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Ischia

From Academic Kids

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The island of Ischia near Naples, Italy.

Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. The roughly trapezoidal island lies 17.5 miles from Naples and measures around 10 km East to West and 7 km North to South with a 34 km coastline and a surface area of 46.3 km2. It is almost entirely mountainous with the highest peak being Mt. Epomeo at 788 meters.

Ischia was settled by Greeks from Euboea who called it Pithecoussai (Island of the Monkeys). The ceramic Euboean artifact "Nestor's cup" was discovered in a grave on the island in 1953. Engraved upon the cup are a few lines written in the Cumae alphabet. Dating from c.730 BCE, it is the oldest written reference to Homer (the Iliad) and may be the earliest extant precursor to the Latin alphabet.

Virgil referered to it as Inarime and still later as Arime. The Romans called it Aenaria, perhaps for its flowering vines or perhaps as a corruption of the Ionic Greek ainos meaning vehement or terrifying. The current name appears for the first time in a letter from Pope Leo III to Charlemagne in 813 (iscla from insula) though there is an argument made for a Semitic origin in I-schra, "black island".

It is unknown whether the island was inhabited in the prehistoric period. The Greeks arrived in the 8th century BCE and are thought to have fled to Cuma on the coast of Campania in the 6th century due to volcanic activity. In 474 BCE Hiero I of Syracuse came to the aid of the Cumeans against the Etruscans and defeated them on the sea. He occupied Ischia and the surrounding Parthenopean islands and left behind a garrison to build a fortress before the city of Ischia itself. This was still extant in the Middle Ages, but the original garrison fled before the eruptions of 470 BCE and the island was taken over by Neapolitans. The Romans seized Ischia (and Naples) in 322 BCE. In 6 CE Augustus restored the island to Naples in exchange for Capri. Ischia suffered from the barbarian invasions, being taken first by the Heruli then by the Ostrogoths, being ultimately absorbed into the Eastern Roman Empire. The Byzantines gave the island over to Naples in 588 and by 661 it was being administered by a Count liege to the Duke of Naples. The area was devastated by the Saracens in 813 and 847; in 1004 it was occupied by Henry II of Germany; the Norman Roger II of Sicily took it in 1130; the island was raided by the Pisans in 1135 and 1137 and subsequently fell under the Suebi and then Angevin rule. After the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, the island rebelled, recognizing Peter III of Aragon, but was retaken by the Angevins the following year. It was conquered in 1284 by the forces of Aragon and Charles II d'Anjou was unable to successfully retake it until 1299. As a consequence of the island's last eruption, the population fled to Baia where they remained for 4 years. In 1320 Robert of Anjou and his wife Sancia visited the island and were hosted by Cesare Sterlich, sent by Charles II from the Holy See to govern the island in 1306 and was, by this time, nearly 100 years of age.

Ischia suffered greatly in the struggles of the Angevin-Durazzan period. It was taken by Carlo Durazzo in 1382, retaken by Louis II of Anjou in 1385 and captured yet again by Ladislav Durazzo in 1386; it was sacked by the fleet of the Antipope John XXIII under the command of Gaspare Cossa in 1410 only to be retaken by Ladislav the following year. In 1422 Joan II gave the island to her adoptive son Alfonso V of Aragon, though, when he fell into disgrace, she retook it with the help of Genoa in 1424. In 1438 Alfonso reoccupied the castle, kicking out all the men and proclaiming it a Castilian colony to whom he married the wives and daughters of the expelled. He set about building a bridge linking the castle to the rest of the island and he carved out a large gallery, both of which are still to be seen today. In 1442 he gave the island to one of his favorites, Lucretia d'Alagno, who in turn entrusted the island's governance to her brother-in-law, Giovanni Torella. Upon the death of Alfonso in 1458, they returned the island to the Angevin side. Ferdinand I of Naples ordered Alessandro Sforza to chase Torella out of the castle and gave the island over, in 1462, to Garceraldo Requesens. In 1464, after a brief Torellan insurrection, Marino Caracciolo was set up as governor.

In February of 1495, with the arrival of Charles VIII, Ferdinand II landed on the island and took possession of the castle, and, after having killed the disloyal castellan Giusto di Candida with his own hands, left the island under the control of Innico D'Avalos, Marquis of Pescara and del Vasto, who ably defended the place form the French flotilla. With him came his sister Costanza and through them they founded the D'Avalos dynasty which would last on the island into the 1700's.

Throughout the fifteenth century, the island suffered the incursions of pirates and Barbary privateers- in 1543-44 Khair ad Din, called Barbarossa, laid waste to the island, taking 4,000 prisoners in the process. In 1548 and 1552 Ischia was beset by his successor Dragut Rais. With the increasing rarity and diminishing severity of the piratical attacks later in the century and the construction of better defenses, the islanders began to venture out of the castle and it was then that the historic center of the town of Ischia was begun. Even so many inhabitants still ended up slaves to the pirates, the last known being taken in 1796.

During the 1647 revolution of Masaniello, there was an attempted rebellion against the feudal landowners.

With the extinction of the D'Avalos line in 1729, the island reverted to state property. In March, 1734 it was taken by the Bourbons and administered by a royal governor seated within the castle. The island participated in the short-lived Republic of Naples starting in March, 1799 but by April 3, Commodore Trowbridge- under the command of Lord Nelson had put down the revolt on Ischia as well as on neighboring Procida. By decree of the governor, many of the rebels were hung in a sqaure on Procida now called Piazza dei martiri (Square of the Martyrs). Among these was Francesco Buonocore who had received the island to administer from the French Championnet in Naples . On February 13, 1806, the island was occupied by the French and on the 24th was unsuccessfully attacked by the English.

In 1948, American author Truman Capote stayed in room number 3 in the Pensione Lustro in the town of Forio on the island. He wrote an essay about his stay there, which later appeared in Local Color, published in 1950 by Random House.

Ischia is also the principal city (pop.17,256) of the island, divided into Ischia Ponte and Ischia Porto. Its main industry is tourism.

External links

fr:Ischia it:Ischia (isola) ja:イスキア島 ru:Искья

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