The Sicilian Vespers Riot

  • Wars And Conflict
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

At The Hour of Vespers (Evening Prayer Services common in The Middle Ages), in Palermo, Italy (1282) – a riot broke out that by it's end – signaled the fall of The Angevin Government in Sicily. The People of Sicily still had “agreeable” memories of their past Rulers – The Hohenstaufen Dynasty.The current “Masters” The Angevins (in particular one King Charles I of Anjou), was a harsh task master. Increased taxes to defray his “costs” of ousting The Hohenstaufen – were passed on the the populace. Coupled with arrogant French Aristocracy and brutal French soldiers, the “match to the oil” was very near. On the “Holy Hour” of Vespers, a marriage was finishing outside a local Church. A nearby French Officer said a comment about the Bride (that her Groom took offense). A dagger, a sword – and soon the streets of Palermo were filled with angry Sicilians – attacking ANYTHING French.

Shops that “supplied” The Invaders were looted and burnt. French soldiers were attacked in the street and killed or butchers. Even The Clergy (seen as ineffective with their help to stop the injustices), were attacked (and killed). It was said Sicilian women found pregnant by French soldiers, had their “issue” torn out and thrown into the streets. It was a bloodbath of epic proportions. In the end, some 3,000 French Soldiers were dead. Over 1,100 Sicilian “collaborators” were butchered. Soon, the riot had spread from Palermo to the entire Island of Messina. Any French Nobleman (or his Family), was targeted.

Charles I swore revenge and began to mass an Army. The Pope in Rome (Martin IV), declared the rebels “excommunicate”. Seeing a “break” in the chaos, the rebels made overtones to Peter III (Aragon). Although French, he was NOT of The Avgevin line. Peter sent his Navy into Sicily. Invading and ousting Charles Government, The Pope did nothing. The fighting between The remaining Angevin Royalty and The Sicilians would continue for 10 years – before The Peace of Caltabellotta would be signed in 1302. However, seeing their effect on the previous Government, many of the rebels would continue their attempted control of Government politics, continued graft and murder for hire (assassins). These “Vesper Rebels” would be given a much different name in decades to come - “La Familia” (or “The Family”). This groups will eventually evolve into – The Mafia.