26 September, 2015

Sant'Alberto di Butrio, Oramala, Vercelli and Pavia

I had the most amazing time in Vercelli and Pavia! Thank you so, so much to everyone I met there, especially to Gianna Baucero, Claudia Bergamini, Ivan Fowler and Mariarosa Gatti, though there are numerous others who helped to make my stay some of the most special and memorable days of my life.

On Saturday 19 September, I gave a talk about Edward II to about eighty or ninety people at the seminary in the town of Vercelli, and was honoured by the presence of His Excellency the Archbishop of Vercelli, Father Marco Arnolfo, who was kind enough to attend and to say a few opening words.  It was his predecessor Manuele Fieschi, bishop of Vercelli from 1343 to 1348, who told Edward III in the late 1330s that his father had escaped from Berkeley Castle and ultimately made his way to Italy.

The seminary in Vercelli where I gave my talk. With many thanks to His Excellency the Archbishop for his hospitality.

On Tuesday 22 September, I gave another talk about Edward in an amazing old library called the Salone Teresiano at the University of Pavia, with another sixty or so people in attendance.  On both occasions, I spoke in English and was translated into Italian, by Gianna Baucero of the Chesterton Association the first time and Ivan Fowler the second.  Needless to say, it was the possibility of Edward's survival and death in northern Italy which caught people's attention the most.  Both talks went down really well with the audience, if I do say so myself!  With any luck I'll be going back next year. :-)  I really felt like a VIP in Italy!  People asked for my autograph after the Vercelli talk, lots of people took my pic all over the place - wow!  And one of the most precious moments of my stay was being invited as a special guest to a concert of the Camerata Ducale orchestra in the San Cristoforo church in Vercelli, having my name read out to the entire audience beforehand by the priest Monsignor Salvini and being applauded by everyone there including the conductor Guido Rimonda, and being presented with a lovely gift by Monsignor Salvini.  Actually I received quite a lot of delightful and unexpected gifts, including a collection of books from the mayor of Vercelli, Maura Forte, and from the staff of the university of Pavia.  Everyone was so amazingly kind and hospitable.

I also visited the hermitage of Sant'Alberto di Butrio, or as the Fieschi Letter calls it, 'he [Edward of Caernarfon] changed himself to the castle of Cecime in another hermitage of the diocese of Pavia in Lombardy'.  An empty tomb there is claimed to have been Edward's first tomb; lots more on all this coming up in future blog posts.  Please do also visit the website of the Auramala Project; they're doing amazing work on the Fieschi Letter and are scouring archives for proof of Edward II's presence in Italy in the 1330s.

There's an article here in the local paper about my visit and my Edward II talk in Vercelli, in Italian, but there are lots of pics at the bottom you can click to enlarge.  The pics of people milling round a desk were taken after my talk, and they were waiting to get my autograph and to talk to me. :)  There's also a short video on Youtube of a dinner held in my honour at the Ca'San Sebastiano high in the hills of Montferrat, an amazing place.

The hermitage of Sant'Alberto di Butrio.

The hills around Sant'Alberto, taken on the way there; it's remote (and very pretty).

An empty tomb at Sant'Alberto said to have been Edward II's, with a helpful info board provided by the Auramala Project.

The view from Sant'Alberto (apparently you can see Milan, 60 or so miles away, on a clear day)

Google map showing the location of Sant'Alberto, between Milan, Turin and Genoa. Vercelli, where Manuele Fieschi was bishop in the 1340s, and Tortona, where his first cousin Percivalle Fieschi was bishop from 1325, are underlined.
Manuele's first cousin Percivalle Fieschi was bishop of Tortona twenty miles from Sant'Alberto from 1325 onwards, and accompanied their kinsman Cardinal Luca Fieschi, who was also a kinsman of Edward II, to England in 1317.  Luca spent time with Edward in York in September that year, and therefore Percivalle must also have seen and perhaps talked to the king.  This is one of the many reasons why it is absurd to imagine that Manuele could have been taken in by an impostor when it was so easily within his power to check the identity of the man presenting himself to him as Edward of Caernarfon.

In the middle of this pic you can just see the castle of Oramala, across the valley from Sant'Alberto (not visible away to the right). In the 1330s Oramala and the valley were controlled by the nephew of Cardinal Luca Fieschi.

The Salone Teresiano, the gorgeous old library at the university of Pavia where I gave a talk about Edward II.

My view of the room.

Beaming with joy at Edward's tomb :-)

Ivan Fowler and I at an archive in Genoa, searching for the testament of Manuele Fieschi's nephew.


Gabriele Campbell said...

Looks like you had a great time. Congrats on the Italian fame. You should change your name to Catarina to save the poor Italians from messing with the -th- in Kathryn. *grin*

(I have that problem with Gabriele being a male name in Italy.)

Undine said...

What beautiful places you visited! Congratulations on such a successful trip.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Gabriele and Undine!

Carla said...

Congratulations! Great to see that your scholarship is appreciated.
If the empty tomb is said to be Edward II's first tomb, what is said to have happened to his body later? (If this is coming up in one of your future posts, I'll look forward to it).

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Carla! Basically his body is thought to have been removed to Gloucester sometime later. But we're really in the realm of speculation here, unfortunately.

Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik said...

Welcome back, Kathryn! And congratulations! Reading the above resulted in goose bumps all over my body. I am so very happy for you and His Majesty, and so moved by your account. The visit must have been so very exciting and so full of Edward :-) And all the wonderful people you met. Congratulations :-)

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Kasia! It was amazing :) And I met so many fantastic people. Every moment was perfect ;)

Anerje said...

I can only try to guess what this visit must have meant to you. I'm so thrilled at how you were received - no more than you deserve! I'm excited at the thought of future research into Edward's survival in Italy. Congratulations!

Michele T said...

I voted for your new book! It was fantastic and I hope you win :)


Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! The Auramala Project are doing great work on the Italy side, putting in thousands of hours!

Michele, thank you so much! That's so kind. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the book and I so appreciate your nomination!

Sami Parkkonen said...

From the photos I can imagine why Eddie decided that perhaps this is the place to chill and relax. After all, he was never comfortable in the role of the king or with the court protocol. Fresh air, forests and fields to walk around, one can imagine things he perhaps did over there. And most of all, he propably found his peace there. Finally.

Anonymous said...

So glad that you had a great time ... I wish someone could download your talks onto youtube! I agree that I can understand why Edward would have wanted to stay in Italy.


Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Esther! With any luck my Vercelli speech, or some of it, might be available sometime. News of it here, if so!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Look forward to seeing your speech. Have you seen Piers de Gaveston on the show The Bastard Executioner? Edward and Piers are in the 4th episode.

Kathryn Warner said...

Oooooh, will have to see if I can watch it online! Had heard mixed reviews of it, and somehow thought it was set in Edward III's reign. If it's Edward II, I'm suddenly much more interested. :)