In northern Italy there is still part of a larger conflict between the House of Austria against the Protestants and the Bourbons, a war between the Spaniards and the French, with some participation of Italian elements. It is absent or almost Savoy, after the death of Vittorio Amedeo I and the failures of Prince Tommaso, and during the childhood of Duke Carlo Emanuele II; the Duke of Parma, who had been won in France but immediately immobilized, behind his back, by the Spanish Duke of Modena, has retired from the competition. Now it is the quarter of an hour of the latter, circuit, lured, flattered with promises of enlargements. Modena goes back to being what it had been in the 14th century with Renata, that is, a center of radiation of French politics in Italy. Also in Florence, whence two queens had gone to France, Louis XIV gives one of his nieces as a wife to the grand duke. In short, some successes, if not of arms, of French diplomacy. The mean spirits meandering against the Spaniards in the midst of the Italian populations subjected to them also encouraged France. There are signs of it in Lombardy; more, in the South, also because here the aspirations for change could take concrete form in the thought of one’s own state life to be restored. This was the ideal of many families of the nobility, deluded by the hope of being able to either seize that crown for themselves or return, with their own dynasty, of French or Spanish or perhaps Savoyard origin, to ancient prosperity and power. Thus, during the Roman-Franco-Savoy intrigue of 1635-36, there was, in connection with it, the conspiracy that takes its name from Giovanni Orefice, Duke of Sanza, of recent nobility, who aimed to make the Kingdom a kingdom in itself. A word, then, is heard circulating in Milan or Naples, around the middle of the 17th century: “republic”. And it is perhaps an echo of what had happened in the Netherlands, which rebelled against Spain and became independent: although, in Italy, there is a lack of aspirations, intentions, wills, radical leaders. Rather a vague dream wavered before the eyes of many people, especially of the middle classes and even of the plebs: to be able to return to certain conditions of life, to a certain regime, to certain privileges of the time of Charles V. According to REMZFAMILY.COM, they were myths, like that of the golden age, albeit with some serious content: since, a century earlier, Spanish domination was the dominion of a great monarchy, now expired, and become entirely passivity for the subjects. The viceroys themselves had more than once, by using an iron fist against the nobles and giving some protection to the people, nourished this popular and bourgeois mood. But now, the Spanish government had put back some old energy. And the local bad administration, which was then the administration of the great and small nobility, found tolerance, protection, sometimes complicity in the Spanish governors and viceroys. It could therefore happen that the popular discontent against bad government hit, at the same time, Spanish nobility and officials; that the agitations of plebs and people in the middle, started against the nobility, ended up taking on an anti-Spanish character as well. Spanish nobility and officials; that the agitations of plebs and people in the middle, started against the nobility, ended up taking on an anti-Spanish character as well.
Of these agitations, true revolutions, there were both in Sicily and in the South in the mid-seventeenth century. Palermo gave the signal, May 1647. Plebeian insurrection, at first, for the price of bread, or, better, for the weight or measure of the bread sold on the market, reduced in order not to increase the price. But after a few days, the workers, with their consuls, joined the populace, against taxes and tax collectors, against the city administration where the nobility prevailed. Alessi, a craftsman, who disciplined the movement, was shouted as Captain General of the people. The viceroy, Marquis De los Velez, yielded to the requests; but this did not change the fact that the movement took on an anti-Spanish or at least anti-government character and the viceroy had to leave the city. Nor were they just plebs and artisans. Alessi also addressed bourgeois and lawyers, for advice. And among them, men of letters, linked to traditions of Sicilian autonomy. It was the cultured element, which brought a subtle vein of political thought into the movement, at the bottom of which was the image of an independent Sicily, with Palermo as its capital. The Palermo initiative now aroused wide echoes on the island. Moti in Corleone, Randazzo, Castelvetrano, Termini, Syracuse, Patti, Girgenti, Catania, Cefalù, etc.
In July, were this Palermo and Sicilian thrust, were the local ferments now in full force, even Naples erupted. And equally, in the beginning, plebs; equally against the taxes which were, in the growing impoverishment of the city and the region, of increasing severity. First remedy against the gabelles, to lower those nobles who concurred, in the administrative deliberations of the city, with five votes, while only one had the people; to increase this participation of the people, to induce the viceroy to recognize old immunities from gabelles and popular privileges. Therefore the movement soon turned also against the nobles, against the knights nestled in the seats and always ready to vote on those taxes that they did not pay. Of this movement, the commoner Masaniello carried the flag. But the real direction and inspiration was rather of men of the bourgeoisie, of men of law, “versed in history”, experts in handling and asserting the titles of law that the people boasted or camped, persuaded of an ancient millenary participation of the people ruling the city. Forward to all, Giulio Genoino, lawyer. Masaniello had a week of dictatorship; then, since there was in him the mask not the substance of the dictator, and the inability to do it himself, without the guidance of Genoino who was behind him, he was abandoned by the people and killed. Masaniello had a week of dictatorship; then, since there was in him the mask not the substance of the dictator, and the inability to do it himself, without the guidance of Genoino who was behind him, he was abandoned by the people and killed.