Campania carolingia. I rilievi della cattedrale di Teano e il tentativo di espansione pontificia del Ducato di Benevento

Author: Fabio Betti

Carolingian Campania. The Reliefs of Teano’s Cathedral and the Attempt of Pontifical Expansion in the Duchy of Benevento

Teano was one of the most important towns in Campania during the Roman imperial age; the spread of Christianity took place rather early, even though the first mention of a local diocese dates back to the year 499. The cathedral is located in the upper part of the city centre and it was probably built on the spot of a pagan temple dedicated to Isis. The building, that had preserved its original 11th century structure thus far, was seriously damaged in 1944 by Anglo-American air strikes during the World War II; therefore, it was totally rebuilt in medieval style by architect Roberto Pane in the fifties of the last century.
During the reconstruction works a great deal of sculptures was found; they can be referred to several historical phases of the monument. Among those reliefs emerge the early medieval ones, about twenty fragments, characterized by the typical geometric and abstract decoration of that age. These last ones may be dated to the Carolingian period (late 8th - early 9th century); looking very similar to the contemporary sculptural production in Rome, they were hypothetically made by Roman craftsmen. This is due to the fact that Teano, together with its episcopal complex, was under the control of Roman pontiffs for a short time, as a result of the territorial settlements between Charlemagne and Hadrian I, after the Frankish intervention against Lombard duke Arichis (787). From this point of view the collection of Carolingian sculpture from Teano’s cathedral may be regarded as one of the most significant evidences of the political and cultural influence of the Roman church in Northern Campania at the time of the rule of the Lombard Principality of Benevento.