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Sicily is an island situated west of the "toe" of mainland Italy.

After the disintegration of the Roman Empire, the island was conquered by Byzantium under Justinian to become part of the Eastern Empire. The island then came under Arab control from 827.

Norman forces attacked unsuccesfully in 1060, but in 1062 a force led by Roger de Hauteville and Robert Guiscard established a foothold in Messina. Taking advantage of Arabic disunity the Normans managed a piecemeal conquest of the island. Palermo was taken in 1072 and by 1091 Roger had captured the last resisting Muslim town.

Roger held the conquered portions of Sicily, with the exception of Palermo and Messina, in fealty to Robert Guiscard until 1085. Robert's death in that year allowed Roger to establish Sicily as his own. Following much intrigue and extensive interference from the pope, Roger's son was crowned Roger II, king of Sicily, Calabria and Apulia.

In 1282, Charles I of Anjou was deposed in Sicily and the island became a political entity separate from mainland Italy. The uprising, known as the Sicilian Vespers, led to Peter III of Aragon becoming Peter I of Sicily as well.