The massacre of the Chosen Storace: when the people rebelled against its representatives

by Emilio Bonaiti

The history of the Kingdom of Naples was punctuated by outbursts of violence of which a tragic example was the lynching of Giovan Vincenzo Storace Elected of the People.
Was a collective massacre so raw, fierce and violent that gave rise to the verb "Starraccia, which indicated a monstrous punishment.

Let's start with a background:
In 1585 Philip II wrote to viceroy of Naples don Pedro Tellez Giron, Grande of Spain and Duke of Ossuna, requesting sending the greatest amount of wheat, "provided that the Kingdom did not suffer inconvenience”, To face a severe famine that gripped Spain.

The obsequious Viceroy hastened to summon the Elect of the City of Naples and settled in send as many as 400,000 tomoli of grain, an operation from which the Viceroy and the great feudal lords owners of large estates cultivated with wheat they made huge profits.

popolo in rivolta Masaniello
The people in revolt

There is no bread in Naples

The next food crisis which fell upon the city provoked a serious excitement among the plebs who saw themselves as hungry.

On the seventh day of May of the year 1585 the Elected gathered in San Lorenzo at the Tribunals to address the situation and, knowing that there was grain for only a few days, they decided to decrease the weight of the "pallotte" of bread 48 to 38 ounces, subject to the price.

At meeting noThe Chosen of the People Giovan Vincenzo Storace did not participate who had already held the office in 1578 for two years and was re-appointed by the Viceroy on November 26, 1583. Was suffering from gout and, as the historian minutely points out Gio. Antonio Summonte, "the same morning had taken the purge". It was replaced by two Consultors of the Seat, one doctor of law and the other "physical" doctor, who they opposed the provision remaining in the minority.
At the news "the clamor of the people"Increased and the chosen one, summoned the 29 captains of the Ottine and the ten Consultors at the headquarters of Seat of the People in the convent of Sant'Agostino alla Zecca, At the meeting he declared that he would object "to the lack of weight of bread"And that he would have brought the problem before the Viceroy.

He confided that Don Pedro Tellez Giron loved the people so much that he loved the Saturday before the feast of the Blood of Saint Gennaro to the Saddlery, "it makes everyone feel thirsty, with the bars on their heads, which it did not do to the Nobility, when in similar places His Excellency was invited there". He stared at one new assembly in the cloister of Santa Maria La Nova closest to the Viceroy palace located at the end of via Toledo and recommended to the 29 Captains to present themselves with only two members for the choice of delegates.
On the 9th of May the tension was at its peak, in the shops the bread, the plebs were angry.
"The people of Naples endure everything, except the lack of bread, which for this reason does not value life"Had written the ambassador of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but Giovan Vincenzo Storace was either too stupid to realize the danger or he was too brave to fear it or, most likely, he was stupid and brave.

"Man of great wealth, rich, good talker, white and full of flesh”, Son of a rich merchant from Piano di Sorrento who had made a fortune with the silk industry, a friend of the Viceroy, enjoyed esteem and was object of envy.

Napoli vicereame
Naples at the time of the Viceroyalty of Spain

The massacre of Giovan Vincenzo Storace

When it came to cloister, carried on a sedan chair by two servants because he is still afflicted with gout, an immense crowd from all over the city was waiting for him. The Chosen One tried to calm her down, to soothe her but the tumult increased, accused of being the cause of the famine was insulted and threatened with death, he was not allowed to speak, bareheaded on his "small seat"Was taken to the Sedile del Popolo in Sant'Agostino, along the way they came to him throw "junk in the face".

TO Half cannon opposite the church of San Giovanni Maggiore the crowd armed themselves looting the shop of a "lancer", uselessly Storace prayed "Brothers don't kill me for God's sake ... " but he sang to the deaf.
There tragedy came to an end, the friars of the convent of St. Augustine laboriously they snatched him from his executioners and did so take refuge in a chapel, for half an hour they kept them at bay, then the poor fellow hit in the head from a "mautone”Hurled by Abbot Salvatore Casaburi, he came from blows and punches thrown into a grave, while in vain the friars asked to be able at least to confess him.
At the news of the riot the Viceroy sent two dignitaries to the place: the councilor Barracano and the judge Giovanni Vallo against whom the demonstrators revolted.

The two and their entourage seen "the bad canvas" they took refuge in the nearby Palazzo della Regia Zecca. The troublemakers drew more courage from it. Storace, classic example of "head of turkish" he was a dead man, dragged out of the grave came hit with a "saglioccola" e pierced with a rapier.

It began immediately after the slaughter.

"… It they dragged through all the main streets of the city, and step by step they gave them new wounds, and those, who did not carry weapons, vented their anger on that corpse with stones, so that it was all dusty, and full of filth, that as soon as they knew each other, and not satisfied with this, for each district it was dismembered, cutting off his nose ... they gouged out his heart with their guts, and cut off an arm, and a leg, and all these things then they put on the tips of swords, and in sticks, like trophies, and in their hands they held parts of his brains, and pieces of the guts, saying about wanting to eat them, who to roast and whom to tempt, and the testicles, and this be said with your due reverence".

The mob dragging the macabre stump he passed in front of the Viceroy's palace shouting "Long live King Philip and die bad government. "

Don Pedro Tellez Giron, Duke of Ossuna, Grand of Spain, Viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples he cries upset at the death of his friend, has five thousand soldiers but does not move a finger.

Don Pedro Tellez Giron, duca di Ossuna
A portrait of the Viceroy Don Pedro Tellez Giron, Duke of Ossuna

The sacking of Storace's house

There excited crowds stormed the rich house of the Elected to the Saddlery, the plundered, he tried to set it on fire, some bourgeois interposed trying to restore a semblance of calm. The Regent of the Vicariate rushed to whom one of the looters who had come to quarrel with another for the division of the booty naively addressed: "Lord, do us justice, that he does not want to give me my part"Having a cold response"that that was not the time, but that he did it to him in another place”, Words that will remember on the gallows.
A group of nobles rode through the city for calm the plebs. Among them were the best names of the city aristocracy, Cesare d'Avalos, Gianfrancesco di Sangro duke of Torremaggiore, Alfonso Carafa duke of Nocera, Giambattista Spinelli duke of Castrovillari, but it is the Jesuits who put an end to the looting.

From the nearby Collegio Massimo al Gesù Vecchio they went out in procession and "with good words" they removed the looters, but by now from the house "the robbe were stolen worth eight thousand scudi and more."
What remained of the body of the Chosen came abandoned near a chapel dedicated to San Giovanni Battista in the square of the Marina del Vino.

Merciful gentlemen arranged the limbs in a shopping basket buying men's pieces that stirred them.
The chronicler concludes:

"so much so that the unhappy Gio Vincenzo Storace was stoned, wounded, pierced, cut, dismembered, and dragged, and his meat in pieces sold, with so much hatred, and disdain, and with so much confidence, and freedom, as he whether he was very cruel Turkish or Jewish".

The Neapolitan poetic flair of an unknown fellow citizen he did not spare "The bitter and cruel death of Giovanni Vincenzo Starace Elected of the most faithful people of Naples with many other things that have happened since May 1585”As it titled Gio. Antonio Summonte the chapter dedicated to the event in his Historia of the City and the Kingdom of Naples, In riches and honors Starace grew up between the vulgar and the angry vulgar one day he extinguished it, who clasped irons, rods and stones to his detriment, he did not buried dead and had him alive.

popolo napoletano in rivolta cerquozzi
The Neapolitan people in revolt, Michelangelo Cerquozzi, Rome

The Viceroy did not oppose the massacre

For the first time in the history of the Viceroyalty the plebs dared to attack and massacre an exponent of power without opposition.

Yet many still remembered the reaction of the Regent of the Vicar who in 1533 arrested a certain Fucillo di Micone, a winemaker who had organized a popular motorcycle, to the requests of the plebs massed under the Palazzo della Vicaria who clamored for it liberation, he replied by doing so fall on people with a rope around their neck from a third floor window.
The news of the event spread rapidly, the shops did closed, the gates of the buildings were barricaded, there were alarming rumors about the exiles [bandits] who were about to break into the city of which the doors closed, very many abandoned it. On the streets they appeared signs that incited the revolt "O dazed people, you have begun and you have not fenced","On the day of the Body of Christ, every man is listo, on the day of Saint Joanne every man loosens the panella and takes up arms","People, let's put an end to what we started, and if the Viceroy gets angry, he goes away with his Spaniards".
The Viceroy's inertia it was truffle justified: "Savio et shrewd Principe resolved suddenly to do not, nor make any demonstration at that hour". The Capaccio, which however he wrote many years later, is of different ideas:

You ugly people and so poor
tal hor it seemed that they should go to war
like frogs or snails in a fairy tale
yet with an apparatus of tragedy
so much fear and so much terror they gave
which also made heroic hearts tremble
and the bombards imitated by the great thunder
and the polished steels and the splendid irons
he had no voice and turned pale.

The authorities ran for cover: iThe weight of the bread was increased again and from all the Kingdom he was hoarded grain, they took measures against shopkeepers they were selling wine gone bad, Yes closed the university to avoid unrest, the processions followed one another, the new Elected of the People in the person of Orazio Palomba who out of fear he hid for three days and he accepted the office only when the Viceroy threatened him with heavy penis.

Micco Spadaro
Killing of Giuseppe Carafa, Micco Spadaro

The causes of the popular uproar

There was a long discussion about causes of the uproar. The lynching was undoubtedly carried out by the plebs "many shouting rioters and scandalous city leaders"Greedy for"find bread in the homes of the rich and where he could find".

"The quality of the people"So it was described byVenetian ambassador "Most of the good people who here call comrades, short people, shop workers and a few of the rich people". Behind there were some bourgeois of the People's Seat that they envied a Storace wealth and political career "Because there is no doubt that to a popular man, who governs or manages the affairs of the public, nothing is of greater danger than showing himself dissimilar from others with the practice of the great "referring to" too great familiarity with the Duke of Ossuna".

The Chosen had behaved in his office with great severity towards shopkeepers that they cheated on the weight and on the goods condemning them hard.

Nobody intervened in his defense "and if only the rascals, and not the true Neapolitans, killed him, so many citizens of equal, or greater number, who were there, why didn't they defend him?".
Indeed, Giovan Vincenzo Storace was elected by the people slaughtered like a lamb sacrificial in one of the many riots "without head and without tail" how cross defined that of Masaniello, from a set of circumstances, from cowardice of the Viceroy, from the eternal useless fury of the plebs, from resentment of a part of the bourgeoisie.

From the massacre the verb "Starracciare" was born

The cruel death and destruction of the corpse will give rise to a verb "starry”Which for many years meant massacre, tear apart. "Mo te starraceoWas the threat that was being uttered in the course of one brawl, a not uncommon event in the violent society of the time.
In the memory of posterity, Storace had one strange fate. For many years it was debated whether his surname was Storace or Starace and in one way or another he was called by the chroniclers of the time and by subsequent historians until the discovery of a document signed by him clarified the little enigma.

Piazza Mercato in rivolta
Revolt in Piazza Mercato

The repression of the people

Upon arrival of forty galleys which in the month of July landed numerous departments of Spanish infantry snapped repression.
The Viceroy, recovering from his fright, appointed a special court, the State Council, composed of Annibale Mores, Antonio Cadena, Giovanni Antonio Lanario, Ferrante Fornaro and Girolamo Olcignano who with very broad powers he judged the rioters in one degree.

They were about five hundred people arrested in four nights, another three hundred fled the city. In three months, working at a very intense pace, they were heard 1,500 witnesses, the trials ended with very harsh penalties: 36 sentenced to death, 18 to life imprisonment, 40 to various penalties, 300 banished from the Kingdom, others subjected to public flogging.

The executions they began on July 24th and ended in November.

On August 1st, the arrest of Giovan Leonardo Pisano, decurione del Seggio del Popolo, medicine apothecary with shop in Piazza Selleria, brother of the famous doctor Giovan Antonio Pisano, professor of medicine at the University of Naples.

"A tumultuous man and leader of a popular faction" It was considered one of the perpetrators of the conspiracy against the Chosen but for some time he had saved himself by taking refuge in Venice where he died a few years later.

His home at the Chiavica of the Saddlery (located approximately in the place where it is located Nicola Amore square) was demolished, the chronicles tell, by masons hired off the coast of San Lorenzo where they usually stopped waiting for work.

On it they were throw two tomoli of salt while the Trombetta della Vicaria shouted "This is done by order of the SE due to rebellion".
THE parades that led to their deaths the massacres of Storace paraded through the via degli Armieri where the crowd had armed, in front of the Palazzo del Viceré and the convent of Sant'Agostino alla Zecca where for many the hand was cut, for the Vicariate and the Lavinaio to get to the Piazza del Mercato, the square of death.
Some condemned were screaming in desperation "Mo 'haviti bread and wine: do not speak and we are going to die".

The executions began on July 27 with eight inmates and continued until November 13. Among them was a 65 years old "who is said to have been the first who gave Storace a fool". Francesco Franco age 70, previously arrested by the Chosen because did not give "the right weight of macaroni", it was "clamped, hung and then quartered". The corpse of Madam Bianca's son "vermicellara a lo Pennino" which had ripped out the heart to poor Storace and had died of fevers in Montevergine where he had taken refuge, he was brought back to Naples and quartered.

There thirst for revenge of the Viceroy he did not calm down.

Monumento esecuzioni Storace
The macabre monument of executions

The monument

It was built on the place where Gio.Leonardo Pisano's house stood a stone monument 16 palms high in which they were placed in special niches closed by bars the heads and hands of 24 executed, others were placed on the ledge, in the center there was one marble tombstone to eternal memory of the crime.

Fr Pietro Giron Ossunae Duce
Inclito prorege Neapolis ita jubente
Johanni Leonardo Pisano ob seditionem
His work conflatam atque
Homicidij depredataeque domus
I Vincentii Staracis
Populi Decurionis auctori
Domus aversa disturbataque area sale conspersa
Bona publicata
Plerumque conreorum
Hoc saxo inflixa happens
Ipseque inter hostium
Patriae relatus Album

[Don Pedro Giron, illustrious Duke of Ossuna viceroy of Naples, ordered that Giovan Leonardo Pisano, for the rebellion promoted by him and how author of the murder and sacking of Vincenzo Storace's house, decurion of the people, were demolished and destroyed the house, and the area was sprinkled with salt, published the sentence, and the heads of most of the accomplices were embedded in this stone and himself placed in the register of enemies of the fatherland. Year of the Lord 1585].

He was born there legend that at night "It has been heard that, for the city, there is a chariot of fire, and a man on horseback with black torches, coming out of the Vicariate and passing through said place of the epitaph, and the heads cry out!".

Ten months will have to pass before the Viceroy, at the insistence of Cardinal Annibale De Capua, archbishop of Naples who wrote "where the procession with the Blessed Sacrament must pass on the day of the Body of Christ, we see such a pagan thing done in the manner of a reliquary in the most beautiful part of the street", Ordered the removal of the monument.

And so on the evening of June 20, 1586, in the incipient darkness, in the light of candles, one procession of praying friars, followed by many citizens, led to the burial of the limbs of the massacres of the Chosen of the People Giovanni Vincenzo Storace.
Already on 4 December 1585 the King had granted the pardon "to all those who intervened in the death of Giovanni Vincenzo Storace ... considering the quality of the people who commit the said crime, the simplicity, the number and the baseness them, and the case so sudden and unexpectedly happened".

From the pardon they were excluding 28 people including Gio. Leonardo Pisano, his son Francesco who fled with his father and Salvatore Casaburi of whom nothing was known.

Thus ended one Neapolitan tragedy. Not many years will pass and "in the endless sea of history”The name of Gio.Vincenzo Storace will disappear forever.

-Emiliano Bonaiti


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