A Place To Find Your Family History


After its destruction the town of Greci, though left still populated, never was able to win back the ancient luster and importance that it had.

Later all the domain of the barons fell, those they harassed in every way, and which the princes revenged, eager for money, (fnl) From the angioino Register, Folio 116-1270 it seems that Charles I of Angion, with a document instrument dated 26 March 1273, gave the town of Greci, together with land of Savignano and of Ferrara, to the soldier Gugliemo De Landa, in repayment for the fidelity and services this man rendered. (fn2)

In that year the town of Greci was inhabited and awaiting establishment by a directive of the angioini. However, the end of that same year, as a result of the act of concession above cited that I reported in the Appendix, the king left explicit land reserves in some areas of the town of Greci for the pasture of royal purebreds. He retained these areas in his own hands, and this started the dismemberment of the town that afterwards was reduced to the status of a miserable poor man’s hamlet.

In 1302 churches invested part of the lands of Greci, Savignano and Ferrara to Colasso, the son of Bertranda Dei Landa, who was the sister of Gugliemo. And with a certificate document of 18 October 1317 Greci fell into the hands of Ingresia Dei Landa, widow of the soldier Raibaldo di Medillione.

After this era, Greci and lands of Savignano and Ferrara, were returned to the domain of the royal court, but only for a short time. In 1413, through the work of King Ladislo, the court sold them to brothers Trajano and Bertraino Spinelli, citizens of Naples, with all their abundant rights, including the right to tax and to torment the poor and aggravated population. Finally, on 25 June 1445 the Spinelli brothers in their turn resold all the above-stated possessions to Inico Guevara, then the Count of Ariano. The king of Naples, Alfonso I of Aragon, confirmed the sale to Guevara’s son Giovanni by a document dated 7 September 1450. (This document of 25 June 1445 is published in the Appendix.)

In the meantime, in 1526 the “Hamlet” of Greci passed to Giovanni II Guevara, by his marriage with Delfina of Loffredo. In 1582 it passed into the hands of Inico II Guevara. This man, with a document of 16 January 1602, gave the hamlet of Greci to Giovanni III Guevara. Carlo Antonio Guevara succeeded Giovanni III in 1632. In 1674, with the title Duke of Bovino, brother Inico III succeeded these men. The titles and the fiefdoms in 1748 passed to the son of these men, Giovanni IV. He, having married Anna Maria Suardo, duchess of Airola, linked Suardo to his own family name, and added Duke of the Castle of Airola and Count of Savignano to the other titles he had. In 1779 Carlo I succeeded; and finally Giovambattista, who married Carolina Filangieri. In 1858, at her request, the title of Duke of Bovino and Duke of Castle Airola were reconfirmed by royal decree; and his son, his first child, would be allowed to use the title Count of Savignano.

Don Prospero Guevara, the last male descendant of the Guevara family, died in Naples on 29 August 1919. But before he died, not wanting his family name to become extinct, he adopted as a son his own brother-in-law Cav. Giulio Leka Dukagini of noble and brave Albanese lineage, (fn3) with deliberations by the Court of Appeals in Naples, 29 April to 6 May 1914. Therefore, the full rights of the family name Guevara-Suardo now apply to these men.

After the adoption took place, His Majesty the King of Italy conferred on Leka Guevara Suardo, for himself and for his descendants, the title of Duke, thus restoring an act of sovereign consideration toward the ancient and illustrious Guevara family. All the others (predicati spettanti?) at the house of Guevara, those of the Duke of Bovino and the Castle Airola, the Count of Savignano, the gentlemen of Castelluccio etc., were passed over for a female descendant instead - to the daughter De Riseis.

The acts of the “Royal Palace Chamber” point out that past disputes and conflicts between the Duke of Bovino and the citizens of Greci were deplorable. The people of Greci more than once had to make appeals even to the point of violence to blunt the power of the feudal lord. Not content to dominate all the territory of the “hamlet”, the emissaries of these men, even more overbearing than their gentlemen, abused and beat herds of cattle near the village wall, in this said Gargario.

The land that the Duke of Bovino conceded to the miserable inhabitants, to use for cultivation, exacted a land tax, Oterratico, in recognition of his control, and in compensation for the use of it and the profit they eked out. This kind of feudal tax, at first was paid in crops and only for the land that was cultivated. After 1907, payments were made in money for all the land, including that left as pasture.

ctually the right to exact the said Oterritico in the territory of Greci was exercised by the Baron of Riseis, by the marriage that these men contracted with the second daughter of Giambatista Guevara. From the first moment when the change in taxation was imposed, many people in Greci hastened to redeem their lands from the burden of the territico; and I wish all the people of Greci, especially those with money, followed the example of those first fellow citizens, to redeem themselves as well as their land from this last vestige of feudal domination.

Presently, in all the territory of Greci, countess Maria Guevara, youngest daughter of the aforesaid duke, and re-married to the noble Giulio Leka Dukagni, (non possiede che le sole tenute?) of Canavale, Monte del Niglio and of Vado del Conte.

Such possessions, by contessa Guevara, took again in their souls and minds the memory of the six centuries of servitude the people of Greci spent under domination by the dukes of Bovino. Therefore, I form another wish, that in these final years, some people of Greci will voluntarily acquire the estates of Savignano, Tavern, Trefontane, and Pezzadella Donnap from the descendants of these dukes, so even these last three can be taken by the people and restored to the estate of free citizens. “U beftel?”



(fn 1) - Charles V, emperor of Spain finding himself short of money to gratify his own ambition, from Madrid on 11 April 1521, ordered Maimondo of Cardone, vice king of Naples, to sell the land, the castles and the town excise public property. Later, this awful arrangement also was introduced by King Alfonse I of Aragon, who not only endowed his patrons the Spanish and Neapolitan nobility, at the expense of his enemies; but sold even more land to sustain the war of Naples. And other kings who succeeded to the throne of Naples continued the practice; so much so that in 1559, of the 1616 communities, that comprised the vice realm of Naples, and in 1586, of 1273 communities, only 67 still belonged to the kingdom. Many of these communities redeemed themselves at enormous cost; but afterward there were new sales. And these communities were able to save some benefits of freedom and tax exemption only by resorting force and violence.

(fn2) - History records that in 1128, Ruggiero, Duke of Sicily, marching against his own brother-in-law, Mainulfo, gentleman of Troia, encamped against him near Greci.

(fn3) - After the death of Skanderbeg and the fall of Kruja, (which, as one knows was courageously defended by Albanese forces commanded by Leka Dukagini) the families of the men who were able to escape the persecution by the soldiers of Sultan Amurat II, took refuge in the Chimara mountains where they lived secure from Ottoman harassment.

In the Chimara, specifically in the village of Drimadez, Demetrio of Polimeno Lek was born on 23 April 1779. He was primate of Albania and of Domenica Gicca, and his father was the brother of Count Stratti Gicca who served in the army of Charles III and died a lieutenant general.

It is noted that under the reign of Carlo II, a regiment with Albanese and Macedonians was created, called “The Royal Macedonians”, which took part in the campaign on Charles III side, and in which many distinguished themselves, especially in Lombardy and in the Duchy of Parma and Modena. The troops were formed and maintained for operations mainly by the above mentioned Count Gicca.

In this regiment many noble Albanese served which (coprivano?) the responsibilities of the officials, and among them were captains Attanasio and Nicola Leka, and the lieutenant colonel uncle of Demetrio. It was Giovanni Gicca who flattered the sister and (fare venire il di lei?) brother in Naples, to have him follow an army career in a Christian country.

And as a matter of fact the young Demetrio, accompanied by the above mentioned uncle, was taken to Naples in 1788 at the age of about ten and was admitted into the R. College of the Nunziatello by the right accorded to the noble Albanese families to have a priority over others for a place in the said college.

The young man followed a brilliant and fast-paced career. Dorsa writes much about him and the Albanese in his book OSugli Albanese, ricerche e pensieriO, Chapter XV. (Ne6?)The facts sustained under Ferdinand IV are less of glory and admiration. The governor of Naples had already signed a contract with the primate of Albania so that when needed they lent him a sufficient force, which after their services (se ne ritornerebbe in patria?) with debts of honor and with agreed upon pensions.

Since this would increase the number of Macedonians in its militias in the mother country; and with the fact did not retard to see the advantages. In 1798 a detachment of 114 men left Gaeta in order to reinforce the island of Ponza and was met by two groups of barbarians armed with artillery. Although the detachment had none, they redoubled their efforts and with great courage were able to defeat them. And my joy is boundless when I see second lieutenant Demetrio Leka among those distinguished men, actually the field marshall in service of the Governor. The Albanese nation is grateful to him for a thousand reasons; a man from the noble family of the Chiamara, related to the princes of the Mirditi, and in whose breast the national love burned strongly.

Demetrio Leka attained the rank of lieutenant general in the army of the Two Sicilies and was cited for many medals and decorations, among them the medal of S. Ferdinando and of merit awarded for distinguished services. He died in 1862 and an important and beautiful monument was erected to him in the Greek church at the Fiorentini in Naples.

Don Giulio Leka-Dukagini dei Guevara, husband of countess Donna Maria Guevara-Suardo, is DemetrioOs nephew. Donna Maria is the youngest daughter of the Duke of Bovino.

Translation Draft by Dick Vara - 4/15/97