THE BATTLE OF BENEVENTO 1266
Location: Via Biagio Miraglia (incrocio Via Padolisi)
The Archbishop of COSENZA overlooks the remains of the disgraced MANFRED, thrown on the riverbed.
The Battle of Benevento was fought near Benevento on 26 February 1266 between the troops of Charles of Anjou, youngest son of the king of France, and champion of the Guelphs; and the army of Manfred, son of Frederick II and champion of the Ghibellines. The clash was between two political concepts: that of the pope, head of the Guelphs in Italy, who did not tolerate the secular Norman-Swabian state; and that of Manfred, head of the Ghibellines in the peninsula, who supported the Holy Roman Emperor.
The position of Manfred was very weak. Many of his nobles were attracted to the French Anjou party, which promised a less centralised state. During the battle, Manfred ordered the reserve troops to intervene, but many betrayed him, and fled- among them the Earl of Molfetta, some barons of Apulia, and the Count of Caserta, Manfred's own brother-in-law.
Manfred died in battle, and his body was found three days later and respectfully buried. But the Archbishop of Cosenza, Bartolomeo Pignatelli, Manfred's arch-enemy, had it dug up during the night, saying that an excommunicant could not be buried in consecrated ground. So the body of poor Manfred was left to rot on the banks of the river Liri. Dante described his bones in the Purgatorio (III 130): "Now the rain bathes them, and now the wind moveth them..."
ISABELLA OF ARAGON FALLS FROM HIS HORSE INTO THE RIVER SAVUTO WHILE THE KING AND THE OTHER RIDERS LOOK ASTONISHED.
Location: Via Padolisi
Isabella of Aragon falls from her horse into the river Savuto, while the king and the other riders look on in astonishment.
Philip III the Bold, recently crowned King of France, was returning from the Eighth Crusade through the lands of his uncle Charles I of Anjou, King of Naples, when his wife, Isabella of Aragon, fell from her horse while crossing the river Savuto near Martirano (January 11, 1271).
Isabella was pregnant with her fifth child. She was first taken to the castle of Martirano and then to the fortress at Cosenza, where she died. She was buried in Cosenza Cathedral, with the baby foetus in her lap.
Philip III created a monument in her memory, which still can be seen in the Cathedral of Cosenza; but her body was later moved to the Abbey of Saint Denis, where it now rests beside that of her husband Philip III. The foetus of her child remained in the Cosenza Cathedral.
Isabella was the mother of Philip IV the Fair, King of France, who did what Frederick II had been unable to do a century earlier. He imprisoned the Pope, Boniface VIII, and ordered him to withdraw the excommunication that had been issued against him.
THE REVOLT OF THE VESPERS IN COSENZA
Location: Via Padolisi, 15
The incident that triggered the Sicilian Vespers: a French army officer, Drouet, under the pretext of having to search, puts his hands on a young noblewoman, as she leaves evening Vespers. The woman's incensed husband managed to grasp the French soldier's sword and murdered him.
Charles of Anjou immediately showed his intentions in the management of the kingdom, moving the capital from Palermo to Naples. Any link with the past Norman-Swabian era had to be cancelled. Although the state became less centralized than under Norman-Swabian rule, the nobles did not get the promised benefits, and were burdened with new taxes.
For Charles, the kingdom was a land of conquest and exploitation, which was to be ruled with an iron fist. The behaviour of the Angevin troops was fierce and aggressive, typical of a garrison occupying a hostile territory.
The rebellion was soon to come. It began in Sicily, where repression was even fiercer. It was sparked in 1282 by the revolt of the Sicilian Vespers, which immediately crossed the strait and spread throughout Calabria. Cosenza, from the beginning, was bitterly opposed to the French rule of the Angevins. At the outbreak of the revolt of the Vespers, Cosenza resumed its struggle, and the revolt spread across the valley of the Crati. The revolt of the Vespers lasted 20 years and ended with the Peace of Caltabellotta on the 31 of August 1302.
COSENZA IN TURMOIL: BRIGANDS AND ARMED BANDITS
Location: Angolo via Padolisi- vico II Padolisi
A band of brigands attacks and burns a nobleman's mansion in the city of Cosenza.
Even under the Angevins, Cosenza, was not given "in fief", but always retained a satisfactory degree of autonomy thanks to the many privileges bestowed by the rulers.
But in the first Angevin period, life in Cosenza and in the surrounding region became increasingly barbaric. As well as the strife that erupted between the noble Angevin line and those who remained faithful to the ideals and political practice of the Norman-Swabian era, part of the population was driven into banditry by the tremendous tax burden, which brought intolerable misery...
The bandits became increasingly brazen, bringing death and destruction not just to isolated groups of houses in the countryside, but looting and burning stately homes within the city.
LOUIS III OF ANJOU' AND MARGHERITA OF SAVOY
Location: Vico II Padolisi, 2
Louis III and Margherita of Savoy out on horseback, with the castle clearly visible behind them.
The transition from the Norman-Swabian into the Angevin period was not easy for Cosenza, and a full century elapsed before peace was finally restored. In 1432 Cosenza received Louis III of Anjou, who made the city the seat of the heir to the throne of Naples and the centre of the Duchy of Calabria.
The castle was converted into a princely residence to host Louis and his wife Margaret of Savoy. But their stay was brief: Louis III was stricken with malaria and died November 12, 1434. He was buried in the Cathedral of Cosenza.