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Sicily(sĭs`ĭlē), Ital. Sicilia, region (1991 pop. 4,966,386), 9,925 sq mi (25,706 sq km), S Italy, mainly situated on the island of Sicily, which is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and south, by the Ionian Sea on the east, and by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the north, and which is separated from the Italian mainland by the narrow Strait of Messina. The region also includes the Egadi IslandsEgadi Islands
or Aegadian Isles
, Lat. Aegates, archipelago (1987 est. pop. 5,000), c.15 sq mi (40 sq km), W Sicily, Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea. The chief islands are Favignana, Maretti-mo, and Levanzo.
..... Click the link for more information. , the Lipari IslandsLipari Islands
, formerly Aeolian Islands
, Ital. Isole Eolie, volcanic island group (1991 pop. 10,382), 44 sq mi (114 sq km), Messina prov., NE Sicily, Italy, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The group includes Lipari (14.5 sq mi/37.
..... Click the link for more information. , the Pelagie Islands (see LampedusaLampedusa,
island, 8 sq mi (20.7 sq km), S Sicily, Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia, the largest of the Pelagie Islands and Italy's southernmost territory. Il Porto is the only town of the island.
..... Click the link for more information. ), PantelleriaPantelleria
, volcanic island, 32 sq mi (83 sq km), S Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Sweet wine, capers, raisins, and dried figs are exported. A colony of the Phoenicians and then of the Carthaginians, it passed to the Romans in 217 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. island, and Ustica island. PalermoPalermo
, Lat. Panormus, city (1991 pop. 698,556), capital of Palermo prov. and of Sicily, NW Sicily, Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Situated on the edge of the Conca d'Oro (Golden Conch Shell), a beautiful and fertile plain, it is Sicily's largest city and chief seaport.
..... Click the link for more information. is the capital of Sicily, which is divided into the provinces of Agrigento, Caltanisetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Pallermo, Ragusa, Syracuse, and Trapani (named for their capitals).
The largest Mediterranean island, Sicily is triangular and formerly was sometimes called Trinacria [Gr.,=triangle]; capes Boeo (or Lilibeo), Passero, and Punta del Faro (or Peloro) are the vertices of the triangle. The island is almost entirely covered by hills and mountains (continuations of the Apennines); Mt. EtnaEtna
, volcano, 10,958 ft (3,340 m) high, on the east coast of Sicily, S Italy. One of the most active volcanoes in the world, it also is the highest active volcano in Europe. The shape and height of its central cone have often been changed by eruptions.
..... Click the link for more information. (10,700 ft/3,261 m), in the east, is the highest point. The only wide valley is the fertile plain of Catania in the east, mostly located along the lower Simeto River. There are also narrow coastal strips in the south and west, and a small fertile plain (the Conca d'Oro) near Palermo in the northwest.
Sicily has long been noted for its fertile soil, pleasant climate, and natural beauty. It has a long, hot growing season, but summer droughts are frequent. Agriculture is the chief economic activity but has long been hampered by absentee ownership, primitive methods of cultivation, and inadequate irrigation. The establishment (1950) of the now-defunct Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy Development Fund) by the national government led to land ownership reforms, an increase in the amount of land available for cultivation, and the general development of the island's economy. The MafiaMafia
, name given to a number of organized groups of Sicilian brigands in the 19th and 20th cent. Unlike the Camorra in Naples, the Mafia had no hierarchic organization; each group operated on its own.
..... Click the link for more information. , which is still influential, has hindered governmental efforts to institute reforms in the region, and Sicily continues to have an extremely low per capita income and high unemployment, although many workers have "black," or unreported, jobs.
The chief agricultural products are wheat, barley, corn, olives, citrus fruit, almonds, wine grapes, and cotton; cattle, mules, donkeys, and sheep are raised. There are important tuna and sardine fisheries. Sicily's manufactures include processed food, chemicals, refined petroleum, fertilizers, textiles, ships, leather goods, wine, and forest products. There are petroleum fields in the southeast, and natural gas and sulfur are also produced. Improvements in Sicily's road system have helped to promote industrial development. The chief ports of the island are Palermo, Catania, and Messina.
Sicily has had a varied and colorful history. The first known inhabitants of the island were the Elymi, Sicani, and Siculi. Phoenicians later settled on the west coast, notably at Panormus (now Palermo); Carthaginians founded LilybaeumLilybaeum
, ancient city of Sicily, on the extreme western coast. It is the modern Marsala. It was founded (396 B.C.) by Carthage and became a stronghold. In the First Punic War it resisted a long Roman siege (250–242 B.C.). Rome finally won (241 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. and Drepanum (now TrapaniTrapani
, city (1991 pop. 69,497), capital of Trapani prov., W Sicily, Italy, a seaport on a promontory in the Mediterranean Sea. The city's exports include marsala wine, salt, and tuna fish.
..... Click the link for more information. ); and on the east and southeast coasts Greeks founded (8th–6th cent. B.C.) such cities as SyracuseSyracuse
, Ital. Siracusa, city (1991 pop. 125,941), capital of Syracuse prov., SE Sicily, Italy, on the Ionian Sea. It has a port and is a market and tourist center. Its manufactures include machinery and processed food.
..... Click the link for more information. , CataniaCatania
, city (1991 pop. 333,075), capital of Catania prov., E Sicily, Italy, on the Gulf of Catania, an arm of the Ionian Sea, and at the foot of Mt. Etna. It is a busy port and a major commercial, agricultural, and industrial center.
..... Click the link for more information. , Zancle (now MessinaMessina
, city (1991 pop. 231,693), capital of Messina prov., NE Sicily, Italy, on the Strait of Messina, opposite the Italian mainland. It is a busy seaport and a commercial and light industrial center.
..... Click the link for more information. ), GelaGela
, city (1991 pop. 61,319), S Sicily, Italy, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a port, industrial center, and seaside resort. Petrochemicals are produced nearby, and petroleum is refined in the city. Much cotton is grown in Gela's hinterland. The city was founded c.688 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , and SelinusSelinus
, ancient city of Sicily. It was founded (628? B.C.) by Dorian Greeks. The constant rival of neighboring Segesta, Selinus got Syracuse to interfere in a quarrel, which led to the unsuccessful Athenian expedition in Sicily (415–413 B.C.).
..... Click the link for more information. and settled in older towns like SegestaSegesta
, ancient city of NW Sicily. Traditionally called a Trojan colony, it was the longstanding and bitter rival of Selinus. Athens undertook (415–413 B.C.) the disastrous expedition against Syracuse as an ally of Segesta in troubles growing out of a quarrel with
..... Click the link for more information. . The Greek cities flourished and in turn founded such cities as Acragas (now AgrigentoAgrigento
, Lat. Agrigentum, city (1991 pop. 55,283), capital of Agrigento prov., S Sicily, Italy, on a hill above the Mediterranean Sea. It is an agricultural market and a tourist center, but per capita income is among the lowest in Italy. Sulfur and potash are mined.
..... Click the link for more information. ) and HimeraHimera
, ancient city on the north coast of Sicily, founded by Greeks in the 7th cent. B.C. Here in 480 B.C. (a traditional date) forces led by Gelon routed the Carthaginians led by Hamilcar. Years later the Carthaginians destroyed (409 B.C.) the city.
..... Click the link for more information. . Their originally democratic governments were gradually replaced by tyrannies, particularly those of PhalarisPhalaris
, c.570–c.554 B.C., tyrant of Agrigentum, Sicily, notorious for his cruelties. He burned his victims alive in a brazen bull (making his first experiment upon Perillus, its inventor), the cries representing the bellowing of the bull.
..... Click the link for more information. at Acragas and of GelonGelon
, d. 478 B.C., Greek Sicilian ruler. As tyrant of Gela, his native city, he interfered in the struggle for power in Syracuse (485 B.C.) and made himself the leader of the popular party there. From that time he ruled Syracuse and dominated Greek Sicily. In 480 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , Hiero IHiero I
, 5th cent. B.C., Greek Sicilian ruler, tyrant of Syracuse (478–467 B.C.). He succeeded his brother Gelon. A noted patron of literature, Hiero had Simonides, Pindar, and Aeschylus at his court.
..... Click the link for more information. , and others at Syracuse.
In the 5th cent. B.C., Syracuse gained hegemony over the other cities. Phoenician influence was reinvigorated by Carthaginian expansion; although HamilcarHamilcar
, fl. 480 B.C., Carthaginian general. Little is known of him, although he was a member of the powerful Barca family. He commanded an army against Gelon and the Greeks in Sicily, who severely defeated him (480 B.C.) at Himera. Hamilcar was killed in the battle.
..... Click the link for more information. was repulsed at Himera in 480 B.C., later Carthaginian invaders gained control (by c.400 B.C.) of more than half of the island. Interlopers from mainland Greece seized the remainder, and Sicily became a battleground for rival empires. A century of antagonism between Greeks and Carthaginians was followed by strife between Romans and Carthaginians, which flared (264 B.C.) in the first of the Punic WarsPunic Wars,
three distinct conflicts between Carthage and Rome. When they began, Rome had nearly completed the conquest of Italy, while Carthage controlled NW Africa and the islands and the commerce of the W Mediterranean.
..... Click the link for more information. . Rome was victorious by 241 B.C., and after the death (c.215) of Hiero IIHiero II,
d. c.215 B.C., Greek Sicilian ruler, tyrant of Syracuse (c.270–c.215 B.C.). He showed such ability and distinction after Pyrrhus left Sicily (275 B.C.) that he was made commander in chief of the Syracusans and was later chosen (c.265 B.C.) tyrant or king.
..... Click the link for more information. of Syracuse, virtually all of Sicily came under Rome.
The Romans completed the enriching Hellenization of Sicilian culture. However, the resources of the island—known as the Breadbasket of Rome—were depleted by the Romans, who also founded the large estates (latifundia) that subsequently greatly hampered the economic development of Sicily. Roman rule was often corrupt, and corruption reached a peak under governor Caius VerresVerres, Caius
, c.120 B.C.–43 B.C., Roman administrator. He held various posts before serving as governor of Sicily (73–71 B.C.). His corruption and extortion were notable even in an era when corruption among Roman governors was taken for granted.
..... Click the link for more information. (73–71 B.C.). Slave revolts (135–132 B.C. and 104–100 B.C.) were cruelly suppressed. Many remains of the Greek and Roman periods have been found on Sicily, especially at Agrigento, Syracuse, Segesta, and Selinunte.
After the fall of Rome, Sicily passed from the Vandals (mid-5th cent. A.D.) to the Goths (493) and then to the Byzantines (535). The Arabs conquered the island in the 9th cent. after raiding it for two centuries. They promoted agriculture, commerce, and the arts and sciences. The Arabs were displaced by the Norman conquest of Sicily (1060–91), led by Roger IRoger I
(Roger Guiscard), c.1031–1101, Norman conqueror of Sicily; son of Tancred de Hauteville (see Normans). He went to Italy in 1058 to join his brother, Robert Guiscard, in conquering Apulia and Calabria from the Byzantines.
..... Click the link for more information. . Roger IIRoger II,
c.1095–1154, count (1101–30) and first king (1130–54) of Sicily, son and successor of Roger I. He conquered (1127) Apulia and Salerno and sided with the antipope Anacletus II against Pope Innocent II. In 1130, Anacletus crowned Roger king.
..... Click the link for more information. became (1130) the first king of Sicily; he forced (1139) Pope Innocent II, who claimed suzerainty over Sicily, to invest him with the kingdom, which included the Norman holdings in S Italy. The brilliant court of Roger II did much to introduce Arabic learning to Western Europe. Roger's last direct descendant, ConstanceConstance,
1154–98, Holy Roman empress, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI; daughter of King Roger II of Sicily. She was named heiress of Sicily by her nephew King William II.
..... Click the link for more information. , married Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI; their son and heir, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick IIFrederick II,
1194–1250, Holy Roman emperor (1220–50) and German king (1212–20), king of Sicily (1197–1250), and king of Jerusalem (1229–50), son of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI and of Constance, heiress of Sicily.
..... Click the link for more information. , was more interested in the kingdom of Sicily (where he reigned as king from 1197 to 1250) than in the Holy Roman Empire.
After Frederick's death and the failures of the last Hohenstaufen claimants (Conrad IVConrad IV,
1228–54, German king (1237–54), king of Sicily and of Jerusalem (1250–54), son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. He was elected (1237) king of the Romans at his father's instigation after Frederick had deposed Conrad's older brother Henry in
..... Click the link for more information. , ManfredManfred
, c.1232–1266, king of Sicily (1258–66), the last Hohenstaufen on that throne. An illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Manfred was regent in Sicily for his brother Conrad IV.
..... Click the link for more information. , and ConradinConradin
, 1252–68, duke of Swabia, titular king of Jerusalem and Sicily, the last legitimate Hohenstaufen, son of Holy Roman Emperor Conrad IV. While Conradin was still a child in Germany, his uncle Manfred made himself (1258) king of Sicily.
..... Click the link for more information. ), Pope Clement IV crowned (1266) Charles ICharles I
(Charles of Anjou), 1227–85, king of Naples and Sicily (1266–85), count of Anjou and Provence, youngest brother of King Louis IX of France. He took part in Louis's crusades to Egypt (1248) and Tunisia (1270).
..... Click the link for more information. (Charles of Anjou) king of Naples and Sicily as his vassal. The unpopular French government brought on the Sicilian VespersSicilian Vespers,
in Italian history, name given the rebellion staged by the Sicilians against the Angevin French domination of Sicily; the rebellion broke out at Palermo at the start of Vespers on Easter Monday, Mar. 30, 1282.
..... Click the link for more information. revolt (1282) and the Sicilians chose Peter IIIPeter III
(Peter the Great), 1239?–1285, king of Aragón and count of Barcelona (1276–85) and king of Sicily (1282–85); son and successor of James I. In 1280 he established Aragonese influence on the northern shores of Africa.
..... Click the link for more information. of Aragón as king. The resulting war between the Angevin line and the Aragonese ended temporarily in 1302, with Frederick IIFrederick II,
1272–1337, king of Sicily (1296–1337), 3d son of Peter III of Aragón. When his brother, who was king of Sicily, became (1291) king of Aragón as James II, Frederick was his regent in Sicily.
..... Click the link for more information. (see also Aragón, house ofAragón, house of,
family that ruled in Aragón, Catalonia, Majorca, Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Athens, and other territories in the Middle Ages. It was descended from Ramiro I of Aragón (1035–63), natural son of Sancho III of Navarre.
..... Click the link for more information. ) becoming king of Sicily and Charles II of Anjou keeping S Italy (see Naples, kingdom ofNaples, kingdom of,
former state, occupying the Italian peninsula south of the former Papal States. It comprised roughly the present regions of Campania, Abruzzi, Molise, Basilicata, Apulia, and Calabria. Naples was the capital.
In the 11th and 12th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ). In 1373, Joanna IJoanna I,
1326–82, queen of Naples (1343–81), countess of Provence. She was the granddaughter of King Robert of Naples, whom she succeeded with her husband, Andrew of Hungary.
..... Click the link for more information. of Naples formally renounced Sicily. After the Sicilian branch of Aragón became extinct, Sicily reverted (1409) to the main branch.
Under Aragonese rule local liberties were maintained, and the Sicilian national assembly enjoyed wide powers. With the accession of the Hapsburgs to the Spanish throne (early 16th cent.), there was more centralization, and Spanish governors arrived to tighten the imperial bonds. Corruption increased, and the island came under the control of a few powerful nobles and church officials.
In 1713 the Peace of Utrecht assigned Sicily to Savoy, which in 1720 exchanged it with Emperor Charles VI for Sardinia. However, as a result of the War of the Polish SuccessionPolish Succession, War of the,
1733–35. On the death (1733) of Augustus II of Poland, Stanislaus I sought to reascend the Polish throne. He was supported by his son-in-law, Louis XV of France.
..... Click the link for more information. , Sicily and Naples came under (1735) the rule of Don Carlos of Bourbon (later Charles IIICharles III,
1716–88, king of Spain (1759–88) and of Naples and Sicily (1735–59), son of Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese. Recognized as duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1731, he relinquished the duchies to Austria after Spain reconquered (1734) Naples and Sicily in
..... Click the link for more information. of Spain). The Bourbon kings resided at Naples, except in 1799 and from 1806 to 1815, when Naples was held by the French. The centralizing policies of the Bourbons were resisted by the Sicilian nobles, who welcomed British intervention (1811–14). Feudal privileges were renounced in 1812 but in practice continued much longer.
Naples and Sicily were merged, despite Sicilian protests, in 1816, when Ferdinand IFerdinand I,
1751–1825, king of the Two Sicilies (1816–25). He had previously been king of Naples (1759–99, 1799–1805, 1815–16) as Ferdinand IV and king of Sicily (1759–1816) as Ferdinand III.
..... Click the link for more information. styled himself officially king of the Two SiciliesTwo Sicilies, kingdom of the.
The name Two Sicilies was used in the Middle Ages to mean the kingdoms of Sicily and of Naples (see Sicily and Naples, kingdom of). Alfonso V of Aragón, who in 1442 reunited the two kingdoms under his rule, styled himself king of the Two
..... Click the link for more information. . Revolts occurred in 1820 and 1848–49 and were mercilessly suppressed; the bombardments of Messina (1848) and Palermo (1849) earned Ferdinand IIFerdinand II,
1810–59, king of the Two Sicilies (1830–59), son and successor of Francis I. Although initially he sought to improve the wretched conditions of his kingdom, he soon relapsed into the repressive policies of his predecessors and became an absolute despot.
..... Click the link for more information. the nickname "King Bomba." In 1860, GaribaldiGaribaldi, Giuseppe
, 1807–82, Italian patriot and soldier, a leading figure in the Risorgimento. He remains perhaps the most popular of all Italian heroes of the Risorgimento, and a great revolutionary hero in the Western world.
..... Click the link for more information. conquered the island, which then voted to join the kingdom of Sardinia.
Even after Italian unification, Sicily was neglected by the central government, and the island's economic and social problems long remained unattended. In World War II a large-scale amphibious landing was carried out by the Allies on July 9–10, 1943. After heavy fighting, the Allied conquest was completed on Aug. 8, 1943. Sicily was given limited autonomy under the Italian constitution of 1947. The assassination of two prominent anti-Mafia prosecutors in 1992 prompted the central government to send in the military. The operation ended in 1998 after many organized crime figures were jailed.
See A History of Sicily: Vol. I by M. I. Finley (1968), Vol. II–III by D. M. Smith (1968).
the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; part of Italy. Area, 25,460 sq km.
Sicily is located to the south of the Italian Peninsula and is separated from it by the Strait of Messina, whose minimum width is 3.5 km. The coasts are primarily steep and weakly indented; in the north they are eroded. The few convenient bays are situated principally on the northwestern and eastern coasts.
The topography of Sicily is mainly mountainous and hilly. Extending along the northern coast is a system of deeply dissected mountain ranges and individual massifs (the Peloritani, Nebrodi, and Madonie ranges). The mountains, a structural continuation of the mountains of the Italian Peninsula, are composed primarily of gneisses, schists, and phyllites. Flysch is important in the structure of the Nebrodi range, and limestones and dolomites in that of the Madonie range.
The central part of Sicily is occupied by low mountains and hills, composed of clays, shales, and marls. The karstic limestone Monti Iblei are in the southeast. Mount Etna (3,340 m), Europe’s highest active volcano, is located in the east. There are also a number of extinct volcanoes. On the eastern and western coastlines there are small alluvial plains. Earthquakes are frequent and have included one in Messina (1908) and one in western Sicily (1968). There are deposits of sulfur (Caltanisset-ta), petroleum (Gela), and natural gas.
The climate is subtropical and Mediterranean. On the coastal plains the mean January temperature is 11°-12°C, and the mean July temperature 27°-28°C, with a maximum of 45°C. In the mountains the respective averages are 4°-8°C and 20°-24°C. The summit of Etna is covered with snow for approximately nine months of the year. Annual precipitation on the plains amounts to 400–600 mm, and in the mountains 1,200–1,400 mm. Precipitation occurs primarily during the winter; in the summer there are droughts lasting three to five months, during which most of the rivers dry up. The most prevalent soils are reddish brown lateritic and terra rossa.
Sicily’s natural vegetation has been greatly altered by man’s influence. Mediterranean scrub vegetation predominates, with maquis in the north, garigue in the south, and steppe vegetation inland. Forests occupy less than 4 percent of the island’s territory. Up to elevations of 1,300–1,500 m they include holm oak, cork oak, chestnut, and hornbeam; beeches grow at higher elevations. At elevations exceeding 2,100 m on Mount Etna, pine forests give way to prickly scrub growth of barberry, juniper, and astragalus. Above 2,800 m, vegetation is almost nonexistent.
REFERENCESGalkina, T. A., and N. A. Sysoeva. Italiia. Moscow, 1972.
Gratsianskii, A. N. Priroda Sredizemnomor’ia. Moscow, 1971.
Le regioni d’ltalia, vol. 17. Turin, 1966.
E. P. ROMANOVA
an autonomous region of Italy that includes the island of Sicily and the adjacent Lipari, Egadi, and Pelagian islands and the island of Pantelleria. The region is divided into the provinces of Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Syracuse (Siracusa), Trapani, and Enna. The capital is Palermo. Area, 25,700 sq km. Population, 4,680,700 (1971). As many as 30,000 persons leave Sicily ann ually; for example, 26,400 persons left in 1971.
Sicily is one of the least economically developed regions of Italy. Important industrial sites were built between the 1950’s and the 1970’s. In 1973, industry employed 30.6 percent of the work force (approximately one-third of this percentage were artisans); agriculture employed 27.2 percent.
Of the island’s total agricultural area, 57 percent is occupied by arable lands, 23 percent by orchards, vineyards, and olive groves, 11 percent by meadows, and 8 percent by forests. Fruits account for more than half of the commodity output (more than 1 million tons of oranges and about 300,000 tons of olives in 1973). Sicily is Italy’s principal lemon-growing region (approximately 700,000 tons). It produces 12 percent of Italy’s wheat, growing primarily hard varieties. Also cultivated are legumes, early potatoes, artichokes, and various truck-garden crops, especially tomatoes (446,900 tons in 1973), which are exported. Livestock population in 1973 amounted to 304,000 head of cattle, 689,000 sheep, 116,000 goats, 256,000 swine, and 127,000 horses, mules, and donkeys. In 1973,41,500 tons of fish were caught, as well as 11,600 tons of other types of seafood.
Traditional branches of industry include the mining of sulfur and building stone, the extraction of sea salt, the processing of citrus fruits, tomatoes, and olives, and wine-making. Other branches include lumbering, woodworking, garment manufacture, and shipbuilding (in Palermo and Messina). More recent branches of industry include the extraction of potassium salts, petroleum, and natural gas. Petroleum products are manufactured in Augusta, Priolo, Ragusa, Gela, and Milazzo; the largest centers of the chemical industry are in Priolo and Gela. There are also cement-manufacturing, electrical-equipment, and radio-electronics industries. Electric power production, primarily at steam power plants, exceeds 10 billion kilowatt-hours.
Sicily’s chief transportation junction is Palermo, a port whose freight turnover in 1972 was 2.2 million tons. Palermo is also a junction of air routes, railroads, and highways. Other ports are Augusta (36.3 million tons), Gela (7.7 million tons), and Milazzo (15.4 million tons). Most of the freight consists of petroleum and petroleum products. The Messina-Reggio di Calabria ferry crosses the Strait of Messina to link Sicily with the Italian peninsula.
T. A. GALKINA
The oldest inhabitants of the island of Sicily were the Sicani and Siculi. During the eighth century B.C., Sicily was colonized by the Phoenicians and Greeks. During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.), Athens attempted to capture Sicily but was defeated. Beginning in the fifth century B.C., Carthage attempted to conquer the island. An especially fierce struggle against Carthaginian expansion was waged during the reigns of the tyrants of Syracuse Dionysius I and Agathocles. The Carthaginians were finally expelled from the island by the Romans during the First Punic War (264–241 B.C.). In 241 B.C., the island of Sicily became the first Roman province and a granary for Rome; as a region of large slaveholding latifundia, the island became a site of major slave revolts.
During the early Middle Ages, Sicily was occupied by the Vandals (fifth century A.D.), Ostrogoths (sixth century), Byzantium (from 535), and Arabs (ninth century); in the 11th century it was conquered by the Normans. All these conquests, except the Byzantine conquest, helped weaken and destroy the slave-holding system and to strengthen feudalism.
Owing to its favorable geographical position, the island of Sicily underwent economic growth during the Crusades. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the island formed part of the Kingdom of Sicily. Between 1266 and 1268 the kingdom came under the rule of Charles I of Anjou. A popular uprising, the Sicilian Vespers, flared up against him in 1282; as a result, the Anjou dynasty lost the island of Sicily. Between 1282 and 1302 the kings of Aragon consolidated their power on the island.
In accordance with the Peace of Utrecht (1713), the island of Sicily was ceded to the duchy of Savoy; but by the London Treaty of 1718 (confirmed 1720) the island passed to Austria. From 1735 through 1860, Sicily was ruled by the Neapolitan Bourbons. During the period of Napoleon’s domination of Italy, the island of Sicily was the place of residence of the Neapolitan king Ferdinand IV (1799–1802 and 1806–14). In 1812 the king was compelled to grant a constitution (based on the British model), but he abrogated it in 1816.
During the 19th century, Sicily was one of the most important centers of the revolutionary movement in Italy and the setting of the bourgeois revolutions of 1820 and 1848. In 1860 a popular revolt in Sicily was supported by Garibaldi and his Thousand. As a result, the island was liberated from the Bourbons; in 1861 it was incorporated into the united Kingdom of Italy. In the late 19th century, large-scale uprisings of the agricultural proletariat and poor peasants took place in Sicily. During World War II (1939–45), Sicily served as a bridgehead for the Allied offensive in Italy.
To this day, the economy of Sicily retains a backward, agrarian character, aggravated by vestiges of feudalism. The existence in Sicily of the Mafia bandit organization is in large measure connected with the state of the island’s economy. In 1947, Sicily gained regional autonomy. After World War II, the peasants’, workers’, and general democratic movements intensified and the influence of the Communist Party grew.
Sicily was one of the most important centers of ancient Greek art. The most important ruins are the austere, majestic Doric temples at Agrigento (sixth-fifth centuries B.C.), Segesta (second half of the fifth century B.C.), and Selinunte (sixth-fifth centuries B.C.). Outstanding remains of ancient Roman art are the mosaics discovered in a Roman villa in Piazza Armerina (fourth century).
An indigenous school of Sicilian art took form in the 12th century, when Byzantine and native masters constructed buildings that combined Romanesque, Byzantine, and Moorish elements and that were decorated with mosaics. Examples are the cathedral in Cefalù (begun in 1131), the Palazzo Reale with the Cappella Palatina (11th-12th centuries) and the church of Mar-torana (1143) in Palermo, and the cathedral in Monreale (1174–89). Antonella da Messina worked in Sicily during the quattrocento.
Baroque architecture in Sicily was marked by dynamic opposition and often by fantasticality. Seventeenth-century examples include the buildings of G. Guarini in Messina; among those of the 18th century are numerous Jesuit churches. The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed the flourishing of many outstanding Sicilian masters, for example, the classical architects G. B. Basile and E. Basile. The development of Sicilian art of this period paralleled the development of the art of the Italian mainland.
REFERENCESDemus, O. The Mosaics of Norman Sicily. London .
Bottari, S. La cultura figurativa in Sicilia. Messina-Florence .