|The dominion of Aragoneses and the corsair raids.|
Eager for vengeance, Alfonso of Aragon came back to Naples in order to get hold of it. But he first stopped in Ischia sending away all those who took his rival side, Renato of Anjou and founded there a large colony of Spanish and Catalans to whom he gave the title of citizens. Ischia nobility would descend from them. Later on, he promoted the construction of new protective fortifications such as a bridge connecting the island Castle to the harbour, and patronised the institution of a Custom-office for the payment of a duty on salt, iron and fish. He organised an efficient public administration helped by some expert officials of the Royal Curia and set up game reserves, introducing hares, wild rabbits, pheasants, partridges and turtle-doves in Panza (Forio) and Testaccio (Barano).
In 1458 Alfonso died and his natural son, Ferdinando I, succeeded him. As soon as he arrived, Ferdinando had to face the Barons of Naples conspiracies. His rival Giovanni of Anjou supported them. In the same time heavy raids from Turkish Corsairs begun all around the Italian coasts and islands. In the meantime, Giovanni Toriglia, the Governor of Ischia, took advantage from the help he offered to Giovanni of Anjou and sacked Procida, the seignory of which had been promised to him. Ferdinando I did not forgive his action and charged Captain Alessandro Sforza to expel him from Ischia. Once Toriglia was sent away from the island he gave himself up to piracy and besieged Ischia Castle with his brother, compelling the Aragonese garrison of Ferdinando to stay there for several months. In 1465, after some years of uninterrupted fights, Ferdinando I managed to throw out, once and for all, the Corsairs of Giovanni Toriglia and his brother and to stop Barons'conspiracy.
In 1494 the sovereign died and his son, Alfonso II, came after him for a year. In his turn, he abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinando II. Even if Ferdinando II was a liberal and gave back all the lands his predecessors confiscated to the Neapolitan barons, was abandoned by his soldiers and officers becoming an easy prey for Charles VIII who conquered Naples and forced him to take refuge in the Castle of Ischia. After a month spent in Ischia, he moved to Messina with his family and his retinue, leaving the command and the government of the island to the trusted Captain Don Inaco d'Avalos, Marquis del Vasto. In 1500 Federico of Aragon (succeeded to Ferdinando II) was forced to the capitulation to the French admiral d'Aubigny and was exiled in Ischia. Afterwards, before leaving for France, the Aragonese sovereign granted ample privileges to the island and their rulers, giving the whole property of Ischia to the Marquis del Vasto Inaco d'Avalos and his sister Costanza. However, shortly after, in 1503, Frederic of Aragon reappeared with a letter to the Marquis del Vasto, inviting him to deliver Ischia, in a peaceful way, to the king of France Louis XII. The Marquis, faithful to the Spanish House, refused the order and organised the Castle resistance to the bitter end against the French assault. Nevertheless, French were able to land on the island, sacked it, put down and killed the few farmer islanders remaining.
Corsairs incursions went on for forty years, when the pirate of Greek origin and Christian religion, Khair ad-Bin Barbarossa, master of Algiers and pasha of the Ottoman fleet, after having ravaged several coasts and islands of the peninsula, reached Ischia in order to defeat the Marquis del Vasto, vainly attacking the Castle in different moments. Because of the broken relations between French and Turkish, Barbarossa decided to go back to Algeria, but he first invaded and devastated Ischia, landing in different areas of the island at the same time and attacking Forio, Serrara Fontana and Barano. In 1546, by an odd coincidence, both the pirate Barbarosssa and the Marquis del Vasto died. Dragut, a Barbarossa's follower, continued his pirate activity. He had Christian origin as well, came from Anatolia and was rais of Tunis, his headquarter. Until 1569 his terrible raids spread fast among the Italian seas. In Ischia, many defence towers and look-out positions were built along the coast to prevent pirates attacks .The besieged threw stones, hot water and household goods from there, against the invaders. Unfortunately, during the attack, some islanders died.
After the death of Francis I of France and the abdication of Charles V, many discharged soldiers entered on robberies. Some tyrannical governors joined them, provoking, in 1647, a popular revolt, against the Spanish, headed by "Masaniello". Also Procida and Ischia took sides against the family of the Marquis del Vasto. Moreover, together with the damages of a disorganised revolt there were those caused by the plague in 1655, which decimated the population of Ischia until "the miracle" of Saint Rocco where torrential rains during the summer swept the terrible disease away
A cura della dr.ssa Nicoletta Manzi -
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