The seventh century is a very important time for the future of Italy, for it marks the beginning of the Islamic expansion; an expansion which will have specific and positive repercussions throughout Italy in the areas of study, technology, lexicon and commerce.
Italy is conquered by way of Spain and Sicily. For the most part, the Arabs reside in Sicily and the southern portion of Italy (Sardegna, Amalfi, Napoli, Taranto and Bari) but can also be found in central Italy in Civitavecchia.
Initially the contact between the Arab and Italian population was one of conflict, understandably so, due to the former’s forced entry into the nation. However, once installed, there really wasn’t a relationship of control or dominance on the part of the Arab conquerors.
The Arabs did not “impose” their religion upon the Italians, as long as they paid a tribute and remained inferior legally. This recalls the situation during the Roman Empire in which one sacrificed social prestige and political power if one chose not to adopt the Latin language. A formula of non-violent based co-existence.
Arab culture brought knowledge of agricultural and navigation techniques; philosophy introduced Aristotle. The study of Astronomy brought with it vocabulary such as: zenith, almanac nadir and astrolabe. Mathematics established words and associated meanings and concpets such as: zero, algorithm, algebra and cartography.
The conquerors introduced the cultivation of oranges, lemons, artichokes, cotton, spinach and sugar and along with them came their designated names. The creation of souk-like markets and new wares as well as crucial trade links with the Middle eastern world allowed for Sicily to flourish into a very important commercial centre.
The Arabs nurtured the intelligence and knowing the Italians were already in possession of. They expanded the pre-existing vocabulary and brought forth new ideas and ways of thought. A win win for all through contact and exchange.
There are many examples that mirror this form of blended enrichment, throughout history, via the sharing of intellectual property.
Something to keep in mind during a modern era riddled with a desire (from some rulers and populations alike) for subjugation, despotic rule and annihilation (in many cases) of anything or anyone that is different.
(excerpts from my final paper for language studies course)