Research Programs: Collaborative Research

Period of Performance

9/1/2008 - 12/31/2008

Funding Totals

$10,000.00 (approved)
$10,000.00 (awarded)

Becoming a Capital in Medieval South Italy: Naples from the 9th to the 12th Centuries

FAIN: RZ-50968-08

Duke University (Durham, NC 27705-4677)
Caroline Bruzelius (Project Director: August 2008 to September 2010)
William L. Tronzo (Project Director: September 2010 to September 2010)
Caroline Bruzelius (Project Director: September 2010 to August 2009)

Our project intends to write a history of the transformation of Naples from one of many autonomous city-states of South Italy into a major European capital. Why did this happen here? What was it about this city that inspired Frederick II to found in Naples, in 1224, the first university south of Bologna, and for the city to be selected seventy years later as the new capital of the Kingdom of Sicily? We shall propose that the emergence of Naples as a major city was the result of a series of fundamental institutional changes that took place beginning in the 9th century. The wealth and power of several large monastic institutions played a primary role in the economic and urban development of the city, and in particular led to the creation of an excellent port and a strong defensive system around the most densely inhabited parts of town. A network of commercial contacts was established throughout the Mediterranean. The threat of Norman occupation led the city to establish new systems of civic administration that were dedicated to defending its autonomy. Once the city fell to the Normans in 1130, a new administrative institution of "sedili" was introduced which took control of trade and defense. The "sedili" were under the control of a network of aristocratic families, who also managed sectors of industrial production (such as the processing of raw linen), and trade. These social and political institutions provided the network of administrators and managers who were later fundamental for the transformation of the city into a European capital.