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Masaniello(mäzänyĕl`lō), 1620?–1647, Neapolitan revolutionist, whose original name was Tommaso Aniello. A fisherman, he led a revolt of the lower classes, burdened by high taxes, against the Spanish rulers of Naples. Tumults broke out in 1647 and soon became so serious that the Spanish viceroy came to terms with Masaniello, promised the reforms demanded, and recognized him as captain general. Demented by his sudden success, Masaniello was killed shortly afterward either by agents of the Spanish viceroy or by his own disillusioned supporters. The revolution was soon repressed.
(shortened form for Tommaso Aniello). Born June 1620 in Naples; died there July 16, 1647. Italian fisherman, leader of the popular antifeudal uprising in Naples in July 1647, which was directed mainly against Spanish supremacy.
The introduction of a tax on fruits was the cause of the revolt. The insurgents burned tax documents, besieged the palace of the viceroy, and proclaimed Masaniello captain general of the people of Naples. The peasants of Calabria, Puglia, and Abruzzi and inhabitants of many southern Italian towns aligned themselves with the insurrectionists. The viceroy was forced to negotiate with the insurgents and to rescind the new tax, but at the same time he arranged for the murder of Masaniello. The uprising continued after Masaniello’s death. It was suppressed by the Spanish Army only in April 1648.