Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/257

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THE NORMAN KINGDOM OF SICILY

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Ibn Giobair,[1] "elegant, graceful, and splendid, rising before one like a temptress". . . and offering its king—"may Allah take them from him! every pleasure in the world." An artist's city, too, distinguished by the qualities which Goethe saw in it, "the purity of its light, the delicacy of its lines and tones, the harmony of earth and sea and sky."

From the highest point in the capital rose the royal palace, which still retains, in spite of the transformations of eight centuries, something of the massiveness and the splendor of its Norman original, of which it preserves the great Pisan tower,—once the repository of the royal treasure,—the royal chapel, and one of the state apartments of King Roger's time. Its terraces and gardens have long since disappeared, with their marble lions and plashing fountains which resembled the Alhambra or the great pleasure-grounds of the Mohammedan East; but we can easily call them to life with the aid of the Saracen poets and of the remains of the other royal residences which surrounded the city "like a necklace of pearls." Here, amid his harem and his eunuchs, the officers of his court and his retinue of Mohammedan servants, the king lived much after the manner of an Oriental potentate. On state occasions he donned the purple and gold of the Greek emperors or the sumptuous vestments of red samite, embroidered

  1. His description is translated by Amari, Biblioteca arabo-sicula (Turin, 1888), I, pp. 155 ff.; and by Schiaparelli, Ibn Gubayr (Rome, 1906), pp. 328 ff. Cf. Waern, Mediæval Sicily, pp. 64 ff.