Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Sicilian Vespers

the Sicilian vespers

The term Sicilian Vespers refers to the historical event that took place in the thirteenth century when Sicily became independent from Angevin occupation. The word literally means the vesper hour of sunset.

Historical Facts

We are in Sicily during the reign of the Angevins. The tyranny of King Charles lasted so long, the Sicilian people was tired and harassed by the constant abuses inflicted by the Angevin kingdom. Meanwhile, King Charles prepared for war against Constantinople and set up militia to attack the castles  strategic places and the main towns of the island.

The Angevin King was assisted by the vicar Herbert d'Orleans in Messina, while Palermo was assisted by Minister John of San Remigio. Authorized by them, the army officers were responsible for violence, robberies and spreading terror throughout the island.
King Charles Capet

The inhabitants of Sicily reached their limits. During Easter, the citizens of Palermo gathered to pray in the Church. Also in this sacred place they were forced to tolerate the abuses by agents of the IRS ,who with no respect  burst into the temple and draw by force debtors who had not paid their taxes.

After this they handcuffed them and carried them in jail, the officers denounced and insulted  the crowd which meanwhile was rushed. Episodes of outrage on the part of the French against the local population were followed, but the most serious incidents in the historic revolt of the "Sicilian Vespers" took place on the Tuesday after Easter, on March 31, 1282.

In Palermo's Church of the Holy Spirit, a religious celebration was held. In the hours of evening  many people rushed: they are women, men, families who wanted to pray in peace and quiet. Some were held  back in the meadows that surrounded the Church taking advantage of the first warm days of spring, others danced accompanied by the sound of musical instruments. During these joyful festivities suddenly appeared some Frenchmen who mingled with the people,  behaving arrogantly and not very friendly towards the women who were present.
Soon some men reacted to the foreigners and ordered to give up their women. The French, however, had no intention of going away, and continued their provocations. At one point, a French rummaged  the breast of a woman in search of any hidden weapons, and she fainted  to the ground from fear. Outraged her husband, began to cry, "Death to these Frenchmen."
the pretext for the uprising

The hatred and anger which for so long repressed in the souls of the Sicilians exploded violently. Near the church was created an unspeakable scrum, and the French, although they were armed, succumbed. 

The revolt was not suppresed and reached the city of Palermo. Roger Mastrangelo initiated a fierce battle of the Sicilians and the Angevins that at some point,  had such frightening ferocity that none of the belligerents could even react and beg for mercy.
The church of the holy spirit

There was no escape even for those French who sought shelter in churches and convents, because once found they were slaughtered anyway. John of San Remigio, the minister of King Charles, defended himself in his palace, but the crowd broke through the main gate with the intention of killing him. However he managed to escape and flee with his family.

About four thousand French died during the uprising. The corpses were left on the streets or thrown into large pits dug here and there. On the night of March 31, 1282 the Sicilians gathered in the parliament and declared the city of Palermo free from Angevin rule.In the  following days they organized a federation under the protection of the Church. Approximately a month after the episode of the Sicilian Vespers, almost the whole island was free from Angevin oppression .

1 comment:

blogger said...

Nice pictures of history, checkout my latest post at
feel free to leave a comment and like us on facebook

put your country on top

free counters