La Leggenda di Aleramo- Afrresco- Guglielmo Caccia- Grazzano Badoglio-

The Fascinating Tale of the Knight Who First Ruled over Monferrato

Have you heard of the Legend of Aleramo? No? Then read on and discover the myth surrounding the man who first dominated Monferrato!

When exploring Monferrato, you’ll frequently hear about Aleramo and his dynasty that ruled this land for centuries. Historically, little is known about him, with only scant information from imperial documents. Perhaps that’s why a legend has thrived in Monferrato, passed down through generations. First recounted by Dominican friar Iacopo d’Acqui in the 19th century, this tale captivated Giosuè Carducci, who included it in his work, “Cavalleria e Umanesimo.”

The Legend of Aleramo: Birth and Childhood

The legend begins with the noble German Aldeprando and his pregnant wife traveling to Rome to fulfill a vow. While passing through Sezzadio, near Acqui Terme, the woman went into labor and found refuge in the castle of the local lords, giving birth to a son named Aleramo. The couple continued their journey, leaving the child in the care of a local nurse.

However, something went wrong during their return journey, and their fate remains unknown. Perhaps they fell victim to illness or banditry. The nurse waited in vain, eventually passing away. Aleramo was then taken in by the Sezzadio castle owners, raised as their own, and trained as a true knight. At 15, he became a squire in the court of Sezzadio’s nobility.

Aleramo at the Emperor’s Court

Meanwhile, Emperor Otto I descended to Lombardy to quell a revolt in Brescia. Otto requested loyal nobles to provide squires for his court. Sezzadio’s lord complied, sending Aleramo. The young man’s elegance and gentle demeanor caught Otto’s attention. Aleramo, presenting himself and recounting his sad story, left a profound impression on the emperor, leading to his inclusion in the court.

The young, courteous Aleramo drew the attention of all the noblewomen, especially Adelasia, the emperor’s beautiful daughter. Despite Otto’s desire for Adelasia to marry a prestigious noble for political alliances, the two fell deeply in love.

The Legend of Aleramo: Aleramo and Adelasia’s Escape

Their love became so intense that Adelasia couldn’t bear separation. She proposed they escape the court and start a new life far away, knowing her father would never accept her marrying a mere squire. Although reluctant to cause such pain to a man who had been kind to him, Aleramo agreed.

One night, they secretly fled on two horses, one white and one red. Upon discovering their escape, Otto was furious, sending his men in pursuit. After days of hurried flight, they reached the Apennine mountains between Piedmont and Liguria, where Aleramo had accompanied the Sezzadio lords on hunts. From those woods, they could see ancient Alassio, once called Lamio, later renamed in honor of Adelasia.

The Legend of Aleramo Continues: A Difficult Life in the Wilderness

The legend recounts the hardships faced by the fugitive couple in the rugged terrain. With little to eat and no proper shelter, Aleramo built a makeshift hut and became a charcoal burner, selling coal in Albenga’s market. Adelasia, skilled in embroidery, sold her work to the coastal women, earning some money. One day, Aleramo sold charcoal to the Bishop of Albenga, who, impressed by his manners, immediately took him into his service.

Aleramo’s Return

After a few years, Emperor Otto sought allies to quell another Brescian uprising. The bishop decided to send knights, including Aleramo as an assistant-cook, to the court. During a skirmish, Otto’s beloved nephew was captured by the rebels. Aleramo, feeling indebted to the emperor, rode to the enemy camp, persuading the Brescians to release the nephew unharmed.

Upon the nephew’s return, Otto inquired about the savior. No knight spoke up, but one of the cooks, Aleramo, stepped forward. Blackened and dirty, he revealed his identity, risking the emperor’s wrath. Surprisingly, Otto embraced him, later bringing Adelasia and the grandchildren he had never met. Ottone bestowed the title of knight upon Aleramo and assigned a red and white palfrey as their symbol, representing the valor and faith of Aleramo’s descendants. The Legend of Aleramo reaches its climax!

The Legend of Aleramo - Coat of Arms - Red and White - Aleramici - Monferrato - Heraldic Coat of Arms
Heraldic coat of arms of the Aleramici

The Legend of Aleramo: The Birth of Monferrato

As a gesture of esteem, Otto granted Aleramo the title of marquis. However, a marquis needed a territory to govern. Otto told Aleramo he would receive land between Liguria and Piedmont, covering the distance he could travel on horseback in three days and three nights.

Aleramo rode for three days on three different horses through the lowlands of Piedmont and Liguria, marking the borders of what would become his march.

Not everything went smoothly. At one point, Aleramo’s horse lost a shoe in a deserted area. With no blacksmiths around, he improvised with a brick called “Mun” in the Piedmontese language of the time, and thus, he shod the horse (“Frrha“). From this act, the name Monferrato originated.

THE Legend of Aleramo- Panorama- Monferrato- Hills- Sunset-
Panorama of the Monferrato lands crossed by Aleramo (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

From that day, for several centuries, the Aleramici ruled over this splendid territory, making it rich and significant.

Now, every time you pass through Monferrato, remember the Legend of Aleramo and envision him riding over its gentle hills!

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Article Name
The legend of Aleramo of Monferrato
Discover the captivating Legend of Aleramo, the man who first ruled Monferrato, unfolding through a mythic journey on horseback."
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La Scimmia viaggiatrice