History of Pavia
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Known as ?Ticinum? by the name of its river,
before the Roman conquest, it was a land inhabited by Ligurians
and Celts (the Levi and Marici tribes), located in a strategic
place for the waterway traffic.
Tradition tells of the existence of another
town, Papia vegia, situated between the boundaries of the Ticino
valley, near Santa Sofia, whose inhabitants were forced to leave
in mysterious circumstances and to move where afterward was
built the church to St. Thomas.
The City then became an important stronghold
in Roman times being a municipality and an important military
site. What is left of the Roman town is the chess board street
plan and the brick vaulted sewerage system.
The small town was burnt by the Heruli who
deposed the last Roman Emperor.
The Ostro-gothic King Theodoric made the town
one of his favourite together with Ravenna and Verona.
The town became the head of the Gothic war
against the Byzantine Empire and maybe this is why in this
period it was being called Papia or ?the city of the palace?.
Under the Goths, Pavia became a fortified
citadel and their last bulwark in the war against Belisarius in
the war to reconquer Italy for the Eastern Roman Empire.
After the Longobards conquest, Pavia became
the capital of their kingdom and during Queen Theudelinda times
the Longobards were converted from Arianism to Roman
Catholicism. Kings and Queens built several churches.
At the end of the Longobard kingdom, Pavia
held for nine months the siege of Charlemagne who had the help,
as the legend tells, of Bishop St. Theodore?s miracles.
Charlemagne won the Battle of Pavia (773) and
the city became the capital of his Regnum Italicum, a vassal
kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire, until the 12th century.
Following the Carolingian and Saxon rule,
Pavia still remained the capital of Italy where several kings
were crowned in St. Michael?s Basilica. Merchants from Pavia
were granted special privileges and almost all Feudal Bishops
had their representatives in the town.
In the 12th century Pavia acquired the status
of a free comune.
During the Guelphs and Ghibellines times the
city was traditionally Ghibelline, supported by the rivalry with
Milan in defiance of the Emperor that led the Lombard League
against Frederick Barbarossa, who was attempting to reassert
Imperial influence over Italy. These were also known as the
fights between the Emperors and the Pope and Pavia supported the
Emperor against the Lombard League.
Frederick I (Barbarossa) was generous toward
the capital of the Italian Kingdom and he helped to restore and
rebuild many churches.
In the following centuries Pavia was an
important and active town. Fights took place against Milan to
gain the economic and political power until Pavia, conquered by
the Visconti in 1315 and in 1359, remained chained to the rival
town under the same Lordship.
Under the Visconti Pavia became an
intellectual and artistic centre, being the seat from 1361 of
the University founded around the nucleus of the old school of
law, the ?Studium? founded by Lotarius in the X century, which
attracted students from many countries. In this period it was
also built most of the cathedral and started the construction of
the Certosa di Pavia, a Carthusian monastery.
In 1447 Filippo Maria Visconti died without
heirs, hence Pavia and Milan proclaimed themselves republics.
However, soon the towns fell under the Sforza rule.
In 1525, under the town walls, was fought the
important battle, the Battle of Pavia, between Spain and France,
The victory of the Spanish imperial army led to a wave of strict
Catholic rule, with many trials against heretics and witches and
the expulsion of the Jewish bankers. The Spanish occupation
lasted until 1900.
Pavia was then ruled by the Austrians until
1796, when it was occupied by the French army under Napoleon. In
1815, it again passed under Austrian administration until the
Second War of Independence (1859) and the unification of Italy
one year later.
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