French texts were produced in the Angevin courts and among the French settlers in southern Italy from the late thirteenth century, with the arrival of Charles I of Anjou, until the last effort at Angevin power in Naples in the mid-fifteenth century. Angevin presence in Naples initially brought two classes of French speakers; the French nobles who came to southern Italy to support Charles' power, and an admistrative class to work in the courts they established there. These courts employed both French native speakers and Italians who were proficient in French, among them many members of the Franco-Fiorentini community. The continuation of Angevin power into the fourteenth century attracted students from French-speaking areas like Paris and Orléans to Naples, home to a well-established university which functioned under the dominion of a French-speaking power.
The corpus of French texts coming from southern Italy has been characterized as “limited but heterogeneous” (cf. Formisano and Lee). The circumstances of both political involvement and literary activity differed greatly from those in the north, so that the types of French language texts produced in Southern Italy differed as well. Among these texts were:
1.) Diplomatic records from the court of Charles I;
2.) Original literary compositions from Angevin courts, including romance and theatrical texts;
3.) Translations of earlier Latin texts in French for members of the Angevin elite;
4.) Copies of French works from France in deluxe, illuminated manuscripts.
French language production in the Angevin south can best be understood in the context of the wider cultural programs promoted by successive French rulers, encompassing works of art and architecture as well as literature (cf. Bruzelius). Some modern authors have viewed the tension between imported, French techniques, and local, southern Italian artistic styles as a reflection of the political opposition French rulers experienced over the course of their two-century dominion, while others maintain that the French participated willingly in indigenous artistic endeavors, inserting themselves into the local scene rather than imposing their own style.
An unfortunate mid-fourteenth century event has hampered modern efforts to understand the full range of Angevin literary activity and influence in the Italian south. At this time, works that formed the bulk of the Angevin library were dispersed by Louis, King of Hungary, when he invaded Naples and took the library as part of his spoils.
Barone, N. “La 'Ratio Thesurariorum' della cancelleria angionina.” Archivio storico per le province napoletane10 (1885), 413-34 and 653-64; Ibid11 (1886), 5-20,175-97,415-32 and 577-96.
Coulter,C.G. “The Library of the Angevin Kings at Naples.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 74 (1944), 141-55.
Formisano, Luciano and Charmaine Lee. “Il ‘Francese di Napoli’.” In Lingue e Culture dell’Italia Meridionale (1200-1600). Edited by Paolo Trovato, 133-162. Rome: Bonacci, 1993.
Heullant-Donat, Isabelle.“Quelques réflexions autour de la cour angevine comme milieu culturel au XIVe siècle,” in L’Etat Angevin. Pouvoir, culture et société entre XIIIe et XIVe siècle, 173-191. Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, 1998.
Léonard, E.G. Les Angevins de Naples. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1954.
Monti, G.M.. “Gli Angioni di Napoli nella poesie provenzale e nella poesia popolare napoletana.” In Nuovi Studi Angioni. Edited by G.M. Monti, 407-436. Trani: Vecchi, 1937.
Pollastri, S. “Les Burson d'Anjou, barons de Nocera puis Comtes de Satriano (1268-1400).” In La Noblesse dans les territories angevins a la fin du moyen age. Actes du colloque international organise par l'Universite d'Angers, Angers-Saumur, 3-6 Juin 1998. Edited by N. Coulet and J.-M. Matz, 89-114. Rome, 2000.
Rotilli, M. Miniatura francese a Napoli. Benevento: Museo del Sannio,1968.
Sabatini, Francesco. Napoli angioina: Cultura e società. Naples: Edizioni scientifiche italiane, 1975.
Singer, Julie. “Neapolitan Translations, Boccaccio's ‘Andreuccio da Perugia’ (Decameron II.5).” The Comparatist 31 (2007), 29-49.
Perriccioli Saggese, A. “Viaggi di codici, viaggi di artisti: alcuni casi verificatisti a Napoli fra duecento e Trecento.” In Le vie del medioeveo. Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Parma, 28 settembre- 1 ottobre 1998. Edited by A.C. Quintavalle, Milan: Electa, 2000.
Bruzelius, Caroline.The Stones of Naples: church building in Angevin Italy, 1266-1343. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.
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Charles I of Anjou
Charles of Anjou, the last of seven sons of King VIII of France was the first of the "Italian Angevins" installed in the south of Italy along with his supporters. Charles of Anjou was instrumental in bringing French literary culture to the south of Italy, and promoting the use of the French language within his kingdom and among his descendants.
Herde, Peter. “Carlo I d’Angiò nella Storia del Mezzogiorno.” Unità Politica e Differenze Regionali nel Regno di Sicilia. Lecce: Congedo Editore, 1992.
. “Carlo I d’Angiò.” In Studien zur Papst- und Reichsgeschichte, zur Geschichte des Mittelmeeraumes und aum kanonischen Recht in Mittelalter, vol. 2, pp. 313-352. Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 2002.
Dispersal of the Angevin Library, ca. 1348
As per Isabelle Heullant-Donat in“Quelques réflexions,” cited above, the library of the Angevins was dispersed by King Louis of Hungary, who came to Naples in 1348 to avenge the death of his brother. King Louis offered the contents of the library to his doctor, Giovanni Conversino, who then divided it into three different parts: the first he carried back personally to Hungary for his own use; the second, sent off for his personal use as well, was lost on the journey; and the third he sent to his son, Tommaso del Frignano, whose son Giovanni received only some of the works from the third portion in 1375.
Bibliography for this tale is the following:
Dykmans, R. “Robert d’Anjou” in La vision bienheureuse. Traité envoyé au pape Jean XXII,” 34-42. Edited by R. Dykmans. Rome, 1970.
Gargan, L. “Per la biblioteca di Giovanni Conversini,” in Vestigia. Studi in onore di Giuseppe Billanovich, 365-385. Edited by R.A. Vesani et al., Rome, 1984.
Sabbadini, R. Giovanni da Ravenna insigne figura d’umanista (1343-1408). Turin, 1961.
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