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The Middle Ages
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After the fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 AD ), Narni was included among the important cities along the old consular roads which Barbarian tribes used to travel in order to reach Rome. The first city walls were torn down by Totila, the king of the Goths in 545 AD. After the Goths the Langobards formed the great Duchy of Spoleto, and so the city became a powerful fortress on the border between the Duchy and the Roman state. Lost and regained by the Dukes of Spoleto Narnia belonged for a short period to the assets of the Countess Matilda from Canossa, but in 741 the city was awarded back by the Franks to the State of the Church.

From 11th century the medieval town (which rebelled in 1112 against Pope Paschal II, and later, in 1167 against Frederick Barbarossa, while in 1242 it would stand with Rome and Perugia against the empire ) spread its influence towards San Gemini, Calvi, Otricoli and Castiglione. In 12th century the Cathedral was built just outside the ancient Roman city walls; the church soon became the most influential religious centre of the area.

The changes were radical: the Platea Major(i.e. the main square) replaced the Roman Forum, while the great civil and religious buildings were put; among them the Palazzo del Podesta and the Palazzo dei Priori.

The Cathedral of St. Giovenale, the churches of St. Maria Impensole, St. Domenico and St. Augustine were decorated with works by famous artists such as Benozzo Gozzoli, Vecchietta, Pier Matteo d'Amelia, the Spagna.

In the 14th century Narni became part of the territories controlled by the Pope thus losing its independence, and under Pope Gregory XI an imposing fortress was built by Cardinal Albornoz: it still dominates the town from above, marking the end of that independence even on a symbolic level.

The loss of political, economic and cultural power is marked by the Landsknecht plunder the , on 17th July 1527, and the following plague which broke out in the city. Although the city was not completely destroyed , the human losses were considerable. According to some authors the Landsknecht were helped by inhabitants coming from Terni, as a matter of fact, from that day on the contrasts between the two cities became bigger, until in 1529 Pope Clement VII asked the two cities to cease hostilities , and in 1531, the same Pope, threatened to excommunicate anyone who damaged the city, in order to make the reconstruction of Narni possible.

During the following years the survivors began the reconstruction of Narni, and renowned citizens gave back some prestige to the city: the families of Arca, Cardoli, Eroli, Cesi and Sacripante were the most famous ones.

Revised by Fabio Ronci.


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