Mediolanum

Mediolanum

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Mediolanum, the ancient Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, was an important Celtic and then Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 centre of northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. This article charts the history of the city from its settlement by the Insubres
Insubres
The Insubres were a Gaulish population settled in Insubria, in what is now Lombardy . They were the founders of Milan . Though ethnically Celtic at the time of Roman conquest , they were most likely the result of the fusion of pre-existing Ligurian, Celtic and "Italic" population strata with Gaulish...

 around 600 BC, through its conquest by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and its development into a key centre of Western Christianity and capital of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, until its decline under the ravages of the Gothic War
Gothic War
Gothic War can refer to several periods of warfare between the Roman empire and the Goths, including:*Gothic War – Greuthungs and Thervings against the Eastern Roman Empire*Gothic War – Visigoths against the Western Roman Empire...

, its capture by the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 in 569, and their decision to make Pavia
Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

 the capital of their Kingdom of Italy.

History


Mediolanum appears to have been founded around 600 BC by the Celtic Insubres
Insubres
The Insubres were a Gaulish population settled in Insubria, in what is now Lombardy . They were the founders of Milan . Though ethnically Celtic at the time of Roman conquest , they were most likely the result of the fusion of pre-existing Ligurian, Celtic and "Italic" population strata with Gaulish...

, for whom this region of northern Italy was called Insubria
Insubria
Insubria is a historical-geographical region which corresponds to the area inhabited in Classical antiquity by the Insubres. Secondarily the name can refer to the Duchy of Milan...

 and they named the city they founded Medhlan in the Gaulish language. The Romans, led by consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus
Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus
Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus was a Roman general and statesman.His father was Lucius Cornelius Scipio, son of the patrician censor of 280, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus. His younger brother was Publius Cornelius Scipio, father of the most famous Scipio – Scipio Africanus...

, fought the Insubres and captured the city in 222 BC; the chief of the Insubres submitted to Rome, giving the Romans control of the city. They eventually conquered the entirety of the region, calling the new province Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul, in Latin: Gallia Cisalpina or Citerior, also called Gallia Togata, was a Roman province until 41 BC when it was merged into Roman Italy.It bore the name Gallia, because the great body of its inhabitants, after the expulsion of the Etruscans, consisted of Gauls or Celts...

— "Gaul this side of the Alps"— and may have given the site its Latin-Celtic name.

Mediolanum was important for its location as a hub in the road network of northern Italy. Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 describes the country as abounding in wine, and every kind of grain, and in fine wool. Herds of swine, both for public and private supply, were bred in its forests, and the people were well known for their generosity.

During the Augustan age Mediolanum was famous for its schools; it possessed a theater and an amphitheatre
Milan amphitheatre
The Milan amphitheatre was a Roman amphitheatre in the ancient city of Mediolanum, the modern Milan, northern Italy.-History:The amphitheatre was built near the Porta Ticinese in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD, when Mediolanum grew as economical and political importance while Rome declined...

 (129.5 X 109.3 m A large stone wall encircled the city in Caesar's time, and later was expanded in the late third century AD, by Maximian
Maximian
Maximian was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent...

. Mediolanum was made the seat of the prefect of Liguria (Praefectus Liguriae) by Hadrian and Constantine made it the seat of the vicar of Italy (Vicarius Italiae
Vicarius
Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root and origin of the English word "vicar" and cognate to the Persian word most familiar in the variant vizier....

). In the third century Mediolanum possessed a mint, a horreum
Horreum
A horreum was a type of public warehouse used during the ancient Roman period. Although the Latin term is often used to refer to granaries, Roman horrea were used to store many other types of consumables; the giant Horrea Galbae in Rome were used not only to store grain but also olive oil, wine,...

and imperial mausoleum.
In 286 Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 moved the capital of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 from Rome to Mediolanum. He chose to reside at Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

 in the Eastern Empire, leaving his colleague Maximian at Milan. Maximian built several gigantic monuments, the large circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 (470 x 85 meters), the thermae
Thermae
In ancient Rome, thermae and balnea were facilities for bathing...

or "Baths of Hercules", a large complex of imperial palaces and other services and buildings of which fewer visible traces remain. Maximian increased the city area surrounded by a new, larger stone wall (about 4.5 km long) with many 24-sided towers. The monumental area had twin towers; one that was included in the convent of San Maurizio Maggiore remains 16,60m high.

It was from Milan that the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

 in 313 AD, granting tolerance to all religions within the Empire, thus paving the way for Christianity to become the dominant religion of the Empire. Constantine was in Milan to celebrate the wedding of his sister to the Eastern Emperor, Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

. There were Christian communities in Mediolanum, which contributed its share of martyrs during the persecutions, but the first bishop of Milan who has a firm historical presence is Merocles, who was at the Council of Rome of 313. In the mid-fourth century, the Arian controversy
Arian controversy
The Arian controversy describes several controversies between the Christian Church fathers Arius and Athanasius related to Christology which divided the Christian church from before the Council of Nicaea in 325 to after the Council of Constantinople in 381...

 divided the Christians of Mediolanum; Constantius
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

 supported Arian bishops and at times there were rival bishops. Auxentius of Milan (died 374) was a respected Arian theologian.

At the time of the bishop St. Ambrose
Ambrose
Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose , was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original doctors of the Church.-Political career:Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family between about...

 (bishop 374-397), who quelled the Arians, and emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

, Mediolanum reached the height of its ancient power.

The city also possessed a number of basilicas, added in the late fourth century AD. These are San Simpliciano
Basilica of San Simpliciano
The Basilica of San Simpliciano is a church in the centre of Milan, northern Italy, the second oldest in the form of a Latin cross, first erected by Saint Ambrose. It is dedicated to Saint Simplician, bishop of Milan.-History:...

, San Nazaro, San Lorenzo and the chapel of San Vittore
San Vittore
San Vittore may refer to:* San Vittore, Switzerland, a municipality in Graubünden, Switzerland* San Vittore del Lazio, a comune in Lazio, Italy* San Vittore Olona, a comune in Lombardy, Italy...

, located in the basilica of Sant'Ambrogio. In general, the Late Empire encouraged the development of the applied arts in Mediolanum, with ivory and silver work being common in public building projects. In the fourth century AD. In the crypt of the Duomo survive ruins of the ancient church of Saint Tecla and the baptisty where St. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 was baptized.

In 402, the city was besieged by the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 and the Imperial residence was removed to Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

. In 452, it was besieged again by Attila, but the real break with its Imperial past came in 538, during the Gothic War
Gothic War (535–552)
The Gothic War between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy was fought from 535 until 554 in Italy, Dalmatia, Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica. It is commonly divided into two phases. The first phase lasted from 535 to 540 and ended with the fall of Ravenna and the apparent...

, when Mediolanum was laid waste by Uraia, a nephew of Witiges
Witiges
Witiges or Vitiges was King of the Ostrogoths in Italy from 536 to 540.He succeeded to the throne of Italy in the early stages of the Gothic War, as Belisarius had quickly captured Sicily the previous year and was currently in southern Italy at the head of the forces of Justinian I, the Eastern...

, King of the Goths, with great loss of life. The Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 took Ticinum
Ticinum
Ticinum was an ancient city of Gallia Transpadana, founded on the banks of the river of the same name a little way above its confluence with the Padus ....

 for their capital (renaming it to ‘Papia’, hence the modern Pavia
Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

), and Early Medieval Milan was left to be governed by its archbishops.

Extant structures


Some of the monuments of the Roman Mediolanum still to be seen in Milan:
  • in the basilica of S. Ambrogio:
    • the Chapel of S. Vittore, with Late Antique
      Late Antiquity
      Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

       mosaics
    • the so‑called "Tomb of Stilicho
      Stilicho
      Flavius Stilicho was a high-ranking general , Patrician and Consul of the Western Roman Empire, notably of Vandal birth. Despised by the Roman population for his Germanic ancestry and Arian beliefs, Stilicho was in 408 executed along with his wife and son...

      ", assembled from a Roman sarcophagus and other material.
    • a large collection of inscriptions.
  • the Colonne di San Lorenzo
    Colonne di San Lorenzo
    The Colonne di San Lorenzo is the best-known Roman ruin in Milan. It is located in front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo. It is a square with a row of columns on either side, which were taken from a temple or public bath house dating from the 2nd century. The columns were moved to their current...

    , a colonnade in front of the church of S. Lorenzo.
  • Roman lapidary material in the Archi di Porta Nuova.
  • the scant remains of a large amphitheatre
    Amphitheatre
    An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment and performances.There are two similar, but distinct, types of structure for which the word "amphitheatre" is used: Ancient Roman amphitheatres were large central performance spaces surrounded by ascending seating, and were commonly used...

    , now in an archaeological park dedicated to their preservation.
  • a tower (16.6 m high) of the circus
    Circus
    A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

    , now inside the Convento di San Maurizio Maggiore.
  • a bit of moenia (walls) and a tower with 24 sides (Maximian, 3rd century)
  • the church of Lorenzo (IV-V sec.) and the San Aquilino chapel.
  • ruins of the imperial palace.
  • some ruins from the Baths of Hercules; further remains of ceilings and floors are in the archaeological museum.
  • the body of St. Ambrose (d. 397
    397
    Year 397 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caesarius and Atticus...

    ) and those possibly of SS. Gervasius and Protasius — or at any rate, of earlier men, found in St. Ambrose's time, are still seen in the crypt of the church of S. Ambrogio.
  • crypt of San Giovanni in Conca
    San Giovanni in Conca
    San Giovanni in Conca is a crypt of a former basilica church in Milan, northern Italy. It is now located in the centre of Piazza Missori.-History:...

  • a bit of the moenia and some remnants of pavements in piazza Missori and in the namesake station of Milan Metro
    Milan Metro
    The Milan Metro is the rapid transit system serving Milan, Italy, operated by Azienda Trasporti Milanesi. Milan metro is the longest metro system in Italy, and is the core of the Milan Transportation System...

    .

See also

  • Milan#History, for the medieval and modern history of Milan
  • Walls of Milan
    Walls of Milan
    The city Milan, Italy, has had three different systems of defending walls. The oldest, Roman walls were developed in two stages, the first in the Republican and the second in the Imperial era. The second wall system was realized in the Middle Ages , after the destruction of the city by Frederick...

  • Diocletian

External links