History of Abruzzo

The name «Abruzzo» derives from the former settlement Aprutium (now province of Teramo) that was inhabited by the Italic tribe Pretuzi. People inhabited the territory of present Abruzzo from time immemorial. There were found tangible evidences of human presence even before the Paleolithic era. Large settlements of primitive people were discovered near the city of Chieti (Madonna del Freddo and Terrazzi Zannini), in the Foro river valley and in Rocche di Popoli near the Peligna lowland. In prehistoric times Abruzzo was inhabited by Italic tribes who belonged to the group of Adriatic Sabelli (Peligny, Vestini, Marsi, Marrucini, Frentani, Pretuzi, Sanniti and others), as well as Illyrian (Greek) tribes who established colonies on the Adriatic coast.

According to an ancient legend, after the Trojan War (12th century BC) its participants both Achaeans and Trojans wandered for a long time on the open sea and finally founded several towns on the Apennine Peninsula. The hero of the Trojan War, King Aeneas fought in the war on the side of Troy. After the fall of Troy, Aeneas roamed about Mediterranean for many months. Eventually he arrived at Lazio, married the king's daughter Lavinia, and his descendants founded Rome. Crafty Odysseus during his twenty-year wanderings in the Mediterranean spent several years in the wonderful captivity of enchantress Circe. The memory about this adventure is still kept by the famous Coast of Odyssey (La Riviera di Ulisse) on the Tyrrhenian Sea. A number of cities were founded in Abruzzo by heroes of the Trojan War. The king of Argos Diomedes, who fought on the side of the Greeks, founded several towns in Puglia and one of the most beautiful cities of Abruzzo – Vasto. Fellow-fighters of legendary Achilles founded the city of Teate (Chieti). Solimo the Phrygian, a comrade of Aeneas, founded the city of Solimo (Sulmona) and Anxia (now Lanciano). More ...

Italic King

Italic tribes inhabited valleys of mountain rivers, while the Greeks were settled on coastal hills. All these tribes lived rather separately and independently from each other. Meanwhile in the west, on the other side of the Apennine Mountains, the powerful neighbor – Rome began gaining strength. The rise of Roman Empire once and forever changed the course of history not only for its immediate neighbors, but the entire ancient world as well. Starting from the 5th century BC, the Romans attempted to conquer scattered Italic tribes. In 435 BC, Roman troops conquered Anxanum, turning the latter into the first Roman colony on the territory of Abruzzo. However, the Italics, known for their militancy, offered fierce resistance to the enemy. This common danger forced to unite Vestini, Marrucini, Pelingi and Frentani tribes under the leadership of the Sanniti. In 325 BC, during the Second Samnite War, the Roman Republic inflicted a crushing defeat on the allies. Nontheless, it took several centuries to complete the romanization of the territory of Abruzzo. In the 1st century AD, the Roman Republic granted the Roman citizenship to the Italics.

In the process of colonization, the Romans destroyed and rebuilt Italic cities, created new city-colonies (Alba Fucens, Castrum Novum and Castrum Truentum), and most importantly – they constructed roads which connected Rome with the Adriatic coast (via Valeria, via Cecilia, via Claudia, via Traiana).

Alba Fucens. Excavations

During the period of conquest and relative pacification of Italic tribes in the 1-3rdcenturies BC, the Roman Empire reached the zenith of its power, and after that there came the rapid decline. At the beginning of the 5th century the Goths started invading the Roman Empire. In 476, the Western Roman Empire collapsed. In 500-520, barbarian troops invaded Abruzzo and destroyed many cities. The Eastern Roman Empire fiercely resisted and concentrated forces in the fortresses of Amiternum (Pescara), Histonium (Vasto) and Ortona. The Longobards divided the territory of Abruzzo between the dukedoms of Spoleto and Benevento. A significant number of German Longobards settled in the valley of Aterno. Later on, in the second half of the 6th century the coastal areas passed under the authority of Grimoald I, Duke of Benevento, despite strong resistance of the Byzantine Empire. In the troubled epoch of the Longobard reign there began a widespread construction of defensive structures – castles, fortresses and watchtowers, which now give Abruzzo its ineffable charm. More ...

In the 13th century, the territory of Abruzzo became a part of the Kingdom of Sicily. (Since then, Abruzzo, which in fact is located in the heart of the Apennine Peninsula, became a part of Southern Italy). In 1222, King Frederick II destroyed the town of Celano and unified the territory of Abruzzo into a single province with the capital city of Sulmona. During the reign of Frederick II, there were built significant civic buildings such as the medieval aqueduct in Sulmona. More ...

In 1230, Frederick II founded the city of L′Aquila. On August 23, 1268 a battle of Tagliacozzo (Abruzzo) took place, which was described by Dante, as the battle between Ghibellines and Anjoues. Conradin the Swedish, a grandson of Frederick II, was defeated and executed by Charles of Anjou, the King of Sicily. The death of Conradin, the Holy Roman Emperor, became a historical border, since it determined the end of Hohenstaufen dynasty and made France the predominant foreign power in Italy. Charles of Anjou divided the territory of Abruzzo into two parts: Aprutium Ulteriore and Aprutium Citeriore. Which literally means «on this and that side of the river [Pescara]».

In the middle of the 15th century, the power over the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily (which included Abruzzo) passed from the Anjou dynasty to the hands of the King Alfonso V of Aragon. At the beginning of the 18th century, Abruzzo being a part of the Kingdom of Naples was literally passing from hand to hand. After a short rule, the Austrian dynasty was replaced by the Bourbons.

In 1814-1870, the process of the unification of Italy (Risorgimento) took place. In 1861, the Abruzzo region together with the southern province of Molise was included in the united Italy. Molise was separated from Abruzzo in 1963.

Although the history of Abruzzo was closely linked with the history of Italy, the region always kept its specific character due to inaccessible mountainous terrain, proximity to the Adriatic Sea, brave and militant nature of the Italics. Abruzzo has carefully preserved its rich historical heritage. Antiquity-lovers can visit many interesting archaeological sites of Italic and ancient Roman cities in Abruzzo. But the most interesting thing about Abruzzo is that modern citizens of ancient and medieval cities carefully keep not only historic monuments but ancient traditions. That is why sightseeing around cities of arts and beautiful boroughs is the most exciting experience in Abruzzo. More ...

In this article information was used from the sites www.it.wikipedia.org , www.abruzzopedia.com, and photo credit: http://www.ceprano.net/Public/Data/laromana/200891821376_alba%20fucens.JPG.

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