Aspects of Economic Life in Francolise during the Middle Ages

By Bova, Giancarlo | Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, August 2010 | Go to article overview

Aspects of Economic Life in Francolise during the Middle Ages


Bova, Giancarlo, Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management


1. INTRODUCTION

Francolise is a wonderful suburb, situated in the territory of Calvi Risorta, in the Province of Caserta, located at about 40 km northwest of Naples. The little farm and thermal town rises not far from the canal Agnena, on the left bank of the stream Savona, and on the right bank of the river Volturno. It is well known above all for the its embattled castle dating back to about the thirteenth century and for the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) where a fourteenth-century wooden sculpture, representing the Madonna and Her Child on the throne (Madonna del Castello, Madonna of the Castle) and a fifteenth-century painting of the Madonna del Cardellino (Madonna of the Goldfinch) are kept. At the foot of the hill where the little town rises, at Bagno Locality, flows a thermal spring water, called Calena, cited by Pliny, with a temperature of 22[degrees] C that is rich in bicarbonate and carbon dioxide, and beneficial, among other things, for eczema treatment. The feast day in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Castle, is celebrated on 8 September. Francolise is linked to the hamlets of Sant'Andrea del Pizzone, Montanaro, and Ciamprisco. Nearby there is also the archeological area of Scarasciano (Bova, 2010).

2. ANTIQUITY

Francolise has been populated since antiquity, as the discovery of tombs and tangible traces of settlements may testify. Among the testimony to the past, there are the ruins of two Roman Villas, located on the hill of Saint Rocco and at Posto Locality. The excavations were carried out under the direction of Dr M. Aylwin Cotton between 1962 and 1964, on behalf of the British School of Rome, and funded by the Batchelor Foundation and the University of New York. They are typical countryside Villas of the late Republican period inhabited from the last decades of the second century B.C. to the second century A.D. The Villas included a group of rooms divided into a pars urbana and a pars rustica, while water was insured by storage tanks (Mercato, 1990).

3. THE MIDDLE AGES

In the Middle Ages the history of the little town may be confused with that more general of the County, later Principality of Capua (Cilento, 1971). The modern built-up area of Francolise probably expanded only in the late Longobard era. Let us remember that the place-name means "belonging", from the Christian name Franculus, subject to the near Monastery of Saint Vincent at the Volturno in 787 (Federici, 1925). In the same year Charlemagne, king of the Franks, also passed near the ancient town while leading his mighty army to Capua.

The first information about the place dates back to a document of 987, whose authenticity is disputed, that speaks about: de loco Franculisi. Reliable historical information about the area dates back only to 1027, when Giovanni, the Earl of Teano, gave the Church, with the name of Saint Mary and Saint Angel, constructa in loco Franculis, to the Monastery of Saint Salvatore, situated on the mount Cucuruzzu. After that date it is easy to follow broadly the historical evolution of the suburb (Bova, 2010).

4. FARM

Flat land with immense meadows, Francolise presents a Medieval landscape characterized generally by the presence of walnut trees, hornbeams, vineyards, high quality lands, shrubs, meadows, cultivated lands.

The first productive structures called domus seu maxariae, which we know in the territory of Francolise, date back to the second half of the fifteenth century. They are firms mainly specialized in cereal growing and destined to enter the basic structure system of Mediterranean mercantile farming.

The farm rises most on the area once occupied by the Roman villa rustica, but even on the ruins of ancient farm-houses, settlements, and abandoned churches. The farm broadly took care of cereal growing, above all grain and sheep breeding, while the villa favoured vine and olive oil growing. …

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