The Cathedrals of Cefalu and Monreale

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Roger II created a Norman kingdom in Sicily that is noted for its tolerance. It was considered rare that a kingdom contained religious diversity in relative harmony with each other, but this kingdom was known for its relative harmony. This kingdom was continued by his grandson, William II. He was the last of the direct Norman d’Hauteville line to rule Sicily. This paper will examine two cathedrals: Cefalu, (built by Roger II), and Monreale, (built by William II). These cathedrals are bookends to the Norman reign of the d’Hauteville in Sicily. They were both designed to be dynastic burial sites for the d’Hauteville Family. Roger II and his heirs desired to show themselves as heirs to the Davidic Monarchy in The Bible. The building and mosaic program at Cefalu and Monreale visually established them as rulers outside of the authority and tradition of the Roman papacy. This was accomplished through the use of legends, mosaic programs, representing themselves as receiving authority from God without the need for intercession by the clergy, and the melding of an ethnically and religiously diverse culture.

Roger II used miraculous events to influence public opinion and create a rationale for the creation of the cathedral at Cefalu. William II also used miraculous events to influence public opinion and create a rationale for the establishment of the cathedral at Monreale. In the establishment of Cefalu and Monreale the use of miraculous events explain the reasoning for the building of these cathedrals. These stories of the miraculous become legends that are used by both kings and bishops in relationship to the cathedrals. These legends give credence to the need to establish kingship or curb the power of a...

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