manfredi01The de facto successor Manfredi of Hohenstaufen was Fredrick II ‘s beloved child, born from the extramarital relationship with Bianca Lancia. Grown up in Venosa, between 1248 and 1249, he married Beatrice di Savoia. Been widowed in 1259, he married Elena Ducas, daughter of the despot from Epiro, Michele II, to whom five children were born. In 1250 Fredrick left him also the principality of Taranto with other minor feuds and devolved upon him the lieutenancy in Italy, in particular that of Sicily, until his legitimate brother, Corrado IV, who was engaged in Germany, would come. Manfredi inherited other things as well, like the love for poetry and science. Moreover, in the same way of his great father, the young and blonde prince was excommunicated by the Pope, whose troops he managed to defeat in 1255 in a battle near Foggia. The cultural circle of Manfredi After the above-mentioned victory, Manfredi, still twenty-three years old, chose the castle of Palazzo S. Gervasio to cheer up from the war pains. Here, despite the amusement of the boar, deer and fallow deer hunting and the refreshments of the near wood, the prince got sick probably from a bronchopneumonia. Invalid and close to death, he rounded up all his friends in a cultural circle in which books about philosophy and literature were read. There were the Neapolitan reporter, Niccolò de Jasmilla, a famous jurisconsult, Messer Gervasio di Martina, count Manfredo Maletta and the Lancia Brothers. During his convalescence he asked them to keep him company by reading the “Liber de Pomo sive de morte Aristotilis” to meditate upon the afterworld. It was right about here that Manfredi began to translate this book from Hebrew into Latin, which had been carried from Sicily by a big Arab wise man in the age of Fredrick II. The Swabian prince regained his health thanks to the salubrious air and the crystalline waters of Palazzo S.Gervasio.    

The mortal remains in the rain and wind In 1263 the French of Angiò were officially called in Italy by the Pope for a sort of Crusade against the Swabians. The crucial battle in Benevento took place on February 26th 1266; the Sicilian and Saracenic militias together with the German ones defended strenuously their king, while the Italian ones abandoned Manfredi who died fighting with desperate courage. His body was buried in the battlefield under a stone heap but his tomb was soon infringed by a command of the Pontiff and his body was exhumed and laid down out of the Church State federal confines. ” His mortal bones…are now wet with rain and moved by the wind”. (Dante, Divine Comedy – Purgatory, Canto III, line 130) Nel 1263 i Francesi d’Angiò venivano ufficialmente chiamati dal Papa in Italia per una sorta di Crociata contro gli Svevi. La decisiva battaglia di Benevento, avvenne il 26 febbraio 1266; le milizie siciliane e saracene insieme alle tedesche difesero strenuamente il loro re, mentre quelle italiane abbandonarono Manfredi che morì combattendo con disperato valore. Il corpo fu seppellito sul campo di battaglia sotto un mucchio di pietre ma la tomba fu ben presto violata per ordine del Pontefice ed il corpo riesumato fu deposto, quale scomunicato, fuori dai confini dello Stato della Chiesa. “Le sue ossa mortali …or le bagna la pioggia e move il vento”. (Dante, Divina Commedia -Purgatorio, canto III, v. 130)