Wednesday, 31 January 2018

ALLA RICERCA DELLE PIANELLE: A Tour of Casperia's Dated Restoration Markers - PART I

Casperia - Photo courtesy of Alessio Caffarelli

We live in Casperia, a small hill town in central Italy's Provincia di Rieti about an hour's drive NNE of Rome. We moved here from a wooden row house unit in the old East End of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in September of 2014. In Vancouver I worked as a house genealogist... a house history researcher. I sifted through the building permit and water hook up records at the City of Vancouver Archives to establish the construction date of a client's house and from there I gathered as much information as was available from old City Directories, census records, newspaper clippings, the BC Archives Birth, Marriage and Death records and other resources to piece together, as best I could, the stories of the people who built and lived in the houses I was researching. 

In all I ended up researching the social histories of over 800 houses in Vancouver—over 300 of which were located in my East End Vancouver/Strathcona neighbourhood, as well as 40 houses in New Westminster, our old colonial capital.

Our row house on Hawks Avenue in Strathcona
My house in Strathcona was built in 1908, most likely from first growth timber felled and milled a few kilometres away from the house. 1908 was twenty-two years after the newly established City of Vancouver burnt to the ground in the Great Fire of June 13, 1886. Though a few cabins escaped the disastrous fire on the periphery of the city, these were all eventually demolished for newer buildings. As far as we know, the oldest house still standing in Vancouver is the Thomas Dunn house, now a Catholic convent, at 385 East Cordova. 

CVA Photo Str P223 - The Thomas Dunn House with lined roof is the one directly below the third notation from the left

The Dunn House is clearly visible finished and painted in this City of Vancouver Archives photo taken by J. A. Brock in 1887, so construction likely began shortly after the fire in 1886.

I do not know exactly how old the house in which we live is. The original external stone structure is likely at least 500 or 600 years old, probably even older. The interior of the original structure has been divided up and reorganised who knows how many times. 

What I do know though, is that the houses directly across the street from us here on Via Latini are older than 500 years old as there are terracotta panels, both dating from 1563, above two doorways. 

Pianella dated 1563 - Via Latini, 17

Pianella dated 1563 - Via Latini 19

These dated pianelle—pianella in the singular—do not indicate the year the building was constructed but rather the year in which that section of the wall or building was restored or repaired. 

Casperia's original name was Aspra Sabina. No one knows for sure about the the origins of the name. One theory is that it comes from the adjective aspro, a reference to the harshness or ruggedness of the rocky hill on which the town is situated. The other theory is that the name derives from the Asproni family, now extinct, which once ruled here. Aspra Sabina was renamed Casperia in 1947.

Casperia was the name of a Sabine city mentioned in Book VII of Virgil's Aeneid. How much based in fact it is no one knows but during the Middle Ages there arose a belief that Aspra had been indeed founded in the territory of this ancient Sabine city whose remains were evident among the ruins in Paranzano. These ruins are in fact those of a number of Roman villas. 

Engraving showing the water fountain located opposite today's Il Terebinto restaurant. Montefiolo is seen in the background 

It is interesting to note though that a sizeable ancient underwater aqueduct, 1.6 metres high and 60cm wide, which runs underground  in a course from Montefiolo to the water fountain just opposite Il Terebinto restaurant in Paranzano, dates to the 5th BCE and is therefore of Sabine and not Roman origin, so who knows? 

Aspra's original castle walls, no doubt originally built in wood sometime between the year 900 and 1000, were eventually replaced by stone circuit walls. This ring of walls was superseded by a larger expanded circuit of walls in the 1200s to encompass Aspra's growing population. It is this ring of walls, completed in 1284, that we still see today.

An engraving dating from 1874 showing the partially ruined walls of Aspra

Over the three years that we have lived here in Casperia, we have done our best to explore every via and vicolo we can in town. During the course of these explorations we have come across quite a few of these terracotta restoration date markers and I took quite a few pictures of these, but it was all random.

A while back I got into posting pictures on Instagram. My original Instragram handle was househistorian, because of my old job as a house genealogist. However I recently changed it to imlivinwrite to more accurately reflect our life here in Italy and the fact that I am a blogger, an aspiring travel writer and newbie YouTuber. 

About a month ago I started posting pictures of some of the pianelle on Instagram and Facebook, along with a little story about the world events that took place in the year that particular dated terracotta restoration marker was made. 

The more I posted these pictures the more I thought that it would be an interesting project to re-explore all the vie and vicoli of Casperia with the intent of finding, photographing and categorising every single date marker possible, and this is what I have done. I am sure that there are more to be discovered out there. These markers are to be found not just inside Casperia's historic centre, but also in the countryside on restored old fountains and roadside shrines. I am hoping that this post will encourage others living in Casperia, both inside the old town and out in the country, to share their photos of these date markers so I can come up with a complete list. Who knows? When this is all finished it might be a fun idea to create a scavenger hunt or a self-guided tour for residents and tourists alike. The list might end up being used for a school project for the local kids. 

Anyway, here is what I have so far. What follows is organised in chronological order, from oldest to most recent. Each photo will have an address to help those who might want to to go and find it, as well as a list of historic events that took place in the world during the year in which the restoration marker was made.

Aspra's Porta Romana as it was in the 1880s.

The oldest terracotta restoration marker that I have been able to find dates from 1524 and can be found just inside Casperia's Porta Romana at Via Tomassoli, 3 on the right side of the street. The engraving above shows how the Porta Romana looked in the 1800s when Aspra's castle walls still had its crenellations. 

So what were some of the things that were happening in the world at the time this piece of castle wall was being restored here in Casperia? 
  • Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, in the service of
    François I of France, sets out from Madeira on board La Dauphine for the New World to seek out a western sea route to the Pacific Ocean. On 17 April Verrazzano's expedition makes the first European entry into what is now New York Bay and sights the island of Manhattan. Verrazzano is renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick. 
  • Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba founds the city of Granada, Nicaragua, the oldest Hispanic city in the mainland of the Western Hemisphere. 
  • Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro begins his invasion expedition near Colombia. 
  • The Great German Peasants’ Revolt begins in Germany's Black Forest. This was Europe's largest and most widespread popular uprising prior to the French Revolution of 1789. It failed because of the intense opposition by the aristocracy, who slaughtered up to 100,000 of the 300,000 poorly armed peasants and farmers.
Significant deaths in this year include those of:
  • Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, and
  • German painter, Hans Holbein the Elder

The second oldest pianella that I have been able to find in Casperia dates from 1529 and is located in a corner on a wall beside a down pipe at Via Massari, 5. There was a lot going on in the world in 1529. This is only a small selection of what I could find.
  • The Örebro Synod, held in February of this year, provides the theological foundation of the Swedish reformation. 
  • War rages in the Horn of Africa with Christian Abyssinia increasingly invaded and reduced by Muslim armies from the coast. 
  • In Denmark the Flensburg Disputation is held, a debate attended by Stadtholder Christian of Schleswig-Holstein—later King Christian III of Denmark—between Lutherans and the more radical Anabaptists. Johannes Bugenhagen, a close associate of Martin Luther, presides. The Disputation marks the rejection of radical ideas by the Danish Reformation. 
  • On 9 April the pro-Catholic/anti-Reformation Westrogothian rebellion breaks out in Sweden. 
  • The Diet of Speyer, a Diet of the Holy Roman Empire held in the Imperial City of Speyer in 1529 condemns the results of a previous Diet of Speyer held in 1526 and prohibits future reformation. 
  • On 22 April the Treaty of Zaragoza divides the eastern hemisphere between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, stipulating that the dividing line should lie 297.5 leagues or 17° east of the Moluccas. 
  • Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, presides over a legatine court at Blackfriars, London, to rule on the legality of King Henry VIII of England's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. 
  • In May, the Ottoman army under Suleiman I leaves
    Constantinople to invade Hungary. Buda is captured by the invading forces of the Ottoman Empire on 8 September. Vienna is besieged for the first time by Ottoman forces under Suleiman the Magnificent. The siege signalled the pinnacle of the Ottoman Empire's power and the maximum extent of Ottoman expansion in central Europe. With the campaign season drawing to a close, Suleiman abandons the siege of Vienna on 15 October, a turning point in the Ottoman wars in Europe. 
  • On 21 June French forces in northern Italy are decisively defeated by Spain in the Battle of Landriano during the War of the League of Cognac. In August 5 Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and Francis I of France sign the Treaty of Cambrai, or Ladies' Peace in the War of the League of Cognac. Francis abandons his claims in Italy, but is allowed to retain the Duchy of Burgundy. Henry VIII of England accedes on August 27. 
  • On September 1, local natives destroy Sancti Spiritu, the first European settlement in Argentina. 
  • German-born conquistador Ambrosius Ehinger founds the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. 
  • On October 26, Cardinal Wolsey, due to his failure to prevent Habsburg expansion in Europe and obtain an annulment of Henry VIII's marriage, falls from power in England. Thomas More succeeds him as Lord Chancellor. 
  • The first sitting of the English Reformation Parliament takes place between 4 November and 17 December of this year. The Reformation Parliament was so-called because it was the Parliament that passed and enabled the major pieces of legislation leading to the English Reformation. 
  • Occultist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa publishes Declamatio de nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus, “Declamation on the Nobility and Preeminence of the Female Sex", a book pronouncing the theological and moral superiority of women.
Births of note for this year include those of:
  • Francesco Patrizi, Venetian philosopher and scientist
  • Urbino-born painter Taddeo Zuccari
  • Italian humanist historian and archeologist Fulvio Orsini
  • Douai, Flanders-born and later Italy-based sculptor Jean Boulogne, later known as Giambologna
  • George Puttenham, English writer and literary critic
Significant deaths this year include those of:
  • Marcaria, Mantua-born courtier, diplomat, soldier, and prominent Renaissance author Baldassare Castiglione
  • Cortona-born cardinal and lord of Florence, Silvio Passerini
  • Monte San Savino, Arezzo-born Italian sculptor Andrea Sansovino
  • Verona-born historian Paulus Aemilius Veronensis

The third oldest date on a pianella I have been able to find is 1534 on a tile above a door at the top of the town under the municipal theatre at Via Sabo, 24. This particular tile is interesting in that it actually has two dates on it. It also lists 1608. Perhaps the building was built or restored in 1534 and then restored or altered again in 1608. Does this tile replace an older tile with only 1534 on it?

  • England’s Henry VIII and the politics around his second wife
    Anne Boleyn figure prominently in 1534. In January the Parliament of England passes the Act Respecting the Oath to the Succession, recognising the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and their children as the legitimate heirs to the throne. Later Parliament passes the Act of Supremacy which recognised Henry VIII as the “Supreme Head of the Church of England.” This act also required an oath of loyalty from English subjects that recognised his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Sir Thomas More, Henry’s former councillor and Lord High Chancellor, who refuses to take the Oath of Supremacy is convicted of treason and confined to the Tower of London. Beheaded the following year. Four hundred years after his death, More is canonised as a martyr of the Catholic Church by Pius XI. 
  • French explorer Jacques Cartier explores Newfoundland, while
    searching for the Northwest Passage. Later, on June 9, Jacques Cartier becomes the first European to explore the Saint Lawrence River, and one 29 June to see Prince Edward Island. The first recorded exchange occurs between Europeans and the First Nations people of the Gulf of St. Lawrence takes place 7 July in what is now New Brunswick.
  • 15 August – Ignatius of Loyola and six others take the vows that lead to the establishment of the Society of Jesus, in Montmartre, Paris.
  • In October, Huguenots post placards all over France attacking the Catholic Mass, provoking a violent sectarian reaction.
  • On 6 December over 200 Spanish colonisers, led by conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar, found what is now Quito, Ecuador.
  • In the same year, Manco Inca Yupanqui is crowned as Sapa Inca in Cusco, Peru by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who succeeded his brother Túpac Huallpa, who had been the first puppet Inca Emperor installed by the conquistadors during the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire.
  • Cambridge University Press is given a Royal Charter by Henry VIII of England, and becomes the first of the privileged presses.
  • Gargantua is published by François Rabelais.
  • Martin Luther's translation of the complete Christian Bible into German is printed by Hans Lufft in Wittenberg, adding the Old Testament and Apocrypha to Luther's 1522 translation of the New Testament, and including woodcut illustrations.
  • The first book in Yiddish, Mirkevet ha-Mishneh, a Tanakh concordance by Rabbi Asher Anchel, translating difficult phrases in biblical Hebrew is printed in Kraków, Poland.

Add caption
Via Massari, 24-26

Although it is hard to see well in this photo, there are two pianella date markers placed one on top of the other above Via Massari 24 - 26. The oldest of the two, dated 1535, is placed below the more recent one dated 1868. 1535 was the year after Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church by passing the Act of Succession and the Act of Supremacy. 1535 was a year of bloody reprisals against those who opposed Henry’s move. Many were martyred. Here is a list of a number of historically significant events which took place in the world outside Casperia—then Aspra—when this first restoration marker was added to this wall on Via Massari, 24-26. 

  • On January 18, Lima, Peru, is founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, as Ciudad de los Reyes.
  • On March 10, Fray Tomás de Berlanga becomes the first European to see the Galápagos Islands when he is blown off course enroute to Peru.
  • On May 19, French explorer Jacques Cartier sets sail on his second voyage to North America with three ships, 110 men, and Chief Donnacona's two sons, kidnapped by Cartier during his previous voyage.
  • On May 20, William Tyndale is arrested in Antwerp for heresy, in relation to his Bible translation, and imprisoned in Vilvoorde.
  • On June 1, the Conquest of Tunis by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V begins with the defeat of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha's fleet. 30,000 inhabitants are massacred when the Ottoman city finally falls.
  • On June 22, Cardinal John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, is executed for his refusal to swear an oath of loyalty to King Henry VIII of England. On July 6, Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia and onetime Lord Chancellor of England, is executed for treason, after refusing to recognize King Henry VIII as head of the English Church and separate from the Roman Catholic Church. 
  • On October 2, Jacques Cartier reaches an island in
    the Saint Lawrence River that will later become Montréal.
  • First Chapter of Genesis
    On October 4, the first complete English-language Bible is printed in Antwerp, with translations by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.
  • Also in 1535, Suleiman the Magnificent begins the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. 

Births of historic significance in 1535 include those of:

  • Pope Gregory XIV
  • Italian painter, Alessandro di Cristofano di Lorenzo del Bronzino Allori
  • Pope Leo XI

Deaths of historic significance in 1535 include those of:

  • Carthusian monks, Saint John Houghton and Saint Robert Lawrence; Saint Augustine Webster, Prior of the London Charterhouse; Saint Richard Reynolds, Bridgettine monk of Syon; John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, as well as English lawyer, writer, and politician Sir Thomas More—all executed by Henry VIII
  • Italian poet, Francesco Berni
  • Ippolito de' Medici, ruler of Florence (he was poisoned)
  • 45th Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller, Piero de Ponte
  • Italian composer, Bartolomeo Tromboncino

The fourth oldest dated restoration tile that I have been able to find at Casperia dates from 1536 and can be seen above a door at Via Casperia, 21.
  • In the two years since the previous pianella was installed more royal drama is unfolding in England. Catherine of Aragon, first queen of England’s Henry VIII dies. Meanwhile, his second queen, Anne Boleyn is arrested on the grounds of incest, adultery, and treason then later executed in the Tower of London. Later that year Henry marries Jane Seymour who dies the following year of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who became King Edward VI. Jane Seymour was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. 
  • In October of this year a popular uprising against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church, the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the policies of the King's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell breaks out in Yorkshire. It will be the most serious of all Tudor rebellions.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina is founded by Spaniard Pedro de Mendoza. 
  • Protestantism is introduced in Denmark and Norway, by King Christian III. 
  • Greek maritime pilot Ioannis Phokas (Greek: Ιωάννης Φωκάς), better known by the Spanish translation of his name Juan de Fuca, is born on the Ionian island of Cefalonia.

The fifth oldest pianella I have found can be seen in a section of stone wall facing the steps that lead up from Casperia's Porta Romana to Piazza Macello at Via Tomassoli, 7 and dates from 1542In this year: 
  • Saint Francis Xavier arrives in Goa, India. 
  • Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor allied with Henry VIII of England declares war on King Francis I of France. James V of Scotland and Sultan Suleiman I are allied to the French. In the Battle of Solway Moss, the English defeat Scotland's James V.
  • Pope Paul III begins the Inquisition against Protestants. 
  • The Spaniards found the city of Guadlajara in New Spain. 
  • In the Renyin Palace Rebellion a group of Ming dynasty palace women fail to murder the Jiajing Emperor and are executed by slow-slicing. 
  • Princess Mary Stuart succeeds her father James V as Mary I of Scotland. 
  • Catherine Howard, 5th wife of Henry VIII is executed for adultery. 
  • Lisa del Giocondo, the woman believed to be the subject of the Mona Lisa, dies. 
  • The first contact of Japan with the West occurs when a Portuguese ship, blown off its course to China, lands Fernão Mendes Pinto, Francisco Zeimoto and António Mota in Japan. 
  • Spanish explorer, navigator and conquistador Hernando de Soto dies. The Portuguese introduce muskets to Japan which are named Tanegashima 種子島, the location at which the introduction occured. 
  • Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo lands in what is now San Diego Bay, and names it "San Miguel"; it will later become the city of San Diego. Cabrillo becomes the first European to set foot on Santa Catalina Island, California.

The 6th oldest terra cotta restoration date marker that I have found dates from 1548 and can be found on Via Nardi-Bruschi between 29 and 31. The brick is pock marked and the date is hard to read unless the light is perfect. In the year that this section of the street wall was restored or repaired and the pianella inserted:

  • Firearms are used for the first time on the battlefield in Japan on 14 February 14 at the Battle of Uedahara 上田原の戦い in which warlord Takeda Shingen 武田信玄 experiences defeat for the first time at the hand of Murakami Yoshikiyo 村上義清.
  • Ming Chinese naval forces commanded by Zhu Wan 朱紈destroy the pirate haven of Shuangyu, frequented by Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese smugglers.
  • On 30 June the Augsburg Interim issued by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V becomes law. It orders Lutherans to return to Catholic practices with some concessions
  • On 7 July a marriage treaty is signed between Scotland and France whereby 5-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, is betrothed to the future King Francis II of France. Mary leaves for France on 7 August.
  • The city of La Paz, Bolivia, is founded 20 October.
  • In December Siam attacks Tavoy beginning the Burmese–Siamese War of 1548.
Also in this year, a number of important people were born:
  • Giacomo Boncompagni, illegitimate son of Pope Gregory XIII
  • Jacopo Mazzoni, Italian philosopher
  • Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher, astronomer, and occultist
  • Francesco Soriano, Italian composer
Deaths of historical note include those of:
  • Bernardo Pisano, the Italian composer
  • Lorenzino de' Medici, Italian writer and assassin
  • Catherine Parr, sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII of England

The seventh oldest dated tile that I have been able to find dates from 1557 and can be found inside Casperia's Porta Romana at Via Tomassoli, 4. In the year this pianella was mounted:

  • The first Russian Embassy arrives in London on 27 February. 
  • The Spanish settlement of Santa Ana de los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca, Ecuador is founded by Spanish explorer Gil Ramírez Dávalos. Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza, then Viceroy of Peru, had commissioned the founding and ordered the city named after his home town of Cuenca, Spain.
  • Mary I of England joins her husband Philip II of Spain in his war against France. 
  • The New Testament of the Geneva Bible, a Protestant Bible translation into English, is published in Geneva. 
  • With the permission of the Ming Dynasty government of China, and for the benefit of both Western and Eastern merchants, the Portuguese settle in Macau. Direct Sino-Portuguese trade had existed since 1513, but this is the first official legal treaty port on traditional Chinese soil that will form a long-term Western settlement. 
  • Welsh-born mathematician Robert Recorde publishes The Whetstone of Witte in London, containing the first recorded use of the equals sign and also the first use in English of plus and minus signs. 
  • 3 December, the First Covenant of Scottish Protestants forms.
Births of historical note include those of:
  • Alfonso Fontanelli, Italian composer
  • Tsar Feodor I of Russia
  • Leandro Bassano, Italian painter
  • Agostino Carracci, Italian painter and graphical artist
  • Jacques Mauduit, French composer
  • Antoine Favre, Savoisian lawyer, first President of the Sovereign Senate of Savoy
  • Giovanni Croce, Italian composer
  • Oda Nobutada 織田信忠, Japanese general

Deaths of historical note this year include those of:
  • Italian painter Jacopo Carucci "Pontormo". 
  • Anne of Cleves, 4th queen of Henry VIII of England. 
  • French explorer Jacques Cartier. 
  • Italian-born English explorer Sebastiano Caboto, Sebastian, dies in London.
  • Italian painter Franceso Ubertini, Il Bacchiacca, dies at 63

These two tiles both dating from 1563 were shown at the beginning of this post. These are the two tiles closest to our house. The first can be found above the door at Via Latini, 17 and the second is two doors down at Via Latini, 19. 

So what happened in 1563 in the world beside these pieces of wall restoration here in Casperia? The things that stand out for me are the ongoing wars of religion in Europe and continued instances of horrific persecution of the Jewish people. In this year: 

  • Catherine de’ Medici, acting as regent
    for her son Charles IX of France, signs the Edict of Amboise, according some toleration to the Huguenots, especially to aristocrats, officially ending the first phase of the French Wars of Religion. 
  • February 27, William Byrd is appointed organist at Lincoln Cathedral
  • August 30, the Jewish community of Neutitschlin, Moravia, expelled. Ivan the Terrible captures Polotsk, one of the oldest Jewish communities in Lithuania, and orders all Jews to be baptised. The 300 Jews who refuse are drowned in the Dvina River.
  • At Bornholm, the Danish fleet fires on the Swedish navy, leading to a Danish defeat and precipitating the Northern Seven Years' War. 
  • The Council of Trent officially closes reaffirming all major Roman Catholic doctrines, and declares the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament to be canonical, along with the rest of the Bible. Chapter 1, Session 24, promulgates the decree Tametsi, stipulating that for a marriage to be valid, consent (the essence of marriage) as expressed in the vows has to be given publicly before witnesses, one of whom has to be the parish priest. 
  • The Thirty-Nine Articles, which define the doctrine of the Church of England are drawn up at the Convocation of 1563.

The next oldest terracotta restoration date marker I found on the other side of town at Via Nardi-Bruschi, 40 and it dates to 1567. So what happened in 1567. First of all, this was a very bad year for Mary Queen of Scots.
  • On 10 February, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, husband of Mary,
    Queen of Scots, is murdered at the Provost's House in Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh. Three months later on 15 May, Mary marries James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. A number of Scottish lords object to Mary’s rule after this marriage as it is widely believed that the Earl of Bothwell had murdered her previous husband. A month later, on 15 June an army of confederate lords faces Queen Mary and Bothwell’s army at Carberry Hill. Tricked into surrending, Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On 24 July Mary is forced to abdicate and replaced by her 1-year-old son James VI. James VI is crowned King of Scotland at Stirling 29 July.
In other news: 
  • A Spanish force under the command of Captain Juan Pardo establishes Fort San Juan, in the Native American settlement of Joara. The fort is the first European settlement in present day North Carolina. The city of Santiago de León de Caracas', Venezuela is founded by Diego de Losada on the Feast of Saint James on July 25. 
  • The Second War of Religion breaks out in France on September 29, when Louis, Prince of Condé and Gaspard de Coligny fail in an attempt to capture King Charles IX and his mother at Meaux. The Huguenots do capture several cities, including Orleans, and march on Paris. The New Testament is first published in Welsh, in William Salesbury's translation from the Greek.
  • Construction of Villa Capra "La Rotonda" in Vicenza, designed by Andrea Palladio, begins. It will be one of the most influential designs in architecture. 
  • Rugby School, one of the oldest public schools in England, is founded. 
  • Also in this year, Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi is born. 

This next date tile is very interesting and I thank Casperia historian Lorenzo Capanna for pointing out its location, otherwise I doubt that I would have found it. The one is located very close to our house above a tiled tettoia, or canopy, over the door at Vicolo Serpenti, 1. The tile is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all there is a lot of text and it is written in a mix of Italian and Latin. 

D   O   M   U   S

Translated roughly

AFTER 1574

It is interesting that there are two dates mentioned: 1574 and the year of the Holy Jubilee, which was 1575. Perhaps this means that construction began in 1574 and was completed by 1575. So this also is not a restoration marker but a tile showing the actual date of a house's construction.

So we have two years to cover here. In 1574:
  • The fifth French War of Religion against the Huguenots breaks out on February 23rd.
  • King Charles IX of France dies on May 30th and is succeeded by his brother King Henry of Poland who becomes King Henry III of France. His mother, Catherine de' Medici, acts as Regent, until Henry arrives from Poland. 
  • After the death of Guru Amar Das on May 14th, Guru Ram Das becomes the fourth of the Sikh gurus on August 30th.
  • The epic tug of war between the Spanish and Ottoman Empire over control of North Africa ends 13th September with a final victory by the Turks over the Spanish when the Ottoman fleet recaptures Tunis. Thus ends the Spanish Conquista of Northern Africa begun under Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Henceforward North Africa would be under Muslim rather than Christian rule. Spain’s inability to fend off the Ottoman onslaught was largely the result of stretched resources due to the ongoing 80 Years War being fought in the Low Countries between Spain and Dutch rebels. 
  • The Juan Fernández Islands in the South Pacific Ocean are discovered by Spanish sailor Juan Fernández November 22nd.
  • In December, Murad III succeeds Selim II as Ottoman Emperor.
  • The battle between the Reformation and Counter Reformation begins in Sweden, and continues until the Uppsala Synod of 1593.
  • La Alameda, Europe’s first public garden, is laid out in, Seville, Spain.
Significant births this year include those of:
  • Giovanni Battista Pamphili, later Pope Innocent X
  • Francesco Rasi, Italian composer, singer, instrumentalist, poet
  • English explorer and geographer Robert Dudley, styled Earl of Warwick
  • Luis Sotelo, Spanish Franciscan friar who died in 1624 as a martyr in Japan
  • Claudio Achillini, Italian philosopher, theologian, mathematician, poet, and jurist
  • Sicilian composer Claudio Pari
Significants deaths this year include those of:
  • Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
  • Giorgio Vasari, Italian painter and architect
  • Italian condottiero Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino

In 1575, the year this house on Vicolo Serpente was completed:
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England grants a monopoly on producing printed sheet music, to Thomas Tallis and William Byrd.
  • Henry III of France is crowned at Reims on February 13th and marries Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont the following day.
  • On June 24, William I of Orange marries Charlotte of Bourbon.
  • At the Battle of Nagashino 長篠の戦い on the 28th of June,
    the forces of Oda Nobunaga 織田信長 and Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 defeat Takeda Katsuyori 武田勝頼 in Japan's first modern battle.
  • Portugal founds the city of Luanda, Angola.
  • The seat of the Audiencia Real in Chile moves from Concepción to Santiago.
  • The bubonic plague decimates Venice.
  • Gaspar da Cruz, a Portuguese Dominican friar, writes about his travels to the Ming Dynasty of China, including the Chinese civil service handbook The Bureaucratic System of the Ming Dynasty, and how the Chinese draw lots, to determine which days of the year are most auspicious or most ill-fated to travel upon.
  • Captains of vessels flying the Spanish flag are legally required to maintain a logbook.

Significant births this year include those of:
  • Francesco Molin, Doge of Venice
  • Marie de' Medici, queen of Henry IV of France
  • Guido Reni, Italian painter
  • Giambattista Basile, Italian poet
  • Edmund Bolton, English historian and poet
  • Vittoria Aleotti, Italian composer
Significant deaths this year include those of:
  • Annibale Padovano, Italian composer and organist
  • Yosef Karo, Spanish-born Jewish rabbi
  • Francisco de Ibarra, Spanish explorer and colonial governor in Mexico
  • Richard Taverner, English Bible translator
  • Pierino Belli, Italian soldier and jurist
  • Constantio Varoli, Italian anatomist

Pianella date marker from 1574 above the door at Via San Rocco, 30

Here is another date marker for the year 1574. This one you will find high on the wall above Via San Rocco, 30.

Here is yet another pianella on a wall along the street we live on. It dates from the year 1580 and can be found at Via Latini, 23. If you look carefully at the image, you can see the letters A and D for Anno Domini separated by a cross in the top line. The bottom line reads DIES IIII MAII, May 4th.

  • On January 31, Henry, King of Portugal dies with no direct heirs. This precipitates a succession crisis and a three year war between the claimants. The eventual winner, King Philip II of Spain is crowned King Philip I of Portugal establishing The Iberian Union, a dynastic union of the Crown of Portugal and the Spanish Crown that will last until 1640. The Union brings the entire Iberian Peninsula, as well as Spanish and Portuguese overseas possessions, under the Spanish Habsburg kings Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV of Spain though maintains Portuguese independence in Europe and throughout the Portuguese Empire. The Union lasts until the Portuguese Restoration War in which the House of Braganza is established as Portugal's new ruling dynasty.
  • Elsewhere, England signs a commercial treaty with the Ottoman Empire in June. 
  • On June 11, Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan de Garay founds Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • The Book of Concord, a collection of Lutheran confessional documents, is published on June 25.
  • In July, The Ostrog Bible, the first complete printed Bible translation into a Slavic language—Old Church Slavonic—is first printed at Ostroh in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in modern-day Ukraine, by Ivan Fyodorov.
  • On September 26th, Francis Drake returns to Plymouth,
    England from his voyage of circumnavigation on the Golden Hind, the second completed in a continuous voyage, and the first under its original commander.
  • Jesuit missionaries arrive at the court of Akbar, ruler of the Mughal Empire.
  • Perhaps the most earth-shattering event of 1580 is the Dover Straits Earthquake of April 6. It is one of the largest in the recorded history of England, Flanders or northern France. It is estimated to have measured 5.3 to 5.9 on the richter scale. Churches were damaged and houses collapsed over a wide area. In London, half a dozen chimney stacks and a pinnacle on Westminster Abbey came down. Two children were killed by stones falling from the roof of Christ's Church Hospital. Many Puritans blame the emerging theatre scene of the time in London, which was seen as the work of the Devil, as a cause of the quake.
Births of note in 1580 include those of:
  • Stefano Amadei, Italian painter
  • English explorer and Virginia settler John Smith
  • English settler in America, founding settler of Hartford and Norwalk, Connecticut, Richard Webb
  • Carlo Contarini, 100th Doge of Venice
  • Giovanni Giacomo Semenza, Italian painter
  • Francesco Mochi, Italian early-Baroque sculptor
  • George Percy, English explorer, author, and early Colonial Governor of Virginia
  • Francisco de Quevedo, Spanish writer
  • Robert Gordon of Straloch, Scottish cartographer
  • Frans Hals, Dutch painter, and
  • Adriana Basile, Italian composer
Significant deaths this year include those of:
  • Antonio Scandello, Italian composer
  • Luca Longhi, Italian painter
  • Vincenzo Borghini, Italian monk, artist, philologist, and art collector
  • Andrea Palladio, Italian architect, and
  • Giovanni Filippo Ingrassia, Italian anatomist

This tile is interesting for a number of reasons. I believe that it has been moved from an older section of the wall as it is on a modern stuccoed addition to the old tower on the north end of Piazza Macello, now Piazza Umberto Primo, near the beginning of Via Rivellini. The closest door to this section of the wall is Piazza Umberto I, 3. The other reason it is interesting is the religious inscriptions on the tile. 

The top line has the letters IHS, with a cross above the letter H followed by the name Maria. The IHS is a Christogram, a combination of letters representing the name of Jesus. The letters IHS are actually Latinised representations of the Greek letters Iota, Eta and Sigma which are the first three letters in the Greek spelling of Jesus: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. So the first line reads Jesus Maria. The second line, with the date, 1582 includes the Titulis Crucis, the Latin initials I.N.R.I. which stand for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, that is Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews, the inscription the Pontius Pilate is supposed to have affixed in Latin, Greek and Hebrew on the cross on which Jesus was crucified. One wonders why this particular tile was written this way. Perhaps the building was once owned by the Church... but I wonder if it might have been for another reason. I have heard tell that this tower, at one time, was the home of the Boia, or town executioner. Perhaps the solemn invocation was a prayer for the soul of the man who had such a terrible job... or it might have been something included there to ward off the negativity associated with the location. Who knows?

I am particularly interested in this pianella because 1582 is a date in which many significant events took place in Japan—some that actually took place in the region in which I used to live.

The late sixteenth century in Japan is known as Senkoku Jidai 戦国時代 or the Warring States Period. Emperors reign but do not rule.
The power of the Ashikaga Shogunate has diminished and Japan is divided up into various warring polities with various feudal lords each vying for hegemony. The introduction of firearms to Japan by the Portuguese hugely impacts the balance of power. In the midst of all this one feudal lord, Oda Nobunaga 織田信長, seems poised to unify all Japan under his rule.
  • The Battle of Temmokuzan 天目山の戦い on April 3rd turns into the Takeda clan's last stand against the rising power of Oda Nobunaga and his ally Tokugawa Ieyasu. Takeda Katsuyori 武田勝頼 and his household commit suicide.
  • Oda Nobunaga turns his attention toward western Honshū and the powerful Mōri clan. Oda's general, Hashiba Hideyoshi 羽柴秀吉, attacks a Mōri vassal Shimizu Muneharu 清水宗治laying siege to his stronghold at Bitchū Takamatsu Castle 備中高松城 which he isolates with flood water. 
  • On June 21st, Akechi Mitsuhide明智光秀, a disgruntled Oda vassal, rebels and attacks Oda Nobunaga at Honnō-ji Temple in Kyoto. Oda's small retinue is overwhelmed and Oda ends his life through Seppuku 切腹, ritual disembowelment, among the flames of the burning temple. Akechi has himself declared Shōgun 将軍.
  • The news of Akechi's coup d'état reaches Hashiba Hideyoshi who quickly arranges a peace treaty with the Mōri, and with Tokugawa Ieyasu rushs east to be the first to avenge Nobunaga and take his place.
  • July 2nd, at the Battle of Yamazaki山崎の戦い, Hashiba Hideyoshi decisively defeats Akechi Mitsuhide's smaller army. Akechi is later killed while retreating to his domain.
Elsewhere in the world:
  • Russia cedes Livonia and southern Estonia, to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth on January 15th.
  • On February 24, Pope Gregory XIII implements the Gregorian Calendar.
  • On April 14, King James VI of Scotland signs a charter creating Tounis College, now the University of Edinburgh.
  • On July 26, at the Battle of Ponta Delgada during the War of the Portuguese Succession, Spanish admiral Santa Cruz decisively defeats a larger mercenary fleet from France, England, supporters of the Portuguese claimant António, Prior of Crato, and the Dutch Republic, under Filippo di Piero Strozzi. It is the first engagement between large fleets of galleons, operating at any great distance from the mainland.
  • A political conspiracy of Presbyterian nobles abduct King James VI of Scotland during the Raid of Ruthven on August 22nd.
  • On Thursday, October 4 of the Julian calendar Pope Gregory
    XIII implements the Gregorian calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, October 4 of this year is followed directly by October 15. 
    Saint Teresa of Ávila dies on October 4. She is buried the next day, October 15.
  • Future English playwright William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway on November 29.
  • On Sunday, December 9 of the Julian calendar France makes the next day Monday, December 20 of the Gregorian Calendar.
  • Italian-born Jesuit, Matteo Ricci enters Ming Dynasty China via Macau where he begins missionary work. He is instrumental in creating the first Portuguese/Chinese dictionary and will become the first European allowed to enter the Forbidden City in Beijing.
  • The Cagayan Battles in the Philippines are the only recorded clashes between European regular soldiers against Samurai warriors.
  • The Douai-Rheims Bible New Testament is published. 
  • English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee practices angelic magic with scryer Edward Kelley, and develops the angelic Enochian language. Dee devotes much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. He is also an advocate of England's imperial expansion into a "British Empire", a term he is generally credited with coining.
Notable births in 1582 include those of:
  • Giovanni Lanfranco, Italian painter
  • Scottish satirist and Latin poet John Barclay
  • Early baroque era Italian composer Marco da Gagliano
  • Italian Franciscan friar and saint Humilis of Bisignano
  • Italian composer Severo Bonini
  • Giulio Alenio, Italian Jesuit missionary
  • Gregorio Allegri, Italian composer
  • Japanese samurai and warlord Kobayakawa Hideaki 小早川秀
Deaths of note which occurred in this year include those of: 
  • Four year old heir to the Tuscan throne, Filippo de' Medici
  • Parma-born musician, composer and occultist, Giorgio Mainerio
  • Soleto, Lecce-born philsopher, astrologer, alchemist and musician, Matteo Tafuri
  • Mōri vassal and castellan at Bitchū Takamatsu Castle, Shimizu Muneharu 清水宗治
  • Scottish historian and humanist scholar, George Buchanan,
  • Eminent French physician, Laurent Joubert
  • Renowned Spanish general and 3rd Duke of Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo

Here is yet another restoration date marker from Via Tomassoli, just inside Casperia's Porta Romana. This pianella from 1590 can be found at Via Tomassoli, 10. In 1590:

  • The Cortes of Castile approves the Millones, an indirect tax on food which will stay in effect in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries. These taxes, however, are first imposed by Philip II initially as a temporary measure to replace the Spanish Armada lost during the attempted invasion of England. 
  • At the Battle of Ivry, Henry IV of France defeats the forces of the Catholic League, under Charles, Duke of Mayenne. Later in the year Henry unsuccessfully attempts to besiege Paris. He is forced to raise the siege when Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, comes to its rescue with a Spanish army. Farnese eventually forces Henry to life the siege.
  • The Treaty of Constantinople, also known as the Peace of Istanbul or the Treaty of Ferhad Pasha, is signed ending the Ottoman-Safavid War of 1578-1590.
  • John White, governor of the Colony of Roanoke, returns from a supply-trip to England and finds his settlement deserted. After an unsuccessful search he returns to England on October 24.
  • On September 15, Urban VII succeeds Sixtus V, as the 228th pope; he dies of malaria twelve days later.
  • Also on September 15, the Neulengbach earthquake causes significant damage and some loss of life in Lower Austria and Vienna. The effects are felt as far away as Bohemia and Silesia.
  • On December 5, Gregory XIV succeeds Urban VII, as the 229th pope.
  • During the North Berwick Witch Trials, King James VI of Scotland questions Agnes Sampson who confesses to practising witchcraft.
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 destroys the last major pocket
    of resistance to his rule, the Hōjō clan, at the Siege of Odawara 小田原の征伐. The defeated Hōjō lord, Hōjō Ujimasa 北条氏政and his brother Ujiteru
    北条氏照 are forced to commit ritual suicide. Their Tea Master, Yamanoue Sōji 山上宗二 is sentenced by Hideyoshi to have his ears and nose cut off and then decapitated. In destroying the power of the Hōjō, Toyotomi Hideyoshi completes the work begun by Oda Nobunaga 織田信長 uniting all Japan under his rule.
  • The Eighty Years War continues to rage in the Spanish held Netherlands. In this years between the Spanish are pushed out of southern Gelderland by the Dutch forces.
  • A group of English merchants gains the right to trade in Ottoman territory, in return for supplying the sultan with iron, steel, brass and tin for his war with Persia.
  • The compound microscope is invented by Hans and Zacharias Janssen.
Significant births during 1590 include those of:
  • Edward Convers, early Puritan settler in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and one of the founders of Woburn, MA.
  • Manuel de Faria e Sousa, Spanish and Portuguese historian and poet
  • Ahmed I, Ottoman Emperor
  • Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
  • Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana, Italian singer and composer
  • Emilio Bonaventura Altieri, later Pope Clement X
  • William Pynchon, English colonist and fur trader in North America and founder of Springfield, Massachusetts
Deaths of historic note from this year include those of:
  • Giambattista Benedetti, Italian mathematician and physicist
  • Catherine of Ricci, Catholic prioress and saint
  • Gioseffo Zarlino, Italian music theorist and composer
  • Asahi no kata朝日の方, Japanese lady and Toyotomi Hideyoshi's half-sister、 and wife of Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu
  • Francis Walsingham, English spymaster
  • Pope Sixtus V
  • Lodovico Agostini, Italian composer
  • Pope Urban VII
  • Japanese painter Kanō Eitoku 狩野永徳
  • Italian Protestant Reformation clergyman, theologian and educator Girolamo Zanchi
  • Philipp Nicodemus Frischlin, German philologist, poet, playwright, mathematician and astronomer 
  • Ambroise Paré, considered one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology and a pioneer in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine.
  • Nicholas Bobadilla, one of the first Spanish Jesuits
  • Irish chieftain Somhairle Buidhe Mac Domhnaill, a.k.a. Sorley Boy MacDonnell 
  • Maddalena Casulana, Italian composer, lutenist, and singer. She was the first female composer to have her music printed and published in the history of western music 
Here ends Part I of this blog post dedicated to the dated terracotta restoration markers found in Casperia. The second and last section of this blog post will start at the point we left off and continue until 2014. Stay tuned

The majority of the information concerning the events which took place in the world at the time these restorations were taking place here in Aspra, later Casperia, were gleaned from Wikipedia, also the site called On This Day, and the online Encyclopedia Britannica.

Photo Credits:
Most of the images in this post are mine. I would like to thank Alessio Caffarelli and local historian Lorenzo Capanna for other images found in these posts. Some other images were scanned from the book Aspra e gli aspresi nella leggenda e nella storia by Giorgio Perrini.


For those interested in my TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence awarded History Walks in Vancouver, I will be offering them on Saturday mornings in a number of Vancouver's historic neighbourhoods between February 24th and March 24th of 2018 with private tours of those same neighbourhoods being offered for groups of five or more in English, Japanese and Italian during select Wednesdays and Sundays in the same period.

For more details regarding these History Walks, or to make a reservation, please click this LINK.

Remember also to follow me on Instagram for more photos from Casperia and Sabina @imlivinwrite