While favouring cultural exchange, the region’s proximity to the East was also a source of danger to its populations who, over the centuries, were constantly under the threat of Saracen invasions. In a medieval Christian context, Muslims from North Africa were known as Saracens. In later centuries, the term was also applied to Muslims from Turkey.
Saracen raids affected Byzantine and Venetian fleets, as well as the coastal towns and Christian islands, above all those of Western Europe, which were not as well defended as the Byzantines ports and harbours in the east. The objective was to raid, to kidnap and sell men, women and children as slaves and, later, to create settlements in “nesting” areas, from which further raids could be mounted.