Sicily; key historical events

Page last modified 4 July 2023


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October 2013, Governor of Sicily declared a State of Emergency after hundreds of migrants had died at sea attempting tocross to Italy from Africa.

1893, 40,000 troops had to be sent to Sicily to quell unrest there caused by poverty.

1850, Sicilian agriculture was being transformed after James Lind, surgeon for the British Navy, calculated in the mid 18th century that scurvy had done more damage to the British Navy than the French and Spanish fleets combined. Lemon juice was found to prevent scurvy, and Sicily was one of the few places in Euripe where they could be reliably cultivated. Sicialian exports of lemon juice rose 740 barrels in 1837 to 20,707 in 1850.

3 September 1848, Carlo Filangieri landed at Messina, Sicily, to suppress a movement on the island to secede from Naples. The independence forces were crushed by 5/1849, with much loss of life.

13 April1848.Sicily declared itself independent from Naples.

12 January 1848, In Palermo, an uprising began against the misrule of Ferdinand II of Naples.

July 1831, A temporary volcanic island, called Grahame�s Island, appeared 50 km off Sciacca, Sicily. It attained a height of 50 metres and a circumference of 2 km before volcanic action ceased in August. Thereafter, erosion totally obliterated the new island.

17 November 1617, A naval battle between Sicily and Venice ended inconclusively.

15 January 1296, Sicily elected its the governor as King Frederick II of Aragon, after he had refused to submit Sicily to Papal rule. He ruled for 41 years, withstanding a 6-year war against him by Carlos II of Naples.

25 December 1194, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV was crowned King of Sicily and Naples.

20 November 1194, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who had already conqueredsouthern Italy, now took Palermo and gained control of Sicily.

29 May 1289, Pope Nicholas IV crowned Charles II, son of Charles I, as King of Sicily.

23 June 1287, James King of Sicily repelled an attempted Angevin invasion. Hois brother Alfonso III of Aragon allied, 15 July 1287, with King Edward I of England.

7 January 1285, Charles I of Anjou, King of Sicily, died.

31 March 1282, The French were massacred in Sicily (Sicilian Vespers).The Sicilians resented Angevin rule, and especially the heavy taxes levied by the French King Charles of Anjou to pay for a war against Constantinople.

26 February 1266, Manfred, King of Sicily, killed in the Battle of Benevento. This was during the long-running power struggle in Italy between the Guelfs, who supported the Papacy, and the Ghibelines, who supported the Holy Roman Empire (Execution of Conradin, 1268 - see Germany) (see also Italy). The death of Manfred, son of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, was a severe blow to the Germans.

28 June 1265, Charles of Anjou was invested as King of Sicily by Pope Clement IV, and asked to lead a crusade against his imperialist rival, Manfred.

1255, England�s King Henry III accepted Sicily for his 10-year-old son, Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, who had been given the title King of Sicily by the new Pope, Alexander IV.

11 October 1254, Pope Innocent IV became King of Sicily., but he died on 7 December 1254 in Naples.

10 October 1253, Holy Roman Emperor Conrad IV suppressed the Sicilian rebellion and recaptured Naples.

17 May 1198, Frederick, infant son of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, was crowned King of Sicily.


Norman rule of Sicily 1059-1154

1194, Norman rule in Sicily ended with the death of King Tancred of Lecce, son of Roger III, who had seized the throne of Sicily in 1189 when William II died. Tancred was succeeded by his youngest son, William III. However 8 months later Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, husband of Roger III�s daughter Constance, invaded Sicily and was crowned in Palermon Cathedral on 25 December 1194. On 26 December 1194 Constance gave birth to the future Frederick II.

7 May 1166, Norman King William I of Sicily died after a 12-year reign. He was succeeded by his 13-year-old son whpo reigned as William II until his death in 1189. William II supported the Papacy and entered a secret agreement wit the Lombardy cities to resist Frederick II Barbarossa (Holy Roman Emperor).

28 May 1156, William of Sicily destroyed the Byzantine fleet at Brindisi, and recovered Bari from Greek barons who had been encouraged by Pope Adrian IV to revolt.

26 February 1154. King Roger II of Sicily died and was succeeded by his son William the Bald. William ruled for 12 years.

25 December 1130, The Norman King Roger II was crowned King of Sicily in Palermo Cathedral by the anti-Pope Anacletus, who thereby gained a powerful supporter for his claim on the Papacy against the Pope Innocent II.

20 July 1127, William I, Norman Duke of Apulia, died and was succeeded by his cousin Roger II of Sicily.

1101, Roger I of Sicily died. aged 70. He was succeeded by his 8 year old son, who rules as Roger II from 1112. Roger I had finally subdued the whole of Sicily, taking the town of Enna from the Muslims in 1087 and expelling the Muslims from SE Sicily in 1091. Roger I was succeeded by his eldest son, Simon; however Simon died in 1105 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Roger II.

18 November 1189, William II, King of Sicily, died. His cousin, Tancred, Count of Lecce, seized the throne.

15 July 1085, Norman Duke Robert Guiscard died, aged 60, of fever after regaining Corfu and Cephalonia, which his son Bohemund had lostDuke Guiscard was succeeded by his 54-year old brother, Roger Guiscard, who had conquered Sicily, and ruled until 1101.

13 February 1177, Joan, youngest of the three daughters of King Henry II of England, married King William of Sicily in Palermo.

10 January 1072, The Normans under Robert Guiscard conquered Palermo, Sicily.

16 April1071. The Norman, Robert Guiscard, took Bari after a three year siege. On 10 January 1072 Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger took Palermo in Sicily.

16 April1161, King William of Sicily crushed a rebellion, then marched into Apulia and Calabria, Italy.

1059, Pope Nicholas II invested the Norman leader, Robery Guiscard, with the Dukedoms of Apulia, Catalonia and Sicily. The Papacy had initially been opposed to the growth of Norman power in southern Italy, but a Norman victory at Civitato in 1053 forced the Popes to reconsider.

1016, The Normans were �invited� to help liberate southern Italy from Arab Muslim rule.


Arab rule of Sicily

1 August 902. The Arabs captured Taormina, which completed their conquest of Sicily from Byzantium.

878, Taormina, Sicily, fell to the Saracens.

831, Palermo, Sicily, fell to the Saracens.

827, First Islamic incursion into Sicily.

740, The Saracen invasions of Sicily began.


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