Camiola

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Miniature from De mulieribus claris, representing Camiola

Camiola Turinga was a Sienese widow well known in Messina as a virtuous woman. She was the daughter of Lawrence of Thuringia. She lived in the beginning of the fourteenth century, during the time of the reign of Frederick III of Sicily. When her husband and parents died she inherited much wealth and was known for handling this large fortune in a moral fashion.

Boccaccio, as a medieval historian and early Renaissance archaeologist, describes the events that happened that lead up to her becoming a widow when she was still a young lady. He says in his De mulieribus claris in the next to the last biography that when king Frederick III of Sicily died, his eldest son Peter took over. Right after that time Godfrey of Squillace, commander for king Robert of Sicily, attacked the town of Lipari. The townspeople were overwhelmed and practically wiped out. Peter then gathered together an army of mercenaries and volunteer auxiliary troops. He put them into the command of a Count John of Chiaamonte. John's mission was to bring much needed supplies for the starving people of Lipari.

When Godfrey learned that John's army outnumbered his own, he abandoned his camp and left all his supplies there. John then came upon these supplies and took back to the people of Lipari. Then with overconfidence John challenged Godfrey to battle. Godfrey accepted the challenge. He prepared and reinforced his troops overnight and was fully prepared in the morning. John, being overconfident, did not expect Godfrey to attack, assuming instead that he Godfrey would retreat.

Godfrey's men attacked the Sicilians with much vigor. The Sicilians under John's command were stunned with the onslaught. Hand-to-hand combat took place on the Sicilian ships. The Sicilians ultimately lost confidence, since they were not fully prepared for such an attack. They then took whatever ships were still seaworthy and hightailed it. Many of the Sicilian ships were sunk and victory was within grasp for Godfrey. Even though some of John's ships were able to get away, John himself along with some princes and missionaries, were captured. The town of Lipari surrendered and sued for peace.

The prisoners were then taken to Naples and jailed. Among the prisoners was Roland of Sicily, an illegitimate son of Frederick III of Sicily. Ransom was paid for all the prisoners, and they were all released, except for one - Roland. King Peter hated his brother and all the others under John's command because of their incompetence and how they handled the attack of Godfrey.

Now enters Camiola. She remembers him when they both were children. Rolan was in prison with no hope of getting out. She saw that Peter and his other brothers were willing to let him rot in jail and wished to do something about this. It turned out that there was no legal way of getting him out - except marrying him! She sent secretly to Roland a proposition on this matter. Roland jumped at the opportunity: anything to be able to get out of jail. In fact, that is all he really wanted and would say and promise anything just to get out. Camiola then legally drew up all the necessary documents and arranged for his release. She had to pay two thousand ounces of silver for his release, which was half her wealth. She handed over the agreed amount to gain his release.

Roland was returned to Messina a free man. Immediately he acted like there was no arrangement of a marriage and had no appreciation for his release. Camiola was totally taken off guard because of his attitude and confronted him. She first diplomatically tried an arrangement for the marriage to take place, however Roland would have nothing to do with it. Ultimately he was brought up in front of an ecclesiastical judge. She proved to the judge that she had a legal and binding signed contract for marriage in return for Roland's release out of prison. She showed to the judge that Roland agreed to this and in return was to marry her for his release out of an otherwise hopeless situation of being imprisoned for the rest of his life.

Upon the judge making the decision that Rolan was wrong in not fulfilling his obligation, he admitted to his mistake however still did not want to marry her. His brothers and friends then got involved and convinced Roland that it was the right thing to do. Roland then decided he would marry her and came to her with this proposal with his friends. She however at this point gave a lengthy speech. From that time forward, she could not be swayed by either the plebs or reprimands from her high moral standards which she had already shown. Roland, however, was scorned by everyone from then on, including his immediate family.

Resolution of Camiola Turinga
Wronged in my love, all proffers I distain;
Deceived for once, I trust not kings again;
Ye have my answer - what remains to do!
Pope's Homer

References[edit]

  • Shakespeare's Heroines: Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical,Shakespeare's Heroines: Characteristics of Women, Moral, and Poetical, pp. 59-62, By Jameson Anna
  • Noble Deeds of Woman; Or, Examples of Female Courage and Virtue By Elizabeth Starling, p. 357, Hale and Whiting (1881), original at New York public library.
  • A Serious Occupation: Literary Criticism by Victorian Women Writers By Solveig C. Robinson, pp. 19-21, Broadview Press (2003), ISBN 1-55111-350-3
  • The Myth of Pope Joan By Alain Boureau, p. 209, translated by Lydia G. Cochrane, Published 2001, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-06745-9
  • Virginia Brown's translation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Famous Women, pp 223 - 229; Harvard University Press, 2001; ISBN 0-674-01130-9
  • Ghisalberti, Alberto M. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani: III Ammirato – Arcoleo. Rome, 1961.

Other uses[edit]

The English playwright Philip Massinger based one of his best characters of The Maid of Honour on Boccaccio's heroine Camiola.