Roger II and the Mediterranean / Aristotelian Rhetoric

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Historians have long explored Count Roger II’s ambitions in the Islamicate Mediterranean. However, these studies have tended to focus on Roger’s relationship with one of these powers (often the Zirid or Fatimid dynasties) and have viewed his attitude as one that was static throughout his rule as count and king. These historiographical presumptions mask the dynamic and changing relationships that Roger had with the Almoravid, Hammadid, Zirid, and Fatimid dynasties during the years prior to his coronation as King of Sicily in 1130. This paper will use a combination of Arabic and Latin sources to consider the ways in which Roger adapted his policy toward the Muslim rulers of the Mediterranean to suit his current, often precarious, situation in Sicily. Through this careful analysis, we can better understand the ways in which Roger understood his own power and the power of other rulers in the early years of his reign.

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Presented at the 19th Annual International Congress of the Mediterranean Studies Association on May 26, 2016 in Palermo, Italy