Northern Italy

The wealthier, somewhat more Germanic portion of Italy, comprising the Po valley, the Piedmont, and the northern Appenines.

Contains: Aquileia, Arimnus, Asti, Bergamo, Bozzolo, Brescia, Caisra, Carniola, (Friuli, Istria), Carpi, Chamars, Colorno, Corsica, Cospaia, Cremona, Curtun, Dezana, Elba, the Etruscans, Fidenza, Finale Borgo, Fosdinovo, Friuli, Genoa, Gorizia, Görz, Guastalla, Ivrea, Lodi, Lucca, Mantua, Massa-Carrara, Messerano, Milan (temporal), Milan (Archbishopric), Mirandola, Modena, Montferrat, Novara, Novellara, Ossola, Padua, Parma, Pavia, Perusna, Piacenza, Piedmont, Piombino, Pisa, Polesine, Reggio nell'Emilia, Sabbioneta, Savona, Savoy, Seborga, Siena, Treviso, Tarchna, Trieste, Turin, Tuscany, Udine, Venice, Ventimiglia, Veii, Verona, Vescovato, and Vicenza.


AQUILEIA A bishopric in northeastern Italy, adjacent to the angle of the Slovenian and Austrian borders, and extending south to the Adriatic Sea; the modern Italian province of Friuli closely covers the region. The bishopric was established in the 3rd century CE. A long-standing schism erupted here in 533, moving the bishop to renounce adherence to Roman authority, and style themselves Patriarchs, after the eastern fashion. For the next 160 years, Roman and Eastern parties contested each other for mastery; although Roman authority was ultimately upheld, the title of Patriarch was retained. The Patriarchs were invested with the COUNTY of FRIULI and the MARCH of CARNIOLA in 1077, and the MARCH of ISTRIA in 1209. Eventually, the secular territories were attached to Venice, and the Patriachate itself was suppressed in 1752.

ASTI In the Piedmont, south of Turin. It is perhaps best known today for it's fine wineries.

BERGAMO An important town in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, northeast of Milan.

BOZZOLO A small town in northern Italy, created a lordship for the benefit of a cadet branch of the Gonzagas, Dukes of Mantua.  See also Sabbioneta for another Gonzaga lordship created at the same time.

BRESCIA An important city and episcopal see in northern Italy, at the foot of the Swiss Alps, and located between Verona to the east and Milan to the west.

CARPI A town in north-central Italy, 10 miles (16 km.) north of Modena and 27 miles (43 km.) east of Parma. Students of architecture will know Carpi as the site of the largest and grandest public piazza in the region.

COLORNO A town in north-central Italy, about 9 miles (14.5 km.) north of Parma, near the estuary of the Parma River into the Po. Owing to it's strategic location on the edge of Parmesan, Milanese, and Mantuan territories, it was occupied frequently by a succession of condottiere in the later Middle Ages. It was constituted a Marqessate in the late 16th century, before being absorbed by Parma.

CORREGIO A small town in north-central Italy, 10 miles (16 km.) northwest of Modena and 22 miles (35 km.) east of Parma. The territorial base for a long-standing dynastic clan with influence in a number of cities in this region, see Colorno, Cremona, and Parma for additional data on the ruling family.

CORSICA A large island between Sardinia and Genoa, the birthplace of Napoleon.

COSPAIA A hamlet in the hills of extreme northern Perugia province, some 17 miles (27 km.) east-northeast of Arezzo and about 34 miles (55 km.) north-northwest of Perugia city - it is now a frazioni (subdivision) within the commune of San Giustino Umbro. In the 15th century, the district was on the frontier between the Papal States and the Republic of Florence, probably on the Papal side of the line. In 1440, a treaty between Pope Eugenius IV and Cosimo d'Medici was signed, selling some lands in the area to Florence - however, the description of the parcels erroneously created a tiny no-mans-land between the two Powers, centred on this village. Inadvertently freed of all feudal obligations and taxation, the community happily established a republic, whose main source of income was smuggling.

CREMONA A town in northern Italy, on the Po River west of Mantua and southeast of Milan. It has been noted since early modern times as the locale of the Amati family of violin-makers, and their illustrious pupil, Stradivari.

DEZANAIn northwestern Italy, a county from 1510.

ELBA A small mountainous island lying between Livorno district on the mainland and northeastern Corsica. A mild climate has encouraged the development of a tourist presence, but the place has had active iron mines (almost played out now) since Etruscan times, and an important fisheries industry. It is best-known as the place of Napoleon's first exile, created a sovereign Principality for him.

The ETRUSCANS These were a non-Aryan folk who migrated into northern and central Italy before 800 BCE from the eastern steppes. They set up a series of autonomous city-states: Arretium (Arezzo), Caisra (Caere or modern Cerveteri), Clevsin, (Clusium or modern Chiusi), Curtun (modern Cortona), Perusna (Perugia), Fufluna or Pupluna (Populonia), Veii, Tarchna (Tarquinii or modern Tarquinia-Corneto), Vetluna (Vetulonia), Felathri (Volaterrae or modern Volterra), Velzna (Volsinii or modern day Bolsena), and Velch (Vulci or modern day Volci). The Romans were under Etruscan power in the infancy of their own culture, and after they became independent always regarded the Etruscans with the half sneering condescension, half horrified fascination that former subject peoples usually view their erstwhile masters (this is an important point, for it lies at the heart of the very ambivalent Roman attitude towards Monarchies vs. Republics). Knowledge about the Etruscans is fragmentary, and usually filtered through Roman eyes; the Etruscan language is essentially untranslated even today. It is known that they normally acknowledged one among their number as High King, and the following list attempts to note a few of those individuals. The leader of each city was called a Lauchum, elected for life, and he appears to have been more like a priest than a king (though he also functioned as a war-leader), while an oligarchy of nobles held political power. To defend against outsiders like the Celts and Greeks, the twelve city-states formed a league, which we sometimes call the Dodecapolis. It appears that Campania eventually became the location of a second Etruscan league, though little is known of it. These leagues were loosely organized, with each Lauchum only having power over his own city. Every year at Volsinii, they held a festival to honor the god Voltumna, and elected a Lauchum to serve as head of the league for the next year. This appears to have been largely a ceremonial post. By the early 300's most of the Etruscan states had become republics of a sort, with the lauchum elected for a one-year term from among the nobility. By the 5th century BCE they were under increasing pressure from turbulent Italics on the one hand, and feroce Celts on the other, and by the 3rd century they had fallen under the authority of Rome (the last Etruscan city to be subdued by Rome was Velzna, 265 BCE). In 90 BCE they were granted Roman citizenship, but they backed Marius a decade later, and as a result their language was suppressed and their distinct culture and folkways outlawed. A century later, the future Emperor Claudius could find enough elderly rustics remaining to compile an Etruscan dictionary (now lost, alas), but they vanished as a distinct ethnic group soon after. Nevertheless, a large number of old Roman families retained a memory of Etruscan roots, for example the Sempronii, Licinii, Minucii, and Larcii. Then too, a number of the older Roman divinities turn out to be based closely on Etruscan originals.

FIDENZA (Borgo San Donnino) An ancient town in Emilia-Romagna, 14 miles (22 km.) west-northwest of Parma abnd 18 miles (29 km.) south of Cremona. In ancient times called Fidentia, it became known as Borgo San Donnino from a shrine to the martyr Domninus located here (the reputed site of his execution). It was renamed to the Italian form of the ancient name in 1927.

FINALE BORGO A small locale on the Italian Riviera, close to the French frontier.

FOSDINOVO A minor Lordship in Liguria.

FRIULI Located in extreme northeastern Italy, above Venice and Trieste, and aside the Slovenian frontier. Known during Imperial times as Forum Julii, the district constituted a Lombard Duchy during the Dark Ages.

GENOA An important port in northwestern Italy, famous for its maritime and mercantile merchant-princes. The eternal rival of Venice for colonies and and overseas markets, the city always was hamperd by incessant political factionalism during the late Mediaeval and Renaissance eras. Famous as the hometown of Christopher Columbus, it is more darkly known as the port that saw the introduction of the plague into Europe, in 1346.

GORIZIA (Ger.Görz, Slov.Gorica) A town directly on the Italo-Slovenian border, 20 miles (32 km.) north of Trieste and 69 miles (111 km.) northeast of Venice; an autonomous county was based here in the Middle Ages. See also, the archbishopric here.

GUASTALLA A town in Reggio Emilia district of north-central Italy, 19 miles (30 km.) northeast of Parma at the confluence of the Crostolo River into the Po. Normally ecclesiastic territory until the 14th century, it became the seat of a county (1428), and eventually a duchy (1621).

IVREA A town in northwestern Italy, between Turin and the Swiss frontier.

LODI An ancient settlement in Lombardy, southeast of Milan. Best known as the site of a battle between France and Austria (10 May, 1796), in which Napoleon Bonaparte gained a reputation for invincibility.

LUCCA A small city on the Tyrhennian coast, near Livorno. A local Lordship was established here in the 14th century - that was briefly converted into a Duchy 1327-9 before reverting to the Baronial title. Eventually a stable republic was established, enduring until Napoleonic times. It once again became a Duchy until unification with Italy.

MANTUA An ancient inland city southeast of Milan, the birthplace of the Roman poet Virgil.

MASSA-CARRARA A small territory between the Ligurian coast and the Apuan Alps. The region is well known for high quality marble quarries.

MESSERANO A local state, successively a County, Marquisate, and finally a Principality, involving several small territories (including the Marquisate of Crevacuore and the Countship of Ferrero) in northwestern Italy, just at the foothills of the Pennine Alps as they rise from the Piedmont plains. Ferrero is 1.3 miles (2.2 km.) south of Ivrea.

MILAN (Temporal rulers) A strategically vital state in central northern Italy, based on the wealthiest and most dynamic of Italian cities. Milan represents the industrialized center of modern Italy, but it has been a chief power in the region for many centuries, and a magnet for conquerors and artisans alike.

MILAN (Bishops and Archbishops) The ecclesiastic authorities of the city are now located among the other Italian Bishoprics in the Ecclesiarchs site.

MIRANDOLA A town in Emilia-Romagna, about 18 miles (29 km.) north of Modena. It is best-known as the birthplace of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola - son of John Francis I (d. 1499) - influential Renaissance Humanist philosopher.

MODENA An important city in Emilia-Romagna. What follows are the Counts of Canossa, to 1115, then Modena county from 1288. A duchy from 1452, the ruling family were also Dukes of Ferrara 1459-1598 (lost to the Papal States). The castle at Canossa (built c. 940, leveled 1255) was the site of the famous humiliation of the Emperor Henry IV before Pope Gregory VII in 1077.

MONTFERRATLocated in the southern Piedmont, above Genoa.

NOVARA A locality in the eastern Piedmont, 28 miles (45 km.) west of Milan. Sporadically a County when not being handed back and forth across the frontier, Novara was constituted an ephemeral Margraviate in the 16th century. It's chief claim to fame is as the site of an important battle (23 March 1849) pitting Austrian vs. Sardinian forces, in which the Sardinians were decisively defeated. This led indirectly toward the circumstances which reunified Italy, in that the Sardinian King (Charles Albert) abdicated in favour of Victor Emmanuel II, under whose auspices and in whose name Garibaldi achieved his work.

NOVELLARA A small town in northern Italy, 16 miles (25 km.) northwest of Modena and 22 miles (35 km.) south of Mantua.

OSSOLA A mountainous town and district in northern Piedmont northwest of Lake Maggiore, near the Swiss frontier- the Simplon Tunnel is on the northwest flank of the area. Nowadays a popular ski resort.

PADUA The birthplace of Livy, and the home for a time of St, Anthony and Dante, Padua is an important town in northeastern Italy, and the site of a renowned university. Like Rome, Padua has an origin-legend involving Trojans - according to ancient sources, Padua (Padovia) was founded by Antenor, a member of the royal council of Troy, who fled with a small retinue and took charge of the Venetii tribe, leading them to their new home in northeastern Italy.

PARMA Founded 183 BCE as a Roman colonia, under ecclesiastic control during the Dark Ages, a communal republic developed in the 12th and 13th centuries but was suborned by local magnates during the Guelph-Ghibelline wars of the 13th and 14th centuries. Notable Lords during this period include Ghiberto Da Correggio 1303-1316, and Azzo Da Correggio 1341-1344. The Duchy was established in 1545 for the benefit of a son of Pope Paul III.

PAVIA A town in northern Italy, on the Ticino River about 20 miles (32 km.) south of Milan. The site of an important university (founded 1361 - but the College of Law goes back to 825), it is also the site of an important seige (1525) which established Spanish hegemony in Italy at the expense of the French.

PIACENZA An important town on the Po river, southeast of Milan. Founded in 218 BCE as Placentia, it has been a strategic and generally prosperous community since then.

PIEDMONTNorthwest Italy, north of Genoa and the coast, south of Switzerland, and west of Milan.

PIOMBINO A small chip of territory on a peninsula off of Tuscany, looking toward Elba, which Piombino ruled from 1399 to 1548. The Rulers of this state were raised to the the status of Princes in 1509.

PISA Located in Tuscany. This city was, during the Middle Ages, a very important commercial center, and controlled a significant Mediterranean fleet.

A town located a short distance north of the Po River, 26 miles (42 km.) south of Padua.

A town in Emilia-Romagna, 14 miles (22 km.) west of Modena and 16 miles (25 km.) southeast of Parma. It is noted as the birthplace of the poet Ludovico Ariosto (Orlando Furioso).

SABBIONETA A small locale in Lombardy; a County created for the benefit of a cadet branch of the ruling family in Mantua. See also Bozzolo for another Gonzaga lordship created at the same time.

SAVONA  A town on the Italian Riviera, southwest of Genoa. Of ancient origin, it was first noted from the 3rd century BCE as the Gallic stronghold of Savo, an ally of Hannibal against Rome. In the Middle Ages it was the center of the Margraviate of Western Liguria before reverting to an independent Commune in 1191. Long a rival to Genoa, it retained autonomy even though the Genoese blocked the port in 1528 and constructed a garrison there in the 1540's.

SAVOYSavoy is the territory between Lake Geneva and the Isere River, northwest of the Piedmont. A county from the 11th century, it became a duchy in 1416. It was always governed by a single family, who used it as a springboard with which to achieve control over, first Piedmont (see above), the Sardinia, and finally the unification of all Italy. The original lands were transferred to France in exchange for acquiesence in the establishment of the Italian state.

SEBORGA There is a modern phenomenon within the realm of geopolitics termed "Micronations". These are locales in which the inhabitants have decided, at various levels of seriousness and for any of a variety of reasons, to assume some of the trappings of sovereignty without taking the final and irrevocable step of notifying the regional authority that they have a secessionist movement on their hands. The Regnal Chronologies archive has generally ignored these little fantasies, deeming them to be not serious as political entities. However, in a few instances, there are grey areas that ought to be glanced at. Such a one is Seborga, a small town on the coast of Liguria, about 3 miles (5 km.) east of Ventimiglia and some 8 miles (13 km.) east of the French border. Administratively it is a commune of the Italian province of Imperia, although some locals claim that it is an independent principality. The main economic activities are horticulture and tourism.

SIENA An important commercial center in northern Italy, located in the hill country about 40 miles (65 km.) south of Florence.

TREVISO An inland town of Venetia, a little north of Venice. Anciently the capital of the Gaulish Tarvisii, the city reached its peak in the 13th century.

TRIESTEA port on the northwestern corner of the Istrian Peninsula, just inside Italy nowadays, but a real crossroads for many diverse peoples and cultures. An autonomous Bishopric during the Middle Ages.

TURIN Capital of Piedmont and of Turin prov., NW Italy, at the confluence of the Po and Dora Riparia rivers. It was known to the Romans as Augusta Taurinorum. It is a major transportation hub and Italy's most important industrial center. Manufactures include motor vehicles, tires, textiles, clothing, machinery, electronic equipment, leather goods, furniture, chemicals, and vermouth. It is an international fashion center. One of its main symbols is Mole Antonelliana. Turin Cathedral houses the Shroud of Turin, an old linen cloth with an imprint of a man, which is believed by many to be the cloth that covered Jesus in his grave. The Museo Egizio has one of the most important collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world.

TUSCANY (Florence) Florence was established in the 1st century BCE as colonia of Rome, and quickly achieved status as an important provincial city. Following the Dark Ages, a Margraviate was established, which was in turn followed by a republic. The De Medicis under the republic seldom held any titles or offices, they were simply the acknowledged leaders of the city. Florence is, of course, one of the biggest gems of the Renaissance. Quite apart from the De Medici clan itself, it is the city of Dante, Giotto, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli, among many, many others. The late Renaissance saw the emergence of the Duchy of Florence from 1532, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from 1569. Tuscany was constituted as the Kingdom of Etruria during the Napoleonic era, until annexation by France. Napoleon's nominee in Florence from 1809-1814 was his sister Elisa, Duchess of Lucca; as an interesting historical footnote, the family of Buonaparte originally derived from Florence before becoming established in Corsica.

VENICE An important aristocratic republic at the head of the Adriatic Sea. The chief executives were from an early date called Doge (duke), and held their elective office for life. At the height of its power, Venice controlled much of the coastal territory along the Adriatic, most of the islands in the Aegean, including Crete, and was a major power-broker in the Near East. At the conclusion of the Napoleonic era, Venice became part of the Austrian held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. For any visiting this section from other pages in this archive, here is an express back to where you were before...

Aegina, Aegion, Aquileia, Andros, Argos, Cephalonia, Corfu, Corinth, Cos, Crete, Cyprus, Dalmatia, Durres, Elea, Lemnos, Naxos, Padua, Pylos, Ragusa, Rhodes, Salamis, Samos, The Sporades, Tinos-Mykonos, Zante.

VENTIMIGLIA (French: Vintimille, Latin: Album Intimilium, Albintimilium) A frontier town, commune and episcopal see of Liguria, Italy, in the province of Imperia (formerly in the Province of Porto Maurizio), 4 miles (6½ km.) east of the French border, 9 miles (14½ km.) from Monaco, and 77 miles (124 km.) southwest of Genoa.

VERONA A town in northeast Italy, on the Adige River. The story of Romeo and Juliet is based on the strife between the Guelphs (adherents of Papal authority, of whom Romeo's family, the "Montagues", were members) and the Ghibellines (adherents of Imperial authority, of whom Juliet's family, the "Capulets" were members) that tore at Verona in the 13th and 14th cent. Verona was also where Dante Allighieri found refuge after his ouster from Florence.

VESCOVATO A small town 7 miles (11 km.) east of Cremona. This branch of the Gonzaga dynasty became the senior surviving stem after 1746.

VICENZA An ancient town in Venetia, northwest of Padua, and originally a stronghold of the Venetii. In Roman times called Vicetia, it was a Lombard Duchy during the Dark Ages.