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The First Millennium

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Chapter Summary

Little is known of the Jews in Sicily before the Arab conquest. Of the three first notices of Jewish presence on the island, one is mere conjecture, the other is controversial and the third is legendary. Sicily was invaded by Belisar in 535, but it took the Byzantines some twenty years to complete their conquest of Sicily. As during similar warlike events before and after, the population suffered and with them the Jews. The Moslem conquest of Sicily brought about a drastic change in the state of the Jews there. They moved from the often oppressive rule of the Byzantines to the relatively tolerant one of the new rulers. The sources for the history of the Jews in Sicily for the century or so of Norman rule are not nearly as ample as they are for the last decades of Moslem dominion in the eleventh century.

Keywords: Byzantines; Jews; Moslems; Normans; Sicily

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