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The destruction of the town of Greci recalls one of the most unfortunate periods that were to befall the southern provinces of Italy, when the saracens from Africa passed among us spreading desolation and sorrow, plundering all our riches and destroying our freedom. Here we show briefly the black chronicle of their deeds and how they came, as told by historians of the time.

About the year 848, Emperor Ludovico XI, son of Lotrario, trying to adjust differences in the arguments that were the destiny between two brothers, Radelchisio and Siniculfo, divided the great principality of Benevento into two principalities - Benevento (Ultra) and Salerno (Citra). At the same time the territory of Capua, under Landolfo, was separated from the duchy of Benevento and became a new duchy independent of everyone.

Unfortunately however, (siffate?) independent men ended the good beginning between them in disgust, since each wanted to destroy the other. And the harm that came from those ambitious princes was grave for Italy, because it was their discord that allowed the saracens to put their foot on our beautiful country as they already had done in Sicily, called the Eufemia of Sicily.

Badelchisio, or Radelgisio, as others called him, Prince of Benevento, on whose head would already be the misfortune the just judgement of God, knowing that the saracens were impatient to cross from Sicily into the land of our peninsula, and seeing the inferior strength of his brother Siniculfo, Prince of Salerno, called the saracens to his aid.

However, far from receiving an advantage, in their first test the barbarians took possession of Bari, and then Taranto and various other places. Everywhere they went they brought shambles and ruin, making inroads in both principalities; killing many people and carrying along others as prisoners, and always loading themselves up with booty before they returned to the place they came from. It was a remarkable thing to see how these barbarians now seized indifferently parts of the principality of Salerno and then parts of the principality of Benevento; and they did not fail to plunder and cause desolation in these same cities.

Larino and Lesino had to feel the sadness caused by so much calamity, and historians of the time recorded that the saracens plundered almost all the cities of Puglia as years passed. Fortunately, for almost a century the chronicles of Italy accused them. In 1223, by the efforts of the German emperor Frederick II, the saracens were again introduced in Lucera where they even built mosques. And the same Frederick in the same year had the vandalous idea to have the saracens demolish the walls of Troia under the pretext that it had shown itself more faithful to the pope in Rome than to himself.

Then, in 908, the saracens destroyed the town of Greci, dispersing a large number of inhabitants who went wandering in search of a more secure place to live. This is confirmed by the historian DeMeo in his “Annals of Italy”. Volume 6, page 378.

The saracens, by their ferocious and barbaric deeds, are cursed and damned in the memory of the people of southern Italy, considered as those to whom pity was an offense, blood their right, and plunder their glory, the fire and the death, (fnl)


(fnl) - In this note I want to treat rather extensively the question of whether the town of Greci was uninhabited after it was destroyed by the Saracens. There are reasons pro and con, and for each one that works “against”, I search to confute it with one that works “for”.

Some people say that the word “destroyed” as used in the history by De Meo indicates that the town of Greci remained uninhabited after the year 908.

Latius hos quam praemissae conclusio non vult, I answer.

In this unfortunate year however, though the town of Greci remained destroyed at the hands of the saracens, I am not able to infer that it was rendered completely uninhabited. In Marscia, Calabria, I have seen with my own eyes many places that were destroyed by the earthquake, and in the middle of the tumbled down houses, between the streets convulsed by the terrible scourge, the frightened and grieving people stayed around and adapted as best they could.

The other argument that my opponents allege derives from the words that Prince Pandolfo of Benevento uses in a document in the year 1039 when he grants to Potone the right to rebuild the town of Greci. The words are these: Ad restaurandam et reconciandam civitatem, quae appellate Graeci, et quae nunc destructa esse dinoscitur.

Now, the meaning of these last words, Odestructa esse dinoscitur, favors me. Much attenuation comes from the other words that precede them: 6ad restaurandam et reconciandam civitatem. These words let us see that the town of Greci was not in a state of complete destruction and razed to the earth in a way that would not allow a living soul to inhabit it any more.

Neither in my opinion can they construct a contrary proof from the other words that we compare equally in the cited document which also allows Patone the power to admit new inhabitants in the town of Greci which had been granted to him, new individuals, that is to say strangers; 6et homines extraneos ibidem ad habitandum mittere. The words Ohomines extraneos say that in the town of Greci at this time there still had to be - although haunts, although few - some of the old inhabitants, the natives, that is to say - the Greeks.

Nor on the contrary would one be able to explain the reason why the Prince of Beneyento allowed Patone and only Patone the right to build the town of Greci, because at that time Patone administered that region like a catapano, that is to say like a Greek governor.

The word which is read at the end - OdisabitataO was in the document instrument with which Carlo I of Angio, in 1273, granted the fiefdoms of Greci, Savignano and Ferrara to Guglielmo De Landa; which was the assent of 7 September 1450 with which Alfonso I of Aragon recognized the acquisition of these fiefdoms by Guevara of Bovino, (si deve prendere Ocum mica salisO?), that is to say not in a harsh sense.

Since in 1273 the town of Greci was in an essentially uninhabited state, Robert of Angio, first, and Queen Giovanna I, a short time later (as outlined by the Angioni registers for the years 1341 and 1346) would not need to send rector quality priests to Greci to support our church of S. Bartolomeo. And while Greci was not completely uninhabited even up to the year 1450, the registers also reveal that sometime after 1450, namely between 1461 and 1464, the Albanese refugees came to live in Greci when the feudal lords, the Dukes of Bovino, were still there.

And, as we see in a note preserved in the capital archives at Benevento, when the Albanese refugees arrived in Greci they found the primitive Greeks still there and readily and quickly got along well with them.

Translation Draft by Dick Vara - 4/17/97