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Ediet of the King of Naples respecting the Nobleffe. FERDINAND IV. by the grace of God King of the Two
Sicilies, &c. The noblesle of a well-regulated monarchy is its most folid pillar and its best support, as it is also its glory when it bas for the basis of its conduct fidelity and valour-sublime object, to which alone should tend all those institutions, which in monarchies place the nobility as a distinguished and illustrious body amongst the other orders of the state. It is therefore with the most sensible grief that we have lately observed the Sedili and Piazze* of the city of Naples remain in total indifference to the situation of the state, and trust and abandon their fortunes to a troop of corrupt young men, without any attachment to the cause of God and ourselves, suffering them, as is notoriously known, to attack our supreme authority, without opposing that usurpation made upon the power which our Vicar General holds solely and legitimately from us. And although the persons elected and deputed, after having criminally exceeded the limits of their power (yielding, perhaps, to momentary remorse, and embarrassed by circumstances), gave in their resignation to the Piazze, the latter did not think proper to accept it, thereby confirming the revolt and sedition of the elected and the deputies, when it was in their power to accept their resignation, and to select persons known for their attachment to religion and the throne. The Piazze should have done more, and the moment it perceived the excelles committed by the elected and the deputies, thould have revoked the powers with which it intrusted them, and have made choice of more honest and more faithful subjects. Our royal and very merciful mind is far from supposing, in the individuals composing the Piazze, any hostile design or want of attachment to our royal crown: but we could not avoid observing, in those institutions themselves, an intrinsic vice which tended to discourage the good, and afforded to the wicked the means of doing mischief. It has been for a long time known that the wife and honeft Cavalieri had little influence, or rather none at all, in the meetings of the Sedili; for the votes being given by numbers, and not by families, inconsiderate young persons, degenerated or perverted by the corruption of the times, composing the majority in the resolutions, the election frequently fell upon unworthy objects: they, by these means, became a cause of scandal to the good, by reason of their cabals, which procured employment for persons who made them an object of lucre or abuse. Thus the acceflion to the Se
• The names of Piazze and Sedili are given to those places where the nobles assemble to deliberate on the admission of candidates, or to elect public officers for the city or the kingdom. These monuments are as ancient as the time of the Hetrurians. Vol. X.
dili, an obje&t so delicate to an illustrious and ancient nobility, had more than once become a fhaineful traffic ; insomuch that, in latter times, being informed that sums of money had been des posited for that purpose, we opposed this scandalous aggregation, because, when nobility is purchased, and not the reward of fidelity and valour, as well as the result of a long series of generations (which, while they live nobly, distinguished themselves for valour and fidelity), it ceases to be ihe glory and support of a monarchy. As it is not befitting the Crown to permit amongst the nobles, inftitutions which degræle them and us, after having reconquered the kingdom of Naples by the aflittance of God and the force of our victorious arms, it is our duty to abolish and reform these vicious institutions, which have been introduced into the state, and which do not correspond with those principles of inviolable ridelity to which we are entitled. We therefore think it necessary to bring back to their primitive and effential object, those degraded initi utions, and for that purpose have resolved to give to the nobility of Naples a new form, which will restore to it at the same time its lustre and its splendour.- What has most contributed to this our determination is, that some persons had the boldness to send forth a publication in defence of the elected and the deputies of the Piazze, maintaining that when the enemy was at Aversa they had the privilege of presenting bin with the keys, and of fub. mitting to the conqueror, whoever he may be, as also of taking a part in the government at the approach of an enemy-absurd privileges, which never existed, and which never could be imagined but by the extreme of baseness. As we cannot support any institution which dares to pretend to such privileges (for that would be to authorize cowardice and indifference to the interests of the state, and anarchy and insubordination in critical conjunctures,) we, by this our sovereign edict, to have effea in perpetuity, by our fupreme power and plenitude of right which belongs to us in virtue of the reconqueft which we have made of the capital and the kingdom, abolish for ever the Piazzes and Sedili of the city of Naples, and prohibit them from allembling, under the pains of felony to those who shall call or form such meetings, revoking and annulling all laws, capitularies, and concessions heretofore granted to those Piazzes. Consequently we entirely abolith the body of the elected, or of the tribunal of St. Laurent, and all the deputations of the city, reserving to ourselves to provide hereafter by the present edi&t for the government of the affairs of the university of the city of Naples, in respect to subsistence, and other matters directed by the tribunal of St. Laurent, and the other tribunals and deputations of the city, which are hereby established for ever. We therefore create a new tribunal, to be called the Supreme Conservatory Tribunal of the Nobility of the Kingdom of Naples, which shall be composed of a president and fix counsel
lors, taken from amongst the upright Cavalieri, distinguished by their attachment to the crown, their maximns, and their elevated sentiments : and we grant this tribunal the honours of excellency. The functions of this most noble fupreme tribunal will efTentially be, to preserve always inviolate the purity and the distinction of noble families; to keep alive in the noblesse the principles of honour, fidelity, and valour; and to prepare and propose all the ordinances which we shall judge fit to illue on these great and important objects. It ihall be charged in the first place to preserve an exact register of all the families which were inscribed on the Piazze and Sedili of Naples; which register shall be called the Golden Book of the Neapolitan Nobility; reserving to ourselves. only, in the plenitude of our power, in confideration of the signal services and acknowledged antiquity of the noblesse, to inscribe in the said Golden Book the most distinguished and meritorious of our subjects, together with their families. The aforesaid tribunal shall also keep a register of all the families not inscribed amongst the Sedili, but which have been in possession of fiefs for at least 200 years. It shall also keep a register of all the families who have received the privileges of the Order of Malta, specifying the time at which they were received, and shall preserve another register of all the nobles inscribed on the Sedili Chiusi, stating, in a separate book, the families and individuals, who, being in the above-mentioned class but not in the Golden Book, are domiciliated in Naples. And as we ardently desire that those senti. ments of honour, which are the best appendages of a noble heart, thould be inviolably preserved in the nobility, this tribunal shall be careful to institute the severest inquiries into the conduct of those nobles who shall be deficient in it, and erase (after having made a previous report to us) such as are nobles of that class from the Golden Book, as well as the other registers; and declare such as may be of the other classes deprived of the honours, prerogatives, and pre-eminences of their rank. The supreme tribunal conservative of the noblesse of the kingdom of Naples thall cause every year to be printed a list of the individuals who shall incur such degradation, and the persons so degraded shall never be admitted to the royal presence, nor to the exercise of any public employment. We also ordain, that two general officers of our army, and whom we shall name for that purpose, shall have deliberative voices in any judgments which the said fupreme tribunal fhall pass upon affairs of honour. The said tribunal shall also keep anotler register, to be called the Register of Merit, in which shall be related all acts of fidelity, valour, or attachment to the state, performed by the nobles of the different classes ; they shall be printed every year; and we are firmly refolved to grant honours and prerogatives to those nobles who shall be most distinguished for such conduct. The same tribunal fall form, according to
established usage, an armorial system, to be observed by all classes of nobles, and submit it for our approbation, in order to be published and irrevocably executed. We create and establish for governing the affairs of the university of Naples, a royal senate, confisting of a president and eight fenators, who shall exercise for a year the fun&tions attributed to the supreme tribunal of St. Laurent. They shall be nominated by us, and selected from the molt upright of our subjects. The president and two of the fenators shall be taken from amongst the nobles of the Golden Book two from those, who, though not in the Golden Book, shall be infcribed on other registers, and domiciliated at Naples-two from the order of the long robe, and the remaining two from the body of traders. And as we are desirous that the said senate should have all requisite authority in every thing that concerns subsistence, even greater than that which the tribunal of St. Laurent poffeffed, we abolith the place of prefect of provisions, and the appeal to our royal chamber of St. Clare; and will that, after the installation of the senate, all matters relating to subsistence, which were before decided by the tribunal of St. Laurent, by the prefect of provifions, and the royal chamber of St. Clare, ihall be decided' without appeal, by the aforesaid fenate, in the presence, and with the suffrage of two senators of the robe, reserving to ourselves, in extraordinary cases, to revise the decisions of the senate by referring them 10 ministers. The robes of the senate shall be the same as in the city of Palermo. The royal senate, in the aggregate, thall have the title of Excellency. It thall possess the same prerogatives and honours, shall be admitted to public ceremonies, and the honour of " killing the King's hand," with the same distin&tion that was before enjoyed by the tribunal of St. Laurent. Every senator shall, in his monthly turn, exercise the office of the King's justiciary, and propose the subjects of most importance to the senate. The functions of an elect by the people shall be monthly discharged by one of the traders in turn. It will be his duty to propose all matters of grievance to the senate. He shall attentively watch that good order be preserved in the market and other places. The merchants shall, as heretofore, be under his inspectioit, and he shall proceed according to the ordinary and accustomed forms. We re-create the tribunal of the fortifications, water, and pavement of the city of Naples, and order that it be composed of a superintendent as heretofore, of two deputies taken from the Golden Book, and two nobles resident at Naples, from the other registers of a merchant and a lawyer; all of whom thall be appointed by us, and fhall exercise for twelve months the functions heretofore alligned the tribunal of fortifications. We order the general tribunal of health to continue its interesting functions as before, only giving to it the following new form :-It Thall consist of a superintendent, who fall have the same powers which he policiled before,
and of twelve deputies, four taken from the nobles of the Golden Book, two from the nobles of the other registers, three from the clafs of merchants, and three from that of lawyers. They shall remain in office as long as we please, and shall have the same functions as the former tribunal of health. We preserve the office of Portolano in the same state in which it existed before. He shall be nominated by us annually, selecting him in alternate years, from the nobles of the Golden Book, and ihose of the other registers. We also preserve the deputation of the office of Rtgio Portolano, to be composed, at our selection, of lix deputies; two from the nobles of the Golden Book, two from the nobles of the other registers, and two taken indiscriminately from the class of merchants and lawyers. The chief of the Tavolary of the Royal Council shall henceforth be a person of the faculty, and we reserve to ourselves the right of appointing him, according to the report which the faculty may make of his talents and his services. All the other deputations of the city are abolished: and as to what concerns that of the city revenues to which the Piazze nominated, we will that our Lieutenant and Captain-general of the kingdoin of Naples, as also the junto of the government, fhall lay before us a suitable plan of that administration, conformably to the spirit of that establishment, and of the other revenues. The charitable purposes (@uvres piés) administered by the Piazze, shall continue, in ihe hands of some of those individuals whom we shall select from those families which had a right to them. Those families which had the exclusive right of being admitted into the monastery of St. Gregory the Armenian, shall remain in possession of that right. The royal senate of Naples, and the deputations which we have appointed by this edi&t, shall assemble in the monastery of Mount Olivet, which, as an act of our munificence, we grant them for that purpose. We will that the senate and deputations be installed the first day of every year, and that the perfons first appointed to compose them shall be proposed to us after the necefsary inquiries, and in the usual forms, by our Lieutenantgeneral of the kingdom of Naples, and by the junto of the government, and recommend that the junto which is now at the head of the provisional department of the city of Naples, should continue to exercise in the mean time its functions with the same zeal that hitherto distinguished it. Finally, Thomas D'Avalos, Marquis del Vasto and De Pescaire, having obtained every thing in order to follow us into Sicily, at the time of the invasion of the enemy, and having thus repeated the glorious example of fidelity which his illustrious grandfather, Alfonso D'Avalos, Marquis del Valto, exhibited to King Ferdinand II. our august predecestor, we have determined to confer on him a lasting proof of the gratitude of his sovereign, by creating as first baron of the kingdom of Naples, Thomas D'Avalus, Marquis del Vasto