through lax immigration laws, and the sacrifices of our brave knights at Lepanto and Palermo would ultimately prove to have been in vain.

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* For those uninitiated, PBUH expands to Perpetual Battle Upon Hagarism (Islam) – founded by the accursed founder of Islam, Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah (Yimach Shmo – May his name and memory be obliterated).

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Select Bibliography

Gli arabi e l’Islam by Arborio Mella F. A.

Storia della Sicilia antica by Finley M. I.

Storia di Roma nel Medioevo bt Gatto L.

Storia della Sicilia medievale e moderna by Mack Smith D.

Storia dell’Impero Bizantino by Ostrogorsky G.

Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict, by Obadiah Shoher

Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries (Hardcover) by Paul Fregosi

The Sword of the Prophet: History, Theology, Impact on the World by Srdja Trifkovic

Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith by Robert Spencer

Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam) by David Cook

Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq

Onward Muslim Soldiers by Robert Spencer

Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’Or

Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide by Bat Yeor

What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary by Ibn Warraq

Islam and Terrorism: What the Quran Really Teaches About Christianity, Violence and the Goals of the Islamic Jihad by Mark A. Gabriel, Mark A. Gabriel

A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer

The Great Divide: The failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West by Marvin Olasky

The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims by Robert Spencer

Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith by Robert Spencer, David Pryce-Jones

The Koran (Penguin Classics) by N. J. Dawood

Don’t Keep me Silent! One Woman’s Escape from the Chains of Islam by Mina Nevisa

Christianity And Islam: The Final Clash by Robert Livingston

Holiest Wars : Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden by Timothy R. Furnish

The Last Trumpet: A Comparative Study in Christian-Islamic Eschatology by Samuel, Ph.D. Shahid

Unleashing the beast: How a fanatical islamic dictator will form a ten-nation coalition and terrorize the world for forty-two months by Perry Stone

Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature (Religion and Politics) by David Cook

Islam and the Jews: The Unfinished Battle by Mark A., Ph.D. Gabriel

The Challenge of Islam to Christians by David Pawson

The Prophetic Fall of the Islamic Regime by Glenn Miller, Roger Loomis

Prophet of Doom : Islam’s Terrorist Dogma in Muhammad’s Own Words by Craig Winn

The False Prophet by Ellis H. Skolfield

The Approach of Armageddon: An Islamic Perspective by Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God by George Weigel

Infiltration : How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington by Paul Sperry

Unholy Alliance : Radical Islam and the American Left by David Horowitz

Unveiling Islam : An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs by Ergun Mehmet Caner

Perfect Soldiers : The Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It by Terry McDermott

Islam Revealed A Christian Arab’s View Of Islam by Anis Shorrosh

Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out by Ibn Warraq

The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book by Ibn Warraq

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This article used by permission of "History Of Jihad.com." Thank You!

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