History of Lombardy

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Lombardy is one of Italy's most prominent states. Lombardy's history is in large part comparable to the history of the rest of Italy.

Early History

Up to the Roman conquest, in the region of Lombardy two Celtic groups seem to have coexisted: the Ligurian Celts and the Gallic Celts. In Roman times the Po, Adige, Ticino, Oglio and Adda valleys were very fertile agricultural lands. Urbanization, though it had existed, came in the latter part. Mediolanum (modern Milano) became an important crossroad for most trading routes entering the Italian peninsula, becoming Constatius' capital during the tetrarchy.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Lombardy was invaded first by the Visigoths, then the Ostrogoths and finally the Lombards, from whom the region takes its name. The Lombards' quest to conquer the southern parts of Italy (then the richest and warmer areas) led to numerous wars with the Byzantine Empire, which controlled it at the time. The Lombards created the Duchy of Spoleto and governed most of Italy from there. In circa 550 the Duchy of Spoleto split into three and most of the North came under Frankish influence and was later conquered.

Frankish Province

After Charlemagne's splitting the empire a brief "Kingdom of Italy" existed until it was reincorporated into the Empire. As with the remainder of the Holy Roman Empire the administration of it was through the system of feudalism, which at first was the division of the country amongst the Emperor's friends but then degenerated into families controlling and inheriting large areas. As in Germany all males had a right to inheriting some land, which added to the proliferation of males (unlike in Germany) resulted in the fractioning of Northern Italy into almost 400 different nations. At the same time a social revolution took place, in that agriculture stopped being the main industry and manufacturing and trade became widespread. This helped the formation of city states and heavy urbanisation.

Milan had become an important trading centre, in the hands of the Visconti family. The two main families in Italy at the time the Viscontis and the Guelphs happened to be neighbours. With the fractioning of Guelph or Este territory (Este was their Italian name and was used to differentiate them from their German branch which ruled in Northern Germany) the Viscontis began to conquer and expand the now Duchy of Milan.

In 1408 the last Visconti, Duke Gian Galeazzo II, found himself without any male heirs (women could not inherit the Duchy because of the Salic Law which existed in the Empire). Milan was at the time officially part of the Empire. Gian Galeazzo II "adopted" his son-in-law Francesco Sforza and made him his heir. A war followed suit, mainly because the Holy Roman Emperor had made a son of the King of France heir presumptive to the Duchy of Milan. Francesco II ruled for over 40 years, 36 of them at war with France, Piedmont, the Este duchies and the Papal States. As soon as he inherited the Duchy he murdered his wife and re-married. He married 7 times (always as a widower for all his wives simply seemed to die). His last wife Segismonda Malatesta, bore him his much desired son Francesco III.

Aragonese Protectorate

Francesco III was a weak monarch. For the first eight years his mother ruled as Regent. When he acceded to the throne he put the affairs of state in the hands of the Milanese nobility, and upon his death 4 years later the dynastic problem re-emerged. Francesco was childless. His mother tried to regain control but she was ousted by the Milanese nobility who offered the ducal crown to the King of Aragon, whose mother was Francesco II's eldest daughter, in exchange of full autonomy.

The Kings of Aragon became titular dukes of Milan. They gave protection and stability to the Duchy until 1712. The then King of Aragon tried to impose his say on the affairs of state. The Milanese revolted and with Piedmontese help declared themselves independent. The offered the crown to the brother of the King of Piedmont Amedeo I. When Amedeo inherited the crown of Piedmont he tried to merge his two possessions. The Milanese revolted and decided that the future Dukes would be elected amongst themselves.

At first it worked well, but soon most of the members of the nobility wanted the crown for themselves, and a series of murders, coups, and finally wars made the system unworkable. When Napoleon arrived in his angst to reconstruct the Roman Empire he found a war-torn desolate country. He first called the Duchy of Milan the Cisalpine Republic, and when he conquered the entire peninsula to the Papal States called it the Republic of Lombardy.

Napoleonic Republic

Napoleon reorganised this patchwork of small statelets into a copy of France he divided the territory into departments (corresponding roughly to the original statelets, so that people wouldn't resist too much), put back the various heads of those former statelets as heads of departments when they accepted to collaborate, and banished those who didn't, replacing them with people he chose (usually from the local population). He called this new vassal state the "Republic of Lombardy", introduced the Napoleonic code there, and chose himself as consul for life of the place. So although it was officially a separate, if vassal, state, it could have been part of France that it would have changed nearly nothing.

Republic of Lombardy

When the Empire fell apart, the Republic of Lombardy found itself independent "by default". They didn't even have to fight for it. The time under French rule hadn't been too hard on them, and they recognised that in the modern world that was being built, the more numerous the stronger, and the stronger the better (they were especially worried about the Two Sicilies and didn't want to come under their rule). So they decided that it would be better to stick together, if only for defence purposes. And since the administration was already there, they decided to keep it, just modifying it to give more autonomy to each department, so that they would get a situation which was not that far from what they had before the Empire, with the difference that they were now also within an organisation that allowed them to have more weight when dealing with other countries.

The Republic resisted over a century, but by the end of the nineteenth century its endemic problems began to surface. Savoy began to elect and re-elect its former sovereigns. In Venetia, which ironically had never been a monarchy, the presidency passed from father to son amongst members of the Corner family. Several princes were invited back and their properties restored. Furthermore the differing interests of the states in matters of Foreign policy led to some states to send abroad its own representatives. Some towns who had been independent before the Napoleonic conquests, requested their independence and some obtained it. Aemilia who had been formed from the fusion of several smaller states broke up.

The First Great War

In 1911 a former Socialist deputee, Benito Mussolini, began a new political movement, the Popular Front, which was characterised by strong ideals of republicanism, union, military exaltation and laicism.

During the First Great War, a revolution which embroiled members of the Popular Front from Naples, Umbria, the Patrimony, Tuscany, Romagna and Venetia who were dissatisfied with the current state of affairs in "Italy". In 1916, they announced the formation of the (short lived) Roman Republic, and made Rome their capital. Naples was lost in 1918 to Sicilian forces; Venetia and Tuscany were liberated by Lombardy before 1921. The Republic held on to Romagna, eastern Florence (Lombard territory) and Abruzzi (Sicilian territory) until 1929. At the behest of the Pope who had escaped to Naples, Lombardy, Sicilian and Zouavian forces allied with the remnants of the Pope's armies and at last brought an end to the Roman Republic. In 1929 at the Lateran, a treaty was signed which exchanged territory for the help received in restoring the Holy See.

Italian Member State

A series of petty governments ended when scandals of corruption emerged about the Lombard Republic. At the behest of the main political parties delegates from all the states met at Salò in Lake Garda between May and September of 1931 and drafted a new constitution that created an Elective Constitutional Federative Monarchy, called Regno Confederato d'Italia or Italy for short.

The constitution provided for a common legal framework, common defense and foreign policy and great autonomy to the nations (from now on the state refers to Italy and its subdivisions are known as nations), unless they wanted for the central government to handle other affairs. Republicanism was still somewhat strong in the large urban areas, and their needs for a better coordination of services and large public works expenditures were also realised and so the Metropolitan Duchies were created. Bologna, Genova and Milano became the first Metropolitan Duchies of Italy. Italian became the official language for communications throughout the realm, though the local languages were retained as official wherein they were spoken. In October 1931 the constitution was ratified by a plebiscite with an overall approval of 78%.

In November 1932 the Lombard parliament approved a new constitution which turned Lombardy into a Kingdom, and whose monarchs would be elected for life by the people from a list prepared by the Lombard Senate from the members of the other reigning families in Italy and the Ligurian nobility. It also prohibited any Monarch to accede to other territories. The children of Lombard Monarchs have the lifetime title of Prince or Princess in Lombardy. These titles are just for the holders and not for their children.


In 1933 Prince Eugenio of Piedmont became King. He was succeeded in 1949 by Prince Lorenzo of Tyrrhenia who in turn was succeeded by his wife Princess Beatrice of Tenda in 1951. In 1966 Prince Xavier of Parma was elected King of Lombardy but abdicated in 1969 upon his accession to the Parmesan throne. Prince Ubaldo of Spoleto was then elected, and ruled until 2002, year in which Princess Beatrice of Ceva, the younger daughter of Queen Luisa II of Italy, was elected.

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