Sunday, January 8, 2017

Worn down by the feet of thousands of tramping medieval soldiers.

What the Sicilians would see if they stormed the castle.

These stone stairs lead to Sperlinga Castle, in Sicily. In the year 1282, during the period of the bloody Sicilian Vespers revolt, a French garrison barricaded itself inside, resisting the siege for an entire year.

The event takes its name from an insurrection which began at the start of Vespers, the sunset prayer marking the beginning of the night vigil on Easter Monday, March 30, 1282, at the Church of the Holy Spirit just outside Palermo.

 The Sicilians at the church were engaged in holiday festivities and a group of French officials came by to join in and began to drink. A sergeant named Drouet dragged a young married woman from the crowd, pestering her with his advances. Her husband then attacked Drouet with a knife, killing him. Understandably. When the other Frenchmen tried to avenge their comrade, the Sicilian crowd fell upon them, killing them all. At that moment all the church bells in Palermo began to ring for Vespers.

To the sound of the bells messengers ran through the city calling on the men of Palermo to rise against the oppressor. At once the streets were filled with angry armed men, crying "Death to the French" ("moranu li Franchiski" in Sicilian language). Every Frenchman they met was struck down. They poured into the inns frequented by the French and the houses where they dwelt, sparing neither man, woman nor child. Sicilian girls who had married Frenchmen perished with their husbands. The rioters broke into the Dominican and Franciscanconvents; and all the foreign friars were dragged out and told to pronounce the word "ciciri", whose sound the French tongue could never accurately reproduce. Anyone who failed the test was slain… By the next morning some two thousand French men and women lay dead; and the rebels were in complete control of the city.

When visiting Sicily, be sure to perfect your pronunciation of the word "ciciri."

The only town in Sicily not to join the rebellion was a small village called Sperlinga, which protected French soldiers in the castle.

What the French would see when the Sicilians came to storm the castle.

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