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Revolutions and counterrevolutions in Piazza Mercato

Naples has always had its share of revolutionary martyrs and Piazza Mercato has often formed the backdrop for violent executions.
In this section we talk about some famous examples of these martyrs including Luigia Sanfelice, Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca, Masaniello as well as Fra' Diavolo, a controversial figure in history, known first as a brigand then promoted to Marshall by the Bourbon King, Ferdinando, before being finally hanged.

Piazza Mercato

The square was originally called the Moors' Marketplace, because there were so many merchants from the East there. It was bordered to the West by the Greco-roman wall, to the North by the hill where the Angevins built the Church of Santa Maria La Nova and to the East by the Lavinaio. It was here, on 29 October 1268, that Charles of Anjou had Corradino, the last monarch of the Svevian dynasty, beheaded, even though he was only 16 years old. From then onwards, the Moors' Marketplace became the official site of State executions...

a portrait of Masaniello
A portrait of Masaniello

Luisa Sanfelice

Luisa Sanfelice is a character who is shrouded in mystery, and references to her in literature have only served to fire people's imagination even more. We should remember, of course, that there is very little real information about her because of the so-called "ripungo", the systematic destruction on the part of the Bourbons of any documents relating to the victims of the 1799 Parthenopean Revolution...

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Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca

Eleonora was born in Rome on 13 January, 1752 of Portuguese parents. The Fonseca Pimentels were an aristocratic family, and Eleonora's father was a marquess. After the Jesuits were banished from Portugal, they feared reprisals even in Rome and so the Fonseca family decided to head for the relative safety of Naples. They lived in a house in Santa Teresella agli Spagnoli...

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Tommaso Aniello di Cecco d'Amalfi was born in Naples, in Vico Rotto al Mercato, on 29 June 1620. He was a fishmonger like his father and was short, dark-skinned, with brown hair, pony-tail and moustache. He often wore baggy shirts, canvas breeches and a red cap and never wore shoes...

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Fra' Diavolo: brigand or hero?

Who was Fra' Diavolo? A fierce "brigand", as eminent historians of the time, as well as the French, referred to him, or a brave hero? It is not the question mark hanging over him that has made the man a legend but his life-story, which is set in 1799 and the French decade and which saw him as head of the Bourbonophile and anti-french guerrilla war...

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