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Christ Pantocrator in the dome of church of Cefalu, Sicily: an image would have been familiar to Roger II



The Normans on Sicily


Who was King Roger? 

Roger II of Sicily (1095-1154) managed to unite all the Italian lands taken by the Normans into one strong, centralised kingdom. This Psalter comes from the high point of his reign, between 1130 and his death, during which time Sicily was the leading maritime power in the Mediterranean. Roger's court welcomed scholars and learned men of all races and faiths: an Arab geographer might discuss vital matters of the day with a Greek historian and an English official. 

He was the inspiration for Polish composer Karol Szymanowski's 1926 opera King Roger, which reflects three cultures: Act I is 'Byzantine', Act II 'Oriental' and Act III 'Greco-Roman'.