Archive for 'Various Buildings'

Henry Ward Beecher Describes Litchfield


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 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…


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…


The Kingdom of Naples, Part 8: Joanna II (1414-1435)

Giovanna_IIJoanna II of Naples (Source: Wikimedia)

King Ladislaus of Naples was succeed by his sister, Joanna II. The Queen still has a scandalous reputation. Author Clara Erskine Clement, in her book Naples, the City of Parthenope and its Environs (1894), writes that her private life “was far from reputable; she was guilty of infidelity in all her relations, as a woman and as a queen. But her second husband, Jacques de Bourbon, treated her so cruelly as to arouse great sympathy in her behalf, and her subjects drove him out of the kingdom.” She describes the struggles of Joanna II’s reign, which were dominated by the question of who would succeed the childless queen: › Continue reading…


The Kingdom of Naples, Part 7: Ladislaus (1386-1414)

Ladislaus_King_of_NaplesLadislaus, King of Naples

Charles III was succeeded as king of Naples by his son, Ladislaus, who was named in honor of the Saint Ladislaus I, King of Hungary. Ladislaus was challenged for many years by a rival king, Louis II, son of Louis I who had been husband and co-ruler with Joanna I. › Continue reading…


The Kingdom of Naples, Part 5: Joanna I (1343-1382)

Joanna of NaplesQueen Joanna I of Naples (Source: Wikimedia, Public Domain in the U.S.)

Queen Joanna of Naples (born 1326) is a notable figure as a reigning queen of the Middle Ages. She is the subject of a recent biography by Nancy Goldstone, The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. This biography is a sympathetic portrait of a woman who was constantly challenged by the intrigues of many rivals, including popes and her own husbands, but who managed to survive these storms until she was eventually murdered in 1382. Accused of murdering her first husband, Joanna was tried before a papal court and won acquittal after arguing her case in Latin. She was 22 years old at the time. › Continue reading…


The Kingdom of Naples, Part 4: Robert (1309-1343)

St. Louis of Toulouse Crowning Robert of AnjouSt. Louis of Toulouse Crowning Robert of Anjou, painted by Simone Martini, c. 1317, now in the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

Robert the Wise was King of Naples from 1309 to 1343. His older brother, Louis, had renounced the throne when he entered the Franciscan Order in 1295. He became Bishop of Toulouse and was later canonized as St Louis of Toulouse. Quoting yet again from Naples, the City of Parthenope and its Environs (1894), by Clara Erskine Clement:

In 1309 Robert, Duke of Calabria, the third son of Charles II., known as Robert the Wise, became King of Naples. He was ambitious of wearing the imperial crown of Italy; but in 1327 King Louis of Bavaria succeeded in obtaining this honor, and vowed vengeance upon Robert. The Romans at first received Louis gladly, but when, in 1329, they saw the fleet of Naples at the mouth of the Tiber, another sentiment prevailed among them, and the Emperor was forced to retreat to the North of Italy. Long years of serious disturbances succeeded these events. Robert the Wise was now too old to lead the Guelfs to victory, as he had formerly done, and the Ghibelline power was vastly increased. When John of Bohemia became their leader, Florence appealed to Robert for aid; but he merely sent them Walter of Brienne, Duke of Athens, who did them harm rather than good; and in 1343 King Robert ended his reign in the midst of bitter contentions between Guelf and Ghibelline, and the spirit of freedom and that of tyranny which these terms represented.

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