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Some historical notes

Located at the northeastern borders of the Italian Peninsula, this historical region is notable for being a crossroads of cultures and peoples, the only point in Europe in which the Latin culture met its  Slavic and German counterparts. Inhabited since the Neolithic age, Friuli was invaded in the 4th century B.C. by Celtic populations who left traces of their passage in frequent votive inscriptions dedicated to the god Beleno, and in place names and the Friulian language. Piazza Matteotti - Foto archivio BrisighelliBetween the 3rd and the 2nd centuries B.C. the province was occupied by the Romans, marking its entrance into history.

At the fall of the Roman Empire (476), Friuli, after its invasion by the Ostrogoths, came under Byzantine and Lombard domination. It was in this context that Udine began to acquire importance following the decline of the other two centres in the region, Aquileia and Cividale. The first written records of the city date back to the 11th of June 983 when the Emperor Otto II confirmed his possession of the castle of Udene to the Patriarch of Aquileia. Since that time, Udine followed the fate of its territory: in 1077 it became part of the Patriarchal State of Friuli, and it was the Patriarch Bertoldo di Andechs (1218-1251) who favoured the development of Udine as a centre for trade and finance by creating a tax-free market there. 

In 1420 Udine came under the domination of the Republic of Venice for a long period and came into conflict more than once with the Germanic emperors over the possession of the territory. On the 27th of February 1511, the city exploded into a violent civil war between families and feudal lords loyal to Venice and those siding with the Germans; the conflict soon spread beyond the city borders. The situation worsened when a few days later an earthquake shook the city and caused the collapse of medieval castle on the hill. 

Via Zanon - Foto archivio Brisighelli

After the War of Gradisca (1615-1617), famines and epidemics of the plague broke out in Udine and the province, but within the next couple decades the situation improved and the city fully assumed the role of capital of the “Little Nation” of Friuli. At the beginning of the 1700s, the patriarch Dionisio Dolfin proceeded to remake his palace and opened the city’s first public library inside, where he had the reception halls frescoed by famous artists including Giambattista Tiepolo, who was called to Udine for various commissions. 

The fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797 at the hands of Napoleon and the French provoked a period of instability at the end of which, in 1815, the province of Udine became part of the Lombard-Venetian Kingdom under the rule of the emperors of the House of Austria. In 1866, at the end of the unification campaigns, Udine was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy.

During World War I Udine became the seat of the supreme command of the war operation of the Italian army, until 1917 when it was occupied by enemy troops after the Battle of Caporetto. In the early post-war period the city became the capital of the large province that at the time also included the territories of Gorizia and Pordenone which only later gained their autonomy.

When World War II broke out Udine came under the direct administration of the 3rd Reich after the 8th of September 1943, and was occupied until April 1945.  


Last update : 16/05/13 - Print page Print page