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History of Gualdo Tadino

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History of Gualdo TadinoHistory     Ancient History

Ancient History

See the page Ancient History.

Early Christianity

According to tradition, St Felician of Foligno (died ca. 250 AD) brought Christianity to Tadinum.

Some scholars have suggested that St Facundinus could be the bishop of that name listed by St Athanasius as an attendee of the Synod of Sardica in 342.  (However, according to a late legend (BHL 2819), he was a bishop of Tadinum who died on 28 August 607 (see below).


It seems likely that the Visigoth Alaric destroyed Tadinum as he marched along Via Flaminia towards Rome in 410 AD.  However, the settlement recovered sufficiently in the following decades to become the centre of a diocese: its first documented bishop was Gaudentius, who attended a synod in Rome in 499.

According to Procopius, as the Gothic King Totila prepared for his decisive battle against the Byzantine general, Narses in 552, “upon reaching the mountains called the Apennines, [he] established his camp there and remained close to a village which the inhabitants call Taginae”.   This suggests that, by this time, Tadinum was once more much reduced in importance.  Totila was defeated here, and fled from the field of battle with mortal injuries.  “So, after covering 84 stades [a few loyal followers who carried the wounded king] came to a place called Caprae. Here they rested from travel and endeavoured to treat the wound of Totila, who not long afterwards completed the term of his life.  And there his followers buried him in the earth and departed”.   Local tradition identifies this location as Caprara, some 9 km west of Gualdo Tadino.


In 591, Pope Gregory I wrote to Martinus, Bishop in Corsica: “ ... And in as much as the church of Tanates, in which [you were] formerly adorned with sacerdotal dignity, has for its sins been so taken possession of and ruined by hostile savagery that no further hope remains of thy returning thither, we appoint thee, by authority of these presents, undisputed cardinal priest in the Church of Saona, which has now been long deprived of the aid of a pontiff”.  While there is no dispute that Saona was in Corsica, scholars debate whether “Tanates” was also a diocese on the island, or whether it was Tadinum.  The latter seems more likely, not least because the Lombard Duke Ariulf of Spoleto had probably seized it in 591.

In 599, the situation had improved to the extent that Gregory I could ask Bishop Gaudiosus of Gubbio to visit the diocese and to preside over the election of a new bishop.  According to local tradition, this led to the election of St Facundinus as bishop.   He is said to have started a tradition of retreat on what came to be known as Monte Serrasanta, northeast of the modern city, and to have died on 28th August 607.  His relics and those of his deacon, St Juventinus are preserved in the small church of San Facondino in the plain below (near the civic cemetery).  One of the gates of the modern city is named for him. 

Cemeteries in use in the Lombard period have been excavated at Gaifana, Pomaiolo, San Facondino (near the present church) and at nearby le Cartiere (near the original site of San Facondino).  Finds from the cemetery at le Cartiere can be seen in the Museo Civico.


Saracens seem to have destroyed Tadino in ca. 850.  According to local tradition, the Emperor Lothair I gave what remained of it to Count Monaldo III of Nocera and his sons Vico and Offredo.  


According to the legend of St Raynald of Nocera (died 1217), Tadinum had been destroyed by invaders by the time of the Emperor Otto I (962-73) and its people had taken refuge at Nocera. 

However, local tradition associates the final destruction of Tadinum with the city’s support for the Roman noble Crescentius II (the self-proclaimed Patricius Romanorum), who was intent upon securing independence from the Holy Roman Empire.  The young Emperor Otto III duly entered Italy in 996 and deposed him.  Local chronicles record an inscription  that was found among the ruins of that Tadinum which proclaimed “CRESCENTIO REGE OPTATO”.  This implied the city’s support for Crescentius II, from which the chroniclers deduce that Otto III had consequently ordered Count Offredo di Nocera to destroy it.

Rocca Flea is first documented as a possession of  Count Vico di Nocera at the end of the 10th century. 

In 1006, Offredo di Nocera asked Abbot Placido of San Benedetto di Mugnano (Perugia) to assume the pastoral care of the dispersed people from Tadinum.  He built the Abbazia di San Benedetto Vecchio on the banks of the River Feo [‘in vocabolo "Pomaiolo", di fronte alla chiesetta della Madonna delle Rotte’ - between the present city and the station].  Recent excavations at Pomaiolo have unearthed what could be the remains of the abbey. 

The legend of St Raynald of Nocera (mentioned above) records that an unnamed pope raised Nocera to diocesan status after the destruction of Tadinum, replacing the old diocese, and that of Plestia, which had been reduced to the status of small fortified settlements (“oppida facta sunt”).  Local tradition places this event in 1007.  The first bishop of the merged diocese, which coincided with the holdings of the Counts of Nocera, was Adalberto, monk of the Abbazia di San Benedetto "de plano Gualdi".

12th Century

The Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa received the submission of Gubbio at Gualdo di Nocera in 1155. 

Conrad of Urslingen, Duke of Spoleto held Rocca Flea for Frederick I and his son, the Emperor Henry VI throughout the period 1177-98.

[The Abbazia di San Benedetto Vecchio passed from the Benedictines to the Camaldolesians in 1188.]

13th century

In 1208, Ranierus Alberti, “consul comunis Gualdi” and twelve other named citizens voluntarily placed their community under the protection of Perugia and gave the Perugians custody in perpetuity of “arcem Flee” (Rocca Flea).  In return, the Perugians agreed to defend the community and to preserve its system of government. 

This independent commune, which had until this point clearly controlled Rocca Flea, seems to have developed in an ad hoc way along Via Flaminia.  The submission covers the situation in which the people of Gualdo might decide to move it!  The reason for the submission to Perugia and the intention to move the settlement soon emerges in the document: the community had recently been attacked by Gubbio and had been forced to take refuge in Rocca Flea.  It seems that, shortly after 1208, the people moved to a site on Monte Serrasanta near the Eremo di San Marzio, where they built the “primum castrum Gualdi” (the first walled settlement of Gualdo).

A dispute between Perugia and Gubbio over possession of a number of fortresses, including the Rocca Flea at Gualdo, led to outright war in 1216-7.  Gubbio counted Cagli and Città di Castello among its allies, but was nevertheless defeated.  The Roman Pandolfo di Figuera, Podestà of Perugia was called in to arbitrate in 1217, when Gubbio was forced to renounce all the castles along its border with Perugia.  The Perugians also retook Nocera at about this time.

This first walled city of Gualdo was destroyed by fire in 1237.  Epifanio, the abbot of San Benedetto Vecchio, donated land on Colle Sant’ Angelo to the “sindacus” Pietro d’ Alessandro, for the construction of a new city.  An inscription on Porta San Benedetto records its construction (together with that of the rest of the city walls) by the Emperor Frederick II in April 1242.  Frederick II effectively rebuilt the Rocca Flea in 1247.  Much of the present structure, dates to this period.

When Frederck II destroyed Nocera in 1248, its bishop took refuge at San facondino, Gualdo.

This adherence to the imperial cause clearly indicates that Gualdo had broken the terms of its submission to pro-papal Perugia.   However, after Frederick II died in December 1250, Gualdo was forced to submit to Perugia in the following year on more stringent terms.  Separate submissions to Perugia made by nobles whose castles were in territory around Gualdo in the following decade served to underline its impotence.  From this point, Gualdo served as a base from which Perugia could keep a check on the more powerful Nocera.

An inscription on the left wall of the present church of San Benedetto reads:


("In 1256, during the time of Abbot William, this community was transferred to Gualdo”) 

This records the fact that the Benedictines moved here in 1256 from the Abbazia di San Benedetto Vecchio (above).  Excavations in Piazza Garibaldi (behind San Benedetto) in 2009 uncovered what are probably remains (13th century) of the adjoining abbey.

14th century

In 1322, Gualdo sent troops to aid Perugia against Spoleto.

In 1345, Gualdo sent troops to aid Perugia against the Tarlati lords of Arezzo.

The Perugians restored and extended Rocca Flea in 1350.

In 1355, Cardinal Albornoz brought Gualdo back under the dominion of the Papal States, but the Perugians retook it a year later.  When the mercenaries of Cardinal Albornoz defeated the Perugians in 1367, Gualdo readily submitted once more to the Church.

John Hawkwood briefly occupied the Rocca Flea in 1376.

Congregazione del Corpo di Cristo

In 1328, a monk named Andrea di Paolo left the Abbazia di San Benedetto outside Assisi with some companions to found the Congregazione del Corpo di Cristo in a monastery outside the walls of Gualdo Tadino.  Alessandro Vincioli (1327-1363), Bishop of Nocera approved the new congregation, and Pope Gregorio XI issued a Bull of confirmation in 1377.  The new congregation spread rapidly throughout Umbria and the Marches.  Its Abbot General originally resided in a monastery dedicated to the Corpus Christi in Gualdo Tadino, but when this was destroyed in 1393, he moved to Santa Maria in Campis, Foligno.

15th century

Gualdo Tadino passed under the successive control of:

  1. Biordo Michelotti of Perugia (1393);

  2. Giangaleazzo Visconti of Milan (1400);

  3. Ceccolino Michelotti (1403);

  4. Braccio Fortebracci of Perugia (1416);

  5. Corrado Trinci of Foligno (1432);

  6. Francesco Sforza (1433, 1442 and 1446); and

  7. Nicolò Piccinino (1442).

It came once more under papal control in 1458,

16th Century

Giampaolo Baglioni briefly occupied Rocca Flea in 1501-2,

Pope Leo X asserted direct control in 1513 by appointing a Cardinal Legate.  This brought some stability, although the area was still beset by bandits. 

Cardinal Antonio Ciocchi del Monte, who was papal legate in 1513-33, rebuilt the ancient aqueduct.  His successors were:

  1. Andrea Matteo Palmieri (1534-1538);

  2. Antonio Pucci (1538-1541);

  3. Giovanni Salviati (1543-1553);

  4. Baldvino Ciocchi del Monte, the brother of Pope Julius III (1553-1556);

  5. Fabio Mignanelli (1556);

  6. Carlo Carafa (1556-1560);

  7. Gabriele Serbelloni (1561-1566);

  8. Tiberio Crispi (1566);

  9. Giannantonio Capizucchi (1556-1569);

  10. Cristoforo Madruzzo (1569-1578); and

  11. Carlo d’Angennes di Rambouillet (1578-1587).

The legation became subordinate to that of Perugia in 1587.

Later History

In 1751, an earthquake destroyed much of medieval Gualdo.

In 1798, Napoleon made part of the Roman Republic, in the Department of the Trasimeno.  In 1814, it reverted to the Church and was assigned to the Apostolic Delegation of Perugia, in the district of Foligno. 

In 1833 Pope Gregorio XVI granted the title of city and renamed it Gualdo Tadino. 

In 1849 it was incorporated in the Roman Republic. 

In September 1860, Italian troops entered Gualdo Tadino and it became fully part of united Italy.

The diocese of Nocera became that of Nocera and Gualdo Tadino in 1915, at which the Collegiata of San Benedetto was raised to the status of a co-cathedral.

In 1986, this diocese was merged with that of Assisi.

The city suffered badly in the earthquake of 1997.

History of Gualdo Tadino:  History     Ancient History

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