Fra Tre e Cinquecento il Mezzogiorno d’Italia diviene il teatro dello scontro tra le dinastie che si disputano il possesso del Regno, e con esso del Mediterraneo centrale: prima le case regnanti angioina ed aragonese, poi le nascenti monarchie nazionali di Francia e Spagna, ma anche i poteri locali, ostili ad ogni forma di centralizzazione, diedero vita ad una lunga serie di battaglie: più di trenta studiosi provenienti da varie nazioni e di diversi ambiti scientifici (storici, filologi classici e umanistici, italianisti, storici della lingua italiana, dell’arte, dell’architettura e della miniatura) hanno indagato la vasta documentazione letteraria ed artistica prodotta intorno a questi eventi bellici.
Descritte in miniature, in affreschi, negli arazzi, nel bronzo o nel marmo, nel latino forbito degli umanisti o nel volgare schietto degli ambasciatori, nei capolavori di Machiavelli o di Guicciardini, le battaglie forniscono un’interessante chiave di lettura per una più approfondita conoscenza del Rinascimento meridionale. Al centro dell’indagine non sono tanto le battaglie in sé, pur qui ricostruite, quanto le loro differenti narrazioni, dove lo svolgimento reale dell’evento bellico finisce spesso per essere dissimulato attraverso un progressivo spostamento dal factus al fictus.
From the Histoire ancienne to the Roman du roy Meliadus: The Battle in Manuscript Illumination of Angevin Naples
Since the first Angevin age, the wide circulation of chivalry romances, especially of the classic cycle, fostered the rise of a particular illustrative genre in Naples – the battle scene – which had repercussions in the Aragonese period as well. Various types of battle scenes, often realized with the help of pouncing, are found on the bottom margin of the manuscripts. This essay highlights the connection of this illustrative genre with Parisian manuscript illumination in the time of Louis IX and the peculiarity of some ‘inventions’ that can be found only in Neapolitan manuscripts. It also aims at emphasizing the revival of proto-Angevin models during the reign of Joanna of Anjou, when the bloody representation of the battle that emerged in the heroic climate of the crusades gave way to the representation of the war game – the tournament – which is a full expression of the neo-feudal climate of the mid-14th century European courts.
«Le aspre battaglie amorose»: Boccaccio and the Poetic Tradition\
Through a close reading of Boccaccio’s Teseida, the first «battle poem» in Italian literature, the author focuses on the relationship between Boccaccio’s work and its ancient models (in particular, Statius’ Thebais), on the structural elements of Boccaccio’s Teseida and the literary allusions presented in some parts of the text. Hence, we may recognize the role Boccaccio played in the passage from the classical epic code to the modern courtier code. This is well represented by clashes, though mortal in their endings, but with a happy ending, or the marriage between Emilia (the younger sister of Ippolita, the Queen of the Amazons) and a young Theban hero (the Nozze di Emilia of Boccaccian title). It concludes the work of civilization, which is traditionally attributed to Theseus, but verges it love ward.
Miles Christi: St. Ladislas of Hungary between Chivalrous Myth and Dynastic Cult. The Frescoes in the Church of the Incoronata in Naples
The furious battle of St. Ladislas of Hungary against the Cumans opens a brief but complex cycle – still problematical in many respects – painted in the Church of the Incoronata in Naples around 1403, at a time when King Ladislas of Duras had nearly achieved the crown of Hungary. In it, episodes from the life of the Virgin and images of St. Martin and St. George, to whom Hungarians were deeply devoted, surround three crucial moments of St. Ladislas’ life, attesting his military and religious virtues and celebrating at the same time his descent from St. Stephan, the first Christian king of Hungary. King Ladislas of Duras’ claims to belong to this dynastic continuity are strengthened by the arrival in Naples of a relic (likely of St. Stephen or of St. Ladislas) which two characters – whose identification could resolve the complicated issue of the patronage – offer to the Church of the Incoronata in the last scene of the cycle.
The Cassone Panel Representing the Conquest of Naples by Charles III of Anjou-Duras in New York\
The Cassone panel representing The Conquest of Naples by Charles III of Durazzo against Otto of Brunswick, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is well-known to scholars. The most recent studies agree that the panel represents the battle of Anagni in June 1381 between the armies of Charles and Otto, that it was realized about 1381-1382, and that its donor was a Florentine. A new analysis of the arms depicted on the panel, the reconsideration of an unknown iconographic element, and a comparative reading of the representation in relation to ancient chronicles, suggest a revision of this hypothesis. In fact, it seems very probable that the Cassone was commissioned by Marguerite of Anjou-Duras, Charles’ wife, in the first years of the 15th century, and that it represents the last battle between Charles and Otto, which took place on the edge of Naples on 25th August 1381, ending in the conquest of CastelNuovo.
The Origin of L’Aquila’s Image: Illustrated Battles in Ms. 3061 of the Biblioteca Comunale Augusta di Perugia
Ms. 3061 of the Biblioteca Comunale Augusta in Perugia is the oldest copy of a 15th-century anonymous poem on the 1424 siege laid to L’Aquila by Braccio da Montone, who was defeated and lost his life in the decisive battle. The manuscript, which was the property of the family Antonelli of L’Aquila, carries only four pen-drawings out of the about twenty-six formerly planned. The illustrations, partly coloured, represent various battles fought on the outskirts of the city. As shown by the style of the drawings and by the clothing they depict, the scenes are the work of a local illustrator and are to be dated around 1440. The battles take place against the background of civic and religious buildings that are represented with appreciable accuracy, even if concisely. Also of importance, these illustrations mark the beginning of L’Aquila’s iconography: the feeling of escaped danger and the pride of victory may have stimulated the community’s need for self-representation, not only in verse but also in images.
La presa di Marsiglia del 1423 nel racconto di Gaspare Pellegrino
Fulvio Delle Donne
The Storming of Marseille in 1423: Pellegrino, Facio, Panormitaand the Encomiastic Historiography
In November 1423, Alfonso the Magnanimous, coming back from Naples, attacked Marseille. The city was sacked during three days and almost completely destroyed by fire. There was a precious spoil, especially because of the relics of St. Louis of Anjou, brother of King Robert and first saint of the Anjou dynasty. Was the attack planned or caused by occasional circumstances? What did the theft of sacred relics represent? I will try to answer all these questions, through a careful and detailed study of all the available sources: Latin and Catalan, pro-Aragonese and pro-Anjou, narrative and documentary. This analysis aims at reconstructing in detail the phases of the battle, outlining the emergence and rapid evolution of the historiography of the Alfonsine age. This literary genre was radically transformed and innovated in a propagandistic and celebrative direction. The works of Pellegrino, Facio, and Panormita represented the unification of Italian and Iberian traditions, and offered, at the same time, the occasion for a new careful theorization destined to have a long and deep influence.
Contra Turcos. Alfonso d’Aragona e la retorica visiva della crociata
Joan Molina Figueras
Contra turcos. Alfonso of Aragon and the Visual Rhetoric of the Crusade
Alfonso the Magnanimous was the main protagonist of many visual representations. These images were created with the aim of evoking Alfonso as the saviour of the Occident against the Turkish invaders. Prayers and speeches composed by humanists close to Alfonso supplied the proper atmosphere for the conception of some of these representations. Other images were influenced by values and cults of early medieval knighthood, which was still maintaining the miles Christi’s ideals. Also, another group of representations was inspired by apocalyptic prophecies claiming that the Monarch was the ideal candidate to ascend the universal throne. Such a wide range of objects, figurative images, and ephemeral representations offers a unique framework for understanding the importance of this visual rhetoric – one of the most effective means employed to evoke and transmit to a mainly courtly public one of the principal foundations of Alfonso’s mythical figure.
The Battle of Emblems\
In the complex diplomatic relations between Naples and Milan during the 15th century, exchanges of luxury illuminated manuscripts played a very important role. During his stay in Milan, Alfonso the Magnanimous, educated in the pro-French culture that characterized early 15th-century Aragon, was particularly interested in the model of chivalry dominating the production of codes at the Visconti court. From this source he crafted his own impresa, the knight with helmet on horseback, which frequently appears in illuminated manuscripts and gold coins minted during his reign. Heraldry is also the most obvious aspect of the luxury codes brought to Naples by Ippolita Sforza as part of her dowry. While the imprese of Ippolita’s father are the most prominent visual subject of these manuscripts, at the beginning of the Aeneid the rider cantering with his face uncovered becomes a portrait of Francesco Sforza. In this way, in the years immediately following the fall of Constantinople, this image, echoing the iconography of holy knights, presents him as defender of Christianity.
I modelli classici nei racconti di guerra di Bartolomeo Facio
Bartolomeo Facio and His Classical Patterns in War Narrations
Although Facio’s work, entitled Rerum gestarum Alphonsi regis libri decem, mainly describes the contemporary conquest of the Kingdom of Naples by the Aragonese King Alfonso the Magnanimous, the historical events are often shaped according to the various patterns provided by classical authors. Thus, in one of Alfonso’s speeches to the troops we can find a direct quotation of Cicero’s first Oratio in Catilinam, or in the episode about the siege of Gerba and the return of the fleet to Trapani, Facio depicts Alfonso’s Tunisian enemies as if they were old Carthaginians, whilst the forced stop of the Aragonese fleet in Trapani allows the historian to establish a wisely disguised comparison with Aeneas’ stop at Trapani/Drepanum in the 5th book of the Aeneid.
The Siege of Bonifacio and the Tirant lo Blanc of Joanot Martorell
In Joanot Martorell’s Tirant lo Blanc, some Italian noblemen join the Christian army that fights for the Greek Empire, while others side with the Turkish army and are thus regarded as traitors. Constantine Marinesco’s Nouvelles recherches sur «Tirant lo Blanch» (Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona, 1959) shed light on this issue: the names of the Italian traitors closely match those of noblemen who rebelled against Ferrante at the death of his father King Alfonso the Magnanimous; conversely, the names of those who defended the Greek empire are found amongst the noblemen who remained loyal to King Ferrante. In Martorell’s fiction, the enemies of Ferrante were identified with the enemies of the Greek Emperor’s army commanded by Tirant. In this essay I intend to prove that, in a similar fashion, the fictional episode dealing with the siege of Rhodes (including the celebrated stratagem of the ‘shrewd seaman’) dwelled on the siege of Bonifacio (1420-21).
Paradigms of Classical Historiography in Some Military Allocutions of Giovanni Pontano’s De bello Neapolitano
Ancient sources give us useful information to a likely reconstruction of the contexts, the manners, the functions, and the contents of the speeches held by generals during a battle (adlocutiones militares). Most important evidences are contained in the ancient treatises de re militari and in the Greek and Latin historical works, for they provided over the centuries a basic model for those historians who were inspired by the classical tradition, like Giovanni Pontano. Through some speeches taken from Giovanni Pontano’s De bello Neapolitano, the paper outlines the historical practice of Pontano and its relationship both with Pontano’s theoretical statements about history, which were developed in his Actius, and further evidences found in other contemporary literary documents.
Bellum uocum and uoces belli: The Aesthetic of Battle in Pontano’s Actius
The qualities as a captain of Giovanni Pontano are well testified, if not well known, mainly through his the De bello Neapolitano, whereas his poetics of the historical narrative are to be searched in the second part (de lege historiae) of this treatise, entitled Actius (ed. pr. Naples, 1507). Nonetheless, it was not perceived that his experience of battles had an influence on another part of his poetry, namely the critical appreciation of the euphony in the Virgilian hexameter. In the first part of the Actius (De poeticis numeris) Pontano deals with the compositio verborum and the classical heritage of Cicero, Denys of Halicarnasse, and Georges of Trebizond. Here he shows how deeply the battle lexicon and the memory of military art have structured his acoustic perception referred to the hexameter, brief and long organisation, elision, and the possibilities of accelerating and slowing down the rhythm. Moreover, his battle memory influenced also his attention to the graphic disposition of the verses on the manuscript or the printed page.
La sconfitta di Sarno nel pensiero politico aragonese
The Defeat of Sarno in the Aragonese Political Thought
The defeat of the Aragonese troops at Sarno (1462) during the war of succession for the Kingdom of Naples immediately assumed in the Aragonese propaganda a function of defence of the dynasty. Moreover, the defeat was interpreted as a general example transcending that single episode and going into the territories of ideology and political theory. Through the analysis of some diplomatic and doctrinaire texts written by contemporary humanists, the author sheds light on mechanisms, meanings and doctrinal foundations that allowed the transformation of this paradigmatic case of reality into political concepts.
A "New Old Battle": Troia, the 18th August 1462. Reconstruction and Analysis of the Military Event
The essay reconstructs the battle fought on 18th August 1462 on the hills and in the plain near Troia (Apulia), but also close to the city walls. In the analysis of this important war event we need to understand what originated at Troia a pitched battle, which is a rare event in this war of succession and requests an exceptional decision with regards to the modus bellandi used at that time. In order to sketch all the phases and to know the real facts of Troia’s battle, the reconstruction has been made through a plurality of sources: namely, diplomatic records preserved in the fondo Sforzesco, Potenze Estere, serie Napoli (Milan, Archivio di Stato di Milano), literary sources as the works of G. Simonetta, G.G. Pontano, A. Di Costanzo, E.S. Piccolomini, A. de Tummulillis and G. de Candida, local histories, but also verifying both the site of Troia and the maps of the Istituto Geografico Militare, analysing the famous bronze doors of the Castelnuovo in Naples, and finally comparing the battle phases with the warlike practice in Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The Battle in Diplomatic Correspondence: Lexical Stereotypes and Writers’ Viewpoints
Through a systematic linguistic perusal of the diplomatic sources, the author singles out the lexical constants in the descriptions of the battles produced by ambassadors, chancellors, militaries soon after the clashes between Angevins and Aragonese in Sarno, Saint Flaviano, Troia (1460-1462). An essential narrative core was already built up during the action. The places and the stages of the fighting were described with definitions that were standard and stereotyped, but unequivocal, because they recalled the typical situations of the war during the Renaissance. In these descriptions the physical elements – mountains, plains, hills, valleys, water courses, woods – were not considered in their own singular morphology, but in their tactical function. The war event was drastically summarized in one or two "scenes" regarded as fundamental, like in the pictorial and plastic representations.
Reality and Classical Suggestions in Pontano’s Narration of the Troia Battle (18th August 1462)
In order to make eternal the account of the battle near Troia, narrated in the De bello Neapolitano, the humanist Giovanni Pontano shapes it according to the codes of the classical historiography. The way Pontano classically recasts a tactically and politically important event of the present history corresponds to the system used by the contemporary humanistic historiography. Contemporary facts are interpreted by the humanist through two different filters. On one hand, Pontano macroscopically transfigures contemporary events through narrative and stylistic macrostructures taken from the classical historiography, and this recasting of historical works will be theorized by Pontano himself many years after in his dialogue Actius. On the other, the humanist makes use of an allusive re-use of expressions and stylistic features belonging to the ancient historiography, which can be appreciated by the learned readers of his work. The result represents a precious texture, where the events of chronicle are reshaped through an allusive dialogue with the classical sources.
Epic and Encomiastic Strategy in Porcellio de’ Pandoni’s De proelio apud Troiam
Porcellio de’ Pandoni, a not very famous humanist from Naples, composed around 1465 a little poem entitled De proelio apud Troiam Apuliae urbem confecto a divo Ferdinando rege Siciliae, and dedicated to Antonello Petrucci, the secretary of Ferrante, King of Naples. This yet unpublished poem praises Ferrante’s victory over Anjou’s army at Troia the 18th August 1462, and it is an extraordinary example of Neolatin panegyric literature composed at the Neapolitan court. The essay points out that the poem belongs to the epic genre and contains references to classical poems, and especially to the Virgilian works.
Rhodes et Otrante en 1480. Les leçons de sièges parallèles
Rhodes and Otranto in 1480: Lessons of Two Parallel Sieges
In 1480, the Ottomans, who had just defeated the Venetians, attacked the two other western maritime powers resisting their expansion: Rhodes and the Kingdom of Naples. At the end of May, they arrived at Rhodes thinking they could gain control in less than a month, which would have enabled them to send troops right away to invade the south of Italy. But strong resistance from the Knights Hospitaller changed their plan. The attack against Otranto was considerably delayed and started only at the end of July. The Turkish army was victorious on the ground at first, but didn’t receive the reinforcements it expected and was finally expelled from Otranto in 1481. The sieges of Rhodes and Otranto help us examine the techniques of war, which at the end of the 15th century had changed considerably owing to new ways of employing artillery, the navy, and propaganda. The Aragonese, the Hospitallers, and the Turks did not use these weapons and techniques in the same way.
To Look, to Tell, and to Imagine. The Perception of the Battle and the Tapestries of the Troia Battle in the Collection of Ferrante of Naples
Ferrante owned one of the finest and most prestigious series of 15th-century tapestries, the Fall of Troy. Originally conceived in the early 1470’s for Charles the Temerarious, the series had then been reproduced exclusively for the most important European rulers. Only four tapestries of this series survive today in Zamora, Spain, as they were part of a gift of the Neapolitan king to the Spanish ambassador Mendoza. This essay deals with the perception and interpretation of these tapestries, focusing on the visual and verbal narrative of the battle scenes. Analyzing the relationship between the visual narrative, the inscriptions, and the literary texts, it argues that tapestries such as the series of the Fall of Troy developed a specific narrative genre that was to become one of the most representative secular themes in the pictorial arts of the 16th century.
I resoconti di guerra come fonte per la storia dell’architettura
Bianca De Divitiis
War Accounts as a Source for Architectural History
Considering the limited number of primary sources available for the study of Neapolitan Renaissance art and architecture, war accounts can be seen as authentic, and in some cases unique, testimonies of the ideas circulating in 15th-century Naples and of the buildings which were erected during such period. Analysing the descriptions of Naples included in the De bello Neapolitano of Giovanni Pontano, in the De bello Italico of Bernardo Rucellai, in La spedizione di Carlo VIII in Italia of Marin Sanudo, and in the letters written from Naples by French soldiers and by Charles VIII, this essay intends to show how different types of accounts related to war events can contain descriptions or information which increase our knowledge of the antiquarian and architectural culture in Naples during the second half of the 15th century, as well as of its reception outside the Reign.
Classical Triumphs in the Illuminated Manuscripts from the Reigns of Ferrante and Alfonso II of Naples
During the 15th century, triumphal processions encountered a large success in the visual arts. The theme appeared frequently in illustrated manuscripts, particularly in the all’antica style illumination, which spread from Veneto to Rome and Naples during the second half of the century. This paper investigates models, styles, and specific characters of triumphal processions painted in manuscripts from the reigns of Ferrante (1458-1494) and Alfonso II (1494-1495). While the dissemination of the triumph more Romano in late Aragonese illumination was strongly influenced by Paduan illuminators active in Rome and by Andrea Mantegna, in Naples it flourished in a political context marked by the program of self-celebration and self-legitimization of the reigning dynasty. On a different level, the recurrence of the classical theme of the triumph sheds light on the climate of classical revival permeating the Aragonese milieu and on the influential role played by humanists in the politics of images promoted by the court.
Lexicon and Narrative Structure in the Battles of Ferraiolo’s Cronaca
The essay offers a linguistic analysis of the battle scenes in the Cronaca of Ferraiolo, a chronicle written in Old Neapolitan between 1494 and 1498 by a civil servant of the Aragonese bureaucracy. The chronicle is analyzed from two different perspectives, focusing on the different meanings of the word battaglia and on the narrative construction of the battles scenes. Special attention has been paid to stylistic features derived from two important traditions: namely, oral texts such as the cantari, and the contemporary chancellery tradition, especially for what concerns codified sentences typical of political and administrative documents and official records.
The Broken Exemplary Mirror: The First Italian War in Ferraiolo’s Cronaca figurata napoletana
Although the first Italian War involved France, Naples, part of the Italian peninsula and of Spain, it was represented in a very limited iconography. The Cronaca figurata napoletana remains its only visual testimony. Even if craft and composition are modest, its images provide an unprecedented point of view on the fights. Taking side with the Aragonese, its drawer caricatures Charles VIII and proposes a new vision of the war without heroic chiefs, just as in the Neapolitan Kingdom, where in a few years several kings succeeded one another. The way the soldiers’ strength is emphasized, the myth-making of Aragonese history, and the creation of an urban topos with the view of Castelnuovo (a metonymy for the kingdom), are all significant factors that turn these drawings into a full-fledged history lesson, rather than a mere illustration of the war’s chronicle.
La guerra lampo di Carlo VIII in Italia
The Blitzkrieg of Charles VIII in Italy
The battles, which rapidly lead Charles VIII to conquer the realm of Naples in 1494, are testified and told by the contemporary Italian ambassadors, who followed the French army and wrote careful accounts, mainly unpublished, of the expedition. From their words it appears clear that in the French victory a decisive role was played by the enormous number of soldiers employed by the French king, by the technologically advanced war means (especially modern artillery), and by the revolutionary way of fighting of Charles’ troops. Hence the paper suggests to reconsider the traditional interpretation of the Italian State’s crisis between the 15th and 16th century, based on Machiavelli’s and Guicciardini’s works, which underline the internal grounds of the Italian decline, and to take into the right account the extraordinary power of the French army.
«Antivenire» la battaglia nelle lettere di Giovanni Pontano
«Antivenire» the Battle in Giovanni Pontano’s Letters
Three letters, written between 1493 and 1495 by Giovanni Pontano, deal with the lightning Italian war of Charles VIII and reflect the absolutely relevant role played by Pontano in the Aragonese society and court. In this correspondence Pontano’s considerations on the facts and their moral and political effects are expressed with a particularly lively epistolary style that makes Pontano an uncommon prose writer, whose influence we can find in the works of Machiavelli. In fact, the fresh images of his prose and the surprising modernity of his political thought, the powerful incisiveness of metaphor, the reference to the exemplary lesson of classics and to the "system" of his Latin works are basic aspects of his epistolary style. Even if we cannot find a descriptio or a narratio of battles, the three letters are remarkable because they give some practical advices de re militari – absent in Latin Pontano’s works – on the best way of «antivenire» the battle.
Il Gran Capitano nelle opere di Machiavelli e Guicciardini
Gennaro Maria Barbuto
The Gran Capitano in the Works of Machiavelli and Guicciardini
Machiavelli’s and Guicciardini’s works point out the importance of the figure of the Gran Capitano both from the historical point of view and from the political one.
I «fatti d’arme» nel Regno di Napoli (1495-1504): «disordini» o «battaglie»?
Jean-Louis Fournel, Jean-Claude Zancarini
The «fatti d’arme» in the Kingdom of Napoles (1495-1504): «disordini» or «battaglie»?
When we read a narration of the two French campaigns in the Mezzogiorno (1494-1495 and 1500-1504) written by the main French or Tuscan sources (namely, Commynes, d’Auton, Machiavelli, and Guicciardini), we are struck by the fact that the continuous changes in the strategic situation are not due to real pitched battles. In fact, neither the storming of Naples in February 1495, nor the loss of Naples the year after are consequences of great battles. Even the lost of the Regno by Louis XII troops after the defeat of Garigliano, did not depend on a one- or two- days battle as Fornovo, Novara, Marignano, Ravenna, Pavia, but it was the consequence of a guerrilla warfare of position and movement with struggles in series that the same day urged the enemy to withdraw into Gaeta. Therefore these two campaigns give the impression to be rather a succession of skirmish, sacks, struggles, forays, where attacks against civilians mixed up with battles between soldiers. In this context the control of the territory was particularly important and provided the capacity of both putting troops in specific positions and breaking camp to react to the adversary movements. Therefore the battle exit was widely decided ahead of the battle and in this game Consalvo da Cordova was more effective than French captains. In this perspective, the paper points out which aspect of these battles belonged to a new strategy (namely, infantry, cavalry, celerity and prudence, "war government", offensive and defensive, as in the case of Prospero and Fabrizio Colonna narrated by Guicciardini and Machiavelli) and what was a legacy from the art of war or from the singular capacity of an exceptional Captain.
Storia e cronistoria della battaglia di Benevento
History and Chronohistory of the Benevento Battle\
The battle of Benevento between the Aragonese and the French armies took place in June 1496. The event, which was part of the Italian expedition of Charles VIII, was told by Paolo Giovio, Commynes, and Guicciardini. The three writers represent alternative ways to conceive the historian’s work. Comparing their narrations, we realize in an exemplary way how the authors understood the events. While Giovio and Commynes pointed toward the presentation of facts and of widely known episodes, Guicciardini offered an in-depth account. He pondered the choices available to the protagonists, dwelled on the reasons behind their decisions, and summed up the consequences of their actions. In this way, the setting became more dramatic and complicated. What happened was evaluated against what could have been. In this way, the responsibilities of men were interpreted and judged according to each individual’s motivations.
The Baronial Conspiracy in Vallo di Diano and Its Reflection in the Artistic Production of the Time
This essay examines a fresco and a sculptural group in the Convent and in the Church of the Pietà at Teggiano, founded by the Sanseverino family. For reasons related to their purchase and their chronology, these works are connected to the conspiracy of the barons that took place also in the area of Vallo di Diano. The fresco, commissioned by Antonello Sanseverino, shows several features that allow to confirm the pro-French political orientations of the Sanseverino family in the 15th century. Such bias is suggested by the inclusion of Elzear de Sabràn, Earl of Ariano Irpino, collaborator of Robert of Anjou and Louis of Toulouse, and by the presence of the Franciscans with their saddlebags. The paper also suggests an interpretation in commemorative terms of the conspiracy of 1485-87. Furthermore, it is believed that the sculptural group of the Compianto located on the high altar of the Church of the Pietà was ordered by Antonello Sanseverino himself around 1497, in a close ideological, as well as formal, relation with the Compianto made by Guido Mazzoni in 1492 for Alfonso II of Aragon.
The Battles of Seminara (1495 and 1503) in the Marble Panels of Carlo Spinelli’s Monument
In the strategic territory around the city of Seminara the French and Spanish troops fought two decisive battles in 1495 and 1503, during the secession war of the Kingdom of Naples. Opposing the lines of Bernard Stuart, Lord of Aubigny, and of Gonsalvo Hernandez of Cordoba, these battles were decisive for controlling the entire Calabria Ultra. After a brief overview on these historical events and on the geographical features of the area, this essay dealts with the theatre of the battles as they were represented in four marble panels once decorating the base of the statue of Carlo Spinelli – a monument erected in Seminara in the second half of the 16th century and destroyed by an earthquake in 1783 – which tell us the story of the clashes, from the deployment of the troops up to the fight.
I pannelli del monumento del duca Carlo Spinelli a Seminara
The Marble Panels of Carlo Spinelli’s Monument at Seminara
The marble panels on the base of the monument to Duke Carlo Spinelli in Seminara tell the story of the victory of Spain, exalting the feud where the decisive battles against the Angevins took place. The first panel shows the banishment of the French from Seminara (1495); the second and the third depict two episodes of 1503: the battle outside Seminara, near a river, where the French were defeated and the Commander D’Aubigny, being put to flight, took refuge with few survivors in Rocca Angitola, where he was then forced to surrender; the fourth reminds of the passage of Charles V (1535). The model of the panels – which celebrate the rise of the Spinellis together with the victory of the Spaniards – is the bronze door of Castelnuovo in Naples. Even if separated by more than a century, the two works are similar in their meaning and composition: in both, a bas-relief represents armed groups seen from above, proceeding into a territory that flattens out in the receding landscape. The monument can be ascribed to the 1560’s, when Carlo Spinelli was building Carlopoli.
The Condottiere’s Praise: Prospero Colonna in Pietro Gravina’s Epigrams
The extant works of Pietro, a Neapolitan humanist close to the Academy at Naples during the time of Giovanni Pontano, contain a large number of poems written in praise of the condottiere Prospero Colonna. In his depictions of Colonna as a man of war, Gravina traces the portrait of a defender both of the papacy and of Italy. The dominant image of Colonna is that of the conqueror of the French forces in battles near Milan, most notably at Landriano, during the years 1521-1522. The humanist likens his heroic patron to a series of ancient military figures encountered in the works of Livy. His array of ancient generals noted for widely differing strategies and personalities invents a somewhat refined portrayal of Prospero that underscores the complexity of his character. Varyingly hesitant and enterprising on the battlefield, Prospero Colonna poses a distinct challenge to the court poet who seeks to describe him in terms of ancient military figures.
Representations of Battles in Southern Italian Art of the 16th Century
Throughout the Renaissance, military virtues – real or boasted – of the ruling dynasty, of the viceroys, and of the barons constantly played a central role in the way of thinking, as well as in the literature, society, and art of Southern Italy. The paper provides an overview on the evolution of the representation of battles, from the well-known monumental celebrations of the war deeds of the kings of Aragon at the end of the 15th century to the birth of the 17th-century "battle scene without a hero", which Aniello Falcone and his contemporaries portrayed with an essentially decorative function.