Perugia - its History

The History of Perugia

Perugia dominates the Tiber Valley from a high, irregular and rugged hill resulting in an equally irregular cityscape. The site of Perugia has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. It was first a settlement of the Umbrians, before it passed under the rule of the Etruscans, becoming one of the most important cities in the Upper Tiber Valley. Following its conquest by the Romans, Perugia was deeply involved in the civil war between Mark Antony and Octavian. The latter took possession of the town in 40 B.C. and, after being heavily damaged, it was named Augusta.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Perugia was destroyed again by Totila in 547 and then became part of the Byzantine dominions. It finally became a powerful independent city-state allied to the Papal State.

The 14 C was characterised by violent struggles between Nobles (Beccherini) and Populists (Raspanti) and by the war against the Pope who wanted the Umbrian cities to be under his rule. The war finished with the Peace of Bologna in 1370, when Perugia was forced to recognise Papal authority.

In the following centuries, the town continued to be divided among various rival factions fighting to come to power: the Popular government leaded by Biordo Michelotti was replaced by the sway of the soldier of fortune Braccio Fortebraccio. The leading families were continuously engaged in conspiracies and massacres, causing a grave moral and political decline.

In 1540, Perugia was placed under the direct control of the Papal State and Pope Paul III ordered Antonio da Sangallo to construct the Rocca Paolina, symbol of the papal power over the city. Papal rule continued brief breaks excepted during the French occupation and the Roman Republic until the formation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

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