Arab emirate in North Africa (q.v.) that conquered Sicily from Byzantium (qq.v). The Aghlabids gained their independence ca. 800 from the Abbasids (q.v.), during the reign of Harun al-Rashid (q.v.). Centered in Tunis, the emirate's powerful fleet was well positioned to menace Byzantine Sicily (q.v.), beginning in 826. They achieved effective control over the island with the conquest of Taormina (q.v.) in 902. They captured Malta (q.v.) in 870, and they repeatedly attacked Sardinia (q.v.) as well as cities along the coast of Italy (q.v.), threatening Rome (q.v.) in 846. Their capture of Bari (q.v.) in 841 allowed them to dominate Apulia (q.v.) for the next three decades until German emperor Louis II (q.v.) reconquered it in 871.

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