Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Quattro Mori: The Four Moors

One of Livorno's most famous landmarks is a monument located near the Port of Livorno. This work of art, which dates back to the Renaissance period, is called "Monumento dei quattro mori" (Monument of the Four Moors). This powerful monument, depicting four Moors, was dedicated to Grand Duke Ferdinando I.

I Quattro Mori --At the end of the XVI century the works for the realization of the new fortified city of Livorno started. In order to celebrate this enterprise and the triumphs of the Order of the knights of Santo Stefano against barbaric pirates, Ferdinando de'Medici erected a monument in his honor. The statue of the Granduca was commissioned to the sculptor Giovanni Bandini, than realized it in Carrara in 1595; it was moved to Livorno in 1601. Subsequently, in 1621 Pietro Tacca completed the monument with the four chained Moors, that the sculptor made between 1623 and 1626. The monument is constituted by the Four Moors in bronze at the base of a high pedestal, over which there is the statue of Ferdinando I. The Granduca is represented with the uniform of the Order of the knights of Santo Stefano, the military institution founded in order to fight the Ottomans and the pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. The Four Moors constitute the most important part of the work: the emphasized torsions and the grimaces of pain represent the condition of imprisonment of the subjects, with great realism and elegance. (source: Tuscany Travels)

The Four Moors is the oldest and most popular monument in Leghorn, it symbolizes the winner of Medici against pirates in the Mediterranean Sea.

The monument consist of two parts, one in marble and the other one in bronze. The former, in Carrara marble, shows Ferdinando I dei Medici in the uniform of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephan, a navy establishment to fight the piracy which was an obstacle to free trade and the development of the growning Medicean port. Created by the Florentine sculptor Giovanni Bandini, it was terminated in 1595, but only in 1617 the statue was placed on its pedestal.

The Four Moors, works of considerable merit by the Carrara sculptor Pietro Tacca, a pupil of Giambologna, were added between 1623 and 1626.

In 1861 the statue was moved about 20 mt to its present position. On the occasion it was completely renovated. During the Second World War it was once again dismantled to protect it from aerial bombardments. At the end of the war it was returned to its place. (source: Geocaching)

The Four Moors - a symbol of Livorno Overlooking the old Medici Port, right at the port end of Via Grande, you cannot fail to notice the statue known as I Quattro Mori (‘the four moors’) which is undoubtedly Livorno’s most famous landmark. The monument, which is a symbol of Livorno, was carried out in two stages. The upper part, portraying Ferdinando I, the Medici Grand Duke, was sculpted in marble by Giovanni Bandini by order of Ferdinando’s son, Cosimo II, to honour his father. It was erected in 1617, nine years after Grand Duke Ferdinando’s death.

The four bronze moors were added between 1623 and 1626 and are the work of the Carrara sculptor, Pietro Tacca, who was Giambologna’s greatest pupil. He used two slaves as a model for his work and it is said that in return for posing for several months these two men were then set free.
The younger of the two moved to Florence and started a family there. On holidays he used to bring his family to Livorno so that they could admire his bronze likeness!

The whole monument is supposed to represent Tuscany’s victories over pirate attacks.

Province of Livorno, Toscana (Tuscany), Italy.  This is a map of Italy that identifies the province of Livorno. The province of Livorno is a part of the Toscana (Tuscany) region.

cagliari photos
The Municipio with Sardinian Flag (Cagliari Photos}.  The Municipio, or town hall, of Cagliari displays three flags - European Union, Italy, and Sardinia, the flag with the Quattro Mori, or four Moors.

The Quattro Mori on Cagliari Municipio (Cagliari Photos). The quattro mori, the symbol of Sardegna, are displayed atop the Cagliari Municipio, or town hall.

Sardinian Flag Quattro Mori

Map of the Province of Sassari, Sardegna (Sardinia), Italy.  The province of Sassari is a part of the Sardegna (Sardinia) region.

Fountain of the Four Moors: Fontana Dei Quattro Mori, Marino, Lazio, Italia

The Fountain of the Four Moors during the Italian Grape Festival

Lazio (Latium), Italy. Lazio is a region in the center of Italy along the Tyrrhenian Sea; with five provinces, one of which is Roma (Rome).


  1. Great information here - I'll use the Moor documentary in class. Thanks for sharing.

    White English Teacher.

    1. Hey White English Teacher:

      Thanks for visiting, I hope your class enjoys the video. The BBC does a wonderful job with history, I just wish we'd stop defunding our PBS stations so that they could produce more high quality accessible educational offerings, too.

      --Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog

    2. White English Teacher:

      Aren't these statues and flags fascinating. Honestly, what is in the water that makes Italians such gifted sculptors. Even when you research most of the prominent sculptures in the USA they were made by Italians. The one that comes to mind is the Statue of Freedom that sits atop of the Capitol Dome in Washington, DC. Sculpted by an Italian, and cast in bronze by a black slave. Truth is far more fascination than fiction.

  2. Ron - I have to agree with that - as someone of Italian heritage I simply must concur. How silly is the 'defund' PBS, or NPR debate. Even a libertarian like me sees nothing but folly in DC and their asinine arguments. I'd love to see PBS mirror the BBC material.
    If I rememeber correctly, much of the Capitol dome was done in the Bronx, not too far from where I live. This is a great site - I've bookmarked the site and will refer my students to it. I have some fiercely independent thinkers this year, mostly girls, and I'll show them the site. This is what we need to use the www for. I like your philosophy of 'get the whole story behind the historical fable'. Gatto and his work with the compulsory schooling system broke the mold intitially for me.

    Before I get too preachy, thanks again.


    1. Mostly girls? Isn't that like some creepy stalker shit. Ha, Should you be teaching?

  3. Very informative, excellent blog!!!

  4. Very informative, excellent blog!!!

  5. This was food for the spirit! Thank you

  6. Hello, I notice in this article that you mention the original sources for most of the material, but I think you must have forgotten to mention Livorno Now where part of your text also comes from
    I would really appreciate it if you could add the source for this. Thank you

  7. Is it true that the moors ruled Italy, an tht most Italian are spond with black blood????????

  8. The claim that the Atlantic slave trade was "the biggest forced migration" is debatable. Berbers pirates pillaged and enslaved millions of Europeans from the Mediterranean costs for centuries, the term "slave" comes from slaves that was the term for the millions of slavic people taken by the Ottomans. Up until 1970 there were no coastal villages in Sardinia, but they were 3 to 5 miles inland to avoid the pirates. Get at least your history straight.

  9. The Four Slaves depicted are actually the captured Turkish Slaver a father and his three sons ,who had been terrorizing the livorno region for years. They Would capture white people and sell them into Slavery Islam is the enemy of mankind and this statue Depicts a victory of civilization over the political agenda of Sharia.



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