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Cremona was originally a settlement of the
Cenomani, a Gaul tribe. The today's city was founded in 218 BC
by the Romans as a military outpost (castrum), together with the
twin city of Piacenza. In fact, its geographical position gave
it military, civil and commercial importance in the Republican
It quickly grew into one of the largest towns
in northern Italy, as it was on the main road connecting Genoa
to Aquileia, the Via Postumia.
The city's prosperity continued to increase
until 69 AD (the famous poet Virgil went to school here). It was
destroyed after the Second Battle of Bedriacum by the troops of
the emperor Vespasian fighting against his rival, Vitellius.
When the Lombards invaded much of Italy in
the second half of 6th century, Cremona remained a Byzantine
stronghold as part of the Exarchate of Ravenna. The city
expanded towards the north-west, with the creation of great
trenched camp outside the walls. In 603 A.C. it was conquered by
Longobards, by king Agilulf and again destroyed and its
territory divided between the two duchies of Brescia and
Control of the city fell increasingly to its
bishop, who become a Holy Roman Empire vassal after
Charlemagne's conquest of Italy.
Cremona increased its power and its
prosperity steadily and some of its bishops had important roles
between the 10th and 11th centuries.
In 1098 it became a free town, as it entered
into an anti-Empire alliance led by Mathilde of Canossa,
together with Lodi, Milan and Piacenza. The conflict ended with
the defeat of Henry IV and his famous humiliation of Canossa to
Pope Urban II in 1098.
It flourished thanks to the development of
The new comune warred against nearby cities
to enlarge its territory and as in many northern Italian cities,
the people were divided into two opposing parties, the Guelphs,
who were stronger in the new city, and the Ghibellines, who had
their base in the old city.
After having supported Federico Barbarossa's
policy for a long time, in 1167 it became a member of the
Lombard League taking part in the battle of Legnano (1167) that
The political and economic importance of the
medieval Cremona brought about a new urban development, which
culminated in the construction of the superb complex of
In 1334 Cremona was conquered by Visconti to
last for a century and a half. The Visconti's signorie was
interrupted in 1327 by Ludwig the Bavarian, in 1331 by John of
Bohemia, and in 1403 by a short-lived return of the Cavalcab?
In 1406, the captain Cabrino Fondulo assumed control over
Cremona became part of the Duchy of Milan,
following its fate until the unification of Italy. Under the
Visconti and later the Sforza Cremona underwent high cultural
and religious development..
In 1446 Cremona was encircled by the
condottieri troops of Francesco Piccinino and Luigi dal Verme.
The siege was raised after the arrival of Scaramuccia da Forl?
During the sixteenth century Cremona was
under the Spanish rule which unable to face the famine of 1628
and the plague of 1630, after a short-lived French conquest in
1701, Cremona, during the War of Spanish Succession, passed to
The musical tradition, which had begun in the
sixteenth century by Marcantonio Ingegneri reached the height of
its glory with the "divine" Claudio Monteverdi.
By the 16th century the town had become a
famous musical centre.
From the 16th century onwards, Cremona was
renowned as a centre of musical instrument manufacture,
beginning with the violins of the Amati family, and later
included the products of the Guarneri and Stradivari shops.
This activity was continued in XVII century
by Nicol?Amati, Andrea's nephew and by Antonio Stradivari until
he died in 1737.
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