Castle Carpignano

1) Section from the book Castelli delle Marche (Castles of the Marche), by the Italian Castle Institute.

2) Article from magazine “La voce Settempedana” – Anno XLVIII n.43 - 27 october 2001

3) Dictionary of ecclesiastical historical erudition. Compilation of the knight Gaetano Moroni Romano (second assistant of room of His Holiness Pius IX)

 

Below are several passages taken from the book: Castelli delle Marche (Castles of the Marche), by the Italian Castle Institute.

Carpignano (Castrum Carpignani)

Below are several passages taken from the book: Castelli delle Marche (Castles of the Marche), by the Italian Castle Institute.

We are very pleased to dedicate this piece to Carpignano, the military defence castle of San Severino, undoubtedly not very well-known but fascinating.

 

Located in the middle of a valley south-east of San Severino on the left of the Cesolone stream, this fortification from its unusual position had considerable strategic importance for about a thousand years. The proximity of the stream and watermill perhaps increased its importance.

 

Almost at an equidistance between the ancient towns of San Severino Marche (10Km), Tolentino (4Km) and Serrapetrona (6Km), it was keenly sought-after, to the extent of being destroyed and rebuilt several times.

 

The toponym dates back to the Roman age, Carpinianum 1.

The examination of what remains of the castle reveals first and foremost an unusual position, almost in contrast with the standard castles that favoured sites naturally prepared for defence. Being situated in a valley, flanked by hills, it does not seem that it was built for defence purposes. Clearly the tower that stands was erected (this is the oldest and still the most eminent construction) as a look-out turret which, in the course of  the centuries, had to undergo maintenance and radical renovation work to meet the changing demands of war, being forced to equip itself with firearms.

 

Already from the XIII century the castle belonged to San Severino. It was the subject of repeated destructions and then major adjustments and reinforcements in 1471 with the work of Pier Martino Cenci, consul of San Severino 2. The square master tower was the first part to be renovated, being covered with an anti-bombard foundation, that didn’t just surround the donjon. In fact the architect created a sort of anomalous rafter with which to harness the tower on the SE and SW sides and with the corner facing towards the NE, right towards the street that runs above the castle, so that it could divert bomb attacks fired from that position.

The system used to access this tiny fortress was extremely interesting. It was composed of a sling-rafter (inaccessible by the main stairs) and the master tower.

One accessed it by means of wooden stairs and footbridges resting on beams that were lodged in specific putlog holes, which still exist today.

 

By pulling up the movable staircase resting on the ground, the control tower remained isolated. If particular security or emergency situations meant  that any easy possibility of ascent was to be avoided, the footbridges that surrounded parts of the base rafter were removed or quickly destroyed and the tower was completely isolated, ready to defend to the bitter end. Even if one reached the battle floor, to enter the actual tower one had to get over another obstacle of some metres 3.

 

Both the sling-rafter and the tower were probably equipped with machicolations  to be in keeping with the fifteenth-century developments. This would therefore have also included a crenellated parapet and shot-holes.

Nothing, however has remained that can vouch for this architectonic expedient that would have defended the castle both from above and below. The hypothesis that we suggest foresees both the described entrance system and the defence system through machicolations.

The counterscarp of the base sling is evident (but not exaggerated).

The platform of the sling, besides being used to keep watch and protect the castle gate, was also used to plant bombards and semi-portable artillery with which to repel any demolition attacks fired from the road-side. It is clearly from there that one feared the most attacks.

About a third of the top of the tower is cut off, and currently stands at a height of about 25 metres. It is difficult to hypothesize how it was originally divided, perhaps into 5 or 6 floors.

 

It is a fact that two thirds of today’s construction (sling and tower) is inaccessible internally. It is evident that the tower would have also been used below the floor of the entrance room.

Recent restorations have obstructed any possible access to the lower floors which, in all probability, would have lead to underground escape passages, in case of siege, when the tower could no longer be defended or it had to be restocked.

But the castle used the wall with towers and an entrance gate. Let’s consider them separately.

 

First of all, let’s examine the castle gate (ianua castri), of which remains very little - only the supporting round arch. The gate, facing west, was placed in the NE corner of the circuit, which has an irregularly trapezoidal layout. The north-west façade of the castle was therefore made up of the main gate, part of the curtain wall and a small battlement tower interrupting the line of the wall, which we will discuss in a moment.

The ianua castri was made up of an edifice delimited by two curtain lines (North and West) and by a perimeter wall that delimited the guardhouse. On the whole, the remains of the complex, even though restored, are in bad condition.

The castle gate was probably surmounted by a crowning with corbels and machicolations of which there is nothing left. Continuing from the gate towards NW, it appears that the curtain wall was interrupted in order to build the current road to the entrance of the castle. The wall was angled towards south, and then replaced by a small group of houses.

A circular clipped turret, slightly sloped, interrupts the fortified circuit, then the curtain continues until it is angled again towards the east. Here, the badly deteriorated buildings show evidence that there were once perhaps constructions of the fortified complex which had a practical purpose. The south-eastern façade of the castle no longer exists (demolished). Only a circular turret remains, similar to the one already seen and cut off at the top with a cover for living purposes.

Facing NE,  the turret flanked both the SE curtain wall and the north-west one, now replaced by the parish church. Originally the curtain wall that branched off from the turret joined the base part of the master tower, and then went on to join the castle gate. The circuit is therefore relatively small - about 200 metres and built in sandstone, as was the whole fortified complex.

 

A stone coat of arms, embedded upside down into the facade of a house overlooking the keep, (due to disdain or simple ignorance), perhaps shows evidence that the castle belonged to the Guelphic faction. In fact, there is a carved rampant lion and a band that crosses the triangular shield.

As with many castles, Carpignano also seems to hide a treasure, as from the eighteenth century onwards, treasure seekers flocked to search for it between the centuries-old walls4.

 

A final observation: the position of Carpignano, as mentioned, is not seemingly one of the best.

Nevertheless, those who have been able to climb up to the top of the tower have said that they could pick out the tower of the Castle of Pitino - therefore allowing one to exchange signals that could gradually reach the central control tower of the fortified zone: San Severino5.

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(1)  G. Boccanera, Serrapetrona, Macerata, 1982. On the subject of toponyms, let’s recall what was recorded by R.Paciaroni in “L’Appennino Camerte” no.1 of 9 January 1971: “The toponymy of the Marche at times provides elements that serve to attribute a physiognomy to the landscape that with time can also profoundly change. Some names make a clear reference, for example, to the vegetation. In this way, Carpignano, or as read in the ancient parchments “Carpagnano”, might only mean a woody place with hornbeams. Carpignano’s territory remained predominantly woody until the late Middle Ages and this makes the etymology more plausible.                                                                                         According to the historian, V.E.Oleandri, one can conjecture that the name Carpignano derives from a “fundo Calpeniano” from the Roman people Calpena (cfr. “La cella farfense di S.Mariano e l’origine del Castello di Colleluce” – page 7). To back up this conjecture, a passage is quoted from a gravestone coming from the ancient Settempeda where it reads “C.CALPENVS / … DES”. In the work “Toponomastica Marchigiana” (“Toponymy of the Marche”) (vol.IV) by Giulio Amadio, it says instead how Carpignano is derived from a “praedium Carpinianum” from the gentilitial name “Carpinius”. However, these two etymologies  deriving from a possession (“fundo” and “praedium”) of “Calpenus” or rather “Carpinius” do not seem very likely. The reconstruction of the small fortress goes back to the XIII-XIV century : the evidence of this is the bull of Urbano VI (17 February 1379) with which he confirmed the vicariate of San Severino to Bartolomeo Smeducci for ten years and then extended it to the castles of Apiro, Domo, Ficano, Rotorscio, Monteacuto, Castelletta, Staffolo and Carpignano. An event of major importance for our city was the expulsion of the Smeducci family in June 1426. Following this revolution, the town, already loyal to the vicariate by these squires, was from now on only dependent on the sovereignty of the Church. Under the new municipal statute, ordered in the same year 1426 and completed at the beginning of 1427, in the 60th  rubric of the first book, Carpignano is named among the castles placed under the municipality of San Severino: “…eligantur per concilium generale, quatuor boni sapientes et legales viri de hominibus Sancti Severini, unus per quarterium, qui teneantur semel saltem in anno, vel plus pro ut ratio temporis… ire ad castrum Galei, Collis Lucis, Carpignani…”.

(2)  “There were two inscriptions, now lost, in which was written: P.MARTINUS. CENCI F.F HOC CASTRUM / M. “CCC.”LXXI.” P.MARTINUS. CEN CH. F.F.HOC. CASTRV”, in V.E.Aleandri, new guide of San Severino Marche, San Severino 1898.

(3)  Originally, when the tower was not yet stocked with anti-bombard slings, the entrance passage was about fifteen metres from today’s level, supposing that the tower had not been surrounded by a moat; in which case the difference in level would have been greater.

(4)  G.Paciaroni, Ricerche di tesori nascosti nel Sanseverinate (Searches for hidden treasures in  San Severino), Circolo cittadino, San Severino Marche, 1991.

(5)  To add to what has already been quoted, let us note other articles by R.Paciaroni on the subject: “Resti di castelli sanseverinati” (“Remains of San Severino castles”), in “L’Appennino Camerte”, no.13 of 29 March 1980; “Il Castello di Carpignano” (“The Castle of Carpignano”), in “L’Appennino Camerte”, no.43 of 31 October 1987; “La chiesa di Carpignano” (“The Church of Carpignano”) in “L’Appennino Camerte”, no.9 of 5 March 1977.

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Article taken from the magazine "La voce Settempedana” - Year XLVIII n.43 of 27 October 2001

Carpignano Castle

  Carpignano castle is a military architectural jewel and part of the San Severino defensive system of castles.  Dominated by a powerful bridge house with an ancient keep it is supported by high polygonal bedrock where traces can still be found of the hollows left from one of the old wooden escalator systems used to access the tower. 

  Situated in a strategic position downstream, on the left bank of the Cesolone River, it was the object of a long dispute between San Severino and the neighbouring areas.  The castle was conquered and re-conquered many times, destroyed and reconstructed.  In 1379 it was handed over from Pope Urbano VI to Bartolomeo Smeducci but once again conquered and only in 1471 did it enter into the possession of San Severino.  In the same year inscriptions, that have since been lost over time, testified that Consul Piermartino Cenci expanded and reinforced the castle so that it could sustain potential artillery attacks. 

  The castle has an approximately 200 metre perimeter and there are still the remains of the original boundary wall, the arc and the three circular turrets on a slight slope, currently used for residential purposes.

  In the wall of on of the houses that faces the keep, you can find a Guelfi emblem of a rampant lion carved in stone and placed upside down (perhaps originally due to contempt), luckily not yet covered over by plaster and which bears witness to the quarrels of the past and the affiliation of the castle to the Guelfi fraction.

  Many years ago, the female Benedictine monastery of S.Claudio was located here in the San Severino castle, but it was then transferred to Sassuglio for reasons of safety.

  Here stands the ancient church dedicated to St. Mary Assunta, mentioned for the first time in a parchment of 1241 in which Phillip, Bishop of Camerino, was able to grant certain rights to churches and chapels, appointing Carpignano to the S. Mariano Val Fabiano abbey to raise its fates after an attack suffered under the troops of Frederick II.

  Following the union of the monastery of St Martino to that of Valfucina in 1327, the Church of Carpignano was joined to the collegiate church of S. Venanzio of Camerino.  In 1586, after the San Severino diocese was restored, it finally became subject to the parish of Colleluce under which it still depends.

  Reduced to a ruin and completely unusable due to a collapsed roof, it was restored to its original state in 1987.  Making use of the restoration process, the opportunity was taken to restore the partition wall moving the altar forward to create a small area to be used as the sacristy.

  The only fresco (from the XVI century) kept hidden and preserved inside, is that of a beautiful reproduction of Our Lady of the Enlightenment hidden within a concave niche and decorated on the outside with flowers and fruits.

  The image (190x130cm) can be viewed through a long diagonal crack allowing merely a glimpse of the traces of figures inside: three heads of angels San Severino holding in his hand a model of the city and S. Giovanni Battista in line with descriptions made in the past.

  Restoration work is needed to preserve what remains.  Severino Servanzi Collio upon describing this fresco also speaks of an altarpiece that represents the Assumption featuring Saints John, Severino and Nicola all traces of which though have unfortunately been lost.

  However, it can be assumed that the church was one full of ornaments judging from the valuable fifteenth century cross with intricate gold workings that can today be found in the city’s art gallery.

 

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Inside the small battlement tower, the loopholes (there are three), from which one used to insert weapons to fire outside the castle walls, are still visible.

 

In the following two images, one can see the restored loopholes as they appear in the towers of the Castle of San Leo in Pesaro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dictionary of ecclesiastical historical erudition. Compilation of the knight Gaetano Moroni Romano (second assistant of room of His Holiness Pius IX)

The lexicon of erudition historical-Church San Peter until our days is the main work written by “Cavaliere” Gaetano Moroni, registration, erudition, and assistant of room of the Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX. Printed in Venice at the printer Emiliana, consists of 103 volumes, published between 1840 and 1861, to which they are then added 6 volumes of indices, which left between the 1878 and the 1879, which also used an updating of items treated.
In addition to the arguments strictly religious or linked to the history of the Church and of the Pontifical state, registered in alphabetical order in the different volumes, are given numerous monographs not only of Pontiffs and as clergymen, but also of historical figures. Very well cared the articles on the allocation of the old Italian states, the International Treaties and the geographical descriptions of the towns and countries all over the world.