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 Illustraion showing scribes working on Latin, Greek, and Arabic manuscripts


Co-existence, law and multiculturalism in the administrative and legal documents of Norman and Hohenstaufen Sicily, c.1060-c.1266

Documenting Multiculturalism is a new research project (2017–2023) based at the University of Oxford and the Università degli Studi di Palermo and funded by an Advanced Grant of approximately €2.5 million from the European Research Council. The project will investigate comprehensively and systematically the coexistence of the diverse confessional, ethnic and linguistic communities of the island of Sicily under Norman and Hohenstaufen rule — Arabic-speaking Muslims and Jews, Greek Christians, and Latin Christians. 

It will investigate: 

  • the legal foundations upon which the  coexistence of the subject communities rested; 
  • the nature, extent and results of cultural, linguistic and social interactions between them; 
  • and variation in the above, from time to time c. 1060 – c. 1266, and from place to place within the island.

The ambitious objective is to create the fundamental tools to study, and to begin to write, the history of the subject communities of Norman Sicily from the bottom up, using documentary rather than narrative sources, and illustrating as far as possible the full variety in space and time.

The project will do this by making new critical editions of all of the administrative and legal documents for Norman Sicily, in the three principal administrative languages — Arabic, Greek and Latin. These texts will populate a database, to which further data from the non-documentary sources will be added. The database will then be used to generate a series of powerful electronic research tools, which will be both the means to meet the ends of this particular project, and ends in themselves that will revolutionise the future study of all aspects of the history of Norman Sicily. At the end of the project, a series of summative studies will document, analyse and discuss different aspects of coexistence and popular multiculturalism in Norman Sicily, and set the case of Sicily in the wider Mediterranean context. 

What is distinctive about this project is that not only the publication of its research objectives, but also the tools that it will create in order to achieve them, will revolutionise the future study of all aspects of the cultural, economic and social history of Norman Sicily.

European Research Council logo    Università Degli Studi di Palermo logo    Barakat Trust logo    Oxford University logo    Archivio di Stato logo    Khalili Research Centre logo

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 787342).