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Chronology

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Date: 1153
Place: Palermo
Events: William II is born, son of William I and grandson of Roger II, the first king of Sicily.
 
Date: 1166 May 10th
Place: Palermo
Events: At the age of 13, William II is crowned King of Sicily and succeeds his Father William I, but given his young age, his regency is passed to his mother: Margaret of Navarre.

Date: 1170 December 29th
Place: Canterbury
Events: Martyrdom of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of Henry II, King of England.

Date: 1171
Place: Palermo
Events: Having reached adulthood, William II begins his reign.

Date: 1172
Place: Monreale
Events: Probable beginning of the foundation works of the monasterii, ac Templi in honorem Beatissimae Virginis on the hill above Saint Ciriaca that the Saracens called Monnahal, on the orders of William II.

Date: 1173
Place: Rome
Events: Alexander III canonises St. Thomas Becket.

Date: 1174 March 01
Place: Messina
Events: The archbishop of Messina, Nicholas I renounces the jurisdiction over the Monastery of Maniaci (founded by Queen Margaret) in favour of the building of the foundation of S. Maria la Nova in Monreale. This document, the first in a long series of donations and favours, shows the extent of concern that the Queen Mother had regarding the new Church. We cannot exclude that it was she who encouraged her son in this undertaking.

Date: 1174 December 29th
Place: Ferentino
Events: Alexander III frees the monastery of King William Super Sanctam Kuriacam (Ciriaca or Domenica) from the bishops and archbishops jurisdictions and confirms the document of Nicholas I drafted in March.

Date: 1174 December 30th
Place: Ferentino
Events: Confirming the privileges for the monastery that King William Super Sanctam Kuriacam had started to build, Alexander III grants other privileges for the administration of the liturgies and prescribes the observance of the Benedictine rule. He also expresses his compliments to the King for the Church that he had begun to build.

Date: 1176 March 20th
Place: Monreale
Events: One hundred Benedictine monks arrive from Cava dei Tirreni, the Abbey of the Most Blessed Trinity, to populate the new monastery.
L’abbaye di Cave 1877 pp. 16-20

Date: 1176 January
Place: Anagni
Events: Alexander III threatens the excommunication of any usurpers of the goods donated to the Monreale foundation, which he declares as being dependant on the apostolic see and he confirms the previous privileges, also granting the use of the pontificals.

Date: 1176 August 15th Sunday of the Assumption
Place: Monreale
Events: In the Monastery of Monreale, William II signs the document for the foundation of the church and the monastery ad ordinem Cavensis Monasteri et Beati Benedicti granting in use:
The churches of S. Ciriaca and Silvestre, numerous State owned rights and privileges, as well as other estates including hamlets, castles, villages, churches, mills, grazing grounds, vineyards and sugar cane fields, and Tonnara di Fimi (a small island in the gulf of Palermo). The donations include vast territories, from Corleone to Palermo and Messina, as far as certain sites in Puglia and Calabria.
Having received the Holy Eucharist, the same King William, tearful with emotion, and with a sense of great devotion, presents the parchment to the Blessed Virgin on the altar dedicated to her.

Date: 1177 August
Place: Monreale
Events: Three Saracen brothers, peasants, subject to the Abbey of Monreale: Ibraim, Giabrun and Abderrahman, having escaped from their homeland, return to the Abbot Theobald, who forgives them, making them swear on the Koran that they will renew their service as “serfs”.

Date: 1177 February 13th
Place: Palermo
Events: The celebration of the wedding of William II, King of Sicily, to Joan of England, daughter of Henry II the Plantagenet and sister of Richard the Lionheart.

Date: 1177 January
Place: Palermo
Events: With an annual state service, William II compensates the donations made to the Monreale foundation, by Bartolomeo Ofamilio, Bishop of Agrigento and brother of Walterio, Archbishop of Palermo.

Date: 1177 March
Place: Palermo
Events: Walterio, Archbishop of Palermo, declares to Theobald, the bishop abbot of Santa Maria La Nuova of Monreale, the exoneration of the royal foundation from his jurisdiction, granting various rights, castles, churches and tenements.  He also declares that he received the estate of Bayda in Palermo as a form of compensation.

Date: 1177 March
Place: Monreale
Events: Theobald Benedettino, Abbot and future bishop of S. Maria la Nova in Monreale, writes to Queen Margaret about certain matters relating to the monastery of Maniaci founded by her and donated to the Monreale foundation from 1 March 1174.

Date: 1177 July
Place: Venice
Events: The Emperor F. Barbarossa signs the peace agreement with the Municipalities of the Lombardy league in the presence of the representatives of the Sicilian-Venetian League and Pope Alexander III. On this occasion the negotiations for the marriage of her son Henry VI to Constance of Hautewille, daughter of Roger II and Aunt of William II are outlined.

Date: 1178 May
Place: Palermo
Events: In a platea compiled by Dywan Al Tahqiq Al Manwr on the orders of William II, all the territories and peasants assigned to the Royal Church of Monreale are mentioned. The document is dated not only with the Latin calendar but also with the following the Byzantine (666 of creation) and Islamic (573 by hegira) ones.

Date: 1182
Events: In a Giarida or Platea, the boundaries of all the territories of the archbishopric of Monreale are listed and described, between: Jato, Corleone, Battallario and Kalatrasi. This document, which is similar to the Anglo-Norman Domesday Book, allows us to gain an insight into the medieval genesis of the topography and toponymy of various centres of the hinterland of Palermo.  Among others, this document also bears the signature of the Archbishop of Palermo Gualtiero Offamilio.

Date: 1183 April
Place: Palermo
Events: A new Platea, consisting of eight parchments bound together, lists the settlers and the middle-class and their places of residence within the territories assigned to the Church of S. Maria la Nuova, establishing that the same “will have to remain in the hands of the Church of Monreale forever”.

Date: 1183 February 5th
Place: Velletri
Events: Lucio III raises the Abbey of Monreale to archiepiscopal dignity, while at the same time ratifying all the concessions granted by King William II.
The diocese includes certain territories of Palermo, Mazara and Agrigento as well as the subordination of the suffragan episcopate of Catania.

Date: 1183 July 31st
Place: Palermo
Events: Queen Margaret of Navarre, mother of William II dies, she is buried in the Cathedral of Monreale.

Date: 1185
Place: Monreale
Events: Bonanno Pisano creates the bronze doorway that opens to the west, the main entrance to the Cathedral.

Date: 1188 October 29th
Place: Laterano
Events: Renewing the privileges and donations, Clement III subjects the Church of Syracuse to the Church of S. Maria La Nuova in Monreale.

Date: 1189 November 18th
Place: Palermo
Events: The death of William II due to a fever contracted during a trip to Syria. He is buried in his Cathedral.

Date: 1190
Events: Barisano da Trani completes the bronze door at the side entrance to the cathedral (northern portico).

Date: 1190 January
Place: Palermo
Events: Waltiero Offamilio crowns Tancred of Lecce, grandson of Roger II, King of Sicily.

Date: 1194
Place: Palermo
Events: 1. Death of Tancred, Count of Lecce.
2. William III, son of Tancred, is crowned V King of Sicily by the Norman dynasty. During the same year he is destined to be removed from power by Henry VI.
3. After a bitter battle against the inhabitants of Palermo, Henry VI conquers the city.
4. Henry VI is crowned King of Sicily

Date: 1195 January 11th
Place: Palermo
Events: Henry VI and Constance of Hauteville reaffirm that the Church of S. Maria la Nuova is under imperial protection and nobody may interfere with its possessions, on pain of a fine of 100lbs of gold, to be divided up equally between the imperial see and the Church of Monreale.

Date: 1195 December 26th –31st 
Place: Palermo
Events: The Empress Constance of Hauteville, wife of Henry VI returns some of the possessions, that King Tancred had given to other owners, to the Church of Monreale. In this document, Tancred is referred to as a “persecutor” of the Church of Monreale, following the repression promoted by him against the Muslims who took refuge in the territories of the archbishopric of Monreale (with an Islamic majority) after the turmoil that broke out in Palermo following his coronation.

Date: 1267 November 18th
Place: Monreale
Events: The official consecration of the Cathedral celebrated by Rodolfo, Bishop of Albano on appointment of Clement IV. The Church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

Date: 1270
Events: Louis IX, King of France, called the Saint, is buried in Monreale, (later on he will be transferred to St. Denis)

Date: 1329
Events: “The great church of Monreale” risks collapsing due to a lack of maintenance, royal financing is required to carry out urgent repair works.

Date: 1376 January 21st
Place: Avignon
Events: Highlighting the terrible static conditions of the Cathedral of Monreale in 1371 and the collapse of the Monastery due to several accidents, Gregory XI complains about the fact that it has remained without monks and usurped of many properties. He writes to the bishops of Cefalù and Palermo and to the Inquisitor, Simone del Pozzo, requesting that all the assets be returned, including those managed by the Archbishop William himself. The repopulation of the convent is also arranged with as many monks as possible, with Benedictine monks coming from the monasteries of Catania; S. Martino delle Scale; Messina; Agrigento; Calatamauro and Cefalù.

Date: 1382
Events: Urban VI disapproves of the active state of the Church of Monreale. He also establishes a fairer distribution of the income from the Archbishop to the monks.

Date: 1483
Place: Rome
Events: Cardinal Borgia becomes Archbishop of Monreale, he will hold this seat until 1503 without ever visiting his dioceses.

Date: 1494
Place: Monreale
Events: Alfonso II, King of Naples, a fugitive, stays in Monreale.

Date: 1498
Events: King Ferdinand the Catholic destines 200 onze for the restoration of the Cathedral, the Monastery and the Bishop’s Palace.

Date: 1503
Events: The Cathedral’s first organ is installed.

Date: 1515
Place: Monreale
Events: The royal visitor Pujades has various parts of the Cathedral restored, including the portico and the floors.

Date: 1518
Place: Monreale
Events: The Maestro Pietro Oddo restores the mosaics and the pavement in front of the prothesis.

Date: 1528
Place: Monreale
Events: Marble works by Gagini.

Date: 1535
Place: Monreale
Events: Upon returning from victory in Tunis, Charles V stays in the former royal Palace for a week, it has been transformed into the residence of the archbishop.

Date: 1536
Place: Monreale
Events: Cardinal Farnese, Archbishop of Monreale has important restoration works carried out within the Cathedral and the Convent.

Date: 1537
Place: Monreale
Events: The roofs are restored.

Date: 1547
Place: Monreale
Events: The Gagini brothers (Giovanni, Fazio and Vincenzo) rebuild the portico.

Date: 1552
Place: Innsbruck
Events: Charles V appoints the viceroy Giovanni De Vega to ensure that 200 onze are destined for the restoration of the Church and the Monastery. The sum will have to be taken from the archbishop’s income.

Date: 1575
Place: Monreale
Events: The remains of William II are transferred to a new marble tomb.

Date: 1562
Place: Monreale
Events: Completion of the restoration work on the northern portico, which had commenced in 1547.

Date: 1569
Place: Rome, Monreale
Events: Cardinal Farnese, who promoted the spiritual, structural and economic rebirth of the Norman complex over a thirty-year period, comes to Monreale for the first time.

Date: 1583
Place: Monreale
Events: Reconstruction of the archbishop’s palace.

Date: 1589
Place: Monreale
Events: Foundation of the archbishop’s seminary with headquarters in the former Royal Palace.

Date: 1590
Place: Monreale
Events: The marble floors are installed in the side naves, this work is carried out by the masters: M.A. D’Aprile from Palermo and R. Bacchiata from Florence.

Date: 1595
Place: Monreale
Events: The relics of St. Castrenze are transferred to the new chapel.

Date: 1596
Place: Monreale
Events: Beginning of the reconstruction of the main western portico after a collapse.

Date:
1596
Place: Monreale
Events: Archbishop Torres publishes “L’Historia della Chiesa di Monreale” under the pseudonym L. Lello. The work will be reprinted with additions in 1702 by Del Giudice.

Date: 1631
Place: Monreale
Events: Part of the portico, which is still undergoing reconstruction collapses, it will be completed in 1633.

Date: 1658
Place: Monreale
Events: The internal structure is reorganised and the ancient liturgical objects are removed.

Date: 1574
Place: Monreale
Events: Francesco Testa is appointed Archbishop, with him, a dynasty of prelates who will leave their mark well into the eighteenth century beings; this is a golden era for Monreale.

Date: 1580
Place: Palermo
Events: The construction of Stradone di Mezzomonreale beings, this is a new direction, which will lead to Monreale from the extension of the axis of Cassaro di Palermo, no longer from the ancient road that crosses the Norman parks along the valley floor, with the entrance to the city from the west, but from the eastern gateways towards Palermo. After an initial suspension, the works recommence in 1621 and are completed in 1630.  The suburban route will be adorned with quarter-sphere exedras with fountains and baths featuring anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, it will later be enlarged and completed definitively in 1775.

Date: 1837
Events: Following the collapse of the upper part of the right hand bell tower, for reasons relating to stability, the second column of the right hand row of the main nave is moved into the place of the first one of the same row. A date is engraved in the upper shaft Serradifalco: 1356. The column is made of green cipolin marble, the same as another one in the Cathedral of Cefalù.