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Naples

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an Italian province, deserves treatment here as it was formerly an independent kingdom which, together with Sicily, constituted the territory known as the Two Sicilies, and, occupying the south end of the Italian peninsula, consisted of the continental territory of Naples and the insular dependency of Sicily. Extending over an area of 429 square miles, it contained, in 1881, a population of 1,021,858 souls. The article ITALY has already pointed out the part which this province has played in the history of the booted land, yet it may not be inappropriate to add here a few supplementary notes, to afford our readers a better resume of the historical data of Naples.

In ancient times this territory was divided into numerous petty states independent of each other, and its inhabitants were of various races. Many of the ancient Italian states arose from Greek colonies which had been founded previous to the 7th century B.C. The ancient historical importance of Naples is attested by the splendor of its cities and the warlike renown of its population. On its conquest by the Romans, the great Neapolitan cities severally adopted the municipal, federative, or colonist form of government, and gradually assimilated their laws and customs to those of their conquerors. After the downfall of the Western Empire Naples was seized by Odoacer, but soon afterwards (A.D. 490) it was subjected by the Goths, and in the following century by the Lombards, who established in it various independent duchies, as Benevento, Spoleto, Salerno, Capua, etc. Most of these were overthrown by invading bands of Arabs, Saracens, and Byzantines. While the last were yet in power, Sergius (A.D. 875), then duke of Naples, is accounted to have been in secret and friendly intercourse with the Saracens, and after direct interference on the part of the pope, a churchman secured for a time control of the country. He, however, fell into the same unhallowed policy as Sergius, and gave the papacy much trouble. Finally, the whole country was subdued by the Normans in the 11th century.

They subsequently erected Naples and Sicily into a kingdom, and established a new political, ecclesiastical, and military system. To the Norman dynasty succeeded that of the Hohenstaufen, whose rule was marked by an immense intellectual and social advancement of the people; but the vindictive enmity with which the papal see regarded this dynasty, provoked by the independent policy pursued here by Frederick II (see Lea, Studies in Ch. Hist. pages 399, 192), led to the invasion of Naples by Charles of Anjou, who, notwithstanding the heroic resistance of king Manfred, at the battle of Benevento (1266) annihilated the power of the Hohenstaufen. The ascendency of Charles of Anjou was further effectually secured by the treacherous defeat and decapitation (1268) of Konradin, the last male heir to the throne. By the Sicilian Vespers (q.v.) the island of Sicily was; however, wrested in 1282 from his grasp, and became an appanage of the Spanish crown. The predominance of the Neapolitan Guelph, or papal party, during the glorious reign of Robert I; the depraved licentiousness of his heiress and granddaughter, Joanna; the fearful ravages committed by predatory bands of German mercenaries and by the plague; the futile attempts of the Anjou sovereigns to recover Sicily; and the envenomed feuds of rival claimants to the throne, are the leading features of the history of Naples during the rule of this dynasty, which expired with the profligate Joanna II in 1435, and was followed by that of Aragon, which had ruled Sicily from the time of the Sicilian Vespers. During the tenure of the Aragon race, various unsuccessful attempts were made by the house of Anjou to recover their lost sovereignty; and the country, especially near the coast, was repeatedly ravaged by the Turks (1480). In fact, after the death of Alfonso, the first ruler of the Aragon dynasty, the country groaned under a load of misery. Wars, defensive and offensive, were incessant; the country was impoverished; and a conspiracy of the nobles to remedy the condition of affairs was productive of the,most lamentable results, both to the conspirators themselves and to the other influential Neapolitan families. In 1495 Charles VIII of France invaded Naples, and though he was compelled to withdraw in the same year, his successor, Louis XII, with the treacherous assistance of Ferdinand (the Catholic) of Spain, succeeded in conquering the country in 1501.

Two years afterwards the Spaniards under Gonzalvo di Cordova drove out the French, and the country from this time became a province of Spain. Sicily had previously (1479) been annexed to the same kingdom. During the two centuries of Spanish rule in Naples, the parliaments which had existed from the time of the Normans fell into desuetude, the exercise of supreme authority devolved on viceroys; and to their ignorance, rapacity, and oppressive administration may safely be ascribed the unexampled misery and abasement of this period. But not only in secular affairs did the Spanish rule prove baneful to this Italian territory. Protestantism had early gained a footing here, and the Spaniards therefore worked zealously to introduce the Inquisition. The repugnance of the people caused it to be delayed for some time; but in the early part of 1564 the institution was finally and firmly established there, and its victims soon increased (see Giannone, Histoire Civile de Naples, book 32, chapter 5, 11).

The severe persecutions which now threatened all who were not loyal to Rome caused many to quit their native country, and thus the misery of this unfortunate land was only intensified (see Baird, Protestantism in Italy, pages 87, 88; Ranke, Hist. of the Papacy, 1:161 sq.). In 1647 the Neapolitans rebelled and renounced their Spanish allegiance, but the Spaniards succeeded in quelling the rebellion. At the opening of last century Naples fell to Austria, and Sicily was secured by Savoy. In 1720, however, both Sicilies were reunited under the Austrian rule, and in 1735 were given to Don Carlos, third son of Philip V of Spain, who ascended the throne as Charles I, and founded the Bourbon dynasty. His reign was marked by equity and moderation; great reforms were effected in the administration of public affairs, science and literature were encouraged, and splendid works of public utility were erected throughout the kingdom. It was during his reign that Pompeii and Herculaneum were discovered. His successor, Ferdinand IV, followed in the course of legislative reform; but on the proclamation of the French Republic (1789) his states were invaded by a French army, and the kingdom of Naples was erected into the Parthenopean Republic (1799). Ferdinand retired with his court to Sicily, and for a brief period enjoyed the restoration of his sovereign rights in Naples; but a second invasion by Napoleon (1806) ended in the proclamation of his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as king of Naples; and on this latter assuming the Spanish crown, in 1808, that of Naples was awarded to Joachim Murat, brother-in- law of Napoleon. After the defeat and execution of Murat in 1815, the Bourbon monarch, Ferdinand IV, was restored. The liberal insurrectionary movements in Naples in 1821 and 1830 were the forerunners of the Revolution of 1848; and in each case the party of progress was combated by the respective kings with ruthless severity and perfidious concessions, to be cancelled and avenged with sanguinary fury when the disarmed and credulous patriots were at the mercy of the sovereigns. In 1859 the efforts of Garibaldi brought about the Italian war, which finally resulted in freeing all Italian territory from foreign rule, and thus Naples was incorporated as part of the newly-established Italian kingdom. See ITALY. The city of Naples is noted as the place in which the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius (q.v.) takes place.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Naples'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/n/naples.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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