previous page: Q6.13 What is important to know about region Sardinia: Ancient History
page up: Italy FAQ
next page: Q6.13 What is important to know about region Sardinia: Modern history

Q6.13 What is important to know about region Sardinia: Medieval history


This article is from the Italy FAQ, by Gianluigi Sartori gg@angel.stanford.edu, Paolo Fiorini fiorini@telerobotics.jpl.nasa.gov with numerous contributions by others.

Q6.13 What is important to know about region Sardinia: Medieval history

In 456 A.D., when the Roman Empire was sinking fast, the Vandals of Africa, on
their return from a raid in Latium on the mainland, occupied Caralis along
with the other coastal cities of Sardinia. In 534 the Vandals were defeated at
Tricamari, a place some 30 Km form Carthage, by the troops of the Eastern
Emperor Justinian and Sardinia thus became Byzantine. The island was
divided into districts called mereie, governed by a judex residing in Caralis
(Cagliari) and garrisoned by an army stationed in Forum Traiani (nowadays
Fordongianus) under the command of a dux.

Along with the Byzantines and the Eastern monasticism of the followers of St.
Basil, Christianity spread throughout the island, except in the Barbagia
regions. Here, towards the end of the sixth century, a short-lived
independent domain reestablished itself, with Sardinian-heathen lay
and religious traditions, one of its kings being Ospitone.

>From 640 to 732 the Arabs occupied North Africa, Spain and part of France. In
827 they began their occupation of Sicily. Sardinia remained isolated and was
forced to defend herself; thus, the judex provinciae assumed overall command
with civil and military powers.

The continual raids and attacks by the Islamized Berbers on the Sardinian
shores began in 710 and grew ever more ruinous with time. One by one the
coastal towns and cities were abandoned by their inhabitants. The judex
provinciae, in order to afford a better defence of the island, assigned
his civil and military powers to his four lieutenants in the mereie of
Cagliari, Torres or Logudoro, Arborea and Gallura.
Around 900, the lieutenants gained their independence, in turn becoming
judices (in Sardinian judikes means king) of their own logu or state.

Each one of these four Sardinian states called giudicati constituted a
sovereign kingdom, not patrimonial but independent since it was not the
property of the monarch.
But they were at the same time democratic since all the most important
issues of national interest were not for the king (or giudice) himself to
decide but were a matter for the representative of the people gathered in
assembly called corona de logu.

Each kingdom manned its own fortified boundaries to protect its own political
and trading affairs, its own parliament, own laws (cartas de logu), own
national languages, own chancelleries, own state emblems and symbols, etc.
The kingdom or giudicato of Cagliari was politically pro-Genoese. It was
brought to an end in 1258 when its capital, S. Igia, was stormed and
destroyed by an alliance of Sardinian-Pisan forces. The territory then became
a colony of Pisa. The kingdom or giudicato of
Torres, too, was pro-Genoese and came to an end in 1259, on the death of the
giudicessa Adelasia. The territory was divided up between the Doria family of
Genoa and the Bas-Serra family of Arborea, while the city of Sassari became an
autonomous city-republic.

The kingdom or giudicato of Gallura ended in the year 1288, when the last
giudice Nino Visconti a friend of Dante's, was driven out by the Pisans
who occupied the territory. The kingdom or giudicato of Arborea was almost
always under the political and cultural influence of the powerful marine
republic of Pisa. It lasted some 520 years, with Oristano as its capital.

In 1297, Pope Boniface VIII in order to settle diplomatically the War of the
Vespers, which broke out in 1282 between the Angevins and Aragonese over the
possession of Sicily, established motu proprio a hypothetical regnum
Sardiniae et Corsicae. The Pope offered it to the Catalan Jaume II the Just,
king of the Crown of Aragon (a confederation made up of the kingdoms of
Aragon and Valencia, plus the peasants of Catalonia), promising him support
should he wish to conquer Pisan Sardinia in exchange for Sicily. In 1323
Jaume II of Aragon formed an alliance with the kings of Arborea and,
following a military campaign which lasted a year or so, occupied the
Pisa territories of Cagliari and Gallura along with the city of Sassari,
naming them kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica.

In 1353, for reasons of state survival, war broke out between the kingdom of
Arborea and the kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica part of the Crown of Aragon.
In 1354 the Aragonese seized Alghero and reshaped it into an entirely Catalan
city, which still today displays its Iberian origins. In 1353 Pere IV of
Aragon, called the Cerimonious, granted legislative autonomy (a parliament)
to the kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica which was followed in due course
by self-government (Viceroy) and judicial independence (Royal Hearing).

>From 1365 to 1409 the kings or giudici of Arborea Mariano IV, Ugone III,
Mariano V (assisted by his mother Eleonora, the famous giudicessa regent) and
Guglielmo III (French grandson of Eleonora) succeeded in occupying very
nearly all Sardinia except Castel of Cagliari (today Cagliari) and Alghero.
In 1409 Marti the Younger, king of Sicily ad heir to Aragon, defeated the
giudicale Sardinians at Sanluri and conquered once and for all the entire
land. Shortly afterwards he died in Cagliari of malaria,
without issue, and consequently the Crown of Aragon passed into the hands of
the Castilians Trastamara, and in particular Ferran I of Antequera and his
descendants, with the Compromise of Caspe in 1412.

The tomb of Marti the Younger is in Cagliari Cathedral.


Continue to:

previous page: Q6.13 What is important to know about region Sardinia: Ancient History
page up: Italy FAQ
next page: Q6.13 What is important to know about region Sardinia: Modern history