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behaviour of the French at Palermo, while its remote causes are to be found in the unhappy social and political condition of a people, who were neither accustomed nor disposed to suffer a tyrannical foreign dominion. He remarks in his Preface, that being a Sicilian by birth, and consequently well acquainted with the peculiar genius of his countrymen, he was more capable than any foreigner could be both of understanding and explaining to others the real nature of the Sicilian revolution of 1282, "a revolution wished for, but not planned, resolved upon and executed in an instant."

The family of Norman princes which reigned in Sicily had become extinct in 1186, on the death of William the Good. Resisting the pretensions of Constance, his aunt, who had married Henry the Sixth, emperor of Germany, the Sicilian nobles wished to raise Tancred, the illegitimate cousin of William, to the throne. On hearing of this design, the emperor hastened to Sicily, defeated Tancred, and took possession of the island. At his death, Frederic the Second, of the illustrious house of the Hohenstauffen, ascended the throne of Sicily, at first under the guardianship of his mother, but after the death of this princess under that of Pope Innocent the Third, who did not fail to take advantage of his situation in order to increase his own power. The long and bloody quarrels which arose between the Holy See and Frederic the Second, during which this prince was excommunicated, did not cease with his death, in 1250. On the contrary, no sooner had this event taken place, than the pope endeavoured to excite the whole of Italy against the house of Hohenstauffen. He partially succeeded in this design, and even prevented Conrad, the grandson of Frederic, from ascending the imperial throne, although he had already been named King of the Romans. In the southern provinces of the peninsula, the efforts of the pope were attended with less success, owing to the courage of Manfred, a natural son of Frederic. The heroic manner in which this prince defended the interests of his nephew enabled Conrad to take possession of the whole of Sicily. He lived, however, but two years to enjoy his conquest, and died, leaving an only son, named Conrad, but commonly called Conradin, on account of the brevity of his life.

Conrad had recommended this child to the care of the pope, which did not prevent Innocent from persecuting VOL. LXIV. - NO. 135.


the Hohenstauffen as before. In order to overthrow Conradin, he flattered the passions of the Sicilians, who soon rose against their sovereign and dethroned him. A sort of republic was then established in the island; but Manfred succeeded once more in reconquering the kingdom of his nephew. For a short time, he contented himself with governing in the name of this prince; but he soon caused a rumor of the death of Conradin to be circulated, and on the 11th of August, 1258, he was crowned at Palermo, as sole heir and successor of Frederic the Second, thus usurping the throne of his nephew. The pope, finding himself not sufficiently strong to resist the heroic Manfred, resolved to offer the Sicilian throne to some foreign prince. He accordingly proposed it successively to Richard, Duke of Cornwall, brother, of Henry the Third of England, to Charles, Count of Anjou and Provence, brother of Saint Louis, and at last to Edmund, grandson of Henry. The king of England would willingly have accepted this offer for his grandson; but the exactions of the pope were so excessive, and his proposed conditions so unreasonable, that the parliament refused to sanction any act of the king in this affair. Louis the Ninth, on the contrary, refused the crown for his brother Charles; but the pope - who excited the ambition of Charles, and endeavoured to convince the king of the necessity of establishing a powerful government in Sicily, in order to resist the progress of heresy and rebellion in that part of Italy - succeeded in vanquishing his scruples. For the good of the Church, Louis the Ninth, who was sincerely attached to his religion, consented to enter upon an arrangement which at heart he probably disapproved; for he was too good and too wise a prince not to see that it was an act of manifest injustice.


On the 25th of February, 1265, all the preliminary arrangements being terminated, Pope Clement the Fourth, a Frenchman by birth, published a bull, which declared that the territory extending from the Straits of Messina to the frontiers of the Papal States, with the exception of Benevento, should be granted to Charles of Anjou, as a vassal of the Holy See, upon condition that he should pay annually eight thousand ounces of gold to the pope, and lend him military aid in case of necessity. Thus, under the pretence of defending the interests of the Church, was the kingdom of

Naples and Sicily sold to Charles of Anjou. As soon as he could muster an army, this prince hastened to Italy, where, after he had been crowned with his queen at the Vatican, he lost no time in endeavouring to meet his enemy, Manfred, in the field. An occasion soon presented itself; the armies of the two princes encountered each other at Benevento, on the 26th of February, 1266. The French were victorious, and Manfred, finding that all was lost, threw himself into the ranks of the enemy, and found the death which he desired.

But the death of this prince did not deliver Charles from all his enemies. The party of the Ghibellines soon resolved to resist the usurpation of the house of Anjou. Conrădin, and one of his relatives, Frederic of Austria, took part in this design; and they hastened to Sicily, followed by a large number of German barons. But they were defeated at the battle of Tagliacozzo, on the 23d of August, 1268. Conradin and Frederic were both made prisoners, and led to Naples, where they were beheaded on the public square, in violation of every principle of justice and public law, even as understood in that barbarous age. This act of tyranny was but the first of a long series of cruelties which were destined to render the reign of Charles of Anjou sadly


Scarcely had the king got rid of his enemies, when he forgot all the promises he had made to the pope before his accession to the throne. Instead of restoring to the papal government the property which the princes of the house of Hohenstauffen had wrongfully seized, he took possession even of those ecclesiastical lands which his predecessors had left untouched. Avarice alone seems to have guided the new king in most of the acts of his reign. Taxes were imposed, not for the public use, but under pretence of the necessity of reducing by this means an arrogant and dangerous people, and really for the sole purpose of enriching the royal treasury. These taxes were so onerous, and frequently levied in so arbitrary a manner, as to excite great discontent among the nobles and the people. Clement the Fourth wrote twice to Charles to remind him of his engagements, but without effect. Not satisfied with ruining the people by many and heavy exactions, Charles went so far as to seize their lands, and distribute them among the numerous adventurers who had followed him to Italy, and who, for the most part, had been

induced to leave their native country only by the hope of obtaining the spoils of victory. The most futile pretences were resorted to in order to dispossess the landholders of their property. The new barons, in their turn, gratified their retainers with smaller grants, and thus a new feudal division was established in Sicily upon the ruins of the former one.

Another evil inflicted by this prince upon the unhappy Sicilians was the debasement of the coin. During the dominion of the Hohenstauffen, the coining of money had been conducted upon more strict principles than in any other part of Europe. But by order of Charles of Anjou, the ancient agostalis was displaced by carlinis and half-carlinis, which professed to be of pure gold and to have the same weight as the agostalis, but were in reality far inferior to it in value. By this fraudulent contrivance, the treasury gained eighty per cent. on the coining of money.

Among other tyrannical decrees promulgated during this reign was one which ordered that no grain should be ground in any mills except in those belonging to government; and which threatened with severe punishment, not only those who should disobey this order, but even those who might purchase the forbidden article. No person in Sicily was safe; the lands of the peasantry were seized without assigning any cause or pretext for the forfeiture. At the tables

of the foreign lords, men of the most illustrious and noble families were obliged to serve as menials, and young men, born to command in the field, were employed like slaves in the kitchen of their masters. Neither age nor sex was respected; married women and young maidens were grossly insulted in the presence of their husbands and parents. During the reign of the Emperor Frederic the Second, the laws of the state had been for the most part equitable. Charles caused many of them to be changed, and the administration of justice in Sicily was reduced to a degrading traffic. The ancient parliament, which might have obliged the king to retract some of his oppressive decrees, was never assembled.

Charles was not content with thus violating the fundamental laws of the state, and treating the inhabitants of Sicily with so much cruelty; he inflicted a still greater injury upon their pride by transferring the seat of government from Palermo to Naples. Thus, whilst the island was groaning under

the tyrannical yoke of its foreign ruler, the continental part of the kingdom was in the most flourishing condition. Charles had restored the University of Naples to its pristine splendor, and this city presented an uninterrupted scene of gayety, whilst Sicily was suffering all the evils and privations which a despotic power can inflict upon a conquered and dependent country.

The impolitic conduct of the French in Sicily had excited against them the indignation of the natives, and an occasion alone was wanting to convert this feeling into open rebellion. Besides Sicilians, the French had other enemies. Constance, granddaughter of Manfred, had sworn to revenge the death of her grandfather. She was married to Peter, Infant of Aragon, who was called to the throne of that country in 1277, and she had never lost an opportunity of instigating him to undertake an expedition against the French in Sicily, in order to restore her to the throne of her ancestors. Giovanni da Procida, one of the king's favorites and the avowed enemy of Charles, inspired his master with similar thoughts of conquest. This celebrated person, whose name has been handed down to posterity as the hero of the Sicilian Vespers, was born at Salerno. He had distinguished himself at the court of Naples as a physician and a scholar. It has been generally thought that he left that court, because Charles had refused to give him satisfaction for the insults offered to his wife and daughters by some Frenchmen; but from evidence adduced in the work before us, it seems that he was banished because he had taken part with Conradin and the Ghibellines when they conspired against the French dominion. Be this as it may, he sought a refuge at the court of Aragon, where his efforts, combined with those of Queen Constance, succeeded in prevailing upon Peter to attempt an invasion of Sicily. This, according to our author, is the only share which Procida had in the revolution of 1282. Mr. Amari does not believe what has often been asserted, that Procida was sent to form an alliance with the pope. He admits, however, that Peter may have had a secret understanding with a few Sicilian nobles, and that Procida may have been employed in these negotiations; but he insists that the people of Palermo took arms before this conspiracy was ripe.

As we have said, Palermo suffered more than any other Sicilian city from the oppressive government of the French.

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