Caulonia 2000


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by Mario Pellicano Castagna

Ancient Castelvetere, whose origins probably lie in late Roman or Byzantine times, faced the Medieval era with all the doubts and uncertainties which are common to many inhabited areas in southern Italy and for the knowledge of which we need not consult historical literature or other sources of information.
The same sources from the years five and six-hundred, to which too much credit has been assigned, not only don’t help us to fill an emptiness spanning more than a century, but they seem also to be entirely refuted by more recent historical critique and by the archaeological findings at Capo Stilo.Furthermore, these sources have never offered any positive and concrete information regarding the beginnings of the new citadel. Therefor, we are effectively left with only its name, Castrum Vetus, and that is really not much to go by when researching a relative antiquity.
Other citadels in Campania (Castelvetere di Val Fortore in the province of Benevento and Castelvetere sul Calore in the province of Avellino) and in Basilicata (Vietri di Potenza) have been discovered, in coeval documents, to have the same name as Castelvetere. This led the local historians astray, among whom Prota, into believing correct the insertion of a certain Malgerio di Altavilla, whose presence is greatly doubted because of the unreliable qualities of the document linked to him, or the insertion of one Roberto de Vetro or even a member of the Muscatello family, among the series of feudal lords of Castelvetere. None of them has any connection to our land. Even the name of the Filangieri family seems an unacceptable option, the document regarding them, also having serious doubts cast on it. So much more for the fact that the year 1262 is covered by another famous name: Galvano Lancia, a close relation to King Manfredi and certainly lord of Castelvetere in parish of Gerace. He came to a sad end six years later in Rome, hung along with his son Galeotto, following the battle of Tagliacozzo.We are already in the angioman era and the darkness is beginning to spread, at least regarding the feudal system, which often represents the least obscure part of a town’s history. The names of the provençal Matteo de Hyères (de Era or de Area 1269-72), Scarano di Taranto (1272-78), Ancel and Hervè de Chevreuse, father and son (1278-c.1283), are certainly feudal lords of Castelvetere and they fill the first years of reign of Carlo I.

Immediately following them, during the first phase of the Vespro war, Castelvetere, probably for the first time, enters the spotlight in a regional context. It was repeatedly defended, captured and recaptured by the Sicilian army led by Ruggero di Lauria (1283-1302).Another period of uncertainty followed this one, until 1331 when we find Castelvetere, as a part ofthe Ruffo dominion. They ruled as counts of Catanzaro then as marquises of Cotrone and were tied to the history of the region until their disappearance in 1466. The Ruffo family invested some of their most loyal followers with feudal honours: Tarsia (1331) went to Giovanni de Bosco whom Zangari wrongly believes to be lord of Castelvetere. Landolfo or Sant’Alessandro(1429 or 1439) was given to Vincio Lucifero, a Cotronese by birth who delt with the Terza family and the Lucano family.The most salient episode, although still unclear, is the siege laid against the rebellious marquis of Cotrone, Antonio Centelles, husband of the last Ruffo, in 1445 by one Cardona who defeated him at his last stronghold in Castelvetere. To aid his cause, King Alfonso stripped Centelle of his land and titles in February 1445. The name Regio Demanio becomes very popular in Castelvetere around this time along with Galeotto Baldaxi, who has wrongly been recognised as the first marquis of Castelvetere because he was only Governor. He was known as a valorous soldier fighting alongside king Alfonso. He did not hesitate to fight against his heir during the war of 1459-62 where he was proved to be pitiless, ravaging the land and villages until his flight back to his homeland Sicily. Centelles then briefly appeared again (1462-66) followed by R. Demanio representing Giacomo Carafa, a neapolitan patrician whose mausoleum is still standing.  He also was a valorous and honourable soldier who gained recognition during the wars of Alfonso and those of Ferrante I, in which he was accompanied by his son Vincenzo.  The King honoured him and his descendants with the lands, buildings and the entire estate of Castelvetere (7th May 1479) adding to that Roccella one year later. It seems that Giacomo Carafa did not leave good memories behind him. He was known as a despotic and authoritarian man. His son Vincenzo (1489-1526) had a difficult time, his lands being invaded by Carlo VIII and following him, Ferdinando il Cattolico, who ended the aragonese dynasty. It seems possible that Castelvetere took advantage of these difficulties to shake up the ruling system and it took an order placing Jacopo Conti in power to bend the town bak into obedience (4th December 1496). To obtain this order some precise guarantees were demanded and accorded, one of these was the restitution of titles and privileges belonging to their predecessors, most of which had been removed from two of the most eminent citizens, Cola and Antonio de Girace (Hyeraci), by the Carafa family.The Carafa dominion was reconfirmed by the Catholic King (1505) and by Carlo V (1521), indeed it grew and expanded through acquisition and succession until it became an important element in the Calabrian feudal system lasting until the eversive laws of 1806. The so called modern age, which begins roughly with the instalment of the vice-kingdom, enables an introspective and profound analysis of municipal, civil, religious and economic aspects of life, therefor also of the relationships and disputes with the feudal apparatus, with the internal administration, with the social classes etc.

Prizes seem to have been regulated by the so called Pandette drawn up by both Vincenzo Carafa in 1514 and his son GiovanBattista (1526-1552), first marquis of Castelvetere.  Despite their being valorous soldiers and faithful to King CarloV and despite their tragic end, the Pandette must be recognised as setting quite a favourable compromise in the matter of the citizens’ freedom. These first Pandette were subsequently substituted or integrated with those of Carlo Maria Carafa Branciforte (born in Castelvetere on the 26th February 1651-1st July 1695), the literate, physicist, urbanist, paternalistic, upright, intransigent prince who had his subjects welfare truly at heart.Because any good law is not necessarily so without applying conscience and scruple, it has to be noted that the baronial house was constantly present throughout the XVII century, as documented by the baptising records of the church of Santa Maria dei Minnati and that this other than helping civil relationships, create family goodwill and calm lifestyles, also calmed if not eliminated the bitterness and heartlessness of the governors who made up the marquis’s administration, judges and financial counsellors which was quite a common trait of the era.The Carafa family had a very strong hold on their domain which became, as did Roccella with the gerosolomitian Priorato, a kind of parallel second power which oversaw the religious life of the town by means of a thick web of churches, chapels, altars, privileges and above all by means of  the Deanship, a considerable wealth spinner as well as moral authority whose position was constantly occupied by other members of the family. Among these there were Carlo seniore (+1644) and Carlo juniore (+1680), his nephew, respectively, Archbishop of Aversa and Cardinal of S.R.C.The university (otherwise, municipality) was administered similarly to all the other establishments of the kingdom on the basis of a system regulated by precise rules and as part of a municipal body, the regiment, elected by the gathered citizens in a public parliament. These elections occurred, as expressed by B. Croce: “…in the midst of most people’s disinterest and few people’s frauds”.Under this aspect, Castelvetere shows a characteristic profile of its history, worthy of attention: the rigid separation of social classes which finds expression in the double syndicate, where there are a mayor and representatives elected by the nobility and a second mayor with representatives elected by the people, the latter bearing much more subordinate and unimportant responsibilities.This Separate Nobility, with wealth, census, privileges and sub-feudal investitures was faithful ultimately to the royal house who dictated and monopolised public life under all its different aspects.
We are aware of the names of the components of the royal family through the parish documents and printed works, among which that of father Fiore (who lived in Castelvetere for many years in the Cappuccino convent and who was a sharp observer of lical life) and that of Apprezzo del Gallerani from 1707.We also know that as the years wore on, many of these families disappeared, either extinct or expatriated, leaving only ten residents divided into 18 heads of the family still inscribed in the 1755 Onciario. Only Asciutti, Hyerace, Musco and Sergio survive until today.This made the changing of people to cover the roles more and more difficult because there no longer were many. These roles therefor had to be covered by the same people year after year. The other side of the coin however, shows that the times were changing, seeking new outlets and innovations.In this atmosphere, some non-noble families came into the limelight in Castelvetere for reasons such as census rights and doctorate titles and were considered acceptable to reinvigorate the old patrician class and were requested to be integrated. It is unclear how the prince Gennaro Carafa Cantelmo Stuart went about accepting these elements, nor whether he wanted to annoy the old nobility and impose his authority or gain new alliances.

The nobles, on their behalf, were divided as well. Some, like the baron Fonte, were willing to accept and others, the majority, led by the Musco family, were against the integration. The situation was so unheard of that the echos and comments reverberated round the nearby towns and resulting in a written official document by the Nobles of Stilo who expressed surprise at the opposition.The issue ended after many years and two victims with an agreement stating that the integration was to be accepted but that the position of mayor of the nobles was to be held only by one of the original patricians.

The French decade which opened the next century, while ending feudalism, also eliminated the ancient syndicate institution which had represented, for better or for worse, the freedom of expression of the people. In its place they instated the decurionate, a restricted oligarchy of families meticulously examined on the basis of their census and subsequently irremovable, from which, for decades, until the unification, all the mayors and counsellors were chosen. This is where the happenings of Castelvetere end and where those of today’s Caulonia begin. A new name, incomprehensible and unnatural, which has nothing to do with its recent past (nearly a millennium).

A list of feudal lords of Castelvetere and the owners of the title of marquis until present times*

Galvano Lancia (c. 1262-1268)

Matteo de Hyeres (c. 1269-1271)

Scarano di Taranto (1271-c. 1278)

Ancel de Chevreuse (e. 1278- …)

Hervè de Chevreuse perhaps Ancel’s son (…-1283)

III Ruffo di  Calabria, Count of Catanzaro (c. 1331 + 1340)

Antonello Ruffo di Calabria, son, same title (1340 + 1377)

Nicolò Ruffo di Calabria, son, same title and Marquis of Cotrone (1377 + c.1434)

Giovannella Ruffo di Calabria, daughter, same titles (1434 + 1435)

Enrichetta Ruffo di Calabria, sister, same titles, wife of

Antonio Centelles Ventimiglia, same titles (married 1441, removed from office 1445)

Regio Governor Galeotto Baldaxi (between 1445 and 1462)

Antonio Centelles Ventimiglia, same as previous, (reinstated 1462, removed 1466)

  Rulership of the Carafa family (1479-1806)

Giacomo Carafa, 1st Baron of Castelvetere (7.V. 1479 + 8.6.1489)

Vincenzo Carafa, son, same title and 1st count of Grotteria (1489 + 5.9.1526)

GiovanBattista Carafa, son, 2nd Marquis of Castelvetere (5.6.1530+17.12.1552)

Geronimo Carafa, son, 2nd Marquis (1552+28.8.1570)

Fabrizio Carafa, son, 3rd Marquis and 1st Price of roccella from 24.3.1594 (1570+6.9.1629)

Geronimo II Carafa, son, 4th Marquis etc. (1629+22.10.1652)

Fabrizio II Carafa, son, 5th Marquis etc. (1652+24.2.1671)

Carlo Maria Carafa Branciforte, son, 6th Marquis, etc. (1671+1.7.1695)

Giulia Carafa Branciforte, sister, 6th Marquis etc. (1695+4.12.1703)

From 1703 to 1707 controversy between R. Fisco and the House of d’Avalos regarding the succession of the States of Roccella.

Vincenzo Carafa, 3rd Duke of Bruzzano, recognised heir of the House of Roccella 3th June 1707

7th Marquis of Castelvetere (1707+26.4.1726)

Gennaro M. Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son, 9th March (1726+31.10.1767)

Vincenzo Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son, 10th Marquis, (1767, last feudal lord hit by the eversive laws, +20.3.1814)

Simple title holders from 1806 until today

Gennaro Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son of the last, 11th Marquis of Castelvetere etc. (1814 + 10.11.1851)

Vincenzo Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son, 12th Marquis (1851+19.7.18799

Gennaro Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son, 13th Marquis, (1879+24.9.1903

Luigi Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, brother, already Count of Grotteria, 14th Marquis, etc. (1903+7.5.1913)

Vincenzo Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son, 15th Marquis (1918+16.10.1918)

Gennaro Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, son 16th Marquis (1918+1982)

Gregorio Carafa Cantelmo Stuart, nephew ex-frate  of previously deceased Luigi, born 1945, living in Milan, todays 17th Marquis of Castelvetere.

(* Recent studies have discovered that Scarano di taranto was not a feudal lord of Castelvetere, but a landholder in Castelvetere (R. Fuda) and that, to the list of feudal lords, the names of Giovanni de Bosco and Leone de Regio must be added)


by Mario Pellicano Castagna


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