Affectionately called the Il
Reuccio"—the "little king" —by Neapolitans,
Charles II (1661-1700), King of Spain, was the last
ruler of the once mighty Spanish empire and, thus, is
the last in the line of Spanish Hapsburg monarchs to
rule Naples. He died without an heir and designated as
his successor Phillip of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, and
nephew of the king of France. This effectively turned
France and Spain (with the vicerealm of Naples) into
allies, a union potentially so strong that England,
Holland, and the Holy Roman Empire of Leopold I formed a
Grand Alliance to fight it. This set off the Wars of the
Spanish Succession, which raged across Europe until
1713. The statue in the photo is at Piazza Monteoliveto, one block up from the main post office
on Via Monteoliveto. The statue was commissioned by the
Spanish viceroy, Don Pietro Antonio d'Aragona and
finished in 1674; the sculptor was Francesco D'Angelo.
The building seen
behind the statue in the photo is of extreme interest.
It is part of what was once one of the largest
monasteries in Italy and is, perhaps, the least written
about of all such religious structures in Naples.
Construction started in 1411 and over the centuries
developed into a mini-city inhabited by members of the
Monteolivetan order. The complex was largely broken up
in the wake of the suppression of monasteries in Napoleonic Europe in the early
1800s and has undergone subsequent subdivision.
The part in view behind the statue in the photo is
currently a large barracks for the Carabinieri, the
uniformed Italian national police force. (The dark
building attached to the left of the barracks is the Church of Monteoliveto,
still a church, now more commonly known as Sant'Anna dei Lombardi.) The
entire complex stretched further downhill to the south
for 150 yards to the main cloister of the monastery.
That part of the complex is closed but was left intact
and actually incorporated into the main Naples post office when
that building was put up in the 1930s (photo at right).
In effect, the entire modern city block surrounds the