- The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford (Appendix IV) by Sir Walter Scott
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The Journal of Sir Walter Scott from the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford
Appendix IV

by Sir Walter Scott

"A Former Empress."—p.

The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine contains relics dear alike to the romance of democracy and empire. It was from this church that Masaniello harangued the fickle populace in vain; it was here that he was despatched by three bandits in the pay of the Duke of Maddaloni; and here he found an honourable interment during a rapid reflux of popular favour. In this church, too, lies Conradin the last prince of the great house of Suabia, with his companion in arms and in death, Frederic, son of the Margrave of Baden, with pretensions, through his mother, to the Dukedom of Austria. The features of the mediæval building have long since been obliterated by reconstructions of the 17th and 18th centuries, while round the tomb of Conradin a tissue of fictions has been woven by the piety and fondness of after times. The sceptics of modern research do not, however, forbid us to believe that there may be an element of truth in the beautiful legend of the visit and benefactions of Elizabeth Margaret of Bavaria, the widowed mother of Conradin, erroneously dignified with the title of Empress, to the resting-place of her son. Her statue in the convent, with a purse in her hand, seems to attest the tale, which was no doubt related to the Scottish Poet, and may well have stirred his fancy. What the epitaph was which he copied we cannot now determine. It is not pretended that the unhappy lady was buried here, but two inscriptions commemorate the ferocity of Charles of Anjou, and the vicissitudes of fortune which befell his victims. One, believed to be of great antiquity, is attached to a cross or pillar erected at the place of execution. It breathes the insolence of the conqueror mingled with a barbarous humour embodied in a play on words—for "Asturis" has a double reference to the kite and to the place "Astura," at which the fugitive Princes were captured:
"Asturis ungue Leo Pullum rapiens Aquilinum
Hic deplumavit, acephalumque dedit."

The other lines, in the Church, of more modern date, are conceived in a humaner spirit, and may possibly be those which touched the heart of the old worshipper of chivalry.

Ossibvs et memoriæ Conradini de Stovffen, vltimi ex sva progenie Sveviæ dveis, Conradi Rom. Regis F. et Friderici II, imp. nepotis, qui cvm Siciliæ et Apvliæ regna exercitv valido, vti hereditaria vindicare proposvisset, a Carolo Andegavio I. hvivs nominis rege Franco cæperani in agro Palento victvs et debellatvs extitit, deniqve captvs cvm Frederico de Asbvrgh vltimo ex linea Avstriæ dvce, itineris, ac eivsdem fortvnæ sotio, hic cvm aliis (proh scelvs) a victore rege secvri percvssvs est.

Pivm Neap. coriariorvm collegivm, hvmanarvm miseriarvm memor, loco in ædicvlam redacto, illorvm memoriam ab interitv conservavit.

(For the details of the death of Conradin and the stories connected with his memory see Summonte, Storia di Napoli, vol. ii. Celano, Notizie di Napoli Giornata Quarta, and St. Priest, Histoire de la Conquête de Naples, vol. iii.)

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