History of Urbino







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History of Urbino                                               (Back to Urbino main information page)  

Urbino was founded in 41 AD by the Romans who were attracted to its healthy air and ideal climate although documentation of its history begins only in the 3rd Century BC, when Urvinum Mataurense received the title of Roman municipality.

The area became an important strategic stronghold in the wars of the VI century after the invasion of the Goths in 583 and proved to be a great advantage during the conflicts of the feudal period, when the town allied itself with the Ghibellines.

Around 1375 Anthony of Montefeltro, one of the most outstanding warriors and politicians of the late 14th century, entered into the Italian politics, allying himself with Florence and Milan, and therefore Gian Galeazzo Visconti.

When Antonio da Montefeltro repressed a revolt in Rome against the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, he was given the title of Count and appointed Imperial legate of Urbino in 1155.

Soon there was a reawakening of the arts and architecture, the first step towards that unstoppable rise which would lead to the success of his nephew, Frederick II and successor Frederick III, which would lead to the production of significant works of art.

After Frederick II, Guy Anthony, maintained a shrewd policy of equilibrium.

After a short lordship of Guy Anthony?s son, the court was given to Federico III (1444-82), the illegitimate son of Guy Anthony and the most prominent ruler and a lover of art.

Urbino became the resort of the brightest minds of the Renaissance.

After his death 1482, the dynasty was continued by his son Guidobaldo, still a child who retained all his father's powers.

Later, Pope Leo X deprived him of his territory, which was given to Lorenzo de' Medici, and later to Giovanni Maria Varano, but the following year he regained definitive ownership of the Duchy, and several years of calm for the city and court followed. The time was right for the artistic genius of Raphael to flourish.

With the lack of rightful heirs, on the death of Guidobaldo (1508) the court passed into the hands of Francis Mary I of the Della Rovere dynasty. Although they could never equal the splendours of the Montefeltros, the Della Roveres still surrounded themselves with musicians, writers, and artists.

In 1523, the court decided to transfer the capital of the Duchy to Pesaro, after which the town of Urbino began its slow decline.

The lowest point in Urbino's history came with Napoleonic occupation, and the suppression of churches, convents, and monasteries, with the consequent expropriation of great works of art (either sent to France or Milan, such as Piero della Francesco's Madonna col Bambino e Santi, now in the Brera Gallery).

It followed later that Urbino became part of the Italian History.


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