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The city of the antique Umbrians  |  The Roman city  |  The barbaric invasions |  Gubbio in the Medieval period: the free Commune    Gubbio in the Duchy of Urbino  |  Gubbio in the Papal State  |  Gubbio city of the United Italy   

 The city of the antique Umbrians

GUBBIO, where prehistorical presences were already discovered, as the ruins of the cyclopean walls demonstrate on the slopes of Mount Foce, was discovered by the Umbrians, antique people of italic origin.In the Umbrian language its name was IKUVIUM.
It was an important religious and political centre for its people, as we can see from some antique coins and the famous Tavole Eugubine, bronze plates, found in 1444, written partly in Umbrian alphabet with elements of Etruscan language (3° and 2° century a.C.) and partly in Latin alphabet (1° sec. a.C.)

IKUVIUM was a "city state" well-protected by walls and was situated in the zone against the mountain forming the line that goes from the present arch of S.Marziale (probably called the ex Porta Vehia) to the zone of Santa Croce along via XX Settembre and via dei Consoli.

 The roman city

Gubbio, neutral in the war between Rome and the Sanniti which ended in 295 a.c. with the battle of Sentino (Sassoferrato), consequently made an alliance with Rome and took the name IGUBIUM, which became EUGUBIUM in the medieval period.

In the year 168 a.C. Genzio, king of Illiria (western part of the Balkan peninsula) was kept in custody, and after being taken prisoner by the romans, died here and was buried in the
Mausoleum. In 82 a.C. Gubbio became roman municipality, the city flourished in the last years of the republic and in the first centuries of the empire. There are still many remains of this period, for example the Roman Theatre, constructed in the half of the first century a.C. and restored the century after. The roman part of Gubbio was therefore constructed lower down, towards the plains of the town.

 The barbaric invasions

After the fall of the Roman empire, Gubbio was greatly damaged during the barbaric invasion: it was taken and destroyed by Totila, king of the Ostrogoths, who then was defeated by the Bizantine army, lead by Narsete, in the year 552 d.C. in the battle of Tagina (Gualdo Tadino). Gubbio was built up again in short time, thanks to the great help of Narsete.

During the invasion of the Longobards (568), Gubbio remained under the bizantine government of Ravenna until the year 772, when it was occupied by their king: Desiderio.

But in the year 917 d.C. it was totally destroyed by the Ungarians.

 Gubbio in the Medieval period: the free commune

When the period of barbaric invasion ended, in the first half of 1100, EUGUBIUM again became a "city state", and was rebuilt on its actual place, with the help of its bishop Ubaldo Baldassini, while it was previously situated lower down, around the roman theatre.

In those years the first communal employments as for example consuls, the captain of the people and the mayor.

In fact, it soon became a free commune, first guelphan, then ghibelline and then preferred as such by the imperators such as Federico Barbarossa, who gave them numerous important privileges. Consequently it became definitely guelphan.

During this period it went through many battles with the neighbouring cities.

In the year 115 11 cities allied against Gubbio, but the city beat all its avversaries with such victories which seemed to be miraculous because of the intervention of the bishop St. Ubaldo.

In the second half of the year 1100, the city was enlarged towards the mountain and it is there that the public buildings were constructed, symbols of the institutions of the citizens, as the Cathedral and the Commune Building (constructed on the site where the Palazzo Ducale in future was built).

But the battles never ended: those with Perugia were particularly long and difficult. Nevertheless, Gubbio flourished and the population grew to about 50.000 inhabitants, in fact, in the second half of the year 1200 many famous buildings were constructed, Capitano del Popolo the churches of St.Francis, S.Domenico, St.Augustine and S.Giovanni, which represented the centre of an urbanistic establishment in the shape of a cross which, in fact, divided the city into four quarters: St. Andrea, St. Pietro, St. Giuliano and St. Martino.

In the same period the walls of the city were enlarged (towards the plains of the city) and the construction of the aqueduct (of Bottaccione).

At the beginning of the year 1300, apart from the new Cathedral (built on the place of the previous one, which resulted small and insufficient), the Church of S. Maria dei Laici (dei Bianchi) with annexed the hospital and the Palazzo of the Bargello, the great public and private buildings were built and still today are examples of great importance. In fact, in the year 1321 the construction of the monumental complex represented by the Palazzo del Popolo (of the Consoli), of the Palazzo del Podestà e della Piazza Pensile (mayor's building) and of the Piazza Pensile (hanging piazza) on a point of separation of the four quarters. In this way a directional centre was formed which was not included in any specific quarter, but touched them all.

In 1338, the year in which the Palazzo of the Consoli was inaugurated, the new Statute of the Commune was published, and it assured political rights to all citizens. The city was governed by two citizen magistratures (the Consuls and the General Council) and by two magistrates coming from other cities (the mayor and the captain of the people).

The Consuls are those who hold the power in their hands. They are chosen, two for every quarter, among the inhabitants belonging to the middle class, not younger that 30 years old, and have to belong to the guelphan party. They are succeeded, in two, every two months at the head of the government of the city.

The Consuls have an enormous political power, but they cannot spend the public finances without the permission of the General Council.

The General Council, whose charge lasts for six months, has the legislative power, it is formed by councellors of the people (50 for every quarter) and by representatives of the richest families (40 for every quarter).

The Mayor comes from another city, his duties are judicial and amministrative. He remains in charge for six months.

The Captain of the People, who also comes from another city, has judicial, administrative and political power. Being the representative of the people, he can convoke the General Council.

The first half of 1300 was the period of great development of the Confraternities and the Corporations of art and crafts. These Corporations, of which there were seventeen, united in associations all those who had the same crafts and arts, were regulated by precise statutes, played an important part in the socialization of its members, also offered economical guarantees in difficult moments, like illness and unemployment. The Captains of arts also participated in the elections of the magistrates of the city.


 Gubbio in the Duchy of Urbino

In 1350 Giovanni Gabrielli became, all of a sudden, master of Gubbio, but in 1354 he ceded the city to Cardinal Albornoz, who was ordered by the Pope to reorganize all the papal territories.

After many battles and revolutions, during which Gubbio lost and regained its independence, finally the exhausted and impoverished city freed itself from the domination of the church and the Gabrielli, and in 1384 handed itself over to the Montefeltro, the counts of Urbino.

The period of battles ended and the city passed a long period of peace and tranquility, and consequently well-being. But the free commune of Gubbio stopped existing.

The Governing Council of Montefeltro lasted until 1508, when with the extinction of the family, passed over to the Della Rovere, on the female side of the family.

Finally, in 1631, with the death of Francesco Maria ll, the last duke of Urbino, who had no successors, the city of Gubbio passed into the hands of the church.

During the 247 years of Dominion of Urbino, Gubbio was embellished by the
Palazzo Ducale which was constructed, in front of the Cathedral, by the Duke of Federico of Montefeltro from 1470 to 1474. The building totally englobes the structures of the antique "Palazzo del Comune", the sign of the assurance of a different concept of the city, in which the autonomy and the authority of the communal magistrates was slowly being destroyed.

The Duke Federico of Montefeltro II was born in Gubbio in 1422, natural son of the count Guidantonio of Montefeltro and Elisabetta of the Accomandugi, owners of the Castello di Petroia.

The Duke of Montefeltro always remembered his eugubinian origin: he loved Gubbio and considered it his hometown and made it the second capital of his Duchy. His wedding with Gentile Brancaleoni was celebrated in Gubbio in 1437 and also in Gubbio, his state funeral in the church of St.Francesco, in 1482.

Apart from the Palazzo ducale, during the period in which it belonged to the Duchy of Urbino, the Loggia dei Tiratori (lodge of sharpshooters) in 1603 and the church of S.Maria della Piaggiola in 1624 were built.

 Gubbio in the papal state

Gubbio from 1631 formed part of the Papal State until 1860, when it was joined onto the Italian kingdom; excluding the short napoleonic period (1798 - 1814).

During the rule of the Papal state, especially from 1730, the echoe of Pope Clemente X11's political reform was clearly noted and there was a great architectual development in that period.

Many different buildings were constructed by patrician families, and many restoration works, as well as paving of streets. The construction of important public and religious works were registered, like the
Major Hospital, the piazza of the market (today called piazza 40 martiri), the Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop's building), the Palazzo delle Orfanelle, (orphan's building), the Seminary, the Church of Madonna del Prato, of the church of St. Benedetto and the Communal Theatre.

In the nineteenth century architectural initiatives also followed: the arcade in Piazza Grande which joined the Palazzo dei Consoli and the Palazzo of the Podestà was destroyed, along the border of the piazza pensile (hanging piazza). On the other side, the houses of Ranghiasci were united by an only facing of neoclassical derivation.

 Gubbio city of the United Italy

After Italy was united in 1860, Gubbio was separated from Marche and united to Umbria. This started a phase of expansion of the city beyond its walls: the slaughter-house and the Railway Station (1885)both out of the urban city.

The great expansion was realized in the second half of 1900, when great urban outskirts were developed, without any particular architectural value, and which, in the expansion, ends up hiding the belt of the medieval walls in the valley.

Fractions of the city, which one time had only rural characteristics, underwent great urbanization. In this way, Mocaiana, Casamorcia-Raggio, Semonte, Madonna del Ponte, Fontanelle, Cipolleto, Ponte d'Assi, S. Marco, Padule remarkably increased their population.

In 1974: the "Tre Ceri" were chosed as emblem of the Region of Umbria.