Post by Alex Milman
Actually, the Duchy of Benevento was attacked by Charlemagne and then by
his sons more than once so it was not such a long way.
Once Charlemagne had taken over the Lombard kingdom, he was operating in
Italy itself (with Papal approval), so it wasn't a long way at all.
It *was* a long way for the Normans, however, and it didn't seem to
trouble them unduly, so the distance isn't the main problem. Operating
without local allies might be a problem, but any putatively Christian
power trying to conquer southern Italy from the Muslims is going to have
Post by Alex Milman
By 900-1000, the Moslems would be entrenched in Naples and it would
require a major effort to get them out. Unlike Iberia, there is no
scope for multiple Christian states to attack. Christian Europe would
get used to Moslem Naples.
But here comes the obvious question about the Muslims' support base. In
OTL the Arabs conquered Sicily but were defeated by the Normans in the
XI century. They were getting some support from Northern Africa but this
support was seemingly inadequate. For how long such a support would
exist in ATL and from whom? Just on their own the local Muslims would
not be strong enough to resist a continued (or just "regular") pressure
from the Christian neighbors. Not to mention their tendency to
disintegration (as happened in Spain and Sicily).
If the Normans turn up in Italy on schedule (ca. 1000), then they'll be
fighting (and probably taking service with) Muslim emirs instead of
Lombard dukes. In fact, why should it look very different from the
contemporary Taifa period in Spain? Adventurers carving out
principalities for themselves, then fighting among themselves, Christian
against Muslim, Muslim against Muslim, Christian against Christian.
The one big difference would be that on the Christian side there would be
no competing kingdoms, as there were in Spain - instead, the Norman
adventurers would have to get their authority from either the Pope or the
Byzantine Emperor. OTL history suggests that the Popes were quite happy
to recognise the Normans as princes and dukes, if they could make their
territorial claims stick. The Byzantines would be less likely to do so, I
think, but those who had come off worse might ask for and get Byzantine
recognition - what would the Byzantines have to lose?