The meaning of the coat of arms of the Campania Region: a gift from the Amalfi culture

by Federico Quagliuolo

The coat of arms of the Campania Region has become ubiquitous in 2020: from the live coverage of Vincenzo De Luca (namesake of the Neapolitan who created an electric car in 1908) to the many news cases related to Covid.
Let's ask ourselves then the story of a coat of arms who, in a region often dominated by the cultural and political influence of Naples, it is in no way linked to the capital. It was introduced in 1970 for the newborn Campania Region and represents part of the history of one Maritime Republic that he left an immense cultural heritage.

The coat of arms is in fact the son of Amalfi and it is amedieval heritage, when the coastal town was one of the Maritime Republics that dominated the Mediterranean. And Naples was nothing more than a distant friend protected by the Byzantines. Or an ally, when the Saracens had to be fought.

The Amalfi coat of arms tells many historical episodes, from the Angevin blue to the discovery of the compass, arriving at the Knights of the Order of Malta. Let's go in order.

The meaning of the coat of arms of the Campania Region: a gift from the Amalfi culture

The meaning of the emblem of the Campania Region: the red band

The emblem of the Campania Region resumes exactly the original shield of the city of Amalfi, when it became independent in the 9th century.

The city, despite the independence gained only in the Middle Ages, was from Roman origin and tells it there red band of the coat of arms: indicates the "Roman nobility“, With a reference to the purple that characterized the patricians.
According to tradition, Amalfi was in fact founded in the 5th century AD from Roman families fleeing from the barbarians who had invaded and set fire to Salerno, Stabiae and Naples.
The settlers decided to choose a hard-to-reach place for no longer have anything to do with other cities in Campania. But the peace did not last long.
The city was soon conquered by the Goths and passed from domain to domain untilindependence conquered in 839 AD against the Duchy of Benevento and lasted about 300 years: it was only truncated by the arrival of the Normans, which they unified the whole of Southern Italy with Ruggero.

Today things have changed a bit: the red band, in the case of Campania, it is located on a white shield and a light blue background. In the case of the city of Amalfi the shield has turned blue and the white background has disappeared. Paradoxically the emblem of the Campania Region is the original Amalfi one!

So let's find out why Amalfi has turned blue.

Amalfi city coat of arms
The coat of arms of the city of Amalfi, where it all begins

What does the blue background mean?

Certainly it is not a question of sporting sympathies towards Napoli!
The white background of the Amalfi shield was changed to blue with the arrival of the Angevins for a simple matter of political opportunity. The Amalfi people did not look kindly on the domination of the Swabians of Frederick II and, when the Pope managed to demolish the ancient Kingdom of Sicily, there was a great celebration in Amalfi.

To demonstrate loyalty to the new rulers of the Kingdom of Naples, the University (the modern Municipality) decided to change.

In particular the Amalfi people hated Manfredi who, in 1250, had mistreated the Bishop of his own city.

Explains prof. Giuseppe Gargano that that of Amalfi is a case of "Wrong emblem", since the medieval heraldry rules prevent overlapping of two colors. But we know that, for the sake of politics, the rules can always be interpreted.

The meaning of the coat of arms of the Campania Region: a gift from the Amalfi culture

Amalfi also in the Province of Salerno

The Amalfi coat of arms did not simply lend a piece of its millenary history to the Campania Region. He also "conquered" the banner of the Province of Salerno, with the second symbol of his whole Scudetto: the compass on a black and white background it indicates a very specific historical episode.
The black and white background, in this case, they represent the day and night. The compass instead refers to Flavio Gioia, mythological character of which he is uncertain existence. But that hasn't stopped the Amalfi people since worship him as a national hero, so much so that there is a beautiful one statue in the city port.
Some say he invented the compass but it is certainly incorrect, since it has already been known for centuries in the Mediterranean Sea. More likely he was an Amalfi navigator than perfected the instrument guaranteeing superior reliability, giving the inhabitants of the Coast a immense strategic advantage on commercial opponents.
The adventures of Amalfi, however, were tragically destroyed in 1343, in the tsunami also told by Petrarch: the entire fleet of the town was destroyed by the storm and, sadly, the dominance of the Amalfi sea ended with a natural tragedy, also crushed by the increasingly cumbersome presence of Naples as the capital.

The Province of Salerno has recently changed its symbol, passing from the compass to the cross. And this too is a symbol of Amalfi.

The meaning of the coat of arms of the Campania Region: a gift from the Amalfi culture
Knights of the hospital order of St. John of Jerusalem, founded by an Amalfi citizen

An international cultural heritage: Amalfi in the Navy and in the Order of the Knights of Malta

The Amalfi heritage does not stop at the Campania borders: the third piece of the city's historical heraldry ended up on the flag of Italian navy, where it most deserves to be, and has also become the new symbol of the Province of Salerno.

The Navy saw hers flag redesigned in 1939, on the eve of World War II. The idea was to create a homage to the ancient Italian naval tradition: at the center of the Italian flag there are in fact the Lion of San Marco, son of Venice, the Pisan Cross on a red background, the Cross of San Giorgio in Genoa and, lastly, the Amalfi cross.

It refers to the Amalfi people they founded the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, which today still exists and has become the Order of the Knights of Malta. It is the first monastic-chivalric order in the world.

Navy coat of arms
Coat of arms of the Italian Navy

In the coat of arms of the Navy and in that of the Province the cross was “Infected” by the Angevin blue color, since it was originally black.

And so Amalfi hides in references that we find every day in the flow of our lives, between a direct Facebook, a ship in the port or in a Salerno news.

Its coat of arms was "scrambled”In all sauces with changes in color, shape and images. In each version, however, it is there to remind us the historical importance of one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.

-Federico Quagliuolo

References:
Mario Forgione, Naples Ducale, Newton Compton, 1997
https://www.amalfi.gov.it/stemma-civico/
http://www.rbvex.it/italiantica.html

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