House of Siracusa

House of Siracusa

The House of Siracusa (formerly Zaragoza) was a noble Sicilian family.



The origin of the Siracusa family is documented in the year AD 1018 by Jeronimo Zurita, as a branch of the House Béarn. At the Reconquista of Zaragoza, Gaston IV Vicomte of Béarn liberated the Christian borrow of the town Zaragoza, called Sta Maria and was honored by the Spanish king with the lordship of the town. This is also confirmed by several documents published by the Spanish Archives.

The family Zaragoza, during the domination of the kings of Majorca, was in charge of the castle of the city Perpignan.

In 1283, the family went to Sicily with King Peter of Aragon, when he was called to be King of that island, as legitimate successors of the House of Hohenstaufen, being the husband of Constanza of Aragon, the daughter of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Thomas Saragoza was baron of the town of Vizzini, as documented by the "adohámenti" (the charges to be covered by the barons for the exempion of military duties) decreed by King Fredrich III.

Roger Zaragoza was the “Secret Master over the river Salso” and Peter Zaragoza was governor of the island Djerba, where he was killed in 1333 during a Muslim revolt. Bernardo Zaragoza was baron of Collesano married to Ilaria Ventimiglia, daughter of the Count of Geraci.

In the following centuries, the family held the baronies Muxia, Cassaro, Castelluzzo, Xiridia and Monastero in the Noto Valley as documented by Capibreve of Barberi.


The nearness of the family’s properties to the town Siracusa, which, during the Spanish domination in Sicily was called “Zaragoza de Sicilia” favoured the change of the family's name to Siracusa and Siragusa. In Latin documents the family was also written “de Syracusis”.

The family was represented in Messina, Trapani, Noto, Sciacca and Palermo and had relationships with the important families of Medici, Tagliavia, Perollo, Caetani, Spinola, Corsetto, Oppezinga and Bonanno.

Pietro and his daughter Margherita Siracusa, baroness of Cassaro, are shown also as ancestors of Queen Paola of Belgium.

The princes of Cassaro and the Duques of Casteldimirto also derive from this family.

The earthquakes of 1542 destroyed the Castle Cassaro and in 1693 the residence of the family in the town of Noto.

The Branch of Sciacca was strongly involved in the civil war between the families Peralta and the Count of Luna, which endured for almost 100 years. This was the so-called “Caso di Sciacca”. Many members of the family lost their lives or had to leave their homes.

Antonio Siracusa transferred his family to Palermo, where he held important positions: he was several times a judge at royal courts and was encharged by King Philip II of Spain to be the President of the Supreme Council of Italy at the Spanish court.

His son Carlo studied law at the University of Bologna: he was the fiscal lawyer of the king and general procurator of the crown. He served the king as an officer of the Spanish army. He was a knight of the Order of Alcantara.

His son Giacomo was in charge as royal visitor of royal Ports. His grandson Carlo married Maria Spinola, who belonged to a very old family from Genua. He covered many charges in behalf of the crown.

Carlo, who followed his father was a knight of Alcantara Order, married Porzia Corsetto, sister of Ottavio Corsetto, the first count of Villalta and duque of Casteldimirto. Documents of his nomination are available at the Spanish General Archiv of Simancas. Because Ottavio Corsetto was without children, he was inherited by his nephew, Ottavio Siracusa, in the county of Villalta and duchy of Casteldimirto. He was the first bearer of the county Villalta belonging to the family Siracusa, as documented by the royal Protonotaro files at the archive of the state of Palermo.

He had a seat in the Sicilian Parliament and was knight of the Order of St. James of the Sword. Documents of this award are at Archivo historico Nacional (Madrid). He refused the Duchy of Casteldimirto in favour of his sister Maria, who married in the family Boccadifuoco, starting a new dynasty (now Filangeri Prince of Mirto).

With the Utrecht Agreement in 1717 and the short government of the House of Savoy in Sicily, the family retired from active political life, having been loyal to the House of Bourbon. The counts of Villalta dedicated themselves to the administration of their own properties.



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