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7. Palermo in the 12th Century: Transformations in forma urbis

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Chapter Summary

The forma urbis arose at once through urban planning and spontaneous growth, and several elements in dynamic interrelation had contributed in differing ways and varying degrees to its construction: namely, the emirs, through their planned creation of quarters, the market and urban society itself. It is probable that in years between around 1050 and the Norman conquest in 1072, the entire perimeter of the city was shut in by an extensive city wall which enclosed the ancient fortified urban nucleus, Balarm, and the palatine citadel, al-KhāliṢa. Early Norman Palermo was an Islamic city occupied by a Christian minority whose everyday pre-occupations included that of maintaining military control. By "Saracens" is meant that broad swath of the urban population which had chosen to abide by Muslim religion and to respect the principles of Islamic law, and which was therefore subject to a precise fiscal regime, namely, the payment of the poll-tax.

Keywords: "Saracens"; al-KhāliṢa; Balarm; emirs; forma urbis; Norman Palermo; palatine citadel



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