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Casertavecchia

ORIGINS OF THE CITY
The village was certainly the theater of the Samnites wars against the peoples of Campania (473 BC) and against the Romans, who subsequently took it over.
Some scholars believe that it was the Romans who gave the name to the village, which had to boast remarkable prosperity during the empire.
The name in medieval Latin "CasaHirta" almost certainly reflects a residential complex built on a hill, with a steep slope.

LONGOBARDI and NORMANNI
The Lombards exercised power through the Duchies: one of these was the duchy of Benevento, to which Casa Hirta was incorporated in about 848. For a long time it was disputed by the neighboring principalities of Naples, Salerno and Capua, remaining in the latter in 879, and precisely at Pandulfo di Capua which was the first Conte.
Until the ninth century Casertavecchia saw a significant increase in its population: the beginning of Saracen raids pushed, in fact, the inhabitants of the plain to seek refuge in safer and more defensible mountain areas, which led to the transfer of the bishop's seat to the mountain village.
Until the 12th century, the history of Casa Hirta merged with that of the county of Capua, becoming part of the internal struggles between the Lombards, Byzantines and Neapolitans.
When the Normans conquered it in 1057, Riccardo I, count of Aversa, erected it in the county for Roberto di Lauro in 1062. In 1183 it passed to his son Guglielmo and to his death, in 1199, to his son Roberto.
The new conquerors, despite their toughness, brought some order and authority. Alongside a greater development of the population and urban life, the Cathedral was built by the bishop Rainulfo, the Bishop's Palace and other important public buildings.

SVEVI and ANGIOINI
The Borgo, passed to the Swabians, experienced its most important moment, also in the political field, under the Count Riccardo di Lauro, of the Sanseverino family, valid adviser and trustee of Frederick II of Swabia.
In this period work began on the bell tower and the large cylindrical tower, called "Maschio", coeval with the famous Federica style architecture of Capua (1224-1239) was added to the castle.
With the Angevin conquest (1268) the county was temporarily entrusted to Federico di Laisalto. Subsequently, King Carlo D'Angiò confiscated it to assign it to Guglielmo de Beaumont (Italianized in Belmonte), the French admiral who had saved him with his ship.
In 1269, after the death of Belmonte, the county was entrusted to Bertando del Balzo and in 1283 it passed to Ludovico Roheriis, already a justice of Calabria and then of Terra di Lavoro.
In 1294 the city had a new feudal lord, Goffredo Caetani di Sermoneta, brother of Pope Boniface VIII. Then, in 1310 it passed to the Catalan Diego de Lahart (Italianized in Della Ratta), mentioned by Boccaccio on the sixth day of the Decameron, who arrived in Italy in the wake of Donna Violante of Aragon. The most famous of the Della Ratta counts was Francesco, who fought victoriously and whose mausoleum can be admired in the Cathedral of Casertavecchia.

ARAGON-ACQUAVIVA
With the beginning of the Aragonese domination (1442) Casertavecchia saw slowly, but inexorably, diminish its importance, so much so that the count's residence was transferred to the plain in the village Torre, the current Caserta.
A momentary revival of Casertavecchia occurred in 1486, the year in which Caterina Della Ratta married Cesare d’Aragona, natural son of Ferdinando II: for the occasion the ancient castle was restored in Catalan forms.
In 1504 Caesar of Aragon died without heirs and the fiefdom was forfeited by the monarchy which gave it to Ferdinando d’Andrada. In 1509 Caterina recovers the county
Under the Aragonese, the counts of Caserta were related to the Spanish dynasty, until, in 1533, the county was elected in the principality.
With Count Giulio Antonio Acquaviva (1578-1596), when for some time now the city had developed more towards the plain, the family residence was transferred definitively to the Torre village, which soon developed and far surpassed the others houses of medieval Caserta.
The presence of the Bishop and the studious activity of the Seminary still remained, to give a certain splendor to the city on the mountains. But fate was now marked!
In 1604 the episcopal residence was also transferred to the valley. In 1635 the fiefdom passed to Anna Acquaviva, married to Francesco Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta. Thus the Caetani, having regained possession of Caserta after three and a half centuries, kept it almost uninterruptedly until 1750.

DECLINE OF the ANCIENT CASERTA
With the Caetani family the slow decay of the properties began until, in 1750, Michelangelo Caetani sold the sum of 409,343 ducats, the county of Caserta to Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony, wife of Charles of Bourbon.
In the same year Casertavecchia became a royal city, but the period of strong decadence began which will lead to fearing for this city a destiny from "Pompeii of the Middle Ages", without life and, above all, without memory of the civilization that had strongly characterized it during all the Lombard and Norman ages.
In 1752 King Charles entrusted Luigi Vanvitelli with the task of building the Royal Palace. The construction of the Royal Palace triggers the urbanization process, which will lead to the disappearance of the Torre village, to give rise to today's Caserta.
With the advent of the Bourbons the importance of the ancient village ended, becoming the center of every activity.
In 1842 Pope Gregory XVI definitively transferred the Cathedral and its chapter to Caserta. The ancient Cathedral, transformed into a parish, was entrusted to a few Franciscan monks.
On October 15, 1960, the President of the Republic, Giovanni Gronchi, issued a decree declaring the medieval citadel "national monument".
As evidence of the ancient splendor remain the ruins of the old castle, the superb cathedral with its majestic bell tower, the narrow streets and the entire village in its Sicilian-Norman architecture.