Today in European history: the Siege of Syracuse ends (878)

The Aghlabid dynasty governed the province of Ifriqiya (which included modern Tunisia as well as eastern Algeria and western Libya) from 800 until 909. Although nominally they operated as vassals of the Abbasid caliphate, they were almost totally autonomous from Baghdad. Their reign is noteworthy for the growth of Ifriqiya as an economic center and of their capital city, Qayrawan, as a regional center of commerce and learning. It’s also known for their very extended campaign to conquer the island of Sicily. During the 109 years the Aghlabids controlled Ifriqiya, they spent fully 75 of them trying to take the island from the Byzantines. Their successful 877-878 siege of the Sicilian capital, Syracuse, was their fifth try at taking the city and probably should have been the culmination of their Sicilian conquest, but internal breakdowns delayed their final victory for over two more decades. Which meant they had precious little time to enjoy the fruits of their victory.

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