History of Mantua







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History of Mantua                         (Back to Mantua main information page)  

Presumably founded around 2000 B.C. it only was settled by the Etruscans in the 6th century B.C. who gave the name of Mantua from Mantus, an Etruscan god of Hades.It prospered under the Romans who conquered it between the Punic wars.Virgilius, the most famous of the Latin poet was born near the city in 70 B.C.

After the fall of Rome, the city was invaded by the Goths, the Byzantines, the Longobards and the Franks, becoming in the XI century a possesion of Marquis Bonifacio di Canossa of Tuscany, whose descendant Matilde di Canossa ordered the construction of the ?Rotonda di San Lorenzo? in 1082.

After standing as a free municipality, fights against the Holy Roman Empire in the XII-XIII centuries, and the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the city was seized by Pinamonte Bonacolosi in 1273, whose family ruled Mantua for almost a century.

In 1328, the city fell under the Gonzaga dynasty, whose court attracted the great architects, painters, and poets of the time like Mantegna, Petrarch, Pisanello and Rubens.

In 1708, the Gonzaga dynasty came to an end and the family lost Mantua forever when the Austrian  Habsburg took control of the city until 1866. During this time, a short Napoleonic?s interlude took place, but Mantua returned to the Austrian in 1814 becoming one of the ?Quadrilatero fortress cities of northen Italy. In 1866, Mantua finally rejoined Italy as it was incorporated by the King of Sardinia.


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