Forte Spagnolo, L’Aquila

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Forte Spagnolo, which means Spanish fortress in Italian, is a Renaissance castle in L’Aquila.

L’Aquila had surpassed Naples as the most powerful city in the Kingdom of Naples by the 15th century; it had 500,000 sheep and exported saffron and wool to all of Europe. All of this was lost, however, when the Aquilans sided with the French during the conflict between the French and the Spaniards for control of Naples. The Spanish invaded Aquila in 1504, but the French, with the help of the locals and the nearby town, took back control of the city in 1527. The Aquilan rebels were finally subdued a year later by Viceroy Philibert of Orange, acting on behalf of King Charles V of Spain. He then gave the city the order to construct a fortress in the highest location north of the city, precisely where King Ladislaus had established a garrison in 1401 to keep an eye on the unruly and rebellious Aquilans.

The task was given to Pedro Luis Escrivà, a Spanish architect and weapons specialist who was working on the Castel Sant’Elmo project in Naples. The development of gunpowder required new defensive building techniques. Escrivà oversaw the undertaking for two years before handing it over to Gian Girolamo Escribà.

The city became destitute in the following 30 years as a result of the high taxes required to build the stronghold, and in 1567 it petitioned the Spaniards to halt building. The Royal Court approved the request, and as a result, some of the castle’s construction was never finished. The price of the stronghold was extremely high for the period, and Aquila was compelled to sell the large silver coffin housing St. Bernardino of Siena’s body. The fortress, which had been built not to defend the city, but to control it and to be a completely self-sufficient structure, was never used in a battle.

Featured image: wikipedia

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