History of Cremona







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History of Cremona                                          (Back to Cremona main information page)  

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 period.

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 Bergamo.

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 water-way-commerce.

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 defeated Barbarossa.

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 monuments.

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.

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? from Venice.

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 Austria.

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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