Sicily is famous for its hot weather, agriculture, and antique architecture. Sicily is an mountainous region of Italy formed from the mountainous island of Sicily, Pantelleria, the Lipari Islands and other nearby islets. In antiquity, Sicily was a part of the Mycenaean civilization of Crete, but in the 6th century BC it was conquered by the Greeks. During this time Sicily was inhabited by three separate nations: the Sicels (for whom the island has been named) the Sicani, and the Elymians. These people have left a rich legacy in the form of the temples they built when they occupied the areas around Syracuse and the Selinas. When the cities of Syracuse and Akragas were destroyed in the 3rd century BC, Sicily became part of the Roman Empire.
Nonetheless, after the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD, the Southern part of Italy and the islands of and around Sicily formed the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The area was occupied by the Ostrogoths (a Germanic tribe) the Byzantines, and then the Saracens. Moreover, the Germans, Greeks and Arabs fought for control over the region until it was conquered by the Normans in the mid-11th century. This succession of invasions and occupations provided Sicily with a diverse and mixed culture. The ancient Greek, Roman, Norman, Arab and Byzantine influences contributed significantly to the cultural and artistic makeup of the island. The Conquest of southern Italy established strong political ties between the southern end of Italy and the island of Sicily. Count Roger I, who was the Norman conqueror of Sicily, also forged a link between the island and the Papacy. Roger became ruler and founder of the Sicilian state.
In the 13th century a struggle for the independence of Sicily erupted. In 1282 a revolt against French rule in Sicily, which at the time included southern Italy and the Sicilian Vespers, broke out at Palermo. The ringing of the vesper bell on Easter Monday sparked a fierce massacre of the French, who currently governed the region. This incident immediately grew into a riot which prompted the towns and cities of southern Italy to declare their independence. This is the most famous example of the Sicilian struggle against domination by another culture and the incident has become nearly mythologized in the annals of Italian history. Shortly after the Sicilian Vespers revolt, Peter of Aragon became King and Sicily came under Spanish rule. For the next few centuries Sicily and Sardinia remained under Spanish rule. In the 16th century Sicily came under Hapsburg rule when Charles I became the Emperor of the Holy Empire. From this period onward both Sicily and Naples were subject to much the same influence from the Spaniards to the Austrians.
During the Napoleonic era much of Italy and Sicily came under French control. However, Sicily came under the rule of Ferdinand III, who granted the Sicilians their own constitution in 1812. Nonetheless, this constitution was abolished in 1815 and in 1816, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was reestablished. Sicily became responsible to the government established in Naples and Ferdinand became King Ferdinand I. The last King of Sicily was Francis II, and in 1860 a government was established at Palermo. Later that year, a constitution was reinstated. In 1861, when Italian unification was achieved, Sicily became part of the United Kingdom of Italy.
- ^ Swyrich, Archive materials
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