This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of Sicily. It is based on four lectures that I prepared for a Stanford program in Sicily in 2011. Regrettably, I had to undergo surgery and missed taking the trip.
I first look at why the Greeks formed city-states in eastern Sicily (8th c.-3rd c. BCE), why the Carthaginians settled western Sicily (8th c.-3rd c. BCE), and how the Roman Empire governed Sicily (3rd c. BCE-5th c. CE). I then ask how the Byzantines re-Hellenized Sicily (535-831), why Muslim Palermo became one of Europe’s richest cities (831-1072), and how the Norman kings of Sicily became the wealthiest monarchs in Europe (1072-1194). Next I investigate how well German kings ruled Sicily (1194-1282), why Sicily was peripheral when Aragon ruled it (1282-1700), and why Sicily rebelled against Bourbon Spanish rule (1700-1860). In the last section, I ask why Sicily stagnated for nine decades after Italian unification (1860-1950), how Sicily benefited from Italy’s economic miracle (1950-2010), and how the mafia influenced Italian Sicily (1860-2010). I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I have visited in Sicily.
Greek, Carthaginian, and Roman Sicily, Greek Settlement, Carthaginian Settlement, Syracuse and Dionysius, Roman Conquest, Roman Decline and Germanic Rule, Muslim and Norman Sicily, Arab Muslim Sicily, Conquest and Administration, Norman Sicily, Conquest and
AdministrationGerman, Aragonese, and Bourbon Sicily, German Sicily, Rule and Controversy, Aragonese Spanish Sicily, Wealth and Decline, Italian Sicily, Unification and Stagnation, Fascism and War, Democracy and Growth, Emigration and Remittances, Mafia and Omertá, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, Taormina and Messina, Sicily, Italy, Catania and Mt. Etna,