Four women with the same name linked to Frederick II. Four women – the mother, the wife, the daughter and the granddaughter of the Swabian emperor – who shared an important name and who never remained in the background; four queens provided with great charisma and kindness, faithful advisors and often protagonists of the thirteenth-century Mediterranean courts. A unique exhibition is dedicated to them, for which ancient and nineteenth-century Romantic works from Palermo and Monreale have come to New York (in some cases, for the first time ever): jewels, icons, coins, fragments of mosaic and ancient codices and parchment documents, seals, to tell the story of these four sovereigns. “Constancia. Women and Power in the Mediterranean Empire of Frederick II” has been inaugurated on Monday, March 7 2022 at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York in the presence of the Italian Ambassador to the United States, Mariangela Zappia, and the Director of the Institute, Fabio Finotti.
The silver plaque of Empress Constance of Aragon, wife of Frederick II, the rings that belonged to her, the Paliotto Carandolet kept in the treasury of the Cathedral of Palermo and then the Odigitria known as “the one of William II” in the Cathedral of Monreale are some of the precious objects that are beginning their transatlantic journey towards New York for the exhibition “Constancia. Women and power in the Mediterranean empire of Frederick II”. Maria Concetta Di Natale, who curated the exhibition together with Pierfrancesco Palazzotto and Giovanni Travagliato (University of Palermo), talks about it.
It has changed its intended role different times: as the residence of the Spanish viceroys, it housed the offices of the Customs, it was also the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition, and today it is the seat of the Rectorate of the University of Palermo. Built at the beginning of the fourteenth century by Manfredi I Chiaramonte: this is the Steri of Palermo, a place whose centuries-old history is retraced by professors Maria Concetta Di Natale, Giovanni Travagliato and Pierfrancesco Palazzotto, in a new detailed video linked to the “Constancia” exhibition. Together they project us into a time span that goes from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, commenting in particular on the heraldry and iconography that characterizes this place, from the sacred to the profane. A path that culminates in addressing the theme of the Gothic “revival” in the field of architecture and decorative arts of the nineteenth century (including the early twentieth century), trying to highlight the aspects related to the social and cultural context of the Sicilian reality of that time.