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Petré Caleia (Fidem Pacis)

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Petré Caleia (Italian: Pietro Celegna, Greek: Πετρος Καλαιος) was the Roman appointed Exarch of Africa from 1604 AD to 1617, and subsequently King of Africa until his death in 1635. He was the first independent ruler of Africa in the modern era, and the founder of the House of Caleia.

Born in 1570 in Carthage to a mercantile family, he was at a young age sent to Antioch to be educated. Joining the bureaucracy, he quickly rose through the ranks and at the age of 25 was sent to be an assistant to the eparch of Sicily. Later he was transferred back to Carthage to be the exarch's chief deputy, and was appointed exarch himself when the incumbent died in 1604.

At this time the Italian provinces had recently broken out into open revolt, and the imperial government was pressuring the remainder of the empire to support the war effort. Petré was ordered to use the powerful Carthaginian navy to patrol the waters around Italy and to ferry imperial troops and provisions across the sea, which he did. However, in 1611 the notorious Sack of Syracuse, in which several of his old friends were killed, caused him to begin to rethink his loyalty to the empire. Over the next few years Petré quietly probed African military leaders, administrators and representatives of the business community for their opinions on the current situation, while secretly carrying out negotiations with the Italian rebels. 

In January 1617 Petré's sister and her husband were arrested in Thessalonica for trading with the rebels, and imprisoned in the fortress on Lemnos. Furious, Petré renounced all allegiance to the empire and led a small fleet to raid Lemnos and rescue the prisoners. Upon his return to Carthage he summoned a council of provincial notables and, with their support, declared Africa's independence and openly allied with the Italians.

Within a few years the African and Italian armies had driven imperial land forces completely out of the western Mediterranean, though fighting at sea continued for a while longer. In 1632 the Roman Empire, exhausted and drained from years of war, agreed to peace terms and to recognise African independence.

Petré died a few years later, and was succeeded by his son-in-law Arelié.

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