Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in History



First Advisor

Tracey-Anne Cooper

Second Advisor

Nerina Rustomji


The Kingdom of Sicily, founded in 1130 by Roger II de Hauteville, is an example of a medieval European kingdom with an advanced understanding of law, judicial processes, and administrative offices that developed from its creation by the Norman kings to its incorporation into the Crown of Aragon. A state rarely focused on in medieval European studies, its advanced understanding of law is reflected through the law codes of Roger II, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and the Aragonese kings James II, Frederick III, and Peter II of Sicily. These kings knew that in order to effectively grow the power of their kingdom, the kingdom needed to establish laws that were fair and observed all of its subjects as equal, whether they were a nobleman or a peasant, Christian or Muslim, also while maintaining their status in society. In addition, the establishment of councils that administered the law, managed the land, and assisted the king in his duties were also set up and would prove to be crucial to the management of the kingdom. Through the close reading of Arabic and Christian primary sources, the purpose of this study seeks to accomplish three things. First, to recognize that the Kingdom of Sicily had a diverse population and was not strictly Latin, or Catholic, and practiced religious toleration to a degree. Second, it seeks to increase awareness in academic and non-academic audiences the Kingdom of Sicily as a vibrant and diverse area of medieval Europe outside the traditional areas of France, England, Germany, and Spain. Finally, the study seeks to consider legal texts as cultural phenomena and as a record of both court and legal culture in a diverse kingdom experimenting with tolerance as the rest of Europe is increasingly becoming more intolerant. This study is significant because the legal history reveals how the Kingdom of Sicily was not static, that it was adaptive and experimented with new laws and administrations to consider non-Christian subjects of the kingdom as equals to the Christian subjects, according to the law, allowing the early monarchs to create a powerful kingdom in the Mediterranean.