The Twelfth-Century Normans in Southern Italy and Sicily: Romances, Architecture, and Cosmopolitan Spaces

2019-01-16T20:54:15Z (GMT) by Brittany A. Claytor
During the twelfth century, the Norman monarchy in southern Italy and Sicily created a cosmopolitan culture that promoted connectivity, rather than domination, between the various kingdoms of the Mediterranean and Europe, in particular, those of the Byzantine Empire and of Fatimid Egypt. Rather than exhibiting translatio imperii's unidirectional movement from east to west, the Normans in southern Italy created what I term translatio normannitatis; a multidirectional flow between east and west, which helped to circulate people, goods, and ideas. Using post-colonial and spatial theories, this dissertation explores the Norman monarchy's claim to be the successors of Troy and Rome, a vital element to their development of translatio normannitatis, as well as examining how texts and religious structures associated with the Norman kingdom in southern Italy and Sicily both reflect and endorse the cosmopolitan culture that the Normans created. Close readings of two romance texts - Cliges and Guillaume de Palerne - and the Norman monarchy's palace chapel in Palermo, Sicily - the Cappella Palatina - demonstrate the blendimg of European, Byzantine, and Islamic cultures fostered under Norman rule. The study of this unique place and time period, and its cosmopolitan atmosphere, creates a fuller picture of the medieval period, revealing its heterogeneity and combating modern tendencies to underestimate the intercultural nature of the medieval Mediterranean and Europe.