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827-828 Siege of Syracuse ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: The Arabs failed to capture Syracuse but set foot in Sicily 827-828
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Arabs (Aghlabids)
Muslim conquest of Sicily
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Syracuse Location:
Syracuse, Sicily
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Michael II the Stammerer) The Enemies
Commander: Unknown Asad ibn al-Furat
Forces: Unknown 10,000+700 cavalry+100 ships
Background story: The Muslim conquest of Sicily and parts of southern Italy lasted 75 years. According to some sources, the conquest was spurred by Euphemius, the Byzantine commander who feared punishment by Emperor Michael II for a sexual indiscretion. After a short-lived conquest of Syracuse, he was proclaimed emperor but was compelled by loyal forces to flee to Africa to the court of Ziyadat Allah. The latter agreed to conquer Sicily, with the promise to leave it to Euphemius in exchange for a yearly tribute, and entrusted its conquest to the 70 year old qadi Asad ibn al-Furat,
The Muslim force counted 10,000 infantry, 700 cavalry and 100 ships reinforced by Euphemius' ships and, cavalry. The first battle against Byzantine troops occurred on July 15, 827, near Mazara, resulting in an Aghlabid victory.
The Battle:
After taking Mazara, Asad conquered the southern shore of the island and laid siege to Syracuse. After a year of siege and an attempted mutiny, his troops were able to defeat a large army sent from Palermo backed by a Venetian fleet led by doge Giustiniano Participazio. However, the Muslims retreated to the castle of Mineo when a plague killed many of the Muslim troops as well as Asad himself. Threatened by reinforcements arriving from Constantinople, the survivors burned their ships and withdrew overland west to Mazara.
Aftermath: The Arabs stayed in Sicily and gradually, over the next 75 years, captured the whole island. In 830, they received a strong reinforcement of 30,000 African and Spanish troops and started a new offensive.