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Mulazzo

 

“Contribuì generosamente alla guerra di liberazione con la partecipazione di molti suoi giovani ai primi nuclei partigiani, offrendo splendido esempio di spirito di sacrificio ed elette virtù civiche.” (1940 – 1945)

Founded before the year 1000, perched on a steep hill overlooking the upper Valley of the Magra river, we find Mulazzo the result of a dynastic division made in 1221 by Corrado Malaspina (Purgatory VIII 119) called by Dante the “Old”  a member of the ghibelline faction Spino Secco. This territory includes Villafranca and Giovagallo. With a further division made by the children of the Elder in 1266, the feud became a marquisate. Mulazzo was the political centre of the whole imperial branch and had an institutional capacity, it also had to represent the reference centre for the secular tradition of hospitality for exiled poets.

The Malaspina family was among the main European patrons of the troubadour, the wandering provencal poets. This tradition had started in Oramala, in Val di Staffora during the 12th century and followed at the court of Franceschino, the regent of Mulazzo at the time of Dante’s stay. Sennuccio del Bene, exiled and guest in Mulazzo, just like Dante, ended his song with his extraordinary lines: ”after I have lost all hope

“and before you call on Lunigiana
you will find Marquis Franceschino
and in mild latin
tell him I trust him much
and how remoteness puzzles me”

This men is not mentioned in the Divine Comedy, but the way Dante addressed the grandfather in Purgatory VIII, 119 is a celebration of the feud.

They called me Conrad Malaspina;
not that old one, but from him I sprang

Together with Olbizzo il Grande, the Old is to be considered as one of the greatest representatives of the Malaspina family up to the time of Dante. He was the son in law of the “stupor mundiEmperor Federico II, as by a reliable tradition he married his illegitimate daughter Costanza. We know  he was an ardent ghibelline, a faithful servant of the empire, he fought next to the emperor and saved his life in the defeatr of Vittoria in 1248.

The “Old” who operated the revolutionary division of the feud was probably responsible for the two coat of arms (Spino Secco an Spino Fiorito) which can be attributed to the works of the founders of the trobadour movement, Guglielmo IX of Aquitania and Jaufre Rudel, through Guilhem de la Tor a ghibelline bard, active between the castles of Oramala in Val di Staffora and the court in Mulazzo around 1221.

Guilhem de la Tor, the author of the Treva (an allegorical follow up of a lost song by Aimeric de Peguilhan) immortalizes Selvaggia and Beatrice, the daughters of the “Old” in a fake quarrel at court. The young ladies are rivals for the palm of virtue queen. Who would have been the “Donna” of the most virtuous Court? The ghibelline “Spino Secco” or the guelf “Spino Fiorito”. The two sisters were obviously the best people for a peace, wanted as natural. The alchemic speculation developed by the trobadour wanted the two opponents (the Pope and the Emperor) to turn into inseparable and complementary elements in the only gold medal that is the Good Ruling of the World. So the “Treva” , that is the truce enacted by the art of the bard, a young Virgilio, was the unaware prophecy of a renewed Lieta Novella, the Pax Dantis. In fact in the Purgatory VIII what Dante does is to replace the young ladies with two splendid “astor celestiali” guarding the noble Valletta, so bright in their faces to foreshadow the  fatal “two Suns” in Purgatory XVI, who were of course the Pope and the Emperor.

The two Malaspina Coat of Arms, an expression of fundamental knowledge of an equilibrium existing between two opposites, tell us that in the division of the feud there was however the idea of obtaining, through strategies, bothe the Guelf and the Ghibelline positions so as not to sink in the sterile and inauspicious diatribe that was strangling the whole of Europe. The scope was to increase the global value of the family. In this way the Malaspina have repaired the dignity they deserve in history, they are no longer considered rough landlords like poultry thieves by a crowd of lecturing old fogeys or similar candidates. but authentic enlightened rulers fully worthy of Dante’s absolute praise.

As capital of the Spino Secco Mulazzo is to be considered the main reference of Dante’s hospitality in Lunigiana. We shall therefore speak of Mulazzo as the Official Residence of Dante, whereas Villafranca and Giovagallo were just domiciles.

Following these lines we can that it is true that Moroello II di Giovagallo was responsible for the visit of the great Poet in Val di Magra (Moroello was mentioned twice in the Divine Comedy, and also his wife Alagia Fieschi) but Franceschino must be recognised the role of greatest host of Dante. We know Franceschino was at the core of the whole inner organization of the Spino Secco. In 1296 he was the promoter of an agreemen where we can easily foresee the intention of extending the whole Coat of Arms the principle of the safeguard of the family heritage imposed by will by Corrado the Young from Villafranca (Dante imagines him as a representant sinner in the Antipurgatorio).

On 6th October 1306 he himself gave Dante the power of attorney also for the cousins in Villafranca (where the heirs of the feud were a little more than boys) so that a resolution of the secular controversy with the bishop-counts of Luni could be reached. On that occasion, on his initiative, Dante was engaged to get to the ratification of the agreement with the marquis of Giovagallo. In 1307 though still tied to the Ghibelline cause, his old enemy Antonio Nuvolone da Camilla appointed Franceschino his own trustee. In the Monumental Historic Hamlet several items are of great interest and make a unique Dantesque ground.

First of all the polygonal base of the Obertenghi tower, Dante’s Tower old popular traditions and memories, part of the so called Zona Dantesca (Dante’s zone) wanted by Livio Galanti, great scholar and unforgettable major of the hamlet at the time of the celebrations in 1965. Underneath the tower a fake tradition, even if present in a 19th century notorial deed, quoted as “Dante’s house” an unlikely rural construction.  Moreover against the beautiful buttresses and the Apenines stands the statue of Dante, the last work of Arturo Dazzi from Carrara (1966). It was commissioned by Livio Galanti for the seventh centenary of Dante’s birth. The monument represents the very original idealization of a “mother Dante”, as Dante is represented in the act of holding on his lap the book of the Comedy like his own creature. Further down in the village there isCasa di Dante in Lunigiana a multifunctional centre of the Centro Lunigianese di Studi Danteschi, houses in a tower-house with foundations dating back to the 13th century, a beautiful three mullioned window, and a ceiling with huge chestnut beams. On the west side of the outer walls there is the Epigraph of the Centenary in memory of Dante’s Year in 2006, dedicated to Livio Galanti and in praise of Canto VIII of the Purgatory.

A well preserved sepulchral epigraphy dated 1338, initally attributed to a son of Cino da Pistoia is a hypothesis without any foundation. Actually a meeting between Dante and his devoted poet friend is to be considered as certain. Cino was a close friend of Moroello II di Giovagallo, captain of the people in Pistoia early in 1306, and he must definetly be thought of as the best advisor in the stay of Dante in Lunigiana.

Since 2020 the whole journey is marked as Via Dantis this itinerary is similar to the Via Crucis, through nine stations for eight main Cantos, crosses the poem of Christianity from the “dark wood” to the “visio Dei, a true Odyssey at the end of the Divine Comedy which is a unicum in secular history of lectura dantis.

Founded before the year 1000, perched on a steep hill overlooking the upper Valley of the Magra river, we find Mulazzo the result of a dynastic division made in 1221 by Corrado Malaspina (Purgatory VIII 119) called by Dante the “Old”  a member of the ghibelline faction Spino Secco. This territory includes Villafranca and Giovagallo. With a further division made by the children of the Elder in 1266, the feud became a marquisate. Mulazzo was the political centre of the whole imperial branch and had an institutional capacity, it also had to represent the reference centre for the secular tradition of hospitality for exiled poets.

Mulazzo

The Malaspina family was among the main European patrons of the troubadour, the wandering provencal poets. This tradition had started in Oramala, in Val di Staffora during the 12th century and followed at the court of Franceschino, the regent of Mulazzo at the time of Dante’s stay. Sennuccio del Bene, exiled and guest in Mulazzo, just like Dante, ended his song with his extraordinary lines: ”after I have lost all hope

“and before you call on Lunigiana
you will find Marquis Franceschino
and in mild latin
tell him I trust him much
and how remoteness puzzles me”

This men is not mentioned in the Divine Comedy, but the way Dante addressed the grandfather in Purgatory VIII, 119 is a celebration of the feud.

They called me Conrad Malaspina;
not that old one, but from him I sprang

Together with Olbizzo il Grande, the Old is to be considered as one of the greatest representatives of the Malaspina family up to the time of Dante. He was the son in law of the “stupor mundiEmperor Federico II, as by a reliable tradition he married his illegitimate daughter Costanza. We know  he was an ardent ghibelline, a faithful servant of the empire, he fought next to the emperor and saved his life in the defeatr of Vittoria in 1248.

The “Old” who operated the revolutionary division of the feud was probably responsible for the two coat of arms (Spino Secco an Spino Fiorito) which can be attributed to the works of the founders of the trobadour movement, Guglielmo IX of Aquitania and Jaufre Rudel, through Guilhem de la Tor a ghibelline bard, active between the castles of Oramala in Val di Staffora and the court in Mulazzo around 1221.

Guilhem de la Tor, the author of the Treva (an allegorical follow up of a lost song by Aimeric de Peguilhan) immortalizes Selvaggia and Beatrice, the daughters of the “Old” in a fake quarrel at court. The young ladies are rivals for the palm of virtue queen. Who would have been the “Donna” of the most virtuous Court? The ghibelline “Spino Secco” or the guelf “Spino Fiorito”. The two sisters were obviously the best people for a peace, wanted as natural. The alchemic speculation developed by the trobadour wanted the two opponents (the Pope and the Emperor) to turn into inseparable and complementary elements in the only gold medal that is the Good Ruling of the World. So the “Treva” , that is the truce enacted by the art of the bard, a young Virgilio, was the unaware prophecy of a renewed Lieta Novella, the Pax Dantis. In fact in the Purgatory VIII what Dante does is to replace the young ladies with two splendid “astor celestiali” guarding the noble Valletta, so bright in their faces to foreshadow the  fatal “two Suns” in Purgatory XVI, who were of course the Pope and the Emperor.

The two Malaspina Coat of Arms, an expression of fundamental knowledge of an equilibrium existing between two opposites, tell us that in the division of the feud there was however the idea of obtaining, through strategies, bothe the Guelf and the Ghibelline positions so as not to sink in the sterile and inauspicious diatribe that was strangling the whole of Europe. The scope was to increase the global value of the family. In this way the Malaspina have repaired the dignity they deserve in history, they are no longer considered rough landlords like poultry thieves by a crowd of lecturing old fogeys or similar candidates. but authentic enlightened rulers fully worthy of Dante’s absolute praise.

As capital of the Spino Secco Mulazzo is to be considered the main reference of Dante’s hospitality in Lunigiana. We shall therefore speak of Mulazzo as the Official Residence of Dante, whereas Villafranca and Giovagallo were just domiciles.

Following these lines we can that it is true that Moroello II di Giovagallo was responsible for the visit of the great Poet in Val di Magra (Moroello was mentioned twice in the Divine Comedy, and also his wife Alagia Fieschi) but Franceschino must be recognised the role of greatest host of Dante. We know Franceschino was at the core of the whole inner organization of the Spino Secco. In 1296 he was the promoter of an agreemen where we can easily foresee the intention of extending the whole Coat of Arms the principle of the safeguard of the family heritage imposed by will by Corrado the Young from Villafranca (Dante imagines him as a representant sinner in the Antipurgatorio).

On 6th October 1306 he himself gave Dante the power of attorney also for the cousins in Villafranca (where the heirs of the feud were a little more than boys) so that a resolution of the secular controversy with the bishop-counts of Luni could be reached. On that occasion, on his initiative, Dante was engaged to get to the ratification of the agreement with the marquis of Giovagallo. In 1307 though still tied to the Ghibelline cause, his old enemy Antonio Nuvolone da Camilla appointed Franceschino his own trustee. In the Monumental Historic Hamlet several items are of great interest and make a unique Dantesque ground.

First of all the polygonal base of the Obertenghi tower, Dante’s Tower old popular traditions and memories, part of the so called Zona Dantesca (Dante’s zone) wanted by Livio Galanti, great scholar and unforgettable major of the hamlet at the time of the celebrations in 1965. Underneath the tower a fake tradition, even if present in a 19th century notorial deed, quoted as “Dante’s house” an unlikely rural construction.  Moreover against the beautiful buttresses and the Apenines stands the statue of Dante, the last work of Arturo Dazzi from Carrara (1966). It was commissioned by Livio Galanti for the seventh centenary of Dante’s birth. The monument represents the very original idealization of a “mother Dante”, as Dante is represented in the act of holding on his lap the book of the Comedy like his own creature. Further down in the village there isCasa di Dante in Lunigiana a multifunctional centre of the Centro Lunigianese di Studi Danteschi, houses in a tower-house with foundations dating back to the 13th century, a beautiful three mullioned window, and a ceiling with huge chestnut beams. On the west side of the outer walls there is the Epigraph of the Centenary in memory of Dante’s Year in 2006, dedicated to Livio Galanti and in praise of Canto VIII of the Purgatory.

A well preserved sepulchral epigraphy dated 1338, initally attributed to a son of Cino da Pistoia is a hypothesis without any foundation. Actually a meeting between Dante and his devoted poet friend is to be considered as certain. Cino was a close friend of Moroello II di Giovagallo, captain of the people in Pistoia early in 1306, and he must definetly be thought of as the best advisor in the stay of Dante in Lunigiana.

Since 2020 the whole journey is marked as Via Dantis this itinerary is similar to the Via Crucis, through nine stations for eight main Cantos, crosses the poem of Christianity from the “dark wood” to the “visio Dei, a true Odyssey at the end of the Divine Comedy which is a unicum in secular history of lectura dantis.

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