The Law in Federico De Roberto's Viceroys

Rosalba Galvagno


The plot of the Viceroys is massively interwoven by an extraordinary discourse concerning law which, combined with the historical, political, economic, religious and the emotional codes, involves the juridical code, in the strict sense of the word. The latter, in turn, still remains inscribed in a feudal structure. Although the historical-familiar events told take place around the mid-nineteenth century Bourbon Sicily, the age is yet marked by the abolition of some meaningful institutions of the old law such as, among others, the fideicommissum.

In order to settle their hereditary, testamentary, matrimonial and estate caste issues, the noble Uzedas continue to rely on that old feudal law, at least formally. Actually, they do nothing but circumvent or even break it. Once the new Savoy regulations have become effective, they do not despise however to exploit a noble of the robe, and acquired by marriage, lawyer Benedetto Giulente’s advice in order to legally cope with their suspicious transactions.

Next to the laical regulations of the law, the novel also describes, in an irreverent and outrageous way, what remains of the Benedictine Rule in an age of «plenty» about to the end, in consequence of the new Piedmont law which states the abolition of religious orders.

Anyway, what sort of law, ethically speaking, does the novel actually convey, despite the positive juridical orders stemming from it? As a matter of fact, it is an archaic and dreadful maternal law, a ‘law-lawless’, incessantly brought up, as this analysis tries to point out accurately together with the positive law procedures coming out from the narrative.


Law; Right; Power; Mother; Father; Children

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