THE SPANISH VICE-KINGDOM

Don Pedro de Toledo arrived in Naples in 1532 and found an overpopulated city, without sewers, with streets badly paved and full of building bad structures.

Don Pedro de Toledo

Don Pedro de Toledo


The King tried to stem this situation with several interventions; he issued a notice with the threat of fines to eliminate picking and the benches.

In 1534 the paving of roads started. Meanwhile the restoration and construction of new buildings was carried on.

Due to the continuous increase in the population the city extended beyond the walls of villages, spreading out in the districts Loreto, S. Antonio Abate, Vergini and Chiaia. The presence of swamps in the East area had caused the Western development area of the City to be preferred – despite the ground relief difficulties.

The Toledo street was tangent to the old core of the town, and on the West side there were the Spanish quarters, towards the sea the construction of the Vice-king Palace began.

The Don Pedro de Toledo’s plan was the first and only major episode of urban intervention. The need arose from the constant increase of Neapolitan population of 155,000 in habitants in 1528 and reaching 212,000 units in 1547.

After this expansion, the King tried with restrictive laws to prevent the expansion beyond the city walls.

Between the 15th and 16th centuries there were many pragmatics forbidding the expansion in villages and along the Hill of s. Martino.

This town-planning policy was justified by preventing migration from the countryside to the City Centre (the depopulation of the countryside endangers the agricultural economy), and by the need to defend the city, leaving a large area free from homes both inside and outside the walls.

This policy had extremely negative consequences.

In the Spanish quarters and in almost all the city central ones superstructures altered existing buildings, increasing the height and occupying the previous green interiors.

The already bad situation increased by the imbalance between civil and religious house building. This unequal balance got worse after the Counter-Reformation, when new orders arrived in Naples to stem the development of Lutheran and Calvinistic tendencies.

In accordance with new provisions they proceeded to tear down the old Byzantine and Romanesque monastic buildings, in favour of the new Conventual organisms architecturally very similar to each other.

Meanwhile, the population steadily increased , in 1614, there were 327,961 inhabitants, in the middle of the 600 became, 425,000. After the plague of 1656 the population dramatically dropped to 140,000 inhabitants.

Not even after the plague measures were taken to improve the town situation , a sign that the conditions of the Neapolitan people were indifferent to the Spanish authorities.

In the early years of the 600 knowledge of situation plaguing Naples was carried to Philip III as well as the wishes of Neapolitans to leave the city in search of a place that would give them a house, if the King would not decide to intervene.

Instead of deepening into the causes of such requests, the King acted out of interest, preventing the peasants to leave their lands and therefore not paying taxes, so he began to issue building permits.

Who had built with regular license would not be fined, who had broken the previous ban, had to pay 5% of the building value.

Instead for getting a building permit was necessary pay a 10% tax on the value of the building.

In doing so, Philip III tried to have more control over constructions, but the increase in population and the need for homes were stronger than any limitation.

Illegal character brought to sloppy constructions in villages, while inside the walls, the houses reached impressive heights, configuring the urban structure that will remain unchanged until the 19th century.

The vice-king authorized the construction of dwellings only after paying fees, depriving the possibility of building for less well-to-do classes, and ordered the total repression, although people continued to build houses illegally.

With Philip III increases the imbalance between civil and monastery building construction, since monastic building licenses were granted to monasteries with great ease, as the Royal power was in need of economic and moral support from the Conventual community to consolidate its authority.

The Plebs was even more impressed by this way of acting, because the money amassed by priests was just not used in productive investments, but was largely sent to the Papal States.


In the early years of the 700 the factors that had affected negatively on the city during the Spanish era were analyzed, and new factors emerged as; apathy of the Government, corruption of judges, tax fury against the poor part of the population.

The result of the Spanish succession war determined the end of the Vice-kingdom, partly solving the age-old events.

On July 7, 1707 count Duan entered the city in command of the Imperial Army and was appointed first Austrian Vice-king.

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