Cathedral - San Severo
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SAN SEVERO

A city of art situated in the Tavoliere (Apulian Table) in Puglia. San Severo was once capital of the Capitanata, and ancient ward of the Reign of Naples.
It is positioned in the province of Foggia and other than its Baroque beauty, it is also known for the quality wines it produces.

Traces of the existence of man have been found throughout the territory, mainly Palaeolithic, from the Bronze Age, when Puglia was inhabited by the Ausoni and later the Japigi,
According to legend, the City was founded by the mythological hero Diomedes who gave it the name of Castrum Drionis or Casteldrione.
Its development began during the High Medieval period after barbaric invasions and the brief Ostrogoth Reign of Italy (496-553), which ended after a clash with the Byzantines (535-553). Puglia then passed under Constantinople dominium and saw the arrival of Benedictine Monks from the powerful Monte Cassino Abbey, founded by San Benedetto of Norcia in 529.
It was the monks who erected a church dedicated to Saint Abbot Severino (V Century) along Via Sacra Langobardorum, future nucleus of the City which took the name Castellum Sancti Severini and then San Savero.
The habitation developed quickly and in 1116 it results as being under the jurisdiction of the Torremaggiore Abbey, from where Abbot Adenolfo, proclaimed an order act to regulate judiciary and fiscal administration, which ripped opened social life of the time. People from various origins (Jews, Longobards, Greeks, French) testify the already long history of San Savero and the complex social organisation unveils greatly the richness of the fortified suburb.
With the advent of the Swabians (1194), San Severo rebelled against Emperor Federick II, and took the side of the Benedictine monks; paying for this by the demolishment of the walls, churches and buildings (1230).
The suburb was then surrendered to the Templar Knights (1295) who governed it until the cancellation of the order (1307), when San Severo passed to Sancia, Roberto d’Angiò’s wife, who then relinquished San Severo to Pietro Pipino, Count of Vico (1317).
However, the inhabitants were never inclined to this submission and demonstrated this through numerous popular uprisings until Roberto d’Angiò made San Severo a Royal City in 1344.
This privilege ended with the advent of the Aragonese to the throne of Naples (1442), when Alfonso V of Aragona surrendered the City to Paolo di Sangro, his faithful cavalier. Alfonso later instituted the Sheep Customs/Tax, which set a price for grazing ovines on the Tavoliere (Apulian Table), guaranteeing secure returns in San Severo for 4 centuries.
With the advent of the Hapsburgs, the City was sold to the Duke of Termoli (1521), but the inhabitants bought it back for 42.000 ducats and on 9th May 1522, San Severo was once again declared a Royal City.
The City prospered until 1579 when it was bought as a fief by Duke Gian Francesco Sangro, whose family governed the City until 1806, the year of abolition of feudal rights.
In 1580, San Severo became an Episcopal Seat, but a period of decline had already begun which culminated on 30th July 1627, when an earthquake destroyed the City. It was subsequently weakened by an outburst of the Plague during 1656 and 1657.
On 8th February 1799, a Freedom Tree was planted in San Severo, but the monks repressed the manifestation with their blood.
On 25th February there was a clash between the Spanish and French, commanded by Generals Duhesme and La Foret. The latter were victorious and plundered the City.
Beginning with Bourbon (1815) power, the citizens of San Severo participated in all the Renaissance motions which led to unification to the Reign of Italy (1861).
The historical centre has a mainly Baroque appearance, gained after its reconstruction following the 1627 earth tremors.
The main religious monuments are: the Matrix Church (1059), Santa Maria del Carmine, Saint John the Baptist Collegiate Church, San Sebastiano, S. Lucia and San Matteo.
To complete the list, we would like to mention Palazzo del Seminario (Seminary Building) and the Episcopal building.
For the curious among you, just outside the city one can visit the Tratturo del Re, the ancient transhumance path connecting Aquila to Foggia.

SAN SEVERO
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Puglia (Apulia) region of Italy

 

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