Le Castella

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The years pass and Le Castella finds itself again at the centre of bitter contentions. This time, we are in 1459, in the time of Antonio Centelles who has married Enrichetta Ruffo, receiving goods as a dowry. Centelles, ambitious and violent, cherishes dreams of glory which are not appreciated by King Ferdinand of Aragon who comes down to fight against the rebels. Calabria is in flames, Crotone and Castella, however, remain faithful to the Ruffo family -Centelles perhaps for reasons of honour. So the King besieges Le Castella which is then seriously bombarded and which, in the end, is obliged to surrender.
Sent to govern Le Castella, in the place of Pietro de Capdevila, accused of felony, is sent a certain Maso Barrese, a loathsome man who has the task of forcing Calabria into obedience. In the meantime, the time of Centelles comes miserably to an end, stripped of its estates which pass to the Crown, Le Castella is sold to the Lieutenant Giovanni Pou who, accused of betrayal, is stripped of his properties and Le Castella, this time, passes to Giovanni Nauclero who, in 1487, receives the order to punish all "traitors", that is, all those who, during those years had plotted against the Aragonese. Nauclero proceeds with patience and loyalty, but this is not enough to allow him to maintain his property.
The lands of Le Castella, Cutro and Roccabernarda are sold in 1496 for the sum of nine thousand ducats to the Neapolitan nobleman Andrea Carafa. From this moment, Le Castella orbits in the countship of Santa Severina. Hard times are on their way for the village which, between the middle of the 1500's and the following century, sees its population diminish, almost all of its commerce disappear, and its beautiful countryside become arid. First amongst the causes of this long trend of misfortune is the Ottoman power which is spreading like a sea of flames into the Mediterranean without encountering significant obstacles. The attacks on Le Castella begin, it would seem, in the year 1553, the year in which the Rais Caffat assails it, sets the countryside on fire and captures many villagers. Three years later, Turkish sails appear on the horizon, approach the coast and, upon reaching the suitable distance from it, begin a violent bombardment.
The villagers answer fire for a whole day, but in the end are obliged to surrender. Ariadeno Barbarossa, the terror of the seas, orders the plundering. Many die and others, amongst whom an emaciated young man, Giovan Dionigi Galeni, destined to become the famous Kiligi Alý alias Uccjalý, are taken as slaves and divided between the Sultan, the pirates and the galley rowers. Le Castella has not even had the time to heal its wounds when, in 1544 and 1548, the pirate Dragut loots its again. The inhabitants do not lose heart: they know that the enemy will return again and so they strengthen the Castle; they dig out caves into which they can enter through well camouflaged trap doors, they build a watch tower and prepare effective defences also against an eventual attack from the land. It is clear that all this impoverishes the village which often requests a temporary reduction in the taxes which it is obliged to pay over to the various noblemen and to the bishop.
In the meantime, the events concerning its feudal lords are also drammatic. Upon the death of Andrea Carafa (1526), the Countship of Santa Severina, which also includes Terra di Castella and other estates, passes to Galeotto Carafa, Andrea's nephew who, not only has to confront the raids of Barbarossa and of Dragut, but also an extremely unfavourable economic trend which will lead to the dismantling of the countship of Santa Severina and to the sale of Le Castella to Ferrante Carafa, count of Soriano and duke of Nocera dei Pagani. In 1558, Ferrante is succeeded by his son, Alfonso, who, in the same year, is witness to yet another Turkish incursion.
This time it is MustafÓ PasciÓ who targets Cutro and, after having caused considerable damage also to Le Castella, puts it to fire and sword. During this raid, the young girl Caterina Ganguzza is captured and, it is told, preferred death to having to become the concubine of the Sultan. Alfonso also undergoes long disputes with the Bishop of the diocese who clamed rights to some of Castella's lands. It is he who then advanced the idea, which was rejected by all the vassals, to go as far as to demolishing Castella to prevent the installation there of the Turks. Under Alfonso and his successor Francesco Maria, the estate disintegrates with its sale to Giovanna Ruffo, marchesa of Licodia and then also princess of Scilla, Castella, Cutro, Roccabemarda and attached estates.
Upon the death of Giovanna (1650), Le Castella passes to the son, Francesco Maria, under whose dominion Le Castella experiences, on the part of Pope Innocent X, the suppression of the monastery of the Friars Minor Reformed as part of a general project which included all the Monasteries which had less than a certain number of friars. The situation precipitates, Ruffo's creditors, being unable to honour their huge debts, ask for their possessions to be sold off by auction. The lands of Cutro, Le Castella, Roccabernarda and others besides are purchased for 150.000 ducats by Pietro Carafa for the account of Francesco Filomarino (1664). The Filomarino are the last owners of this estate. The revolutionary law of feudality, introduced by the French Napoleonic conquerors, favoured the passage of what had been a great estate, to the Barracco and Berlingieri family. The fateful year 1799 sees Le Castella once again as the epicentre of the dispute between the French and the Bourbons and the landing place for the troops coming from Sicily: The roaring years of Castella are, however, over. From that moment, the village, first attached to Crotone and then becoming a country ward of Isola Capo di Rizzuto, follows the administrative and political happenings first of the revived Kingdom of Naples, and then of the Italian State.