Roccascalegna: History and Legend
Photos by Nicoletta Travaglini - All rights reserved
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Corvo de Corvis
The fiefdom of Roccascalegna was purchased by the Corvi family from Sulmona in the year 1599, exactly by baron Vincenzo Corvi for 10,000 ducati; Vincenzo was suceeded by Annibale, then the title passed to Giuseppe, to Giovanni Battista, to Annibale III, and finally to Pompeo Filippo who sold it to a noble gentleman of Palena, Don Nicolò Nanni, which ended the saga of the Corvi barons from Sulmona.
The Legend of the Castle
The raven was placed in a cage before the castle door, where he could see all the activities of the people and anybody going to or leaving the village had to pass in front of the bird, along the only road leading to the settlement: those who refused to pay homage to the bird were arrested and at times killed.
Many years of terror went by, and the baron, turning forty-five years old, decided to introduce the most hideous of medieval feudal customs, the "Jus primae noctis", which obliged every newly-wed bride to spend her first nuptial night with the Baron. This unjust violent law deeply angered the parish priest, who protested publicly; the Baron then ordered his guards to punish the priest, and the poor courageous man was killed at the entrance of the village, while he was trying to escape.
Time went on, until one winter night a young bride, while the baron was going to lay in bed beside her took out a sharp dagger she had taken with herself and stabbed the Baron in the heart. She fled away in panic, while the dying baron shouted at her horrible curses. The baron's son wanted to take revenge, but the Abbot of San Pancrazio was able to convince him to abandon his bloody purpose.
The Bloody Hand
There is also a story that on stormy nights, when the chilly Northern wind hits the merlons of the castle, and the door creaks, the ghost of the takes possession again of his ancient manor, and is compelled to repeat endlessly his tragic death, in the company of his faithful raven who disappeared with him.
The stone frame of the portal is dated 1205, and was rebuilt probably after an attack of the Saracens. In 1324-1325 the abbey ruled over Roccha Scaregna and the churches of Santa Maria, Sant'Angelo and San Criscentiano (of which no trace is left). In the mid-16th century it was abandoned by the Benedictine monks, probably after a famine or plague, and later became a monastery of the Agostinian order. In the late 16th century it was already almost abandoned, and only in the mid-19th century restoration works allowed to uncover its pristine splendor and beauty.