The night came — what a night! A hundred thousand men marched with loud cries through the town.
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 Duke of Arcos had descended the spiral staircase, when he perceived that the bridges of the castle were already drawn up, the portcullis let down. He believed that he could save himself by crossing the square to the opposite convent of the Minimi, as he imagined that the rebels were too much occupied with plundering the palace to attend to him. But he miscalculated. Scarcely had he reached the square when he was recognized and surrounded. A knight of St. Jago, Don Antonio Taboada, was accidentally passing by; he succeeded in penetrating through the crowd to the Viceroy and lifted him into his carriage. The rescue of the Duke of Arcos turned upon a hair. One of the people, it is said Masaniello himself, wanted to thrust his sword into him, but the blow was parried by Don Emanuel Vaez. A runaway Augustinian monk seized him by the hair and screamed, “Abolish the taxes!” The carriage could not go on. The horses pranced; some of the people seized the reins; the coachman was on the ground. Then many of the nobles pressed through the crowd, making themselves a passage partly by violence, partly by fair words — the Count of Conversano, the Marquises of Torrecuso and Brienza, the Duke of Castile Airola, the prior of Rocella Carafa, Don Antonio Enriquez, and Carlo Caracciolo. The Viceroy was indebted to them for his rescue.
They surrounded the carriage with drawn swords. The rebels had already taken the harness off the horses; two noblemen took possession of it, put it on as well as they could, and Caracciolo jumped upon the coach-box, fastened in the loose horses, while the other nobles remained at the door. But there was no getting further — the cries, the uproar, the mass of men increased every instant. So few against so many — if there was any delay no exit would remain. Don Carlos’ mind was quickly made up; he opened the doors of the carriage, dragged out the half-dead Viceroy, seized him by the arm, while the rest of the nobles surrounded them, raising high their swords and warding off the pressure of the mob. With the cry, “Make room for the King!” they got through the crowd.
Thus, they reached the gates of the convent; it was shut up. The populace yelled and threatened the monks with a thousand maledictions if they opened it. The general and the provincial of the order were present, both Spaniards. They ordered the gate to be half opened to admit the Viceroy. Thus, it was accomplished. Caracciolo gave the Duke a push, and he was saved. But the noblemen to whom he was indebted for his safety remained without, exposed to the fury of the mob, now become so much the more savage as they saw that their victim had escaped. Carlo Caracciolo saved himself with difficulty. A stone wounded the Marquis of Brienza in the neck. The people tried to break open the gates of the convent, which the monks had barricaded in haste. “Long life to the King of Spain! Down with the bad government!” This was the cry, echoed from a thousand voices. The Duke of Arcos showed himself at the window — he repeated that he would grant what was desired — he threw down a declaration signed by himself. Nothing was of any avail. The rebels tried to get into the convent through the church; they threatened to drag the Viceroy to the market. The alarm spread through the town.
The night came — what a night! A hundred thousand men marched with loud cries through the town. The churches were open, and resounded with prayers for the restoration of peace. The Theatines and Jesuits left their convents and arranged themselves in processions, singing litanies to the Madonna and the saints, but the Ora pro nobis was overpowered by the fury of the crowd. Although the first forced their way down the Toledo to the palace, and the others penetrated to the great market-place, they were obliged nevertheless to withdraw without having accomplished their object. All the highwaymen and murderers, of which Naples was full, left their hiding-places.
The first thing done was to break open the prisons and set the prisoners at liberty — all, excepting those confined in the prisons of the vicarial court, for the castle of Capuano inspired the rebels with respect, whether because of a very large imperial eagle of Charles V fixed over the portal, or because the garrison of the old fortress, together with the sbirri, stood with lighted matches behind the crossbars, and threatened the assailants with a bloody welcome.
The prisoners in the vicarial court now sought to set themselves free, and began by destroying the crossbars with heavy beams; but some shots, which laid two of them dead on the ground, warned them to desist from their attempt. All the other prisons were cleared, and the archives and everything that could be found in them was burned; the toll-booths throughout the town were demolished. The mob went from one gate to another. Everywhere the toll-gatherers had escaped — nobody thought of making any resistance, and as there were no more prisons to be broken open, no more custom-houses to be destroyed, the populace began to attack the houses of those who they knew had, by farming tolls or in any other way, become rich at the expense of the people. There was no mention of defense — the proprietors were glad to save their bare lives. Many rewarded with gold the services of the rowers who conveyed them to a villa at Posilipo or to any other place beyond the town.
But the houses were emptied; first that of the cashier of taxes, Alphonso Vagliano. Beautiful household furniture, plate, pictures, everything that could be found was dragged into the streets, thrown together in a heap and burned; and when one of the people wanted to conceal a jewel, he was violently upbraided by the rest.
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