Lady Hamilton, Nelson and Neapolitan Patriots: Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca/V (part 22)

Queen Maria Carolina, who had declared a few years earlier that “she would like to be Robespierre”, made use of Nelson’s lover, Lady Hamilton, to induce him to carry out her revenge.

Nelson therefore imprisoned the Republicans on the ship at anchor in the bay of Naples, pending further developments.
At first it seemed that Eleonora Pimentel was destined to exile, but this was not to be because her anti-Royalist articles and her insulting poem against the sexual habits of queen Maria Carolina had infuriated her so much that now she was going to have her revenge.

With some companions, she was ordered to disembark and dragged to the Vicaria prison, then brought before the infamous councilor Speciale, the most intransigent of the judges of the Junta. There is no account of the trial, but on 17 August the sentence of death by hanging was pronounced .
Appealing to her noble birth she had asked in vain to be beheaded , but this privilege was not granted to her, a public hanging was more exemplary for a noblewoman who had dared to speak out against the monarchy.

On 20 August 1799 Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, along with seven other revolutionaries was brought to the “Piazza Mercato” to be executed,

Hanging, as practised in Naples, was not an easy death. The victims climbed a long ladder, were blindfolded. their arms were tied and the rope was adjusted round their necks Then the hangman, seated at the top of the gallows, pushed them off while an assistant, the tirapiedi, (literally, pull-feet), grabbed them by the feet and let himself fall into the void with all his weight, swinging struggling and fighting with the victims, while the executioner jumped from the top on the shoulders of the dying.

Once the defendants were killed, hardly a soldier was left to maintain order in the square, so those poor dangling corpses were ferociously outraged.

Eleonora’s last wish was only for a cup of coffee. She was calm as she went to the gallows and waited for her turn, which came last. She was dressed in mourning, and she had been denied a cord with which to tie the hem of her robe, so that it would not open when her body was dangling on the gallows,
She mounted the ladder without faltering, saluting the bodies of her friends which were lying below, some had been hanged, some beheaded

Her last words were in Latin, a quote from Virgil’s Aeneid: “Forsan et haec olim meninisse juvabit,” which means ” Maybe one day it will be useful to remember all this”.

As she fell. the shouts of the populace became so loud that they could be heard even a mile away. Those people were rejoicing at the death of the very woman who had fought hard for equal rights for everyone, and worked to improve their living conditions
Her body was left dangling from the gallows for a day, without underwear, among the laughing crowd, exposed to further jibes and humiliation.

In this manner was the elegant and cultured Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel destroyed.

A certain Matthew Wade, whose letters to Lady Hamilton cast an ugly light on both her and his own character, wrote to her nonchalantly at this time : ” the great question is, who is to be hanged, and who is to be beheaded. Few or none dispute that they don’t merit death, but to prolong the moment. . . .”
An observation devoid of any sensitivity, perhaps truly in keeping with the soul of one of the champions of Carolina’s cruelty.
In fact, after the patriot’s execution, Emma took care to inform the Queen that Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel had been “duly hanged in the Mercato, the dreary square in front of the Carmine Church, after drinking a cup of coffee and quoting a verse from Horace.”

Stendahl, in his work Rome, Florence and Naples (1826) , reported a conversation he had about the Neapolitan Revolution and its macabre conclusion with an eye-witness to the events, concluding: “I have been careful to suppress, during the course of this narrative, all the most gruesome details. Robespierre, whatever his faults, has this at least to be said in his favour: he did not count a majority of personal friends among the total number of his victims. Those whom he sacrificed, he sacrificed to a system, however ill-founded; not to his petty, personal spite.”

In the end, five hundred revolutionaries were exiled, several thousand imprisoned, and 216 executed. Pimentel was the only woman hanged for taking part in the Neapolitan Republic.

To be continued

La regina Maria Carolina, che qualche anno prima aveva dichiarato che “avrebbe voluto essere Robespierre”, si servì dell’ amante di Nelson, Lady Hamilton, per indurlo a perpetrare la sua ignobile vendetta.
Nelson fece prigionieri i repubblicani sulla nave all’ancora nel golfo di Napoli, in attesa di ulteriori sviluppi.
All’inizio sembrava che Eleonora Pimentel fosse destinata all’esilio, ma non fu così, perché i suoi articoli anti-realisti e i suoi versi offensivi contro le abitudini sessuali della regina Maria Carolina le offrirono l’attesa occasione per vendicarsi.
Insieme ad alcuni compagni, le fu ordinato di sbarcare e venne trascinata nel carcere della Vicaria per poi essere condotta davanti al famigerato consigliere Speciale, il più intransigente dei giudici della Giunta. Del processo non si ha traccia, ma il 17 agosto venne pronunciata la sentenza di morte per impiccagione.

Facendo appello alla sua nobile nascita aveva chiesto invano di essere decapitata, ma questo privilegio non le fu concesso: un’impiccagione pubblica sarebbe stata esemplare per una nobildonna che aveva osato pronunciarsi contro la monarchia.

Il 20 agosto 1799 Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, insieme ad altri sette rivoluzionari. fu portata nella Piazza del Mercato per essere giustiziata,

L‘impiccagione praticata all’epoca a Napoli, non era una morte facile. Le vittime salivano su una lunga scala, venivano bendati, le loro braccia venivano legate e il cappio sistemato intorno al collo. Poi il boia, seduto in cima alla forca le spingeva via mentre un aiutante, il tirapiedi, le afferrava per i piedi e si lasciava cadere nel vuoto con tutto il suo peso, dondolando lottando e combattendo con le vittime, mentre il boia, dalla cima saltava sulle spalle dei moribondi.

Una volta ammazzati i condannati, non restava quasi più nessuno a mantenere l’ordine nella piazza, per cui quei poveri cadaveri penzolanti venivano ferocemente oltraggiati.
L’ultimo desiderio di Eleonora fu solo una tazza di caffè. Era calma mentre andava al patibolo e aspettava il suo turno: proprio l’ultimo. Era vestita di scuro e le era persino stato negato un cordone con cui legare l’orlo della veste, perché non si aprisse mentre il suo corpo oscillava dalla forca.
Salì la scala senza vacillare, diede un mesto saluto ai cadaveri dei suoi amici che giacevano là sotto, alcuni dei quali avevano avuto la “fortuna” di essere decapitati.
.
Le sue ultime parole furono in latino, una citazione dall’Eneide di Virgilio: “Forsan et haec olim meninisse juvabit”, che vuol dire: “Forse un giorno gioverà ricordare tutto questo”.

Mentre cadeva, le grida della gente divennero così forti da essere udite anche a un miglio di distanza, tante persone che si rallegrarono per la morte della donna che loro aveva lottato duramente per la parità anche dei loro diritti e si era adoperata per migliorare le loro condizioni.
Il suo corpo fu lasciato penzolare dal patibolo per un giorno, senza mutande, tra la folla sghignazzante, esposta a ogni scherzo e umiliazione.

Fu così che venne distrutta l’elegante e colta Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel.

Un certo Matthew Wade, le cui lettere a Lady Hamilton gettano una pessima luce sul carattere sia di lui che di lei , in quel periodo le scrisse con noncuranza: “La grande questione è, chi deve essere impiccato e chi decapitato, perché nessuno contesta che non meritino la morte, ma solo come prolungare il momento…” . Un’osservazione priva di ogni sensibilità, forse davvero consona all’animo di una dei paladini della crudeltà di Carolina.
Emma infatti, dopo l’esecuzione della patriota, si premurò di informare la Regina che Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel era stata “puntualmente impiccata al Mercato, la squallida piazza davanti alla Chiesa del Carmine, dopo aver bevuto una tazza di caffè e aver citato un verso di Orazio.”

Stendhal, nella sua opera “ Rome Naples et Florence ” (1826), riportò una conversazione che ebbe sulla Rivoluzione napoletana e la sua macabra conclusione con un testimone oculare degli eventi, concludendo:“Ho avuto cura di sopprimere, nel corso di questa narrazione, tutti i dettagli più raccapriccianti. Robespierre, quali che siano i suoi difetti, ha almeno questo da dire a suo favore: non aveva una gran quantità di amici personali nel numero totale delle sue vittime. Chi è stato sacrificato, è stato sacrificato a un sistema, per quanto mal fondato; non per un meschino dispetto personale.

Alla fine, cinquecento rivoluzionari furono esiliati, diverse migliaia imprigionati e 216 giustiziati. Pimentel fu l’unica donna impiccata per aver preso parte alla Repubblica Napoletana.

continua

Immagine: Giuseppe Boschetto – Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca condotta al patibolo –
(https://www.cittametropolitana.na.it/quadri/-/asset_publisher/rI9MY1S0fvXU/content/fonseca-condotta-al-patibolo?_101_INSTANCE_rI9MY1S0fvXU_viewMode=view)

92 thoughts on “Lady Hamilton, Nelson and Neapolitan Patriots: Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca/V (part 22)

    1. Luisa ! Eleonora last wish was a cup of coffee . And she was brutally executed . Her body was left dangling from the gallows for a day without even underwear in full public view in the Piazza Mercato , Naples . When her body fell on the ground , public soughted with rejoice that their voice could be heard from a mile or so . A rejoice for a woman who raised the voice for the equality of all human beings . Her serious fault was that she exposed the sexual habits of the then Queen of Naples . Such a vulture culture is rare in the human history . Thanks !

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Unfortunately the Queen must have been very vindictive and did not want to forgive the offenses done to her, and Eleonora was too advanced to be understood by the people.
        Thanks a lot for your great reflection❣️

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Dear Luisa, this is really sickening. Poor Eleonora Pimentel. How cruel could Queen Maria Carolina was! And Emma! She too turned into a vamp. Your narrative is so excellent that I feel transported back in time to witness these barbaric events. Excellent work, Luisa♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This woman adored Robespierre and we know all what reign of terror this one unlashed in France: at least 300,000 suspects were arrested of which 17,000 were officially executed, and perhaps 10,000 died in prison or without trial. Before the revolution she was destitute because her abusive husband had squandered her dowry, and she begged and got from the crown a little stipend for her literary erudition and protection against her abusive husband. Talking about biting the hand that fed and protected her! And after all that fighting against the prerogatives of nobles, she asked for a noble woman’s prerogative to be beheaded (after the reading of your previous story, I have my doubts about that too). In Nuremberg they also condemned the propaganda minister of the Third Reich (dr. Goebbels) to dead by hanging (he committed suicide before they could execute him). So the hanging of the main propagandist of the Neapolitan Republic isn’t such a far-from-our-bed-show. To end this, I would like to state that I disapprove of the death sentence for whatever crime or perceived injustice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much, Shaharee, for the valuable information and historical reflections that you were kind enough to share in your comment.
      I would add that I too disapprove of the death sentence for any crime or alleged injustice.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Sì, è stata una descrizione un po’ cruda, ma penso che sia necessario portare alla luce i fatti storici del passato, anche quelli più disonorevoli
      Per il presente non è possibile sapere la verità, si dice che in guerra sia purtroppo la prima vittima!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Quanta crudeltà, quanto odio verso una donna che voleva solo rendere migliore la vita delle persone che non hanno avuto la fortuna di nascere benestanti. Tra Maria Carolina, Lady Hamilton e Nelson non saprei dire chi possa essere il più crudele: tre persone senza cuore e umanità. Una fine davvero tristissima quella di Eleonora: impiccata e oltraggiata… non meritava tutto ciò, 😢.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Every time he delves into the story, evil and revenge emerge as if it were the daily bread in this circle of a society eaten away by the excesses in its way of life. Well, we’ll see how the plot continues to become more and more interesting. Greetings Luisa..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heartfelt thanks, dear Manuel, for your kind appreciation,
      I fully agree with you when you say that, as we delve into history, evil and revenge seem to be the cornerstones of every civilization
      Best wishes to you and a big hug🤗❣️🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  5. A rich history you have given us, Luisa, over these many posts.

    ….”In this manner was the elegant and cultured Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel destroyed….”

    How fortunate we are that you have re-vived her extraordinary history, no matter what we may think of her politics.

    Thank you. Sarah

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I confess to you, dear Sarah, that in the beginning it was not my intention to write so many posts on this topic, but the more I dig into this story, the more I find details that I think are worth narrating
      Thanks a lot for your kind comment 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Mamma mia, che orrore queste impiccagioni, anche la decapitazione dev’essere orrenda, forse dà una morte più veloce. Ad ogni modo, nei secoli passati accadevano orrori e punizioni da far accapponare la pelle. Attendiamo ancora il seguito di questa vicenda. Leggeremo la fine di Nelson e di Emma. Nell’attesa, cara Luisa ti auguro una serena serata!💖💞

    Liked by 2 people

  7. They were rude, crude, and socially reprehensible. Eleanora did not deserve any of what happened to her. It also shows Emma and Nelson, and the Queen in a totally different and deplorable light. Bravo, cara Luisa for sharing this with us. I had certainly never heard of this sordid part of the story. Heroes are often not as heroic as we imagine.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. When I was living with a “metallic” musician, I watched the band provide mallets to their audiences and set them loose smashing piles of outdated computer equipment. I never could even bring myself to participate, but scarcely any member else did not gleefully delight in the act of pure destruction. It makes me feel like a visitor to this planet, the ingrained cruelty of the dominant species.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice reflection: “the ingrained cruelty of the dominant species”. Do you remember the Two Minutes Hate in the novels 1984? It was when people could vent their anguish and hatreds. Maybe man is much more irrational and cruel than animals and he doesn’t know how to control his impulses 😢

      Like

  9. Mamma mia, quanta cattiveria, perfidia, nemmeno un briciolo di dignità le hanno lasciato, impiccandola senza mutande.
    Mi domando come si possa scendere tanto in basso e soprattutto come si faccia a dileggiare e ad infierire su dei cadaveri. Una vera atrocità.

    Liked by 1 person

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