When the people found the outer gate of the palace unguarded, they rushed into the court and forced their way up the great stairs.
Continuing Masaniello’s Revolt At Naples,
our selection from The Carafa of Maddaloni Naples under Spanish Rule by Alfred Von Reumont published in 1851. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in twelve easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Masaniello’s Revolt At Naples.
The rioters listened. A promise from the viceroy of the abolition of all the gabelles — that was worth hearing. Masaniello had kept quiet during the assault upon the deputy and tax-gatherers, and to a certain degree had acted as mediator. “Now,” he exclaimed, “we will march to the palace.” The great mass of the people followed him; another troop surrounded Bisignano, who would gladly have freed himself from his wild escort, and trotted his horse when he came to the King’s gate; but they soon reached him again, and so much forgot the respect due to his rank that they laid their hands on him and compelled him to accompany them to San Lorenzo, the residence of the superior town magistrate.
Arrived here, they cried out for the privileges of Charles V, an idea instilled into them by Giulio Genuino, who, disguised and with a long beard, made one of the procession, and was the soul of all the intrigues that were hidden under the wild impulses of the masses. Don Tiberio Carafa esteemed himself fortunate to escape from his oppressors; he crept into a cell and went to Castelnuovo, from whence he repaired to Rome, so exhausted from the scene he had witnessed that he died mad not long afterward.
Meanwhile, the far more numerous band was on its way to the palace. Drummers marched in advance. Masaniello had mounted a horse and held up a banner, some of his followers were provided with sticks, and others armed with poles. They had, in their haste, seized upon any implements that they could find; numerous lads, old guards of the leader, accompanied the strange procession. Whistling and making a blustering noise, most of them in rags and barefooted — a genuine mob, who soon became aware how much was left to their will and discretion. The Duke was in the palace, and with him many of the nobles belonging to the town, who advised him to strengthen his Spanish guard immediately, but he would not, whether from fear of irritating the people, or because he did not consider the danger so imminent. The grand master of the horse, Don Carlo Caracciolo, with Don Luis Ponce de Leone, a cousin of the Viceroy’s, and governor of the vicarial court, were standing on one of the balconies at the moment when the crowd reached the square before the palace, and Masaniello, waving his banner three times before the guard, called out, “Long life to the King of Spain! Down with the gabelles!” — a cry which was repeated by thousands of the people.
Caracciolo went down and began to talk to the people. They remained standing; they complained of the oppressive taxes; they complained of the bad bread; they held him out pieces of it; he might judge himself whether it was food for men or dogs. They urged upon all the deposition of the Eletto, on whom, as usual, the blame was laid that things were not more prosperous.
At first affairs went on tolerably well. With great dexterity Don Carlo kept the crowd away from the entrances, while he corresponded by means of his vassals with the Viceroy, who consented to Naclerio’s deposition — to the abolition of the duties on fruit and on wine. Now the audacity of the crowd increased. Why not ask for more when everything was granted to them? The flour tax also! Caracciolo objected; things could not go on so. But in the same moment new masses of many thousand men crowded into the square, uttering wild noises. The negotiator was obliged to give way, and had only time to inform the Viceroy that he might withdraw into Castelnuovo.
When the people found the outer gate of the palace unguarded, they rushed into the court and forced their way up the great stairs. At the end of it, at the entrance of the hall, stood the German bodyguard. They crossed their halberds to ward off the crowd, but the pressure was too violent. After a short struggle their arms were wrenched from them; ill-treated and bleeding, they could no longer defend the entrance against the assailants. Meanwhile the Duke of Arcos had made his appearance at one of the balconies, and told the crowd in the Spanish language to compose themselves; he would do their will. But they did not understand him, and cried out that he must keep to what he had promised them by the Prince of Bisignano. The Viceroy saw that he was losing time. Already the foremost of the assailants stormed at the doors of the first saloon, which had been locked in haste. Now every moment was precious. In vain did Don Carlo Caracciolo try once more to appease the people: a blow from an iron staff wounded him in the arm, and he was hit by two stones. The doors of the first saloon fell with a loud crash to the ground. Now the crowd saw no further impediment. Everything remaining in the palace was torn asunder. The Viceroy, causing the various doors to be bolted behind him, hastened to the gallery, that he might reach the spiral staircase leading into the court-yard. Now he repented that he had not followed Caracciolo’s advice, who had desired him to make his escape to the castle. Andrea Naclerio concealed himself in the apartments of the Vice-queen, let himself down by a rope into the garden, and fortunately reached the fortress. But the mob broke everything that they found in the royal apartments, the panes of the high windows clattered upon the ground, and in the midst of wild rejoicings and laughter all the valuable household furniture was flung down from the balconies into the streets, including the chairs, the great parasol of the governor of the Collateral Council, and the mangled papers of the secretary. Even the balustrades of the balconies did not escape the vandal fury of the populace, and with heavy iron poles and hammers they dashed in pieces the beautifully polished works of sculpture.
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