The Origins Of The Mafia Essay Research

The Origins Of The Mafia Essay, Research Paper

There were number of factors that contributed to the development of Mafia from feudalism. From the center of Sicily the mafia came into being from the feudal estates (feudi). At first, the mafia’s purpose was to

defend feudal privileges in the rural districts. But the total lack of public

authority and the absolute power of the lords which was delegated to henchmen

whose only qualification was their talent for delinquency, built up a tyranny based on violence and systematic exploitation. For centuries the land under Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans has bundled the land into estates known as latifundia. These estates were distributed to the occupants or local notables who undertook to pay a contribution in kind and cultivated the land with the labor of local people forced into

slavery, or slaves imported from other districts. In an economic essence the landowners owned all the land. Farmhouses were built around the center of

latifundia. Store-houses were also built surrounding the dwellings of the owner’s trusted guards and of the slaves who were forced to live on the estate

grounds. The seasonal work of ploughing, sowing, and harvesting was performed by

slaves. This system was also unchanged under the domination of Goths, Byzantines, and Arabs. Around 1000 A.D. the Normans drove out the

Arabs and divided the region into seigniories, distributing after the feudal

pattern of France. This system relatively matched with the latifundium and slave economy. In fact, the feudal regime was marked by the Sicilian barons’ famous renunciation of feudal rights in 1812. The

feudal rights strong roots even survived the uprisings of the 1820 and

1848. The evidence can also be seen in the island’s economic and at the time

Garibaldi’s epic enterprise in 1860 (p.9). After the Norman period came the Swabian and Bourbon.They established their power on the coast and reinforced it by distributing the lands in the interior of the island. This land became the title feudi of new nobles and followers creating a new baronial class. The baron lord was in charge of one or more feudi

with peasants and real serfs that were housed around his farmstead. Each feudo

consisted of less than five thousand acres widely cultivated and watched over by the lord’s armed guards and campieri who lived in the farmhouse itself.The guards and campieri(overseers) were always selected from men with an

unusual criminal record, which made them particularly suitable for the job. They were formed into bodies of private guards, and gradually assumed nearly all the boundless powers of the barons. The guards and campieris originating in the

feudo contributed to the creation of the Mafia. At first their purpose was to defend feudal privileges in the rural districts. The absence of public authority and absolute power of the lords which was delegated to henchmen whose only qualification was their talent for delinquency,built a tyranny based on violence and systematic exploitation. There were conflicts between two or more

barons who had neighboring estates for political power. From the beginning the barons authority was carried out by the help of private armed guards. These guards came to form gangs called the compagine d’armi. These armed companies often took care of things in series of murders, cattle-slaughtering, the firing of crops and barns, water polluting, robberies and other crimes to gain power. The uprising of the 1812 bought abolition of the feudal privileges,and

resulted in public institutions and local government in the inlands. A new

relationship was formed between master and laborer. Many of the feudal lords also decided to move to the cities. The old private guards and armed gangs were

replaced by stewards, campieris, and gabellottis. The gabellottos rented

the whole feudo and guaranteed an income for the owner who resided in the cities.The gabellottos were Italian taxmans that were to collect fifty percent of the crop. They were to give the profit to the owner but most often the portions were kept for themselves. Eventually, the gabellotto also started

to form an army that was loyal to him on the estate.

From 1812 to 1848, the gabellottos established authority and power onthe

estates. They brought out the estates from the feudal lords and took

over the land. By 1860, Italy was dominated by the Mafia transforming Sicily from feudalism. There was a mafia in every feudal estate where thegabellottos formed an army. The origins of the Mafia were mainly from the feudalestates in the center of Sicily and the inner districts of provinces of Palermo,Trapani, Agrigento, Caltanissetta, and Enna.


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