Key to Umbria: Spoleto
 


History of Spoleto


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Umbri

The hill on which the Rocca now stands might well have been fortified by the ancient Umbri and was probably the site of a sanctuary that served a dispersed local community.  Graves discovered here and under the Duomo suggest that the hill was inhabited from the 7th century BC, although there is nothing to suggest that there was a substantial city here before the establishment of the Roman colony of Spoletium in 241 BC. 

For more detail, see the page on Ancient Spoleto.

Romans

The urbanisation of the site probably began with the formation of the Roman colony of Spoletium in 241 BC.  Its walls and street plan are very much in evidence in the modern city, along with the remains of a number of other important Roman monuments. 

For more detail, see the page on Roman Spoletium.

Early Christianity

Spoletium was well-established as a Christian diocese by 354, when Pope Liberius wrote to Bishop Caecilianus of Spoletium seeking his support in a theological dispute with the Emperor Constantius.  A number of sarcophagi and funerary inscriptions lead us to the early cemetery churches that ringed the city in the early days of Christianity, most of which were rebuilt in the 12th century. 

For more detail, see the page on Early Christianity in Spoleto.

Spoleto under King Theodoric

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto under King Theodoric.

Spoleto during the Gothic War

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto during the Gothic War.

Lombard Duchy of Spoleto

Spoletium was also of considerable strategic importance during the Barbarian invasions of Italy.   In ca. 591, a Lombard mercenary named Ariulf established it as the capital of the Duchy of Spoleto, which was independent of the Lombard Kingdom to the north. 

For more detail, see the page on the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto.

Carolingian Duchy of Spoleto

The Duchy continued as an administrative unit under the Carolingians. 

When this dynasty lost its power in Italy, Duke Guido III of Spoleto had himself crowned Holy Roman Emperor and King of Italy (891-4).  Pope Formosus crowned Lambert II  as co-ruler with his father and he continued as sole Holy Roman Emperor from the death of his father until his own death in 898.

For more detail, see the page on the Carolingian Duchy of Spoleto.

Spoleto in the Early 10th Century

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the Early 10th Century.

Spoleto under the Ottonians

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto under the Ottonians.

11th Century

Spoleto then largely disappears from recorded history until 1155, when the newly crowned Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, Barbarossa led his army from Rome towards Lombardy.  When he reached Spoleto, the citizens made the mistake of refusing to pay the tax that he demanded (or, according to some accounts, they paid it in counterfeit money).  He famously destroyed the city on this occasion and again in 1174.  Spoleto finally made its peace with the Emperor in 1185.

For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 11th Century.

12th Century

Spoleto then largely disappears from recorded history until 1155, when the newly crowned Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, Barbarossa led his army from Rome towards Lombardy.  When he reached Spoleto, the citizens made the mistake of refusing to pay the tax that he demanded (or, according to some accounts, they paid it in counterfeit money).  He famously destroyed the city on this occasion and again in 1174.  Spoleto finally made its peace with the Emperor in 1185.

For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 12th Century.

13th century

The 13th century was important period of artistic and architectural achievement for Spoleto, despite of the wars between the Guelfs and Ghibellines.  However, later civic anarchy took its toll and Spoleto fell under Perugian control until 1354.  Cardinal Gil Albornoz soon retook it for the papacy and commissioned the famous Rocca of Spoleto, which still dominates the city. 

For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 13th Century.

14th century

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 14th Century.

15th century

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 15th Century.

16th century

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 16th Century.

17th century

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For more detail, see the page on Spoleto in the 17th Century.

Later History

Spoleto remained under papal domination until 1860.

For more detail, see the page on the Later History of Spoleto.


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