The Sicilian Vespers is the name given to the successful rebellion on the island of Sicily that broke out at Easter, 1282 against the rule of the French-born king Charles I, who had ruled the Kingdom of Sicily since 1266.
Within six weeks, three thousand French men and women were slain by the rebels, and the government of King Charles lost control of the island.
It was the beginning of the War of the Sicilian Vespers.
Today’s posting is a mostly fictional illustration of the type of horrendous events that led to a rebellion not matched in intensity anywhere until the French Revolution five hundred years later.
The latest Web Site Tweak relates to the photos I hope will be successfully posted to the website.
Also, I’ve been working to unify the structure of the postings.
Nothing is easy.
Today is Sunday, July 22, 2018
Good morning, my friends.
This is my 105th consecutive daily posting.
It’s 5.53am and it’s raining. And will be for a couple of days, the stretch of glorious weather having an interlude.
I’m at my desk.
Dinner is braciola (skirt steak at a deep discount this week) and meatballs with pasta.
WIKIPEDIA’S SUMMARY OF WHAT’S PLAYING:
“They Drive by Night” is a 1940 film noir starring George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart, and directed by Raoul Walsh. The picture involves a pair of embattled truck drivers and was released in the UK under the title The Road to Frisco. The film was based on A. I. Bezzerides' 1938 novel Long Haul, which was later reprinted under the title They Drive by Night to capitalize on the success of the film. Part of the film's plot (that of Ida Lupino's character murdering her husband by carbon monoxide poisoning) was borrowed from another Warner Bros. film, Bordertown (1935).
This is an excerpt from my published book, DOM’S, AN ODYSSEY, illustrating my teen-aged life and my life as a restaurateur in Boston’s North End in the 1950s.
All the excerpts in the daily postings will be collected on the page on the Web Site entitled, “Dom’s, An Odyssey, Excerpts,” by date of post.
Additionally, the excerpts will be collected in the Web Site on the page entitled “Dom’s, An Odyssey,” in the order they appear in the book.
Note that the Web Site lists “Books for Sale,” and this book is available for purchase. See the details on that page.
The First Event: 6.00pm
“Palermo in 1282 was not much different than it was 600 years later when the Great Emigration began: with the contadini being so exploited by their rulers as to live in constant and close proximity to death by hunger or disease or violence. Charles of Anjou was ruling the country as steward of the Papal States. French troops were stationed all over the island of Sicily, sometimes even in small villages.
“On Easter Monday, March 30, a young peasant girl of 14 left her home to walk the few moments to the town square, accompanied by her 12-year-old brother as protection. In the square they tried to avoid a small knot of six French soldiers who were lolling about, without an officer. The soldiers saw a diversion and circled the pair, making lewd and suggestive remarks; laughing at the easy sport. From inside their one-room homes, the women and small children not working in the fields looked on with frightened and angry eyes.
“The children tried to squeeze past to return home, but the soldiers were now engaged.
"These are criminals," said one. "We need to search them." He grabbed the girl by her arm, pulling on her clothes and groping her. She tried to resist but her efforts were futile and her face became impassive.
“The boy lunged at him and a second soldier struck the back of the boy's head with his rifle butt. The boy collapsed unconscious to the ground with blood oozing from the blow of the rifle butt. The soldiers laughed at the hilarity.
“The boy regained consciousness while the men were still abusing his stoic sister. He couldn’t fight them and he couldn’t call the police: they were the police. He staggered towards home. After a few steps he was able to walk and then gained speed, walking and running until, out of breath, woozy, sweating, bleeding, he pushed himself through his doorway.
“The mother screamed and cried in anguish before he said a word. She sent her smallest son to run for his father and two older brothers working in the field more than a mile away tending her injured son while she waited in agony for the men to arrive home.
“It took 20 minutes for father and sons to get back. They armed themselves with muskets and stilettos and, grim-faced, rushed out to the square. The girl’s mother, holding onto both small sons, followed as closely as she could manage.
“They arrived at the square far too late. In the interim, the insufferable rudeness of the soldiers had morphed into unbridled lust and violence. They pulled and pushed the girl away from the square, to the uninhabited mountainous terrain surrounding the village where their attack would be hidden by boulders. There, the teenager, who scant moments ago was happily reveling in her youth and virginal femininity, was subjected to the most violent and repulsive of sexual abuse that continued even after she mercifully lost consciousness. When none of the soldiers had anything left that was stiff enough to stab into her, they used their bayonets until they had no more energy of any kind. They withdrew, subdued by their own violence, leaving her shattered, lifeless body behind.
“At the village square a knot of contadini had gathered with faces set and determined, waiting respectfully for the father to lead. The funereal posse, lead by the father and two sons, followed by the men and then the women and children, quickly followed the road in search of the child.
“When they found the girl’s mutilated body, some clothes torn, some completely ripped away adorning the nearby rocks, her cheeks and ears still wet with tears, they lamented and wept openly. The bereft father knelt and straightened the askew legs and arms of his lifeless little girl, the daughter whom he had promised God he would protect. The village fell silent as he cradled her and pressed her distorted, angelic face against his, softly crying, “My daughter; my daughter.” In the Sicilian dialect, the words came out: "Ma fia, ma fia!"
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