REVOLUTION IN CATANIA
AS TOLD BY AN ANCIENT CHRONICLE
WITH NOTES BY
THE REV. G. LONGO
PANSINI's ROYAL TYPOGRAPHY
May the scrupulous soul of the Rev. G. Longo be blessed! A century ago he took so much trouble to bring to light what he called "his historical yawns" that today the city of Catania finds itself enriched with a wealth of information about its own history that, if not completely lost, would certainly not be well known.
Here I repeat his work by preserving and publishing a manuscript by a well-informed and candid eye witness who describes the bloody and revolutionary Catanese riots of 1648.
The numbers in brackets in the text refer to Rev. Longo's footnotes, which are collected at the end of this text. I haven't reproduced them all, omitting the ones in which Rev. Longo describes the differences between this version of the facts and the one by a certain Rizzari and the ones in which he summarizes the contents of that manuscript.
My own explanatory notes as translator are included inline in the text [in square brackets].
Martin Guy, Catania and Raddusa, May 2002, translated in January 2012.
Table of Contents
TO THE NOBLE CATANESE
WHO TOOK PART IN THE MEMORABLE EVENTS
MENTIONED IN THIS CHRONICLE
AND WHO CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH
TO THE RESTORATION OF ORDER
I DEDICATE THIS WORK OF MINE
On this day the commoners' revolutionary uprising starts and, at the end of the same day, stops for a little while thanks to the intervention of the Prince of Biscari.
On the 27th of May 1647, a Monday, at half past four in the afternoon,
many placards could be seen in public places in the city of Catania,
some saying to arms, to arms and others blood, blood
against the nobility of the city of Catania, all referring to the
bad government of the city. (1)
Some worthy priests, seeing this, immediately formed a group and went
to the City (2), begging them
for the love of God to do something to give redress to these bedevilled
people by lifting the town-customs taxes and so that they would be
aware of the error that they had committed. The abovementioned
councillors didn't want to lift the taxes, as the priests had advised
them to do, instead they first wanted to bring the matter to His
Excellency's attention (3) to know what they
should do, fearing that the people of Catania might
do the same as the people of Palermo, weapons in hand, had done
and they sent all the forementioned placards that they could find to
His Excellency. While they were busy doing this, even before the
City had sent the courier off, they saw the whole of the city with
weapons of all kinds in hand and everyone shouting
riot, riot, blood, blood and fire!
I can tell you that our ancestors had never taken such a fright:
some wept for their fathers, others for their husband and children,
others for the church and other wept to be confessed, all pale and
looking like death's own shadow. While they were all in this pallid
state, Don Bernardo Paternò, nephew of
Raddusa (4), rode down from the
Civita [a district of Catania a few hundred yards east of Piazza Duomo],
weapons in hand, followed by a thousand extremely
well-armed sailors with their muskets and ammunition.
When they were in the piazza, shouting and making a din,
a thousand very well armed men came pouring down the main street,
all shouting blood, blood. Into the same piazza,
two thousand more very well armed men came pouring down from the
Triscini (5). At the same
time, another two thousand poured in, made up of the workforce and
others, armed with swords, muskets and other weapons. The pen cannot
describe the horrendous scene; only I who witnessed it can barely
bring that moment to mind again, so may you pray to God that such times
and such anger may never return; and all this for our
While this was going on, no one knew what to do: some said one thing, some said another, some wanted to destroy houses and others to set fire; then everyone resolved, with a single voice, to burn all of the nobility, shouting fetch kindling, fetch kindling [‘frasche’, translated here as ‘kindling’, means twigs or bushes with the leaves still attached]; and very soon the piazza was full of kindling and firewood.
While kindling was being brought in by cart, all the prisoners were set free and they also wanted to free those imprisoned in the Castello (7), but the Castle Keeper didn't want to give them up and remained on guard with the drawbridge raised.
Don Cesare Tornabene, Captain of the City (8), seeing the danger they were in, ordered the Castle Keeper to free all the prisoners, hoping thereby to avoid even greater harm. Thus, with all the prisoners set free and having arrived in the piazza, they started to burn and set fire. Some evil spirits set fire to the Patrician's papers and those of the capitano; and that was a great damage to this poor city because they burnt the entire archive, both the criminal records and the civil ones for the previous 50 years; and this burning of the archives was, and will be, of great harm to the City. Seeing such distruction, signor Don Francesco Amico (9), standing in as Vicar General, took up the Holy Sacrament and went out into the public square where almost all of the populace, weapons in hand, were causing havoc and ruin. Although the ungodly rage of some people abated a little at the sight of Our Great God, however it wasn't enough for the great multitude of people, who weren't in the slightest chastised. The Fathers of Jesus of the Collegiata [one of the main churches of Catania, near Piazza Duomo] also came out with the Holy Crucifix, accompanied by all the other Fathers mortifying themselves and shouting misericordia [“Have pity“ or “Have mercy”] and they went out into the streets, some beating themselves with strands of rope and some with chains, but this was not enough to chastise the multitude. Even the Custodians of the Collegiata came out, accompanied by many people all shouting misericordia, and even this was not enough. In the end, they even brought out the Holiest of Holies, which at the time was being exhibited in the Parish of San Filippo as usual, escorted by many mounted knights, ordinary people and women with their hair in disarray, all shouting misericordia. They all went towards the public square which, by this time, was full of fire and flames blazing higher than the Loggia (10). While those people were in the middle of this havoc and had gone as far as I have described, by the utmost miracle of God, the anger started to subside; otherwise it would have ended very badly. Had it not been for the help of Almighty God, this City would have been destroyed and reduced to the state that the forementioned evil people had planned, as they had burned the whole Loggia (11) with all its archives the same as they had burned all of the City's laws, account books and other implements. Seeing this, some of the honourable people of the town put signor Don Agatino Paternò, Prince of Biscari (12), in the saddle and he rode down with two of his dearest brothers into the public square (where there was so much calamity and so many thousands of people, all armed, and the Vicar General in the midst of it with the Holy Sacrament in his hand) and started shouting, risking his life and trusting in God, Long live the King of Spain.
All those people, seeing the Prince, followed him and started shouting Long live the King of Spain and down with the customs duties. With these half measures everyone calmed down, started demanding that the customs duties be lifted and appointed two Giurati popolari [People's Jurymen]; so the riot lasted until eight in the evening, when the forementioned Giurati were sworn in. The first was Filippo Mancarella and the second was Giuseppe Incontro and two of the six noble Giurati were removed and they were signor Don Ercole Gravina and signor Don Francesco Ramondetta (baron of Pardo). They then installed the two citizen Giurati with much honour and pomp and everyone accompanied them with drums and trumpets on horseback and the other noble Giurati at sword point, and the whole of the populace behind them, weapons in hand, shouting Long live the King of Spain and down with the taxes. The whole of the day was like this, as I have described, and that was the first day.
The commoners, exasperated by the news that the nobles had written to the Viceroy speaking ill of them, start another, more ferocious riot, take control of the City and govern it.
The following day, which was the 28th of May and a Tuesday,
people were saying that the nobles wanted to betray the commoners
and that they had written to His Excellency speaking ill of them.
For this reason, the enraged commoners became even more furious than
they had been the previous day, so once again the commmoners were against
nobility; they wanted to cut them all to pieces along with their women and
their children; thus from the very morning we saw great turmoil
and everyone up in arms. This day was more terrifying than the previous
one, and if certain honourable men hadn't been there, they would have
cut all the nobles to pieces. But they couldn't prevent all harm,
inasmuch as kindling was taken to the house of Don Francesco
D'Alessandro and Don Pompeo La Torre and they set it on fire and fired volleys
of musket shots which put the whole building in great peril. Then many
people, seeing this great destruction, took the Holy Sacrament out
of the bosom of the church and when it was brought it to the forementioned
place, the people's anger waned a little on seeing their Great God.
But not much damage could be prevented, inasmuch as all the windows and
glazing were blown to the four winds by stones and musket shots, and
this is what happened in the morning.
After lunch on the 28th of May, once again the common people started up
against the nobility, wanting to cut them to pieces, inventing the
story that the nobles had already written to His Excellency speaking
ill of them. On this day it also happened that the people locked the
nobility in the Seminary (16)
and then wrote letters to His Excellency
and let the nobles out one by one and forced them them sign those letters,
making them say that they themselves had caused the riot, that the
nobles themselves had appointed the People's Jurymen, and another thousand
chapters all saying that the nobles were the cause of the rebellion.
Those who wouldn't sign were immediately threatened with a dagger in
the chest and kindling, of which the square was full, was immediately
sent to their houses to set fire to them. Many houses were burned, and the
first ones were those of Le Torri, the second were the houses of Michele
Asmundo, third the house of Don Bernardo De Felice Bevecito and others;
but there were also honourable men who saw what the populace was doing
and immediately ran with the Holy Sacrament to each place and thus
prevented any further damage from being done. On Wednesday, which was the 29th,
they made a proclamation which said Nobody may wear a mask, on pain
of death, and everyone must bear a sword and dagger and whatever kind
of weapon they want to carry. On that day they erected the gallows
in the market place (17) and
held a meeting to decide what to do.
On Thursday (the 30th of May) they appointed a Captain for each precinct
and seven ensign-bearers, all of them nobles, who were the following:
for the Santissima Trinità (18)
district, the Captain was
Don Giuseppe Rizzari and the ensign-bearer Don Pietro Moncada;
for Sancta Agata la Vetera, Don Gasparo Rizzari and the
ensign-bearer Don Vincenzo Gravina;
for the Civita district, Don Bernardo Paternò-Raddusa and
the ensign bearer...;
for the Porta di Mezzo (20) district,
Don Giacomo Platania and the ensign-bearer Don Ignazio Asmundo;
for the Castle, Don Franco Scarfellito ans the ensign-bearer Don Francesco
for Santa Margherita...... (the names of the other Captains
and ensign-bearers are missing in the manuscript).
On Friday the 31st of May, Saturday the 2st of June and the following Sunday they collected the sum of thirty thousand scudi to buy enough grain for the City and for other things; this money was given by Don Vico Ansalone, Michele Asmundo, Don Francesco Paternò of the market place and Don Giovanni Todisco.
The forementioned letters were sent to His Excellency, well made and signed by all of the nobility and were delivered by Don Lorenzo Promintorio and the Prior of St Teresa's church.
The commoners become ever more enraged with the nobles and, maddened by their victory, take unfair advantage of it; this much upsets the rest of the honourable people.
This state of affairs continued up to the 8th of June and the whole
City waited with bated breath, with many guards both on the city walls and
in convoy on horseback, weapons in hand and the workforce, in particular,
never went unarmed. On the 8th of the said month of June,
Don Alessando Gioeni, who was the leader of the riot, went round
the whole City soliciting contributions saying that the people had sent him
and those poor gentlemen believed him and made many
But Almightly God ensured that his cunning was laid bare, since no one
knew what the forementioned Gioeni was doing, whereupon the people,
when they discovered this, went to take hold of him and strangle him.
He ran away and could not be found alive or dead.
What is more, on the 10th of the said month of June, Master Antonio Giusto the shoe maker plotted with five others and the following night broke into the house of a poor woman to rob her and in actual fact they did rob her and then murdered her. The following morning a trial was held and first they caught....... (in the manuscript the name is missing), Giusto's companion, who had been at forementioned house and they caught him in Church. The crowd took him to the gallows to hang him but no hangman could be found nor a priest to remember him (23), and some people started saying that first they should take from him whatever information he knew about the deed and afterwards they could hang him and so, under these circumstances, they put him in prison. Then they caught the second one, master Antonio Giusto and he too was put in prison with the other one. On the 14th of the said month of June, once again some mindless people went about saying Riot! Riot! and this carried on into the evening, and they set fire to the house of the Cleric Don Francesco Alfano, who was said to be a traitor in league with the nobility; they took kindling to Le Torri's houses again but once again the Holiest of Holies immediately went there, so they did no harm. On the 15th of the said month, they sent the Sergeant Major, who was called Don Antonio, to Palermo to see His Excellency the Viceroy.
On the 16th, word came from His Excellency that the City should send someone to Palermo and that the forementioned Prince of Biscari should go there. On the 20th of the said month, the said Prince did indeed leave with Signor Filippo Mancarella, one of the People's Jurymen, who took with him 100 of his companions and other honourable gentlemen. When they arrived in Palermo, the City of Palermo heard that these people had been sent by the City of Catania, and all of Palermo wanted to go out to meet them; when His Excellency heard of this, he didn't want anyone to go out to meet them because he feared another riot (26) and so it was that the Catanese mission entered quietly, but even so they couldn't prevent some people from going out to meet them.
On the 21st of the said month, the people of Catania imprisoned Don Francesco Tornabene in the gridiron (27) of the Prison and set 20 people to guard him; on the 22nd the people of the forementioned City imprisoned Don Vincenzo Paternò-Raddusa in the same gridiron. Not many people thought that the imprisonment of these two gentlemen was a good idea and many were displeased about it and they saw that many things were being done for no reason, that everyone was different from their usual selves and that many people were deprived of their reason and that these people were in command, and very often people hearts were full of fear.
The nobility, encouraged by many worthy citizens, moves against the commoners and makes a mess of them, in turn taking unfair advantage of their victory.
On the 28th of the said month of June, when 5 o'clock in the evening
had struck, an edict arrived from Palermo, brought by Don Lorenzo Promintorio;
because of that edict the whole city was melancholy and gloomy. While everyone
was in this state of mourning, which seemed to threaten ruin for everyone and
every citizen was pale and heavy-hearted, the whole city was surrounded by
holy fathers, all filled with holy zeal at the sight of such a day.
Crucifixes in hand, they beat themselves with chains and crying out for
forgiveness and for God's pity: it seemed that at any moment Catania might
sink into the earth.
At this point, with no warning, the wrath of God descended and He seemed to say: Sinners! Destroy each other!; the people's pallid and gloomy countenances darkened, the whole population of Catania became angry with each other and the sound of trumpets and drums was heard. At this moment the wretched and wicked Giacomo Cicala arrived on the scene, a man with very little conscience who had scrounged money off the City. He arrived in Castle square in the midst of all this rage and with musket shots and at sword point, before he could say a word, they removed his head from his body. No pen can tell all that happened in this unfortunate city, because the whole city was a single fire, every bell ringing, trumpets and drums sounding throughout the city and everyone shouting: To arms! To arms! War! War! Father was against son, brother against brother, some women wept for the fathers, some for their husbands and children; all that could be heard was gunshots and all that could be seen was blood on the ground. The holy fathers with their crucifixes were going round the streets confessing anyone who didn't know whether they would get home alive. Down from the Civita poured the sailors, all armed, but even they didn't know who they were fighting against and the soldiers who were on guard were all fighting and nor did they know against whom: the populace was all enraged and they didn't know at whom. Meanwhile, the nobility were all underground and weeping because they thought the people's rage was against them.
In the midst of this, with one citizen shooting another and another one pronouncing the death sentence on yet another, imagine what calamity and peril there was. In the midst of this disorder some worthy citizens, inspired by God, went to Don Cesare Tornabene, Captain of the City, and found him hiding himself away with a figurine of Saint Anthony in his hand, praying to the Lord to be saved from such wrath, whereupon they encouraged him and put him on his horse. He then rode out into the square with the picture of Saint Anthony in his hand and when he arrived there and saw the rage there, started to flee towards the Convent of San Nicolò l'Arena to save himself, because he was afraid of all that wrath.
The people followed him, encouraged him and made him come back, and when he arrived back he started shouting Long Live the King of Spain. Finding himself in the square, seeing such vengance and encouraged by the honourable people, the said Captain declared poor Don Bernardo Paternò-Raddusa and all the unfortunate and unhappy sailors to be rebels. Thus it was that the enraged populace turned on the forementioned Paternò and the sailors, who had taken the fortress of the Great Bastion (32). When the people arrived at the Bastion, meaning to hurt those inside it, they found to their great misfortune that all its ordnance was directed against the City and towards the populace. None could describe this scene, nor human heart remain dry of tears without at least sweating or weeping a little. The people became so angry that they assailed the fortress and while those of the fortress resisted, the City, seeing what danger they were in, immediately ordered the Captain of the Castle that from the Castle they should smite the fortress of the Great Bastion. Thus it started to smite them with cannon shots and the poor forementioned sailors, astonished, disheartened and frightened, flung themelves out of the fortress and, finding the boats in order in the port, put to sea. But many of them could not embark and the only reason they were not caught and killed was a great miracle performed by the glorious Santa Maria della Dagara because, while they were in the middle of this brawl, they heard the church bell ring of its own accord and when many people went into the church they found her Icon with its vantiotaro [?] in the middle of the wall, and her veils all up in the air. The whole city ran there to see such a great miracle and the other marvellous things. (34).
Let us leave that and go back to where, while the muskets blazed and there was fighting in the fortress, three cannons were brought to bear: one took aim on the Campanaro (35), another on la Trixini (36) and the last on the Corviseri (37); all loaded with musket shot: here several people died and those we know about were: the first, Giacomo Cicala, the second the spiteful Bernardo Paternò (38) the head of the sailors and the riot leader, the third was Lord Cola the Mariner, the fourth lord Pietro Stagno, the fifth his brother lord Giuseppe Stagno and very many others were also killed and many others wounded. Those who were caught were the following: Vincenzo Giardinello, the stingy victualler who had burned the archive, as we have said, Carro lo Scocco, Carro di Giovanni and a sailor who had confided in Don Bernardo. Many sailors were caught in Augusta and many more of them were wounded, others were caught in Iaci [the modern-day Acireale], some drowned and some went over to Calabria. I'll leave you to imagine the great lament made by the mother of the wretched Don Bernardo when she saw his grisly head passing in front of her window, impaled on the end of a pole; at first sight it was quite hard to recognise it, but when she saw the torso that his executioner was carrying slung over his shoulders with such contempt, she fainted to the ground and stayed there for more than an hour: then, when she came to, all pale, nearly beside herself, she was taken indoors and they had to lock her in a room for fear that she would throw herself from the balconies. The same day, at 9 in the evening, they took all the bodies and hung some of them up in the public square and some of them in the market place by one foot and their heads were placed in the holes at the top of the City gate.
The commoners don't give themselves up for lost and confront the nobles and the city governors again and many of the conspirators are thinking about ruining them when a strong storm stops them from carrying out their horrible plot.
The following day, which was the 29th of the said month, straight away
the Captain of the City gave the order that everyone should put on their
ferrioli (41), that the hanged
ones should be taken down and that no one should speak of it again.
However, since the people had seen how the nobles bragged about having
massacred them, they were all angry. Once again you could hear
Riot! Riot! and the nobles could be seen running away, some
hiding themselves away and some going underground at the sound of the drums.
This would have been the end of this city, had all the nobles not started
saying long live the honourable people of the city of Catania; and
in this way anyone who was well thought of managed to avoid the fray. Thus the
people quietened down by a miracle of the Most High. In the meantime
the commoners were still governing the city and no one tried to take
that away from them.
On the last day of this month and on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of July the people went seeking counsel as to what should be done, and public opinion went against the nobility and everyone was in favour of going attacking them; but, as they were waiting for a reply from His Excellency, no one made any moves. On the 6th of the month the courier came from His Excellency bringing the answer that His Excellency was very happy about what had happened in Catania, that the heads had been removed from those who were considered to be rebels, and even more so because they had been scrounging bribes and that His Excellency wanted to concede to the city of Catania whatever they might ask for, including the restitution of the Casali (42); furthermore it was ordered that the people whose names follow should be exiled and that everyone should wear their ferrioli and this the city and all its people were set in order. Those to be exiled from the Realm of His Excellency were: first, Don Alessandro Gioeni, the brothers Notar Mase and Giovanni Battista Di Mauro, Vito Randazzo, M.ro Diego Gargano and seven sailors. On the 23rd of July 1647, in the Cortina (44) above the castle, at 9 in the morning, three were hanged: Carlo lo Scapo as a rebel; the stingy one because he who had started the fire in the archives and as a rebel and M.ro Antonio Giusto, as the one who had killed the woman and as a rebel.
On the 6th of the said month of July, the City had sent a reply to His Excellency with the list he had asked for of favours he should grant, which were: 1. forgiveness for the City: 2. the People's Jurors to be appointed in perpetuo (45): 3. pardon for everyone else: 4. the restitution of the Casali: 5. a ten-year extension for anyone who was in debt to the state: 6. confirmation of the nullity of all the contracts made by the Marquis of Spaccaforno (46) while he was the Vicar of the said city of Catania and who had consumed the city (47) 7. the reintegration of those who had fled, since two thousand people had fled during those excesses: 8. lastly, all those favours that had been conceded to the city of Palermo, author of the rebellion of the Realm of Silicy and Naples (48). Things stood still for a short while, then the nobles, having taken a finger, little by little took the whole hand (49) and started to abuse the people and mistreat them and, seeing that the people didn't react and, indeed, wanted to stay in peace, they started molesting them. It went on like this until the 5th of August and the nobles were so overcome with arrogance that if anyone so much as spoke of them they were sent to prison. On the 5th of August, the notary Gironamo Ronsisvalle, M.ro Gironamo Cutugno and his son Giuseppe Cutugno and Giuseppe Lunzella were together in M.ro Sebastiano Portoghese's workshop. The Captain of the City had them all arrested and imprisoned them in the Castle with many guards. On the 8th of the said month of August they secretly took the forementioned Mro. Girolamo Cutugno to be tortured and tormented him horribly. Now, Cutugno was an honourable man, which was obvious from his work, and no word ever came forth from his mouth that might hurt anyone. On the 9th of the said month they imprisoned the priest Don Bernardo Alì, on the 10th the following were imprisoned: the priests Don Giovanni Femia and Don Giovanni Mazzoni and in the city of Adernò, Francesco Parisi was put back in prison again. In the whole of this month of August, forty people were imprisoned, both men of the cloth and lay people, and among the former even Father Don Francesco Greco. While all this difficulty and suffering was going on, it is said that the prisoners tried to escape from the Castle. This went on until the 28th of September when, in the morning, many placards were to be found in many places, which telling the people to arm themselves and move once again against the nobility.
Whereupon all the nobility revolted and, drunk with daring, all went armed with blowpipes and pistols without end. (51) The following day, Father Don Francesco Greco sent for Don Francesco Amico, the Vicar General, asking him to pay him a visit, and revealed all to him: that those placards had been set up so that the prisoners could escape, and that this was supposed to have happened the previous night, that the prisoners, in cohoots with some of the soldiers of the Castle, were to have killed the Keeper of the Castle and then fired the castle's cannon on the City's offices, that those on the outside were to have wreaked havoc on the other side and that the prisoners that night were waiting for Don Vincenzo d'Amico's servant, also called Don Vincenzo, to bring them weapons. But straight away, the forementioned Don Vincenzo had been caught with three others who were the following: Mro. Vincenzo Statella, M.ro Vincenzo Serafino and M.ro Vincenzo Capizzi, all three of them cobblers. The nobility, with many armed guards, arrested them and took them to the Castle: when the people saw this, their eyes glazed over (53) and they fretted: everyone suspected some kind of betrayal and everyone was ready to hurl themselves against the nobility.
During the night of the 8th of October, the nobility had decided to hang these eight people: Notar Geronimo Ronsisvalle, M.ro Sebastiano Portoghese, M.ro Girolamo Cutugno, M.ro Giuseppe Cutugno and another four of their companions. But, by the grace of God, there was a tremendous storm: hail, thunder and wind that seemed like it would bury the city. And, as the deed was to be done that night and the storm started at 10 in the evening and lasted all the night in which it was supposed to be done, they couldn't carry it out, indeed all of them stayed at home praying fervidly until the moning.
The nobility overcomes the commoners, and the latter waits for the opportunity to have their revenge.
The morning after (the 9th of October) was a beautiful day, so they
decided to hang the forementioned prisoners during the night of the 9th.
Another of God's miracles happened, because during the day a courier arrived,
sent by His Excellency, ordering that all prisoners should be released because
of the rebellion. Thus, in a moment, they passed from death to life and
returned to their houses with their children and their wives. The only ones they
didn't free were the three forementioned cobblers. Instead of seting them free,
they said publicly that they were to be strangled, as they had already said,
and that in the Castle there were many stakes and
collars (55) on which they
should suffocate. On hearing this, the people all started making a huge
noise, which put the nobility in great fear. The Captain of the City and
the nobility, all armed to the teeth, patrolled every night because they
suspected another conspiracy from the people. As well as this, every night
and all day, four squad captains with 50 paid soldiers were on patrol to
safeguard the nobility. On the 14th of October those three that had remained
in prison were freed, hoping to make the people more benign; but many were
greatly altered (56).
On the 12th of October, Don Ludovico
Ansalone, already a Juror, became Captain of the City. As soon as
he had taken office, straight away he sent away a hundred armed peasants
who were in the Loggia to keep guard over the Nobility.
On the 1st of November everyone was very angry. As that was All Saints'
Day, on which everyone was attending service in their church, all of the
nobility were in their Church reciting the service. They were told that
the people were conspiring to come and cut them all to pieces in their
own Church (58) where they were gathered.
Hearing this, some of them tried to run one way and some the other and
some threw themselves out of the windows and doors because they thought
the commoners were upon them. But what they had been told wasn't true,
because the commoners wanted to kill the nobility with greater ease
and the ones who were hunted by the commoners hadn't gone
to the service and didn't walk the city streets if they could avoid it.
The Captain first of all went to the council buildings and then he tried to
save himself by hiding in St Augustine's church because he feared for his life
and he only came out when he saw that there was no danger any more
and went about showing himself to be well-disposed towards the common folk.
It went on like this until the last day of the month of November
In the Loggia, meanwhile, there were forty guards day and night, each of whom was paid four tarì a day. In the very Loggia, three placards appeared, for which the cleric Don Agatino Vicari was arrested. That same night they held him in the Loggia and kept him there for two hours but he didn't speak a single word. The following morning the priest Don Diego Chierico and others were put in prison as witnesses to prove something or other. Then they were all released except for three, who were the forementioned Chierico, Vicari and one other.
On the last day of January 1648 (60) lots of placards were found, so the City and the Captain offered a ransom, saying that whoever revealed the author of those placards would have 150 onze [a coin, the thirtieth part of a tarì] as a prize. Straight away they told His Excellency and sent the said placards to him. But they couldn't find out who had written the said placards. Meanwhile the populace and the nobility stayed in mutual hatred and enmity. For certain, the nobility had mistreated the populace in a thousand spiteful and oppressive ways and with a thousand insults; the populace, meanwhile, put up with this and feigned not to notice until they received even viler abuse. However, it had come to a point where they couldn't stand it any longer.
The opportunity of a new revolt presents itself, headed by Girolamo Cutugno; the nobility, overcome by fear, abandons the city.
On the 10th of February 1648, while the
Fera (62) was being held in the
public square of this City, which is held on this day in honour of our
Glorious St Agata, at about 8 o'clock in the evening, while the nobility
were walking about in the said Fera, the carriage of the
Baron of San Giuliano (63)
happened to pass by with the Baron's wife inside.
As it passed by, its sopracelo (64)
crashed into the ropes securing the curtains of the
of Giuseppe and Master Diego lo Bruno.
The gentlemen who happened to be in the said Fera at the time, amongst whom was the Baron himself, wanted to confront the Bruno brothers, because that they had not come running immediately with their knives to cut the ropes to prevent the carriage crashing into them. That's how great the nobles' dominion was over the common people! At this, the poor populace couldn't stand it any longer and the forementioned Geronimo Cutugno launched himself into the fray and raised a pistol against one of the nobility. Seeing this, the rest of the populace were on his side and rushed into the Loggia where those armed soldiers were, at the service of the nobility and, having disarmed them all, laid about them with their scimitars and chased them out. Then the whole City could be seen in revolt and everyone with weapons at the ready. While this was going on, the said Cutugno grabbed a trumpeter (66), put him on a horse and with 200 lads behind him made him ride round the city shouting: riot, riot. Then he rode down to the piazza where there were a thousand of the common folk, all armed, and shouted that every merchant should clear his loggia and set four well-armed gentlemen to guard their stuff. Thus, within three hours they cleared the whole piazza which was full of logge and merchants, without a single tarì being lost by anybody. Once this had been done, Cutugno had all the logge removed and had a cannon brought into the middle of the piazza with much ammunition and sent some people to take the Fortress of San Giovanni (69). Now, while this was going on and the people were going to get all kinds of weaponry, night fell. The nobles, seeing the preparations that the people were making, made ready to fight infinitely; but when they were told that the commoners wanted to kill every one of the nobles during the night, they ran away from the City; some threw themselves off the walls with their wives and children, some ran away dressed as monks and some went out by the main gate dressed as poor travellers. Eventually, when the people had decided to set upon the nobles, they couldn't find a large one, nor a little one, nor a woman nor a man: they had all fled into the woods and the farmlands: some of them were sleeping under rocks, some had made it to the farmlands more dead than alive; some of them had left their weapons buried under rocks, some had left them with the Cappuccini monks and some with the Reformed monks; some of their women had run off to their strongholds and some arrived more dead than alive. All of them went weeping and wailing, not caring about their property. Seeing this, Don Blasco Romano, who had been neither good nor guilty, cast himself among the people trying to make peace between the people and the nobles, hoping to make the nobles return to the city.
The said Romano wrote once again to His Excellency, saying that the city council was negotiating a peace between the people and the noblemen and that the forementioned Cutugno wanted to go to the Parlament in His Excellency's presence to tell all. In fact, Cutugno did leave Catania on the 13th of February and took with him a crucifix and a piece of neck-chain; by presenting himself in this way before His Excellency he wanted to signify that if he had wronged His Majesty, he wanted to be hanged with that piece of chain: but what he really meant was that he had never done any wrong against His Majesty. (I omit a sentence which, in my opinion, has nothing to do with what follows).
As the said Cutugno was passing through Adernò, the people of Adernò recognized him and took hold of him and put him in prison as a rebel. On the 9th of March it became known in Catania that the said Cutugno had been arrested, whereupon the whole City took to rioting and wanted to rebel against the Captain and some of the knights who had come back to the City, whereupon the Captain immediately sent his bargello (73) to Adernò demanding in the name of His Majesty that Cutugno be assigned to him by those of Adernò to be brought to Catania. The Captain of Adernò replied that he couldn't consign him to the bargello because he would only consign him by public contract. Hearing this, the City made a plea to His Excellency to grant them the favour of having the said Cutugno consigned to them by the Captain of Adernò.
The Viceroy writes a letter supporting the commoners, who agree to accept a new temporary Governor who restores to the city its lost peace.
Things went on like this until the 15th of March. Word spread
throughout the City that the nobles had plotted amongst themselves
to cut some of the common folk to pieces and the City put itself on
guard again and refused entry to any of those gentlemen
who had fled the city. On the 20th of the said month of May it was
discovered that Monsignor Andrea Riccioli of Catania was going
round looking for people willing to be the nobles' fellons against
the people, but these people instead took hold of him with great fury
and wanted to kill him; but, not being certain of it, they put him in
prison. Then it came to light that the said Riccioli was obeying orders
from the Captain of the City and the Knights. On the 21st of the said
month the people wanted to remove the head of the said Riccioli as a traitor.
On the 22nd, it was said that the nobles wanted to fight the people weapon for weapon and that they had named the 23rd as the day for this: on hearing this, the whole city took up arms, whereupon the nobles who had remained in the city ran away to where the others were! On the 25th a letter arrived from His Excellency against the nobles, which was favourable to the people and against the said nobles. At the same time, His Excellency let it be known that he would send a Governor to Catania and wrote to the people to know if they would receive him. Immediately they replied that the people's taste was that they wanted a new government. On the 6th of April the Governor, sent by His Excellency, arrived in Catania. He was received with great honour and they fired 200 maschi (75) and all of the artillery. From that day onwards, the nobles who had fled started to gather in the City. The said Governor showed the City a letter sent by His Majesty to the City of Catania, that was very affetionate and loving, particularly as regards the heads that they had removed...........
(Here, the chronicle is missing a few pages which should have described what happened next and how it ended up; but some different author has added other pages, as can be seen from the different quality of the paper, phrasing and handwriting, which continue the interrupted chronicle by continuing the above half-finished sentence with the following words):
from those rebels and His Majesty ended the letter with an offer of whatever the City might need. In the same letter, His Majesty told the nobility to go to Francesco Speciale, calling him Don Francesco, as his duty was that of a blacksmith: he had been a gunner on top of the fortress of the Great Bastion when Don Bernardo Paternò had taken it. The said gunner, fleeing the Bastion, threw himself off the said Fortress and broke a leg. His Majesty had been told that he had thrown himself off the said Fortress because he didn't want to open fire on the City and for this His Majesty also assigned him a prazza (76) of 30 scudi per month (77).
On the last day of June they elected the Officials and two People's Jurors: one was Giacomo Gemma and the other Francesco La Gugliara, two cousins who, with the presence of the Governor, maintained a moderate peace in the City (78). Meanwhile, the Governor, who was well respected by the people, got involved with a Noble Lady who lived near the Port (79). On the 24th of July, at three in the morning, the Governor, together with his master scrivener Cesare Caracciola and one of his servants, was in the vicinity of the house of this Noble Lady, waiting to gain entry on the quiet when Monsignor Francesco Portoghese, Capoxurta (80), arrived with his men. They had received the order from the Governor that if they came across anyone at night who, when challenged three times, did not give his name, they should shoot him. And in fact, having shouted three times give your name, and the said Governor not wanting to be recognized, one of the men, aiming for the face, let fly a volley so fearsome that it hit the poor Governor in the eyes without him even having time to call for Jesus. The whole City was greatly moved by this turn of events, both for the death of the Governor and especially as it involved one of the noble families of the city. He was buried in the church of Saint Catherine of Sienna with full honours from the City. Immediately they informed His Excellency, who at that time was Cardinal Trivulzio in Palermo. It turned out that the one who fired was a certain Monsignor Giuseppe Brandano, a shoe-maker, who worked in the said Capo di xurta Portoghese's workshop and for several months he was locked up in a Church.
Then, when His Excellency had been better informed of the facts, the matter was referred and a few months later he was set free and everything was decided in favour of the said Capo di xurta. This is what happened in Catania, as was permitted by the Most High who rules over everything.
Notes by Sac. G. Longo
(1) They were crying out against the bad government of the time and with good reason. In those times, one writer says, the Spanish government had reduced the system to disorder: the nobles were systematic bullies, the commoners systematically insubordinate and neither were free.
(2) Here, the term City means the place where the Senate met, the Senatorial Palace. [In the rest of the text, the term City is to be interpreted in context to mean the City Council, its meeting place, the city of Catania itself or its populace].
The Viceroy was addressed as Your Excellency. Since the death
of Martin the Younger, the Sicilians had the misfortune of being deprived
of the presence of their sovereigns, who always lived elsewhere, so
the local administration and government were entrusted to others.
Initially, a Viceroy was appointed with no time limit, then from 1488
onwards for three year periods; the triennial governors were called the
Viceroy, Lieutenant and Capitani Generali while the interim caretakers
were called Presidenti Generali — The Viceroy represented the King
and held all spiritual powers, preceding in this dignity even the Vicars
themselves. On Holy days, on entering the Cathedral Churches, he
received the holy water from the Bishop and sat on a podium that rose
vertically three palms higher than that of the Bishop.
In 1647, the Viceroy was the Marquis Los Veles; he died on the 3rd of November of the same year and was succeeded, with the title of President, by the Marquis of Montallegro and after a few days, with the same title, by Cardinal Trivulzio. Los Veles was as timid, indecisive and compliant before an outraged populace, as he was bold and cruel when he saw them lacking in strength and would become inflamed with revenge against those who had frightened him so much and used violent repression which just caused even greater rioting.
(4) This Bernardo belonged to the noble Paternò family and to the no less noble Raddusa family: he was young, very handsome and only 19 years old. He appears on the scene of the rebellion on the morning of the first day, the 27th, and not, as Rizzari writes, on the 30th.
(5) The name Via Triscini was given to what nowadays is Via dei Scoppettieri or Manzoni; it crosses the plain that extends in front of the Church of San Nicolò Triscini. At that time Via Etnea did not exist; that was opened by the Duke of Camastra after the 1693 earthquake and was extended as far as the Largo Gioeni during the last century.
(7) In 1232 our City was destroyed by Frederick the Second out of hatred for the Guelfo party who ruled there; they were allowed to rebuild it with small houses and then, near the sea, the Castello Ursino was built on the remains of an ancient fortress called Saturnia in order to keep the populace at bay.
(8) The captain with his assessor judge were allowed to enquire into in all criminal cases within the State's lands, could initiate a trial, listen to the accusations and proceed with incarceration, but were obliged to hand the guilty and the trial over to the High Court. The Captain did not have the powers of mero and misto impero, which include the right to impose the death penalty, deportation or mutilation.
(9) De Grossis writes about the Vicar General, his contemporary: “Don Francesco Amico, a doctor in Sacred Theology and in both kinds of law, is a great man, very prudent both in his capacity of Prior and in the management of the Diocese, which has been a sede vacante since the death of Ottavio Branciforte (1646)”. Our chronicle calls him the Vicar General, a title which does not exist when the Diocese is a sede vacante, maybe because in 1647 the new Bishop of Catania had been elected but had not yet taken up his position. In fact, the Abbot Amico tells us that, in this year, a certain Marco or Martino, bishop of Pozzuoli, had been elected to the position of Bishop of our City but that he didn't want to come here because he didn't want to leave the Church which he had governed for twenty years, even though it was poorer than the one in Catania.
(10) The square referred to is doubtless Piazza Duomo, commonly called Piazza Sant'Agata, since the Loggia was, according to signor Sciuto Patti, next to the Duomo in that period.
(11) The Senatorial Palace, commonly known as La Loggia [banquetting house, open terrace, gallery or porch] due to its architectural form as it was supported on pillars and columns, was a wonderful structure girded by domed arches and the walls adorned by valuable paintings which reminded the Catanese of their glory and greatness in the annals of history. In 1643 it was made even bigger and more beautiful by adding more buildings and works.
(12) Grossi tells us the following about Agatino Paternò Castello, which I translate from the Latin: “He was the first Prince of Biscari from 1633 onwards; his fidelity to the King, his compassion towards his Country, his benevolence towards the citizens and his ability in dealing with public affairs showed ever more strongly in him, particularly towards the end of this year, 1647, in which the City was in flames due to the iniquity of certain lost souls. Using his authority, which counted for a lot with the common people, he was able to calm the raging crowd. For the good of his Country he then betook himself to the Viceroy in Palermo with the aim of the restoring the disrupted peace and quiet to his city of Catania. Palermo too, which at that time was also troubled at that time by civil discord and by the common people's ferocious hatred of the nobility, also admired and appreciated the great virtues of our Prince Agatino who, being most dear to the Viceroy, loved by the grandees and wished well by the people, imprinted the hallmark of his virtue on that city and made the name of the Catanese ever more brilliant. The Viceroy himself, even though he was most expert, would often ask his counsel on the most difficult matters and named him one of the three Vicars General of the whole Kingdom with full executive powers. Despite all this, he wished to leave a position of this kind which he had fulfilled with such honour and return to our City, thinking that he could be more useful to her by being close to her.”
(13) The Giurati or senators at the time were: Ludovico Tornabene; Orazio la Valle, baron of Schisò; Francesco Tedesco d'Ercole; Fortunato Tedesco, baron of Busciarca; Ercole Gravina and Vincenzo Ramondetta, barone of the Pardo. The Patrician was Giacomo Gravina.
(16) In those times, the Seminary was almost exactly in the same place as the City Council building is now. —Note by signor Sciuto Patti.
(17) The market place roughly corresponded to where Piazza Università is now and this was the square that the Collegiata church faced. —Note by signor Sciuto Patti.
(18) The Church of the Santissima Trinità was, in those times, on the same site as the current one. —Note by signor Sciuto Patti.
(20) The Porta di Mezzo was where St. Maria della Grazia's chapel is currently and all the neighbouring area constituted the Porta di Mezzo district.
(22) That Gioeni was soliciting contributions is the same as saying he was scrounging money. What a bad figure he cut, to be sure, this noble gentleman, who had made himself the leader of the riot and then took advantage of the circumstances to go round scrounging money from all and sundry. However, these are things that happen in every day and age.
(23) A priest to remember him: this Sicilian term means to assist the dying, in this case Giusti who had been condemned to death.
(26) He feared another riot — In Palermo too, in the same year 1647, there had been serious rioting: the commoners, upset by the bad government of the time, had become enraged and, led by a certain Pelusa, had rushed to the City's offices to burn them down, tried to ransack the Treasury and had sprung all the prisoners out of jail. The Teatini holy fathers, the Jesuits and the Marquis of Geraci had managed to calm them down a little but the weakness of Viceroy Losveles had first made the cruel crowd even more daring and his excessive severity had then made them even more wrathful. By now it was the end of June and everything seemed to have calmed down but unfortunately this was only in appearance; in the following months, M.ro Alessi would lead those commoners and incite them to unheard-of excesses.
(27) Gridiron: an iron grating placed in the windows, used here to mean a prison or jail.
(32) The Great Bastion, also known as San Salvatore from the nearby church of the same name, was an admirable piece of work built of square blocks of lava and erected by Viceroy Vega in 1552 under Carlo the Fifth. The architect was the famous Maurolico.
(34) St. Maria della Dagara. Here is what De Grossis wrote about this holy church: “This Church has always been highly venerated by the faithful, for the venerable Icon of Our Lord on the Cross and for the other one of the Holy Virgin Mary. The name Dagala is of Saracen origin and I do not know its true meaning. Many miracles from olden times to the present day have made this Sacred Icon famous”. Here the author refers to a miracle whereby a Catanese who had been enslaved by the Turks was freed and another miracle that happened to the Author himself who, when he was still a child, the doctors having despaired, was returned to good health, both of these miracles being due to the intercession of the Holy Virgin of the Dagala — this is according to De Grossis. I can only add that the term Dagala, in Sicilian, means a piece of land entirely or mostly surrounded by lava; in fact many regions of Etna bear this name. Now I ask, could it be that such a revered Icon was found miraculously in some Dagala from which it took the name?
(35) The Campanaro or Piazza del Campanaro was near today's Church of Saint Placido. — Note by Cavalier Sciuto Patti.
(36) The Piazza della Triscini was near Saint Nicolella. — Note by the same.
(37) Corviseri corresponded near enough to the Parish of San Francesco. — Note by the same. — The term corviseri or curviseri and also solichianeddi in the Sicialian dialect means shoe-maker; maybe the quarter took its name from the artisans who lived there.
(38) The Abbot Amico in Catania Illustrata tells the story of the end of this day in the following manner: “Giuseppe Speciale the crossbowman had spiked the cannons of the fortress and rendered then unable to fire. The disheartened rebels of the fortress went back and forth in the fortress and in the end they lowered Bernard down the walls in a net into a little boat that had been prepared for him so that he and his men could get away from the island. But as the beach was covered by the Castle's crossbows, he lost all hope of escape and hid himself between the steep rocks and in the caves that were near the Convent of St Paula. While he was there, wondering what to do, he was found by Giacomo Platamone who had stayed away from the city for some time because of a crime he had committed and by him poor Bernardo had his head cut off.
(41) Everyone should put on their ferrioli: ferrajuoli, ferrajoli. “Ferrajolo, a large cloak worn over one's clothes, of which a part, thanks to its width, can be thrown over one shoulder” — Fanfani. Why did they give the order to wear ferrajuoli, especially on the 29th of June when it must have been very hot? Maybe because, by obliging people to wear an ample cloak, that made it difficult to use weapons and to move quickly from one place to another.
Catania's Casali [farms, manors or tenements], to the detriment of the
City, had been sold
in 1642: the Catanese had already protested, without effect, against the
injustice of such a sale. It seems that the ribellion of 1647-48 and the
following negotiations by Monsignor Gussio had quite a strong influence
on the Viceroy and the Spanish Court because the Casali were given back
to Catania. In fact, in 1652, thanks to a ransom of 149.500 scudi,
they were bought back, but then sold back again the same buyers.
Vespasiano Trigona had bought the town of Misterbianco for 12,000 scudi with another 20,000 given as a gift to the Royal Court in consideration of the huge revenue from that estate; Domenico Di Giovanni bought Trecastagni, Viagrande and Pedara for 42,500 scudi; Giovanni Andrea Massa bought San Giovanni La Punta and San Gregorio for 800 scudi and the same Massa bought San Giovanni Galermo, Sant'Agata, Trappeto, Tremestieri, Mascalucia, Plache, Camporotondo, San Pietro and Monpelieri for 35,000 scudi.
(44) In the Cortina of the Castle — Cortina [Curtain] is the name given to the part of the walls of a fortress that lies between two bastions.
The Jurors formed the body of the Senate; they received the honourary
title of Senators from Viceroy Filiberto of Savoye in 1622 and it was
he who declared the Senate of Catania to be of equal importance to that of
The Jurors, presided by the Patrician, had the right of administration of the estates, Catania's city customs duties, the department for the control of the prices of food and supplies, the supervision of weights and measures, planning permission and the width and cleanliness of the city's squares and streets.
(46) The Marquis of Spaccaforno — According to Villabianca, the first person to hold the title of Marquis of Spaccaforno was Francesco of Statella and Gravina on the 19th of July 1598. He was the son of the illustrious Blasco, Baron of Gravina, who is dearly remembered in the City of Catania. Francesco was succeeded by his son Antonio Statella La Rocca and he, on the 7th of January 1651, by Francesco Statella Rau. Which of these three Marquisses was it that consumed the City while he was its Vicar? And what were the contracts that were so injurious to the City?
(47) Consume: ruin, reduce to poverty; this term in Sicilian dialect has a lot of the latin word consumere about it.
(48) Palermo, author of the rebellion — In those times, the fire of rebellion had caught alight in all the provinces subject to Spain: this fire blazed even more strongly after the ferocious riots in Palermo which were followed by those in Messina, Catania, Naples and other provinces.
(49) Having taken a finger, little by little took the whole hand — This is a proverbial way of saying that with boys or other people who should remain in subjection (here the boys and other subjects means the nobles), one should be cautious and not give license because they would take advantage of it, and the saying goes: “Give him a finger and he'll take your hand and your whole arm”.
(51) With blowpipes and pistols without end — Blowpipe (soffione) is what they call an iron tube used for blowing into fires; (Fanfani) — Here, by simily, the term is used to mean the arquebus; without end: in infinite or very great numbers.
(53) Their eyes glazed over — Glazed, when applied in a figurative sense to the face, forehead or eyes, usually means impudence or shamelessness; here it denotes the rage and fury of those people.
(55) Stakes and collars on which they should suffocate: they must have been condemned to the barbarous torture of the stake used by the Turks and to the other no less barbarous one of the rope or noose.
(56) Many were greatly altered: altered is used here to mean enraged or vexed.
(58) In their own Church: the ancient Church of St Martin was the church, as it is today, of the Archconfraternity of the Bianchi, which consists of those who are listed in the Album of the Nobility.
(59) We are in the November of 1647; in this month the Viceroy Losveles, who died of a broken heart because he had been rebuked as cowardly by Philip IV, was succeeded as the governor of Sicily, with the title of President, by Don Vincenzo Gusmano, Marquis of Montallegro who only governed for a few days; he was succeeded on the 17th of November, with the same title of President, by Cardinal Teodoro Trivulzio, “who, according to Cesare Cantù, had already, with courage and prudence, governed the province of Milan; in Sicily he assuaged the uprisings by promising peace and a new deal; but, as usual, it ended in the bloody persecution of anyone who was not well-disposed towards him and the deal was the same as before.
(60) In December 1647 and in January 1648 everything seemed to have gone back to its usual calm and our chronicle doesn't record any serious events. We can attribute this to the preceding months' violent repression and to the new government of Cardinal Trivulzio who, in those days and with a fine hand, managed to keep the island expecting healthy reforms. Mere promises, however, can only restrain the populace for a litle while and sooner or later, when they are no longer fooled, they return to the previous excesses to claim their rights.
(62) Fera: Here is the description of this market, left to us by P. Carrera in his “Memorie Historiche” [“Historical Records”]: “On the first of February, franchise was given for the Fiera [the central marketplace of Catania], which is one of the most noble and spacious in Sicily; hence all kinds of merchandise can be found in one place, be it silk and all manner of woollen or linen raiment, wrought silver and gold, spices and all those goods and other things, be they necessities or pleasures, that might be in demand at a rich and universal market. This Fiera is held in the Piazza del Duomo that is dedicated to our lady Saint and it can be enjoyed for the span of fifteen days, that is until the fifteenth of February”.
I transcribe what M. Villabianca writes in Sicilia Nobile,
vol. 1, pag. 552 about the Baron of San Giuliano:
“He was the first to hold the title of Marquis of San Giuliano,
obtained by a privilege granted by His Holiness King Carlo II on the 4th
of May 1669 with effect from the 4th of May 1670. And in truth this
favour was granted to him in consideration of the considerable services
rendered to the King in keeping the City of Catania, his home town,
safe during the well known revolutions of 1647-1648. In the year of
our Lord 1650, being no more than 21 years old, he was chosen as Capitano
Giustiziere [Juridical Captain] of that City, as well as holding
many times the honourable positions of Patrician, Senator and Senate's
Ambassador to the Viceroys of this Kingdom. He was married twice, first
to Giulia Romeo e Gioeni, the daughter of Consalvo B.ne di
Geraci and when she died he celebrated his second marriage with
He was also called Girolamo Asmundo, the son of Francesco and Olivia Paternò; the Abbot Amico gives him the name of Orazio but that doesn't seem right as the latter was the third Marquis of Sangiuliano, a title given to him on the 17th of October 1732.
(64) Sopracelo: a canopy, the upper part of the curtains of a bed or other similar furniture or a carriage.
(65) Loggia: the name loggia is used here to mean one of those huts built out of wood, cloth or similar materials that are used in the marketplace to shelter the people gathered there and the traders selling edible goods and other things. It is still used in this sense in modern Italian.
(66) Trumpeter is what they call the soldier who gives signals with a trumpet.
(69) Fortress of San Giovanni. Cordaro in “Osservazioni” [“Observations”] writes: “nowadays the Fortress of San Giovanni can be found on via Ferdinanda (Garibaldi) surrounded by houses.
(73) Bargello, from the latin barigillus, meaning the chief of police.
(75) 200 maschi were fired. The term maschi is uses here in the sense of the sicilian masculu or masculuni, which is a kind of mortar which is loaded with arquebus powder on noteworthy public occasions.
(76) Assigned him a prazza: this term seems to be of Greek origin and means a life annuity or annual pension.
(77) As regards the letter from the King, here are the words of the Abbot Amico: “In his letter, Philip IV praised the Senate of Catania for having managed, with great ability and foresight, to hold back the rebellion. Furthermore he praised and gave honourable titles to the Captain of Justice Cesare Tornabene and Orazio (Girolamo) Paternò who had killed Giacomo Cicala (!) and lastly rewarded the work of Speciale, the crossbowman who had made the cannons of the Fortress useless when the rebels had taken posession of it, by assigning him an annual revenue and a noble title which allowed him to ascend to the rank of senator.
(78) By way of confirmation of what is said here and will be said in the final chapter about the senatorial chronology of the City of Catania, I transcribe the following from Villabianca [Sicilia Nobile]:
2 Ind. 1648 and 49.
The Captain of the City was Ludovico Ansalone who was then removed by the people's request and Antonio Bisignani, Calavier of Naples was elected with the title of Governor on the 6th of April 1648. On the 20th of July he was killed, leaving Giambattista Guarrera as the most senior Senator until the 14th of January 1649, when he yielded the position to the new Captain Andrea Gregorio — The Body of the senate was composed of the Patrician Francesco Rizzari, Baron of San Paolo, of the Jurors Cesare Ansalone, Vito d'Amico Barone del Grano, Alfonso Paternò, Giambattista Guarrera, all of them nobles, and of Giacomo Gemma and Francesco Gugliara, who were common men.
(79) This Noble Lady lived near the port, which is to say in the Civita quarter, which at that time was almost entirely inhabited by the Nobility of the town. Who can tell me which noble family this Lady belonged to, whose name the author omits?
(80) Capo di xurta: Head of the Guards, of the armed men; the capoxurta was a public official who kept watch over the city streets at night.