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Angelo Maggiora on the history of the Maggiora family of Refrancore

My name is Angelo Maggiora. I was born in a small village, near Asti, in the northwest of Italy, in the Piedmont region, on the 27th of June 1949. I live with my family in Torino which is the capital of Piedmont(and was the capital of Italy since 1861). Torino is 70 km away from Refrancore, the village where I was born.

Refrancore was inhabited by the Ligurians and Celts before the their subjugation by Romans around 200 B.C. The name of the village was cited the first time by Paul the Deacon. According to his account of the Battle of Refrancore in 663, the Longobard troops of Grimaldo defeated the Franks after getting them drunk on wine from neighboring cellars. He reported that the Longobards filled up a large number of amphoras with the wine and scattered the containers over the surrounding fields. The jugs caught the Franks' attention and they avidly quaffed the contents.

This was also the first allusion to and praise for Barbera and other wines, which still remain the main base of the local economy together with the trades.

The first evidence of a Maggiora family with the name Maggiora, "Majora, de Majoribus" in the Refrancore region, dates around the middle of the XV century. The noble house of Maggiora is cited in heraldry books together with its noble blazon. (for information see http://www.idea.it/araldica where you can found the name free of charge, and pay for the blazon and more information).

This was the period of violent and long wars for the conquest of this rich land. Italy, meant as a political and geographical entity, did not exist at that time. It was divided into Commons, Dukedoms, and Earldoms. Wars between them for the conquest of a small castle or a limited region of land were part of the ordinary life. The Refrancore region was on the border between several dominions: the Milano Duchy (Visconti), the Savoia Dukedom, Saluzzo, Monferrato, Mantova and territories belonging to other noble families. The castle, located on the top of the hill that dominated the village, was the residence of a vassal of one of these noble families. The change of men in power was usual and frequent. It was a complicated, dark period in the history of Italy, not well documented, at least at a local level.

It is probably during this period that a family coming from a small village, called Maggiora, was invested with Refrancore fief. This Maggiora village is located in the north of Piedmont close to Lake Maggiore.

Starting from this first settlement Maggiora descendants mulitplied in the village and throughout the world. I think that now the last name (surname) of 40% of the Refrancore inhabitants is Maggiora (300-400 people). There are several Maggiora's around the world. For instance, there are consistent groups in Torino, in Rome and small groups in Geneva (Switzerland) and Paris (France).

There are also an important number of Maggioras in the U.S.A. For instance, looking in the net you can find 59 Maggioras, 75% of them living in California.

I think that the Maggioras presently dispersed around the word originally come from Refrancore. The Maggioras around the world are probably related but their relationship is so remote that it is really difficult to reconstruct any link.

In my particular case, I am able to say that my family was living in Refrancore and its environs since the middle of the XVIII century. I spent more than a week, several years ago, in the municipal offices and in the parsonage of the village church tracing my ancestors. Using the marriage, born and dead parish and council registers I was able to reconstruct the history of my family, at least, since the beginning of the XVIII century. I was unable to go further back in time, because the registers were written by hand (naturally) in a raw Latin very difficult to understand. In any case, the official registration of births, deaths and marriages starts from the beginning of the XVIII century. It is impossible to reconstruct genealogical trees before this date except in special cases concerning important families (which is not my case).

Unfortunately the genealogical tree of my family was lost (it is probably somewhere in my country house) and I can draw up a list of my ancestors only up to my grandfather.

My father was Natale Maggiora (Talin) (born in 1913, deceased in 1995), my mother was Agostina Lazzarone (born in 1913, deceased in 1966). My grandfather was Giovanni Maggiora (Manin) (born in 1880, deceased in 1972), my grandmother was Anna Mondo (Neta) (born in 1880, deceased in 1955).


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