Arabic administration in Norman Sicily : the royal Dīwān


    • Johns, Jeremy


Arabic administration in Norman Sicily : the royal Dīwān

Jeremy Johns

(Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization)

Cambridge University Press, 2002

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Includes bibliographical references (p. 329-357) and index



In the late eleventh century, Sicily - originally part of the Islamic world - was captured by Norman, French and Italian adventurers, led by Roger de Hauteville. For the next 150 years, Roger and his descendants ruled the island and its predominantly Arabic-speaking Muslim population. Jeremy Johns' 2002 book represents a comprehensive account of the Arabic administration of Norman Sicily. While it has generally been assumed that the Normans simply inherited their Arabic administration from the Muslim governors of the island, the author uses the unique Sicilian Arabic documents to demonstrate that the Norman kings restructured their administration on the model of the contemporary administration of Fatimid Egypt. Controversially, he also suggests that, in doing so, their intention was not administrative efficiency but the projection of their royal image. This is a compelling and accessible account of the Norman rulers and how they related to their counterparts in the Muslim Mediterranean.


  • Preface
  • Tables
  • Abbreviations
  • Genealogical table of the De Hautevilles of Sicily
  • Note on measurements
  • Introduction
  • 1. 'In the time of the Saracens ...'
  • 2. 'When first the Normans crossed into Sicily ...'
  • 3. 'Our lady, the Regent Adelaide, and our lord, the Count Roger, her son', 1101-30
  • 4. The earliest products of the royal diwan, 1130-43
  • 5. The jara'id renewed, 1144-5
  • 6. The records of the royal diwan, part I: the jara'id al-rijal
  • 7. The records of the royal diwan, part II: the dafatir al-hudud
  • 8. The duties and organisation of the royal diwan
  • 9. 'The people of his state'. The 'palace Saracens' and the royal diwan
  • 10. The Norman diwan and Fatimid Egypt
  • 11. Royal diwan and royal image
  • Appendices
  • List of references
  • Index.

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