This is the first detailed study of Sicilian life in the reign of Frederick III (1296-1337), a period which saw Sicily reduced from a bustling and prosperous Mediterranean emporium to a poor backwater torn apart by violence. The relative economic and social backwardness of Sicily within modern Italy has attracted considerable scholarly attention. Attempts to explain its ingrained poverty and civil strife usually blame either the legacy of two thousand years of colonisation by rapacious foreigners or the inherent weaknesses in the island itself and its people. More recently a model of ‘economic dualism’ has pointed to basic structural flaws in the economic relations that were established between the island and its continental trading partners from the twelfth century onwards. This book, by focusing on Frederick III’s crucial reign, argues that there were many more things ‘wrong’ with Sicilian life than just the shape of its overseas trade relations.