Historical outlines From the past to the present

XVth century - the age of pillages

Some years later, Castella was again the centre of strong quarrels.
This time it was the King Ferdinando of Aragon who (in 1459) came down on the battlefield, in order to oppose the thirst of power of a noble feudatory, Antonio Centelles.
After several changes of dominion Castella was submitted to a Napolitan nobleman Andrea Carafa, who purchased it and the lands of Cutro and Roccabernarda for a sum of 9 thousands ducats.

In 1496, it occurred a slow period of decline, after the enteoffment of the County of Santa Severina, which Le Castella belonged to at that time. la torre del castello - © Bella Italia Between the half of '500 and the following century, the village's population was decreasing more and more, the trade-exchanges almost disappeared and its beautiful lands became barren.
The Ottoman power surely played an important role, which spread in the whole Mediterranean and didn't meet any serious obstacles.

The attacks to Castella began around 1553, year in which the lands were burnt and a lot of inhabitants of the village were captured.
Three years later, Turkish ships approached the coast and began a violent bombardment preceeding a bloody pillage by Ariadeno Barbarossa, the terror of the seas.
A lot of people died. Others, as well as Giovan Dionigi Galeni (better known as Uccjali) became slaves and were shared between the Sultan, the pirates and the crew. In 1544 and in 1548 Castella was pillaged again by the pirate Dragut.
The inhabitants didn't lose their heart, they knew that the enemy would come back and so they strenghthened the Castle and digged caverns which could be reached through well camonflaged trapdoors.

Besides, they built a guard tower and planned a strong defence, fearing an attack from the dry land.
It was clear that all this, made the village poor and its inhabitants asked for a temporary tax relief because they had to pay taxes to several gentlemen and bishops.
In the meanwhile, the vicissitudes of the village's feudatories became dramatic.
At the death of Andrea Carafa (1526), the County of Santa Severina which also included the Terra di Castella and other wide lands, went to Galeotto Carafa, Andrea's nephew, who had to tackle not only the incursions of Barbarossa and Dragut, but also an unfavourable economic situation which caused the splitting of the County of Santa Severina and the selling of Castella to Ferrante Carafa, Count of Soriano and Duke of Nocera dei Pagani.

In 1558 Ferrano’s successor was Alfonso, who had to assist to the umpteenth Turkish incursion. This time it was Mustafà Pascià who picked on Cutro and after causing damages also to Castella laid waste the village.
At that time the young girl Caterina Ganguzza was captured and according to tradition she preferred to die rather than to become one of Sultan’s concubines.
Alfonso had strong quarrels with the bishop of the Diocese who claimed  rights on some lands of Castella.
Later Alfonso put forward the proposal to pull down Castella to avoid a Turkish invasion, but this idea was refused by all vassals.

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