Cari Natale e Nico,
I have uncovered new historical information that may have some bearing on the Duchessa Laura's decision to settle in Lauropoli.
The 1763 royal decree founding the town bore the signature of Re Ferdinando (because of the complex politics of that time, he was numbered III of Sicilia, IV of Napoli, I of the Two Sicilies). However, at that time he was only twelve years old.
In 1759, when only eight years old, he inherited his father's throne in Napoli, who had to abdicate when he himself inherited the crown of Spain after ruling in Napoli since 1734, to which he had been elevated as the grandson of French King Louis XIV (again, the politics are mind boggling) after 27 years of Austrian Hapbsburg rule. Before that, Napoli had been part of the Spanish Empire for two centuries.
Therefore, the founding decree was really the legal decision of the Regency Council in Napoli, which effectively had to answer to Ferdinand's father, King Carlo in Spain. The Council, in turn, was dominated by the Prime Minister, a favorite of King Carlo. He was a marchese, named Bernardo Tanucci. Many contemporaries (among them the English ambassador Lord Hamilton, who later became famous as the cuckolded husband of Admiral Nelson's mistress) characterized him as absolutely incorruptible, devoted to the welfare of the people, but stern and grumpy. It would be interesting to know how he got along with the powerful Serra family.
I also found out that that Admiral Pallavicini commanded the Neapolitan navy in 1734, which may explain the cryptic note thatGiovan Francesco Serra (who died fighting the Turks at sea in 1656) purchased the feudal rights to Cassano in 1628 "through the agency of Antonio Pallavacini," possibly, on speculation, as a reward for the Serra's military service.
One year after the founding of Lauropoli there was a "great famine," followed the next year by an epidemic, both catastrophes perhaps influencing the decision of the founding families to relocate.
Tannuci was responsible for Ferdinando's first act upon coming to age, the expulsion of the Jesuits, which order taught at my high school.
"There were two classes of nobility: the great families connected with the Court, holding appointments in the royal household, and the larger feudal clans on their country estates..."
" 'The tone of brazen familiarity, indecency and licentiousness prevailing at this Court is inconceivable.' "
The Duchess of Cassano, Laura Serra's daughter-in-law and mother of Gennaro Serra, the rebel hero, rejected Ferdinando's advances, so jealous Queen Carolina illogically exiled her. Presumably Gennaro went with her and resented the monarchy. The Duchess of Cassano spent a year in Paris, sending her sons to be educated there, probably a source of Gennaro's republican views.
During the Calabrese Uprising of 1799 the author implies that Cassano, along with most of Calabria, yielded to Cardinal Ruffo. Gennaro, who was beheaded, was Second in Command of the pro-French Parthenopean National Guard. I had wondered who was the Top Commander and why he was not also executed. This book names him as the Swiss mercenary General Wirtz, who was killed in battle.
The Battle of Marengo in 1801 caused the restored Queen Carolina to tone down her persecution of the defeated rebels, so the Serras probably returned at that time. The French army occupied border areas of the Kingdom but did not physically occupy the city until 1806. Cosenza went over to the French side. There is a confusing account of a battle or skirmish at Cassano.
I still have no idea of which side, if any, my ancestors took during the war.