Archive for 'Architecture'

Henry Ward Beecher Describes Litchfield

henry-ward-beecher

In an 1856 article entitles “Litchfield Revisited,” Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, describes a return visit to the town where he grew up. Many of the things he described are still there:

The morning after our arrival in Litchfield we sallied forth alone. The day was high and wide, full of stillness and serenely radiant. As we carried our present life up the North Street, we met at every step our boyhood life coming down. There were the old trees, but looking not so large as to our young eyes. The stately road had, however, been bereaved of the buttonball trees, which had been crippled by disease. But the old elms retained a habit peculiar to Litchfield. There seemed to be a current of wind which at times passes high up in the air over the town, and which moves the tops of the trees, while on the ground there is no movement of wind. How vividly did that sound from above bring back early days, when for hours we lay upon the windless grass and watched the top leaves flutter, and marked how still were the under leaves of the same tree!

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 24: Charles VII (1734-1759)

carlosiii

In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession, the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were conquered by the armies of Charles, son of King Philip V of Spain. This brought the Spanish Bourbon dynasty to power, which would rule Naples and Sicily until 1861. For the first time since 1501, Naples had a resident king who was not ruling through a viceroy. Charles was technically Charles V of Sicily and Charles VII of Naples, but he did not use a number himself, preferring to be known as Charles of Bourbon. This was done partly to emphasize the discontinuity between himself and previous rulers named Charles, particularly Emperor Charles VI of Austria.

When his half-brother, Ferdinand VI of Spain, died in 1759, Charles became king of Spain as Charles III. By the provisions of the third Treaty of Vienna he could not combine the Neapolitan and Sicilian territories with the Spanish throne, so Charles abdicated the crowns of Naples and Sicily in favor of his eight-year-old son Ferdinand. The Bourbon kings of Naples brought political stability and the principles of the Enlightenment to their long-suffering kingdom. › Continue reading…

The Kingdom of Naples, Part 14: Frederick (1496-1501)

Castello_Aragonese_IschiaIschia (Source: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Clara Erskine Clement, in her 1894 book Naples, the City of Parthenope and its Environs, describes the reign and sad end of Frederick, sometimes called Frederick IV or Frederick II, who would be the last independent king of Naples for many centuries: › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 13: Ferdinand II (1495-1496)

Ferdinand IIFerdinand II of Naples when he was Duke of Calabria
(Source: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

King Alfonso II of Naples had fled his kingdom in the face of the French invasion. His son, Ferdinand II, would regain the kingdom, but died soon after. As described by Clara Erskine Clement:

Ferdinand II. returned to Naples, and with the aid of the great Spanish captain, Gonsalvo da Cordova, had regained nearly all that his father had lost, when, in October, 1496, he was borne from Somma to Castel Capuano, sick unto death. In the “Cronaca di Notar Giacomo,” this account is given:

“On the following Thursday, the Most Reverend Lord Archbishop, Alexander Carafa, led two solemn processions, one of which went towards the Nunziata, bearing the head and blood of the glorious martyr St. Januarius, followed by a numberless troop of women with burning wax torches. As the procession reached the castle, the queen mother appeared under the portal and threw herself on the ground, upon which the Archbishop uttered three prayers: the first to the Madonna, the second for the sick King, and the third to St. Januarius. Then they all exclaimed ‘Misericordia’ so loudly and tumultuously that the Archbishop could hardly finish the prayer amid the lamentations of the people. On the following Friday, at the seventh hour, another procession was about to march to Santa Maria la Nuova: then came the intelligence that God had taken the Lord King to himself. Cujus anima requiescat in pace.” › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 12: Alfonso II (1494-1495)

Alfonso IIAlfonso, Duke of Calabria, later Alfonso II, King of Naples
(Source Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

When Ferdinand I, King of Naples, died, the French King, Charles VIII, was preparing to invade. As Clara Erskine Clement describes the ensuing conflict:

Had Ferdinand lived, he would have avoided war with France, if possible; but Alfonso [II], who was as much hated as his father had been, was of a proud and determined character, and prepared to defend himself against his enemy. He made an alliance with Pope Alexander, and together they proposed friendship to the Sultan Bajazet, and advised him to attack the French, warning him of the plan that Charles VIII. had made against Constantinople. The Sultan considered the threatened danger as too distant to demand immediate attention, and declined the alliance with the Holy Father and the King of Naples. › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 11: Ferdinand I (1458-1494)

Ferrante_I_of_NaplesFerrante/Ferdinand I of Naples, Source: Wikimedia

Alfonso V of Aragon and I of Sicily and Naples left Aragon and Sicily to his legitimate heir, John, and Naples to his illegitimate son, Ferdinand (also written as Ferrante). Clara Erskine Clement describes the place where Ferdinand was declared Alfonso’s heir in Naples: › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 10: Alfonso I (1442-1458)

Medalla_de_Alfonso_V_de_AragónSilver medal of Alfonso V (1449) by Pisanello. Source: Luis García / Wikimedia / Creative Commons

As described in my previous post, King Alfonso V of Aragon eventually defeated King René of Naples in 1442. He then ruled until his death in 1458 as Alfonso I of Naples. He was also Alfonso I of Sicily, meaning that he ruled over both parts of the former Norman kingdom of Sicily. At his death, he was succeeded in Aragon and Sicily by his son John II and in Naples by his illegitimate son Ferdinand. He thus began the Aragonese dynasty of Naples. › Continue reading…

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