Il “ciclo vitale” di un’élite cittadina: il patriziato di Messina in età moderna

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


[automatically translated] A strong social mobility - with his scrambling and renewal processes - characterizes the history of modern Sicily, with some particular acceleration: in the decades between the end of '500 and early' 600, during which as "perhaps never in the history of ' island nobility [feudal] he bought so easily "(Cancila); and those at the turn of the 1700s, "dawn" of those "ocelots" (Gallo), which would dominate the political scene in the difficult years of short and precarious foreign domination. This is demonstrated by, among others, two phenomena that involve from top to bottom throughout the island's social pyramid: the liveliness of the securities market and honors (don, noble, royal knight, feudal titles) and the high number of cadets Sicilian Order of Malta (the knights of Justice - for noble 4/4 - to obedience chaplains, which were required much more modest titles of nobility). The consequence of this "social instability" - is obviously not questioning the order encoded from the Ancien régime, but the fate of individuals and their families - is the precarious social and economic prestige positions, which must constantly cope with the pressure of parvenues and "new barons" (Cancila), financial and asset seizures (with a constant borrowing), the biological fragility. In this context, the construction, consolidation and maintenance of the social and economic prestige of a family continuously mobilizes all the "honor resources" at its disposal, in a necessary strategy for survival and not necessarily, therefore, planned in advance . This is even more true for the families of the nobility of Messina - the city (frustrated) of shared aspirations capital in Palermo (also for its alternative municipal "Republican Regiment model") - which, unlike the feudal aristocracy from Palermo, it can count on the support of Viceroy relatively short. These "honor" resources can be summarized as follows: • close ties of loyalty to the Spanish Crown, especially in the initial phase of ascent of the family - through access to administrative positions (central and local) and military - and in times of crisis policy (as in the period of the riots of 1647-48 and during the revolt of Messina in 1674-78); • ex-post reconstruction of "genealogies incredible", aimed not so much to prove the unprovable, but rather to demonstrate that they have knowledge of his past, condition and requirement set of aristocratic identity; • access to the securities market, mainly feudal, and input in the parliamentary ranks; • marriage alliances aimed at building and increasing the assets (bonds with wealthy families, for example of Genoese origin), maintenance of the same (use inbreeding), the creation of an "aristocratic Jerusalemite network" between families united by a massive presence of cadets in the Order of Malta's files; • access to important posts of Malta's government. But all this is not enough: often a biological crisis (lack of male heirs) puts very quickly in crisis a system of power, prestige and wealth, laboriously constructed, for the benefit of other emerging or more fortunate families from the demographic point of view. The article aims, through the story of one of the most important families of the nobility of Messina, Di Giovanni, to rebuild this "life cycle" - a parable of rise and decline - an elite town of the modern age, significant model a ceaseless social mobility and sometimes merciless.
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationLas élites en la época moderna: la monarquía española, vol. II, Familia y Redes Sociales
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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