History of Tropea: Tropea society
Owing to its topographic location, which made its defence fairly easy, its qualification as a state city, therefore depending from the King only, and for its lack of subordination to a feudal Lord, Tropea attracted a considerable number of Noble families who preferred Tropea to any other city in the area. Several families of the ancient Tropean Aristocracy arrived in Tropea from the nearby centres in order to escape from the dependence of a Feud.
Consequently a strong aristocracy was formed and owned a wide extension of Land not in Tropea and its county but in other territories, too. Because of this aspect Tropea together with Amantea and Cosenza held, in Calabria, a social, administrative and cultural position different from the other cities, since it was structureted on the strong presence of a more evolved class. All this is matter to be evaluated in terms of consequences and value by the historians, although indisputable is the fact of its characterisation.
The aristocracy in many cases was of feudal and medieval origin, connected to the historical events of the ancient dynasties, and to the services rendered to the various Kings.
There were also several families of noble ancestry, recognized as such, that, although residing in the Tropea territory, for particular reasons they were not part of the nobles’ seat.
The lower middle class had also an importance in the administrative and social life of the city. This was the so called class of the “Honoured by the People”, and it was, too, a restricted almost closed social class.
In 1703 the two classes were permanently divided to constitute two distinct seats. The seat was a name of the Reign of Naples. It rose as a Nobles’ organization having the aim to defend the rights of the class, mainly as regards taxes. The same reality assumed varied denominations such as seat, theatre, square, portico, according to the location in which it was present.
It was after the descent of Carlo VIII that the popular seats in Naples were firstly constituted. In Tropea, the decision taken in 1703 found the approval of the sovereign power of the Reign, and so two distinct seats were constituted.
Consequently, the Nobles decided to build their own Seat-building, of which the façade can be seen in Piazza Ercole. Now it is a Municipal property and houses the Pro Loco Tropea.
The city arrangement, even if it could be considered advanced compared to the feudal situation of nearly all the other centres of the area, caused dissatisfactions, riots and disorders not only within Tropea, due to the contrasts generated among the classes, but mainly in the relationships between Tropea an its “Casali”, that is between the dominating Tropean Nobles and the conistent peasantry class inhabitants of the Casali. It must be remembered that the encumbrance of the Nobles on the land was felt even more for they used to own a house in the country or in the Casali where they spent good part of the year, with the exception of winter, to check the crops of the farms.
As a consequence the University of Tropea saw the riots which, as usual, were caused by land problems and tax distribution.
Outside this fundamental structure there were also the Nobles without seat, the popular and the peasantry of the country.
The Professional-men had a remarkable importance in the city life of Tropea where they practiced their activities. In general they were also Nobles. According to records, in 1612 there were 30 Attorneys at law, 6 physicians, 6 chemists, 12 notaries, besides the numerous clergy-men many religious communities. Among the common the notable were the craftsmen and the merchants the twelve existent warehouses.