Though crusades had not yet been preached, the strife with the Mussulman at once brought in the crusading element; to the Christian people of the island they were in many cases real deliverers; still, the actual process by which Sicily was won was not so very different from that by which Apulia had been won.
The Normans came as fellowChristians and deliverers; they found very few Arabs in Malta.
In 1090 Count Roger the Norman (son of Tancred de Hauteville), then master of Sicily, came to Malta with a small retinue; the Arab garrison was unable to offer effective opposition, and the Maltese were willing and able to welcome the Normans as deliverers and to hold the island after the immediate withdrawal of Count Roger.
If any attempt were made from outside to release him, the prisoner was to be put to death; in no circumstances was he to be delivered alive into any one's hands, even if his deliverers produced the empress's own signmanual authorizing his release.
The peasants of the open country welcomed the Turks as deliverers, and Reshid's conciliatory policy facilitated his march to Athens, which fell at the first assault on the 25th of August, siege being at once laid to the Acropolis, where Gouras and his troops had taken refuge.