Montesarchio (Latin: Caudium; Greek:
Καύδιον) is a comune in the Province of Benevento, Campania, southern Italy. It
is located 18 kilometres (11 miles) south-east of Benevento in the Valle Caudina
at the foot of Monte Taburno. The commune was granted the official status of
City (Città) by a presidential decree of 31 July 1977.
Montesarchio is the site of ancient Caudium, an ancient city of Apulia et
Calabria, situated on the road from Beneventum (modern Benevento) to Capua. It
seems probable that it was in early times a place of importance, and the capital
or chief city of the tribe called the Caudini; but it bears only a secondary
place in history. It is first mentioned during the Second Samnite War, 321 BCE,
when the Samnite army under Gaius Pontius encamped there, previous to the great
disaster of the Romans in the neighbouring pass known as the Caudine Forks; and
again, a few years later, as the headquarters occupied by the Samnites, with a
view of being at hand to watch the movements of the Campanians. The town of
Caudium is not mentioned during the Second Punic War, though the tribe of the
Caudini is repeatedly alluded to.
A view of Montesarchio
Niebuhr supposes the city to have been destroyed by the Romans, in revenge for
their great defeat in its neighbourhood; but there is no evidence for this. It
reappears at a later period as a small town situated on the Appian Way, and
apparently deriving its chief importance from the transit of travellers: the
same causes preserved it in existence down to the close of the Roman Empire. It
received a colony of veterans; and it appears from Pliny, as well as from
inscriptions, that it retained its municipal character, though deprived of a
large portion of its territory in favor of the neighboring city of Beneventum.
The period of its destruction is unknown: the name is still found in the 9th
century, but it is uncertain whether the town still existed at that time.
The position of Caudium is fixed by the Itineraries, which all concur in placing
it on the Appian Way, 21 Roman miles from Capua, and 11 from Beneventum.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in the 7th century a Lombard
nobleman called Arcolo founded a shelter and fought against Charlemagne. In that
occasion the burgh was fortified and a tower, still visible today, was built at
the summit of the hill.
Later the castle was rebuilt, but the Normans destroyed it. It was again rebuilt
in the 15th century. Feudataries who held Montesarchio include, starting from
the 13th century, D'Aquino, Della Leonessa, Caracciolo, Carafa and D'Avalos, who
owned it until the abolition of feudality in 1805.
The D'Avalos Castle, later turned into a jail by the Bourbon Kings of Two
Abbey of St. Nicholas.
Church of St. Francis.
Ancient marble fountain, in the main square.