The historical re-enactment of the Mastrogiurato
Since 1981, the Cultural Association “Il Mastrogiurato” has promoted the Historical Re-enactment for the Investiture of the Mastrogiurato: An event that is deep-rooted in the heart of Lanciano’s inhabitants as well as of the very many participants attending every year the ceremony and its collateral initiatives. The event, which is scheduled from the last Sunday of August to the first Sunday of September, is staged in the space of a week that is filled with culture and shows including: two Panarda - inspired (Slow Food) international medieval banquets, medieval fairs, taverns, ancient music concerts, plays, street theatre, jugglers, knights and fighters, female dancers, stilt-walkers, falconers, flag flyers, all of this reaching its climax in the imposing Historical Parade on the first Sunday of September. On that day the solemn ceremony of the Investiture of the Mastrogiurato is celebrated with a parade crowded by over 700 people - who are dressed in period costumes and come from Italy and abroad - and snaking through the path passed on by historians.
The historical re-enactment of the Mastrogiurato has gained many meaningful awards: it has been designated as “event of cultural interest” by the Abruzzo Region; it has received the support of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities and of the Senate of the Italian Republic; it has been hosted in several on TV programmes on the National Broadcasting Corporations (RAI) and on Rai International and Mediaset. Particularly appreciated have been the invitations to events organized in Italy (Rome, Milan, Modena etc.) and abroad: New York for the Columbus Day (1996 and 2007), Washington, Baltimora, Silver Spring (USA), Visegràd, Budapest, Pécs and Kecskemét (Hungary), Paris (International Tourism Fair) and Cordes Sur Ciel (France), Sighisoara (Romania), Szydlow (Poland), the Castle of Predijama (Slovenia), Riedenburg, Bad Bodenteich e Dornum (Germany), Cortegana (Spain), etc.
The historical re-enactment, a member of F.I.G.S. (Italian Federation of Historical Games) and of The European Confederation of Historical Re-enactments, has been collaborating for many years with schools of every category and degree and with Institutions in order to favour in-depth exploration of historical studies, clearly focusing on medieval history. It has also joined many Bodies and Organizations with the aim to boost tourism and the knowledge of those products that are peculiar to a specific territory relying on dissemination activities on the occasion of cultural happenings.
Lanciano, its Fairs, the Mastrogiurato
Lanciano is a small town that has been renowned ever since Roman times and has always managed to reinforce its crucial position within the surrounding area, so as to turn into a fundamental reference point of a large territory.
In the wide mosaics of medieval Italy, its enviable geographic location (a junction of important North/South and East/West sheep tracks ('tratturi') gave it a key role in commerce, as it proposed itself as the privileged venue for fairs attended, twice a year (May and September), by dealers coming from everywhere in Continental Europe and many Mediterranean countries. The remarkable growth in importance of fairs led Charles II of Anjou to establish, much as he had done before and did later for other towns in the Kingdom of Naples in 1304 the figure of the Mastrogiurato. The town needed to bring together the judgement and the operational powers in the hands of its representative who could wield them firmly and skilfully during the fairs.
Over the whole period of the fair, he, with his escort, was the only one who could carry weapons and had the power to arrest immediately anyone who caused trouble to the guests. His main tasks included, to mention but a few: to give a warm welcome to his guests, to strictly control weights and measures and to perform the administration of civil and criminal justice. The magnificent investiture ceremony took place as follows: the chosen Mastrogiurato, suitably dressed for a figure of his rank and accompanied by an armed escort, entered the town hall - where the town representatives, the Royal Governor and the Garrison Commander ware waiting for him – and received, after swearing an oath of allegiance, the Town banners and the ensigns of the powers conferred upon him. The regalia and the Town banners were then taken to the fair grounds (Prato della Fiera) and were hoisted in the Mastrogiurato’s presence who first read out the notice and the Fair regulations and declared it officially open.
In the golden age of Lanciano’s fairs, given the few and secure town-access roads and the slow means of goods transport, in an attempt to counter banditry, steps were taken to establish armed changeovers along the main routes - initially from Ortona’s port and then from San Vito – to guarantee the safety of anyone who wanted to reach Lanciano.
Lanciano also set up maritime fleets to provide patrol and escort in the Adriatic Sea, by way of protection against Saracen raids, to merchants in their journeys to and from the town.