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Naples, Revolt of (1647)


NAPLES, REVOLT OF (1647). On 7 July 1647 a protest in Naples against a tax on fresh fruit by both the popolo (non-noble professionals and artisans) and plebs of the city spread to the rural provinces. The protest initiated a nine-month revolt against the heavy fiscal burdens that had been imposed on the city and kingdom as a result of the Thirty Years' War (16181648), the feudal and oligarchic government of the local elites, and the monarchical rule of Spain. In the first days of the revolt, the houses of financiers, tax collectors, and nobles were burned. Armed neighborhood militias took control of the city under the charismatic leadership of a fishmonger named Masaniello (Tomaso Aniello d'Amalfi) and his intellectual ally, an eighty-yearold lawyer named Giulio Genoino, who had in 16191620 been unsuccessful in an attempt to lead a constitutional reform in Naples.

After Masaniello, on the order of the viceroy and with the complicity of Genoino, was murdered on 16 July, divisions emerged among rebels in the capital and between them and rebels in the provinces. Bombardment by a Spanish fleet in October failed to break the urban resistance, and Naples was declared a free republic under the French duke of Guise, Henry of Lorraine. The uprising foundered, however, when no consensus could be reached among rival political factions on whether to create a bourgeois democratic, oligarchic, federated, constitutional, or military republic, on Dutch, Swiss, Venetian, or new models. A negotiated settlement allowed the Spanish to retake Naples on 6 April 1648, with limited concessions granting some tax reductions and a nominally greater role for the popolo in fiscal and administrative affairs. The failed revolt strengthened the compact between the Spanish monarchy and the local nobility, increased the power of bureaucratic elites and privileged orders in the city, and further subjugated the countryside to the feudal nobility and the capital.

See also Naples, Kingdom of .


Primary Sources

Fuidoro, Innocenzo. Successi historici raccolti dalla sollevatione di Napoli dell'anno 1647. Edited by Anna Maria Giraldi and Marina Raffaeli. Milan, 1994.

Giraffi, Alessandro. "The Neapolitan Revolution." In Italy in the Baroque: Selected Readings, edited and translated by Brendan Dooley, pp. 239275. New York, 1995. Translation of Ragguaglio del tumulto di Napoli (1647), prologue and days 1, 2, 5, 9, 10.

Secondary Sources

Musi, Aurelio. La rivolta di Masaniello nella scena política barocca. Naples, 1989.

Villari, Rosario. The Revolt of Naples. Translated by James Newell with John A. Marino. Cambridge, U.K., 1993. Translation of La rivolta antispagnola a Napoli. Le origini (15851647) (1967) and Elogio della dissimulazione: La lotta politica nel Seicento (1987), chaps. 23.

John A. Marino

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