Da Émile Bertaux ad Antonio Cadei: un percorso sulla nozione di castello federiciano

Author: Xavier Barral i Altet

From Émile Bertaux to Antonio Cadei: an Itinerary through Investigations about Frederick II’s Castles

This essay aims to pay homage to Antonio Cadei, focusing on one of his dearest research themes that is the architecture of Frederick II’s time. Notwithstanding the great variety of topics dealt with during his long activity, Cadei was always very fond of military architecture matter, and of the study of castles in Southern Italy and elsewhere, particularly those built by Frederick II.
The hypothesis about the origin of the architectural concept at the base of Frederick II’s castles, which should be sought in the East of the Crusades – referred by Cadei in several interventions – must be examined with specific attention; as regards square-plan castles, it has to be identified in Late-Ancient residential and military structures in Syria, Jordan and Palestine.
Cadei attempted to demonstrate that in the context of his military and residential architecture Frederick II had employed a fortification pattern of his own time, which could be no longer referred to as oriental nor foreign, but as the product of a dynamics developed in Crusaders’ architecture, able to give an appropriate architectural form to defensive needs and residential requirements of the 12th and of the 13th century.
Therefore, this article reviews the main landmarks in the historiographical itinerary Cadei dedicated to these subjects, comparing them with the positions of those who had already faced the same themes in the early 1900’s, in the context of the highest development of nationalistic theories.