The Mafia can be traced back to the ninth century, when Sicily was invaded and then ruled by Arabs. The Arabic word Mafia means “place of refuge,” and this term gave meaning to those Sicilians who were hillside refuges to which suffering inhabitants of the island fled. In the eleventh century Sicily was overrun by Norman invaders. They captured Sicilians and turned their farms into grand and glorious estates. The Sicilians were made slaves and put to work on these estates. Thousands escaped to the hills to where the Mafia strongholds were. In the fifteenth century Sicily was invaded once again. This time by the Spaniards. They brought with them the Inquisition with all of its sadistic punishments and tortures. The Sicilian peasants again sought the protection of the Mafia strongholds. There has been speculation that even another version of the beginning of the Mafia began when the French invaded in 1282. Many of the patriotic Sicilians retaliated with their own motto; “Morte a!
lla Francia Italia anela!!!” “Death to the French is Italy’s cry!!!”
Century after century the Mafia was the symbol of patriotic society to Sicily. A group who battled time after time of foreigner invaders. This society created a hierarchy of dons (chiefs) who were the heads of different Mafia families in their respective towns throughout Sicily, with the top don living in Palermo. Taking of an oath a member swore under death that he would never reveal Mafia secrets. No other organization was to be more superior than the Mafia, not the state, not even the church.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, Sicily was totally controlled by the Mafia, which was now a completely criminal secret society. The lords of the land had been replaced by the corrupt dons of the Mafia. They basically controlled all of the island’s government. The very young Mafia members, usually before they were teenagers, were taught basic uses of sword, knife and rope in an attempt to…


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