Archivio della categoria: legends

Venice -Carmagnola’s head

The Carmagnola’s head, is assimilated to a red porphyry head placed in the loggia
of the basilica of San Marco, stuck on the pillar in the southwest corner of the balustrade.

francesco bussone -carmagnola

francesco bussone -carmagnola

Francesco Bussone, called Carmagnola, was a captain of the Serenissima Republic. Found guilty of treason and alliance with the enemy,  was beheaded in 1432. The charge is unjust for this captain who has dedicated its military capabilities to Venice. But his head must to be exposed to the folk according to the custom, triggering, in the popular imagination a legend remained alive for long time.

In fact the head in porphyry is comming from the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Regarding the apartenence of the head are various proposals. The most accepted theory today is that it is from a statue of Justinian I, last emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire that reigns 527-565.


carmagnola’s head

Born in Carmagnola (Turin province), from a poor peasant family, Brussone Francis, one of the greatest soldiers of the fourteenth century, was the protagonist of one of the most mysterious betrayal of the history of Venice. He chose the nom de guerre “Carmagnola”, the name of his country of birth .The emblem of its name were three lambs who remember his humble origins.

testa di carmagnola

carmagnola’s head ,s. polo church

Actually receives the title of Count,but not of Carmagnola region as suggested Alessandro Manzoni in his tragedy -the Count of Carmagnola-1816.

He began his career in Pavia in 1411, fighting for Visconti family. He manages to defeat their enemies , gaining the feud of Castelnuovo Scrivia, the title of Count and the hand of Antonia Visconti.From that moment Carmagnola removed from this noble shield the three lambs and replaced them with the snake and the imperial eagle and the title of Vicecomes. Under the jealousy and criticism of his rivals,the relations with Filippo Maria Visconti becoming worse. The Duke entrusting him governorship in Genoa, recently recaptured, an exile of fact. For Carmagnola was an evident sign of distrust and loss of power.Breaking the relationship with the Duke, Carmangola goes with few faithful solders in Savoy.But Amadeus VIII refuse to accept him.

Isolated, betrayed and dispossessed of his assets, Carmagnola pointed on Venice. Serenissima hired him; named him “Captain General of the coalition Venetian-Tuscan” and quartered in Treviso .Here, the Duke of Milan try to kill him by poisoning but without success, because the attack was discovered.

-esecuzione.di carmagnola-ilustrazione  ottocentesca

execution of carmagnola

Francesco turn back to fight against Visconti, making alliance with Florence, Ferrara, Mantua and Monteferrato.At Malcodio (October 12, 1427) Visconti was forced to surrender .Sforza try a last stand but was wounded and forced to take refuge in Soncino. Carmagnola not chase him . Venetian army made many prisoners on the battlefield.

Amoung them was Carlo Malatesta,lord of Rimini, Fano, Cesena and Fossombrone. .
Carmagnola received after the fight, a palace on the Grand Canal and the lordship of Castenedolo in Brescia.After the peace ,signed with the curse of the Pope, the Venetians, dissatisfied, found guilty Carmagnola for not chaseing Sforza’s army, suspecting the intention to betraying in favor of Francesco Sforza.In early January 1429, justifying the recovery of his family members, the Count asked the release of his contract for one year. The Senate did not believe him and the 10th of the month rejected the request, hiring him again with a thousand ducats a month for other two years.

La cattura del conte di Carmagnola

The capture of Carmagnola

During the siege of the castle of Sconcio , Carmagnola falls into an ambush, losing more than six hundred horses. Then he was accused of non loyalty when he was not able to succor Nicolo Trevisan, and then Cavalcabo -who fought against the Milanese and were defeated by the lack of support. With a ploy Carmagnola was called to Venice , arrested and tortured in Palazzo Ducale. It is said that Carmagnola confessed his betrayal under the torture. On May 5, he was led into the square .At the presence of his wife and four daughters, with a gag in his mouth was beheaded.

il leone  in lotta.con il serpente

the lion and the snake

On the portal of the bell tower of the church of San Polo are two statues: the one on the right, is a lion showing a decapitated head .Some say that it is of Marin Faliero, , but others say that it is the head of the Count of Carmagnola. That is proven by the lion on the left,symbol of Venice, clinging in mortal combat with a snake, a symbol of the Visconti and Bussone .


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The festival of San Marco,and the legends

italy basilica san marcoThe festival of San Marco takes place on April 25, the date of the death of St. Mark, but on the time of the Republic of Venice were also dedicated to St Mark January 31, in remember the translation of the relics in Venice,and June 25, the date of the discovery of the relics in 1094, the place where was been hidden (according to legend, in  pillar).

The Basilica of San Marco, one of the most visited and admired monuments in the world, occupies a privileged place in the heart of Venice because ,in addition to honoring the saint patron , every detail is decorated with sculptures and works of art gained as booty in historic victories of the Republic.

The Life of Saint Mark the Evangelist can be read in the Acts of the Apostles, but his death and the theft of the remains are wrapped in mystery. Disciple of the Apostle Paul, follow Paul and Barnabas (his cousin), in Antioch and also the transfer of the body of San Marco in Venicewanted to accompany them to the return.He follow them even in the journey to Cyprus, but when they had to cross a swampy and inhospitable region of the mountains of Taurus, Mark (also called John by Jews), give up and goes back to Jerusalem.Then follow Paul to Rome where he remained in the service of Peter.

During this period Mark wrote down the Gospel narrate by Peter, and become a disciple of him. He was invited by Peter to  evangelize the northern part of Italy. Arrived to Aquileia, the capital the Venetia et Histria region, he met here a citizen named Ermagora and converting him to Christianity, consecrating him bishop of the city. Thus start the evangelization of the whole area.

Direct to Alexandria in order to convert the heathen of the Egypt, on a dark stormy night, the ship was boarded to seek shelter in one of the few fishermen’s huts on the island “called Rialto” . After a frugal dinner with the fishermen ,the saint ,leaned down, and fell asleep. In his dream an angel appeared in the form of a winged lion, who addressed him thus: “On this island, Mark,in a wonderful day, a great city will rise and in this city your ultimate rest will find peace .“Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus.Hic requiescet corpus tuum. “(Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist. Here your body will rest)”. Mark woke up in the morning and told his dream to the fishermen, before setting sail for the Egypt ,where he died.

The relics were kept in the church erected at Canopus, (the second greek port in the muslim guardsEgypt before Alexandria). They were transferred in Venice in the year 828 by two legendary Venetian merchants: Buono from Malamocco and Rustico from Torcello. The route from Alexandria was full of ups and downs, from the need to hide the remains of the saint under a load of vegetables and pork, “because Muslims would not have dared to inspect a similar load”.

Before arriving in Venice at the Calabrian cites ,at Cropani area, the boat arrived in the middle of a storm.The relics were saved thanks to the intervention of the Cropane’s sailors. For this reason, a piece of the remains of the saint, the patella ,is in the church of Santa Lucia in Cropani, as a symbol of gratitude for the help.

The saint’s relics are now preserved on the altar of the basilica of Saint Mark in Venice . The prestige given by the remains of St. Mark in Venice made possible the greatly increase of Venice’s power and independencethe basket with the spoils of the saint







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