The Central Sea


I’m currently working on a series of stories set in at the time of the Crusades.
Most of the action occurs on Għawdex – better known as Gozo.

Maltese Language
Latin alphabets have trouble with the Maltese language – and some programs return a ‘?’ character when they get stuck.
Here’s the bits my writing software struggled with.

Place which becomes where…
Ġgantija ?gantija first character is G with one dot on top
Għajnsielem G?ajnsielem second character is h with a horizontal line on top
Għawdex G?awdex second character is h with a horizontal line on top
Mġarr M?arr second character is g with one dot on top

At the moment the Central Sea sequence consists of:

GħawdexXewkija (2,850 words – done )
The Central Sea (3,100 words – done)  edit: 25/02
Adriana (2,900 words – done)

If I write more, I will examine the rivalry between the Corsair leader Igaidi and the Capo Rikkardu of Xewkija.

The following are my background notes to the times.

Norman Conquest of Sicily (Malta)
In 1091, Roger landed at Malta and subdued the walled city of Mdina. He imposed taxes on the islands, but allowed the Arab governors to continue functioning. In 1127, Roger II removed the Muslim government and replaced it with Norman officials. Under Norman rule, the Arabic that the Greek Christian islanders had adopted under centuries of Muslim domination was transformed into a distinct language: Maltese.

The 1169 Sicily earthquake occurred on 4 February at 07:00 on the eve of the feast of St. Agatha. It had an estimated magnitude of between 6.4 and 7.3 and an estimated maximum perceived intensity of X (Intense) on the Mercalli intensity scale. Catania, Lentini and Modica were severely damaged. It triggered a tsunami. Overall, the earthquake is estimated to have caused the deaths of at least 15,000 people.

The tsunami  affected most of the Ionian coast of Sicily and caused inundation from Messina in the north to the mouth of the Simeto River in the south.
Tsunami deposits correlated with this earthquake have been found both onshore and offshore. The tsunami is also thought to be responsible for moving several large boulders from the middle of the sublittoral zone onto the coast between Augusta and Syracuse.

Some accounts refer to a major eruption from Etna at the time of the earthquake, blaming most of the deaths in Catania and the tsunami on the eruption. However, most accounts consider the tsunami to have been triggered by the earthquake, which had the consequential effect of triggering the collapse of part of the cone on Etna but no significant eruption. As with the 1693 earthquake, the 1169 event seems to have followed a major period of eruptive activity. 

Catania was almost completely destroyed. The Cathedral collapsed killing the Bishop John of Ajello, 44 of the Benedictine monks, and many others who were crowded into the building for the feast of St. Agatha. Great damage was also caused to Lentini, Modica, Aci Castello, Sortino and Syracuse.
In a contemporary account Hugo Falcandus described the effects on the Arethusa spring in Syracuse, which increased its rate of flow greatly and became salty. Near Casale Saraceno the flow of another spring, known as Tais, stopped after the earthquake. Two hours later it returned with much greater force than before and had the colour of blood.
Estimates of the death toll in the earthquake vary, with 15,000 being often quoted, sometimes for the overall total and sometimes just for Catania. A few sources give the higher estimate of 25,000.

 

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