Thursday, September 11, 2014

The other castle of Genzano

Welcome to our blog, Genzano it story
and this post The other castle of Genzano
The castle of Monteserico

This is the castle of Monteserico 

Welcome to our article, ‘The castle of’
We could have called this hub, The Norman castle of Monteserico, since The Normans first they fought around this castle to conquer it and then used it to run their conquest in this part of Southern Italy around 1040 AD, in second place we could have called it, ‘the castle of Federico II’, since he used this castle as sit for the “magister massarium Apuliae” while he was master of Southern Italy around 1220- 1250, but because it has many names and many owners, today we all call it the castle of Monteserico, because that is how is called the zone of southern Italy. So, let us talk about the castle of Monteserico, in Genzano di Lucania 
First of all we would like to explain to our readers the following situation: Strange as it may seem the town of Genzano di Lucania has two castles, one is in the town itself and another one is in the country, the castle that is in the town has been modified and today is used as the Town Hall (Municipio), but we are not going to talk about the castle in the town today, we have just mentioned this to explain to our readers the town of Genzano, as this involves both castles; so, today we are going to talk about the castle in the country and we call this castle, Monteserico castle; here we need to say that the name of “Monteserico” in Genzano, not only refer to this castle but it also refer to the county itself; in fact this name would cover about three quarter of Genzano territory.
Monteserico castle is a very old castle that a long time ago had a small town or village of its own, some people believe that the Normans built it, but most people don’t agree with it and have other explanations of how this castle came about before the Normans, and the Normans may have modified it and used this castle, while they were ruling over their conquest in Southern Italy, we will talk about this again as we continue with this story.
Now if we connect what historically is known today, we will soon see that this castle of Monteserico was there before the modern Genzano came into existence, we say the modern Genzano because there is some evidence that Genzano existed in the Roman times, as it is mentioned in the archive of Potenza that two martyrs Donato and Secondo were executed in Genzano around 258 AD, for more details see our hub Genzano di Lucania history, therefore the town of Genzano existed even then but for some reasons it is not motioned much as if it did not exist until later on as our story will show.
Now let us go back to talk about Monteserico castle, this castle is/was completely independent from the town of Genzano di Lucania, in fact the modern town of Genzano seem to have come into existence well after the Norman invasion of Southern Italy. We are saying this because even though today Monteserico Castle is situated in the territory of Genzano, the founder of the existing Genzano came from this castle, history tells us that this castle of Monteserico is the castle that the queen Aquilina Sancia lived in before Genzano town was built or perhaps it would be more correct to say rebuilt and Aquilina Sancia is said to be the founder of Genzano, today we know that it is not true, because there has been a very old Genzano before.
Anyhow nobody knows exactly who started to build this castle of Monteserico, and it has many stories about its origin, what we know today is that this was one of the main castles that the Normans used to rule over Southern Italy in the beginning of the second millennium, and that in this part of southern Italy there have been many wars and this castle has had many owners, another historically well known owner was “Frederick II” about 1194-1250, check the links below. 

Frederick II. of Hohenstaufen - YouTube

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor - Wikipedia, the free ...

 Frederick the Second, 1194-1250 - Google Books

 Some other owner of the castle we will try to mention in our text here under. Anyhow today it happens that this castle has been restored to safe keep the heritage of this part of Southern Italy; but it is a very quiet country place, it seems almost forgotten except for the people that work around in the fields that produce some of the best durum wheat that is used to make pasta and other wheat products. However if one is keen to know this part of Italian history one can learn something about it from this post and then try to visit the place preferably during spring or summer.
Explaining these photos above and below.
This is the chapel near the castle of Monteserico, if you can find this picture in my Facebook account you will be able to navigate to many more picture of the castle.  
Here above is the chapel of the Madonna of Monteserico, but the original Monteserico Madonna picture has been stolen, and somebody replaced by a cheap picture; so the town of Genzano ordained the painter Pedota to paint a portrait of our Madonna Maria SS Delle Grazie and in 1953 they had a feast and relaced the cheap picture with this new painted image. So today this chapel of Monteserico has this new picture of, Maria SS delle Grazie patron Saint of Genzano as the main Madonna, It is said that, here the inhabitant of Genzano need to make a feast at least once a year otherwise they lose possession of Monteserico chapel and the possession will pass to the family De Chio of Spinazzola, as they were the last owners or tenants of the place.
Below is a photo of the castle taken from a far away field, you see in this part of the country there are only fields that are used to grow wheat or other produce and not much else stretching away for miles. This photo reminds me about the thousands of time that I have seen this castle from our family farm, when I was young.

The castle seen from the fields. 

Then there is this photo of this poster about the inauguration of Monteserico Castle after the restoration, where the names of people that have contributed and other things are shown.

About the castle of Monteserico
Monteserico castle seems to be built different from most other castles. It is shaped rectangular or almost square, one can say that it is more a military fortress than a real castle; it is built in stones of every shape and size, and today it would be hard to find builders or tradesmen that would be able to build something like that, even though there are some tradesmen as we can see from the entry pathway that looks almost new, and it is almost identical to the castle masonry; however we know that it has been added later, because this castle had a trench around it a long time ago for reasons of defence, but this added entry pathway makes it easy to enter the castle, so it is a later addition and it looks good. Anyhow these two photos one above and one below are there to show you how the castle is like today.
Anyhow let us look at some history of this castle of Monteserico, but before we do that we need to point out that the castle of Monteserico looks exactly like one of the Norman castle in Normandy France; see our hub Genzano di Lucania history, in the subtitle section The Normans in Italy; where I ask this French army captain about the castle in Normandy and the way he explains it to me. So first of all we need to prove that the Normans were in these parts of Southern Italy and then we could link what is historically known with our own understanding of the situation, so here under is some evidence that we are going to quote from:
  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
The Norman conquest of southern Italy spanned most of the 11th and 12th centuries, involving many battles and many independent players conquering territories of their own. Only later were these territories in southern Italy united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included not only the island of Sicily, but also the entire southern third of the Italian Peninsula (save Benevento, which they did briefly hold on two occasions) as well as the archipelago of Malta and parts of North Africa.
Opportunistic bands of Normans successfully established a foothold in Southern Italy (the Mezzogiorno). Probably the result of returning pilgrims' stories, the Normans entered the Mezzogiorno as warriors in 1017 at the latest. In 999, according to Amatus of Montecassino, pilgrims returning from Jerusalem called in at the port of Salerno when a Saracen attack occurred. The Normans fought so valiantly that Prince Guaimar III begged them to stay, but they refused and instead offered to tell others back home of the prince's request. William of Apulia tells that, in 1016, pilgrims to the shrine of the Archangel Michael at Monte Gargano were met by Melus of Bari, a Lombard freedom-fighter, who persuaded them to return with more warriors to help throw off the Byzantine rule, which they did.
(End of quote)
In some written stories or history about Genzano and this castle of Monteserico, there is this famous Norman leader (Roberto il Guiscardo) Robert Guiscard that is said to own the castle of Monteserico as also some battles that happened around this castle, here is a link about Robert Guiscard. 

Robert Guiscard

Robert Guiscard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From what we have been able to write and explain here, it is that for certain the Normans have used this castle extensively and perhaps modified it or partly built it, and since Robert Guiscard (Duke of Apulia) was there, we would guess that this castle might really have been the main Norman castle of Southern Italy from where the Norman ruled over their conquest.
I believe that this post is becoming to long, so we will continue to talk about the castle of Monteserico in our next post. 
 Genzano it story
The other castle of Genzano
Next time with, another post about the castle
Some useful links

Some hub links