Anello, Thomas

, commonly called Massaniello, one of the names introduced in biographical collections, although more properly belonging to history, was a fisherInan of Naples, and the author of a temporary revolution, which ended as such tumultuous measures generally end, without meliorating the state of the people who have been induced to take an active part in them. In 1623, when this man was born, the kingdom of Naples was subject to the house of Austria, and governed by a viceroy. The Neapolitans had supported the government in this house with great loyalty and liberality, and submitted themselves to many voluntary impositions and burthensome taxes in support of it. But in 1646, the necessities of the king requiring it, a new donative was projected, and a design was formed to lay a fresh tax upon fruits, comprehending 9,11 sorts, dry or green, as far as mulberries, grapes, figs, apples, pears, &c, The people, being thus deprived of their ordinary subsistence, took a resolution to disburden themselves, not only of this, but of all other insupportable exactions formerly imposed. They made their grievances known to the viceroy by the public cries and lamentations of women and children, as he passed through the market place, and petitioned him, by means of the cardinal Filomarino, the archbishop, and others, to take off the said tax. He promised to redress the grievance, and convened proper persons to find out some method to take off the tax on ifruits. But the farmers, because it was prejudicial to their | interest, found some secret means to frustrate his endeavours, and dissuaded him from performing his promise to the people; representing to him, that all the clamour was made by a wretched rabble only, not worth regarding.

Thomas Anello, or Massaniello, now in the 24th year of his age, dwelt in a corner of the great market-place at Naples. He was stout, of a good countenance, and a middle stature. He wore linen slops, a blue waistcoat, and went barefoot, with a mariner’s cap. His profession was to angle for little fish with a cane, hook, and line, as also to buy fish and to retail them. This man, having observed the murmurings up and down the city, went one day very angry towards his house, and met with the famous Bandito Perrone and his companion, as he passed by a church where they had fled for refuge. They asked him, what ailed him. He answered in great wrath, “I will be bound to be hanged, but I will right this city.” They laughed at his words, saying, “A proper squire to right the city of Naples!” Massaniello replied, “Do not laugh I swear by God, if I had two or three of my humour, you should see what I could do. Will you join with me?” They answered, “Yes.” “Plight me then your faith:” which they having done, he departed. A little after, when his fish was taken from him by some of the court, because he had not paid the tax, he resolved to avail himself of the murmurings of the people against the tax on fruit. He went among the fruit-shops that were in that quarter, advising them that the next day they should come all united to market, with a resolution to tell the country fruiterers that they would buy no more taxed fruit.

A number of boys used to assemble in the market-place to pick up such fruit as fell. Massaniello got among these, taught them some cries and clamours suited to his purpose, and enrolled such a number of them between 16 and 17 years of age, that they canoe to be 500, and at last 2000. Of this militia he made himself general, giving every one of them in their hands a little weak cane. The shopkeepers observing his instructions, there happened the next day a great tumult between them‘ and the fruiterers, which the regent of the city sent Anaclerio, the elect of the people, to quell. Among the fruiterers was a cousin of Massaniello’s, who, according to the instructions given him, began more than any to inflame the people. He saw that he could sell his fruit but at a low price, which, whan | the tax was paid, would not quit cost. He pretended t fall into a great rage, threw two large baskets on the ground, and cried out, “God gives plenty, and the bad government a dearth: I care not a straw for this fruit, let every one take of it.” While the boys eagerly ran to gather and eat the fruit, Massaniello rushed in among them, crying, “No tax! no tax!” and when Anaclerio threatened him with whipping and the gallies, not only the fruiterers, but all the people, threw figs, apples, and other fruits with great fury in his face. Massaniello hit him on the breast with a stone, and encouraged his militia of boys to do the same, which obliged Anaclerio to save his life by flight.

Upon this success, the people flocked in great numbers to the market-place, exclaiming aloud against the intolerable grievances under which they groaned, and protesting their resolution to submit no longer to them. The fury still increasing, Massaniello leaped upon the highest table that was among the fruiterers, and harangued the crowd; comparing himself to Moses, who delivered the Egyptians from the rod of Pharaoh; to Peter, who was a fisherman as well as himself, yet rescued Rome and the world from the slavery of Satan; promising them a like deliverance from their oppressions by his means, and protesting his readiness to lay down his life in such a glorious cause. Massaniello repeated these and such like words until he had inflamed the minds of the people, who were soon disposed to co-operate with him to this purpose.

To begin the work, fire was put to the house next the toll-house for fruit, both which were burnt to the ground, with all the books and accounts, and goods and furniture. This done, every one shut up his shop, and, the numbers increasing, many thousand people uniting themselves went to other parts of the city, where all the other toll-houses were: them they plundered of all their writings and books, great quantities of money, with many rich moveables; all which they threw into a great fire of straw, and burnt to ashes in the streets. The people, meeting with no resistance, assumed more boldness, and made towards the palace of the viceroy. The first militia of Massaniello, consisting of 2000 boys, marched on, every one lifting up his cane with a piece of black cloth on the top, and with loud cries excited the compassion, and entreated the assistance of their fellow-citizens. Being come before the palace, they | eried out that they would not be freed of the fruit-tax only, but of all others, especially that of corn. At last they entered the palace and rifled it, notwithstanding the resistance of the guards, whom they disarmed. The viceroy got into his coach to secure himself within the church or St. Lewis, but the people, spying him, stopped the coach, and with naked swords on each side of it threatened him, unless he would take off the taxes. With fair promises, and assurances of redress, and by throwing money among the multitude, which they were greedy to pick up, he got at last safe into the church, and ordered the doors to be shut. The people applied to the prince of Bisignano, who was much beloved by them, to be their defender and intercessor. He promised to obtain what they desired; but finding himself unable, after much labour and fatigue, to restrain their licentiousness, or quell their fury, he took the first opportunity of retiring from the popular tumult.

After the retirement of the prince, the people, finding themselves without a head, called out for Massaniello to be their leader and conductor, which charge he accepted. They appointed Genoino, a priest of approved knowledge, temper, and abilities, to attend his person; and to him they added for a companion the famous Bandito Perrone. Massaniello, by his spirit, good sense, and bravery, won the hearts of all the people, insomuch that they became willing to transfer unto him solemnly the supreme command, and to obey him accordingly. A stage was erected in the middle of the market-place, where, clothed in white like a mariner, he with his counsellors gave public audience, received petitions, and gave sentence in all causes both civil and criminal. He had no less than 150,000 men under his command. An incredible multitude of women also appeared with arms of various sorts, like so many Amazons. A list was made of above 60 persons, who had farmed the taxes, or been some way concerned in the custom-houses; and, as it was said they had enriched themselves with the blood of the people, and ought to be made examples to future ages, an order was issued, that their houses and goods should be burnt; which was executed accordingly, and with so much regularity, that no one was suffered to carry away the smallest article. Many, for stealing mere trifles from the flames, were hanged by the public executioner in the market-place, by the command of Massaniello.

While these horrid tragedies were acting, the viceroy | thought of every method to appease the people, and bring them to an accommodation. He applied to the archbishop, of whose attachment to the government he was well assured, and of whose paternal care and affection for them the people had no doubt. He gave him the original charter of Charles V. (which exempted them from all taxes, and upon which they had all along insisted) confirmed by lawful authority, and likewise an indulgence or pardon for all offences whatsoever committed. The bishop found means to induce Massaniello to convoke all the captains and chief commanders of the people together, and great hopes were conceived that an happy accommodation would ensue. In the mean time 500 banditti, all armed on horseback, entered the city, under pretence that they came for the service of the people, but in reality to destroy Massaniello, as it appeared afterwards; for they discharged several shot at him, some of which very narrowly missed him. This put a stop to the whole business, and it was suspected that the viceroy had some hand in the conspiracy. The streets were immediately barricaded, and orders were given that the aqueduct leading to the castle, in which were the viceroy and family, and all the principal officers ofr state, should be cut off, and that no provisions, except some few roots and herbs, should be carried thither. The riceroy applied again to the archbishop, to assure the people of his sincere good intentions towards them, his, abhorrence of the designs of the banditti, and his resolution to use all his authority to bring them to due punishment. Thus the treaty’ was again renewed, and soon completed; which being done, it was thought proper that Massaniello should go to the palace to visit the viceroy. He gave orders that all the streets leading to it should be clean swept, and that all masters of families should hang their windows and balconies with their richest silks and tapestries. He threw off his mariner’s habit, and dressed himself in cloth of silver, with a fine plume of feathers in his hat and mounted upon a prancing steed, with a drawn sword in his hand, he went attended by 50,000 of the people.

While he was in conference with the viceroy in a balcony, he gave him surprising proofs of the ready obedience of the people. Whatever cry he gave out, it was immediately echoed; when he put his finger upon his mouth, there was such a profound universal silence, that scarce a man | was heard to breathe. At last he ordered that they should all retire, which was punctually and presently obeyed, as if they had all vanished away. On the Sunday following the capitulations were signed and solemnly sworn to in the cathedral church to be observed for ever. Massaniello declared, that now, having accomplished his honest designs, he would return again to his former occupation. If he iiad kept this resolution, he might, perhaps, have been ranked among the benefactors of his country; but either through the instigations of his wife and kindred, through fear, or allured by the tasted sweets of rule and power, he still continued Lis authority: and exercised it in such a capricious and tyrannical manner, that his best friends began to be afraid of him.

He seems indeed to have fallen into a frensy, which might naturally enough be occasioned by his sudden elevation, his care and vigilance (for he seldom either ate or slept during the whole transaction), and by his immoderate drinking of strong wine, which excess he gave into on the happy event. Four persons took an opportunity of assassinating him. As he fell, he only cried out, “Ungrateful traitors!” His head was thrown into one ditch, and his body into another. The tumult, however, did not subside until the Neapolitans were entirely freed from the yoke of Spain. 1


Modern Universal History, vol. XXV.