Charles of Anjou and Gothic Architecture in the Kingdom of Sicily
The ruined abbeys of S. Maria di Realvalle and S. Maria della Vittoria in southern Italy attest to the use of French Gothic architecture as part of a policy of cultural and political domination over the kingdom conquered by Charles of Anjou in 1266. The Angevin registers document the king’s emphasis on Frenchness in all details and provide the names of many of the French masons and sculptors who worked on royal building projects. As in the other territories that fell under French control after the middle of the thirteenth century, such as southwestern France, Gothic from the Ile-de-France was utilized in the Kingdom of Sicily to connote the authority and prestige of the new regime. In insisting not only on the adoption of French architecture at the abbeys, but also on a population of French monks, Charles envisioned the monasteries as strongholds of French culture and prestige. Yet this was a short-lived phenomenon, for the subsequent generations of monuments erected by Charles II and Robert the Wise, especially those in Lucera and Naples, are profoundly different in character, and for the most part references to French models are eliminated. The rejection of the Frenchness promoted by Charles of Anjou and the evolution of a new and distinctly different type of architecture for royal monuments in the last years of the thirteenth century perhaps reflected new attitudes of cultural adaptation that resulted from the outbreak of the War of the Vespers in 1282. © 1991, The Society of Architectural Historians. All rights reserved.
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