THE PLAGUE IN COSENZA - LA VIRGIN DEL PILAR
Location: Piazza Piccola
The people of Cosenza process through the town with the image of the Virgin- the plague-swelling clearly visible on her face- while the streets are full dead people. In the background the facade of the Cathedral can be seen.
In 1576, Cosenza was hit by the scourge of the plague. In the city the number of dead was steadily mounting, when in the cathedral one of the faithful knelt to pray in front of a painting of the Virgin hanging from a pillar in the nave. Gazing at the Virgin's image, he saw that her face had formed a plague spot. It was a miracle. All the city officials, ecclesiastical and civil, and a multitude of people knelt in front of the painting of the Virgin, who had expressed their will. It was seen as a sign that the Madonna wanted to release Cosenza from the plague, and therefore welcomed the plague in her own face. In fact, the plague did begin to recede; and since that day, Our Lady of the Pillar became the protector of the city of Cosenza.
EMPEROR CHARLES V ENTERS COSENZA
Location: via Gaeta
Charles V welcomed by the people of Cosenza. As part of the Kingdom of Naples, Calabria had for many years been the subject of the disputed claims of France and the Aragonese Kings of Spain. In 1516 the kingdom was inherited by the Spanish king Charles I, who went on to become Holy Roman emperor Charles V and the most powerful figure on the European political scene.
In 1539 the city of Cosenza had the honour of being visited by the Emperor on his return from Tunisia, where he had defeated the famous pirate Khair ad-Din. The nobles and the people of Cosenza received him with great feasts for three days.
Location: via Gaeta
A meeting of The Sedile- a kind of parliament attended by the minor nobles and professional bourgeoisie. The nobles gathered around the Great Sedile while a mayor and six elected officials gathered at the Little Sedile.
Cosenza had retained its autonomy under all forms of domination. But despite having been the seat of government under the Spanish, the City was declared an "enemy of Spain," and forced to pay a large sum of money not to become a fiefdom and lose its historic independence.
The Sedile - a very old arm of government and a symbol of Cosenzan independence - summoned all the nobles to find the required sum. But once again it was the Casales who saved the independence of the city.
THE SLAUGHTER OF THE WALDENSES
Location: Via Bombini
The horrific slaughter of the defencelss Waldenses by order of the Spanish Inquisition.
Under the reign of Philip II of Spain, heir to the Emperor Charles V, Cosenza had its own "Holy Office", or Inquisition- the odious tribunal Philip used to pursue all heretical religious movements.
From Cosenza came the order to eradicate "with blood and fire", the existing heretical religious communities: the Waldenses based at Guardia, S. Sisto, S. Vincenzo la Costa, Vaccarizzo, etc.
On Guardia Piedmont, the June 5, 1561, 86 Waldenses were killed and "skinned alive then split into two parts (...) and so tied to stakes driven for this purpose by a path 36 miles long,"- as decreed by a official notification of the time. From this date, the gateway of the City Guard was called "the door of the blood."
THE ARAGONESE SOLDIERS QUELL THE REVOLT OF CASALES
Location: Vico S. Gaetano
In 1442, the hegemony of the French Anjou kings was replaced by the Spanish Aragonese. The newcomers moved in two directions, tightening up the tax burden on a population already impoverished by the Angevin domination, and resizing the large estates to control any rebellious urges in the nobles.
In 1461, the band now identified with the common presilani, which were the hamlets of Cosenza, revolted against the imposition of exorbitant taxes, both ordinary and extraordinary: focatico, salt tax, general taxes etc... But without hope. The rebellion was noted. The Aragonese, under the command of the dreaded Captain Maso Barrese, wrought death and devastation among a now virtually helpless population.