from the Etruscans to the end of Castro dukedom

(Text by Piero Bruni – Translation by Lara Jane Walden)

The Tuscia territory comprises the southernmost areas of Tuscany, those of northern Latium , and western Umbria, where the borders of these regions meet.
After the Roman empire, Italy became a land of conquest and the Tuscia in particular was long disputed by Popes, German Emperors and French Kings. The cities most involved were Viterbo and Orvieto which were often at war with each other. Because of its dominant and easily defendable position, the Montefiascone stronghold, was forever the army headquarters of either the Church or the invaders, according to the succession of events.
The Tuscia is a land of volcanic origin. Almost all historical centres, Pitigliano, Sovana, Tuscania, Orvieto, Civita di Bagnoregio, etc. were built on tufa stone using tufa stone for the structure . These townships constitute a great cultural heritage and have kept the ancient medieval structures unaltered and in perfect harmony with the environment. Such is the "Tufa Stone Civilization".

(from 2 million years ago)
Two million years ago, Central Italy, which until than had been covered by the sea, began emerging as a consequence of tectonic upheavals. About 600.000 years ago, the marine sediments which by that time had completely emerged in our region were rent by more than one hundred craters, from which large quantities of magmatic material was violently extruded, covering vast areas between the Paglia, Tiber and Fiora rivers. The afore-mentiontioned volcano, called Volsini, was characterised by prevalently explosive activity, large emission of ashes and lapilli but very little lava. The expulsion of volcanic material from the craters eroded the underlying magmatic chamber, which, due to the weight of the materials that had accumulated on the surface, collapsed, forming a basin or cauldron. After being filled by rain, it gave rise to Lake Bolsena.
Other lakes of volcanic origin in the Tuscia are: Vico, Mezzano and Monterosi. Further south, in the province of Rome, another four lakes originated in a similar fashion: Martignano, Bracciano, Nemi and Albano. Towards the north, in Tuscany, volcanic activity developed around Mount Amiata. The thermal baths of Saturnia, the Tufa stone cliffs at Pitigliano, Sovana etc, are some examples of its activity in the distant past.
The height of the volcanic craters around Lake Bolsena were modest, as mentioned earlier, because of the scarce amount of lava which descended their slopes, whereas the ashes, which were hurled at a considerable distance, reached the thickness of many tens of metres. Over the millennia the ashes consolidated forming tufa stone, that is to say that soft stone, with which from the remotest times, all the human settlements were built in these areas. Other more resistent volcanic rocks are "peperino", "nenfro" and basalt; others, like "pumice" and "lapilli" are porous. The hills of lapilli at Valentano and Monte Calvo are also note worthy.
As the volcanic activity decreased the territory became covered by vegetation, consequently herbivores arrived (among them elephants, as testified by a tusk which is kept in the Valentano museum) followed by carnivores and finally, man.

(from 600.000 years ago)
Rain modelled the territory constituted by soft tufa stone. The rivers eroded their beds slowly, but deeply, giving rise to wide valleys and deep gorges, called, somewhat exaggerating "horrids". For this reason our territory has been defined "a land of horrids and lakes".
Rivers such as the Olpeta, the Lente and the Fiora are insignificant in respect to the width and depth of the gorges in which they flow. Evidently over the hundreds of thousands of preceding years the river flow was greater and more tumultuous. We do not have points of reference sufficiently distant on time, but if we consider relatively recent events, and we compare Lake Bolsena to an enormous pluviometer we can see that 13.000 years ago (the time of the biblical deluge according to some) a series of eroded marks indicate that the lake was fifteen metres higher than the present one, which proves that rainfall was greater and rivers more tempestuous.
Lava relieves, together with the deep gorges dug by the rivers, have conferred a very particular morphology to the territory, which from ancient times determined the location of the present townships. In fact settlement were built close to fertile ground supplied with water and on sites which were easily defended. For this latter aspect, in fact, the areas preferably chosen were prow shaped, overlying tufa stone gorges and situated at the confluence of two rivers.
There are numerous examples: Pitigliano, Sovana, Farnese, Ischia di Castro, Orvieto, the destroyed city of Castro etc. Even the volcanic cones were used as a means of defence, as at Montefiascone, Valentano, Capodimonte and many others.
With the passing of centuries the defensive requirements stayed the same, therefore the town sites remained in the same places which had been chosen by the ancient inhabitants. If for some reason they were destroyed, they were re-built in the same place so as to recuperate materials from the preceding buildings. The settlements remained substantially intact and preserved their ancient medieval structure.
From the naturalists viewpoint, many of the ancient forests were felled to gain space for agriculture. Many noteworthy examples of woods still exist: The Cimini mountains, the Castro mountains, Mount Rufeno, and the Lamone woodland which is characterized by of the enormous quantities of volcanic rocks which make access difficult.

(from the Xth to the IIIrd century B. C.)
The Etruscan people originated ethnically from the south-east, perhaps from Lydia, and established themselves in central Italy between the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the Arno and Tiber rivers, beginning around the 10th century B. C. Gradually they also moved north and southwards of the aforesaid rivers. The Etruscans submitted the less evolved local populations and eventually became integrated. They excelled in metal work, the construction of weapons, the arts, navigation, hydraulic and civil engineering.
They were organised as a group which comprised twelve cities, those in central Italy being: Arezzo, Cerveteri, Chiusi, Cortona, Perugia, Populonia, Tarquinia Veio, Vetulonia, Volsini, Volterra and Vulci. Each city was governed by a "Lucumone" and these twelve "Locumoni" met yearly in the "Fanum Voltumne" temple near Lake Bolsena.
Tarquinia was probably the oldest city they founded in the 8th century B. C.. They reached a peak in development around the 6th century B. C. and from thence a slow decline which ended in the 3rd century B. C. with their submission and assimilation by the Romans who were their long standing antagonists.
The Etruscans are considered a "mystery" because no original document has been found which allows reconstruction of their exact origins and history. Inscriptions engraved on tombs are barely sufficient for us to understand their alphabet. Available historic documentation is rather dubious because it is referred to by Roman historians after numerous centuries had elapsed following the events.
No etruscan cities have been found, as they were all destroyed and re-adapted by the successive populations, but, on the other hand a great number of necropoli hewn into tufa stone have remained, in which the tombs frequently reproduce the surroundings in which the ancients had lived. Personal belongings, sometimes precious, were buried with the dead so as to allow the continuation of life after death, in accordance with their religious beliefs.
The majority of those objects have been either destroyed or stolen over the millennia, but a great number of others are now kept in museums. Their examination has helped the archaeologists reconstruct the history and life style of the Etruscans. The painted vases and frescoed tombs with their illustrations supplied more information than written text and proved very useful in this respect. The Etruscans' wealth, their spirituality and superiority with regards to worldly belongings transpire from the ironic smiles we read on their faces. The most worthy necropoli in our territory are at Norchia, Tarquinia, Tuscania, Cerveteri, and Vulci. Many smaller ones, of great interest, are situated in smaller centres such as Sovana.
An important Etruscan city, Bisanzio, arose on the volcanic promontory west of Capodimonte, as testified by the numerous ruined tombs in the underlying valley. On the mount itself an interesting dove-cote tomb dating back to the Etruscan-Roman period is still visible.
The most important Etruscan museum is Villa Giulia in Rome. Other museums in our area , are located at Vulci, Viterbo, Tarquinia, Tuscania and even in small centres such as Ischia di Castro, Bolsena, etc..
The Etruscans were accustomed to building "hewn" or "cut" roads deeply dug in the tufa stone, probably so as to make them suitable for their carts by eliminating eventual gradients. Numerous such "cut" roads are to be seen in the areas of Pitigliano, Ansedonia and Castro.

(753 B.C. –476 D.C.)
It is remarkable that an initially small city such as Rome, similar to many others within Europe, was able to conquer all the then known world in such a short time notwithstanding the surrounding powerful peoples of the time: the Etruscans and the Gauls to the north, to the south the Greeks of Magna Grecia and the Carthaginians.
As the Romans expanded northwards, the Etruscan cities fell one by one . Cerveteri first, then Tarquinia in 309 B. C.. In 264 B. C. the Romans conquered the Etruscan city of Velzna, where Orvieto currently stands. The population was transferred to a less defendable place, not far from where Bolsena stands today. The Romans took possession of the enormous wealth of Velzna. Plinius refers it yielded 2000 gold, silver and bronze statues with which the Capitol hill was adorned, but a few decades later they welted to coin sufficient money to finance the second war against Carthage. The vast plains along the Tyrrhenian Sea were covered by the light blue linen flowers: the cloth was to be used to make sails for the hundreds of ships which the Romans were rapidly constructing to sail against Carthage.
Christianity began to spread in the period when the Roman Empire was at his height. In an attempt to avoid cruel persecution the Christians met secretly in catacombs: one of these is in Bolsena.
Around the year 300, during the reign of Diocletian, a young girl, Christine was martyrized in Bolsena. She was later sanctified and made patron saint of the same town. Her feast day falls on the 24th of July and her torture is enacted yearly.
In the year 313 the Emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity, which then became the state religion. The Church received gifts, bestowals, heredities and after a few years it became a financial authority as well. The Bishop of Rome was recognised as having a prevalent position being the legitimate successor of Peter the apostle who had died a martyr in Rome.
In 395 the Roman Empire split into the Eastern Roman Empire, with a Greek matrix and Constantinople (ex Byzantium) as its capital and the western Roman Empire with Rome as its capital. The latter ceased its existence in 476 when the last emperor, Romolus Augustus, was deposed by the barbaric chieftain Odoacre.
The Early Middle Ages, that is to say the historic period which reaches the year 1200.
Rome's function as "centre of the world" continued increasing rather than ceasing with the fall of Western Roman Empire, thanks to the presence of the Pope and the immense power the Church exercised on the world.
In the Tuscia, well preserved monuments of Roman origin are very few: the most interesting are the amphitheatres of Sutri and Ferento, used to date for plays and concerts and the cities of Cosa and Vulsinii.

Thousands of kilometres to the east, another evolved world capital, Peking, had enclosed its empire within the Great Wall. Between the frontiers of the Roman Empire, defended by "limes" (fortified border lines) and the Great Wall of China, lived the "Barbars" that is a multitude of nomadic populations: Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Longobards, Hungars, Avars, Huns, Mongols, Sciites etc. who, yearning for new territories an adventure, often managed to overflow into the two empires. Their favourite destination was Rome.
In 489-493, the Goths invaded Italy, overcoming Odoacre's opposition and killing him. Their king, Theodoricus, founded a reign with Ravenna as capital. He kept the military administration for himself and left the civil administration to the Romans. Though his people practised the religion of Ario he was tolerant toward Christianity.
After his death he was succeeded by Atalaricus, a minor, with the regency of his mother Amalasunta. Young Atalaricus died soon afterwards and Amalasunta became Queen of the Goths in 535.
At Atalaricus' death, Amalasunta's cousin, Theodatus thought he had better claims to the throne. The controversy ended with the marriage between the two cousins, but shortly thereafter , Theodatus imprisoned Amalasunta on the Martana island in Lake Bolsena, where he had her killed. Thus Theodatus became king of the Goths.
Fearing Theodatus, before their marriage , Amalasunta had asked the Emperor of the Eastern Empire, Justinian, for help. Though too late, the latter sent his Greek troops thus putting an end to the Gothic reign in 553.
Under Justinian, the Eastern and Western Empires became reunited and the Mediterranean Sea again became "Mare Nostrum". As always without a fleet the "barbars" were driven back toward the interior. However, Arabs and Longobards soon proved the frailty of the reunited Empire.

The Longobards, also of Germanic origin, descended into Italy in 568 and occupied the north and part of the central territory, including Viterbo. Their capital was Pavia.
The Greeks were forced to retreat (in the face of) the victorious Longobards invasion, but were able to keep the Pentapolis, that is to say a strip of fortified territory from Ravenna to Rome, which divided Italy in two. South of Pentapoli the invaders occupied Spoleto and Benevento. The occupied territories were divided into more or less independent dukedoms.
In 590 Gregory I became Pope: this fact solemnly consolidated the Bishop of Rome's supremacy as the highest judge concerning religious, dogmatic and disciplinary matters. It was an explicit assertion of authority, no longer an honorary acknowledgement as it had previously been. By means of the Bishops, a great hierarchic organisation at the service of the Roman Church was thus consolidated in Europe.
Many barbaric reigns still professed the religion of Ario and other pagan gods, but troops of missionaries, monastic centres and abbeys laboured at their systematic conversion.
The Longobards were among the first to be converted. Their king , Autary, married the catholic Theodolinda, and it was she, together with the Pope who promoted the conversion.
Autari was succeeded by Liutprand, also converted to Christianity. In 728 he donated the villages of Sutri and Nepi , south of Viterbo, to the "saintly apostles Peter and Paul", that is to the Church.
This donation, added to the riches accumulated since the times of Constantine, constituted the origin of "Peter's heritage" whose revenues , at that time, were used solely for charity. Though there was no clear design to create a state of the Church, at that time, the slow historic process began which was to ensure the papacy territorial independence.
Costantinopole was no longer able to effectively defend the Pentapolis as it had to ward off the Arabs and Persians who pressed upon its boundaries in the east. The Longobards took advantage of the fact and conquered Ravenna, threatening Rome also.
Wanting to free themselves from both the weak protection of Constantinople and the pressure placed on them by the Longobards, the Popes asked the Franks for help. The latter descended into Italy, defeated the last Longobad king, Desiderius, and ended his reign in 773.
Many Longobards remained in Italy, particularly in Como, where the school of "comacini" masters (sculptors, architects, masons and stone cutters) developed, contributing to the development of an architectural tradition, which then merged into the romanic style.
Example of romanic style in the Tuscia area are quite numerous: the ciborium in the Sovana cathedral, St. Flaviano at Montefiascone, the churches of St. Peter and St. Mary at Tuscania,and the crypt of the Acquapendente cathedral.
This is the period in which monasticism arose and spread: the strict rules prescribed prayer, intellectual work and manual work. Hermitism spread in the Tuscia area as well as monasticism. The hermits lived on charity, dwelling in solitary caves far from the inhabited areas. Some hermitages are on the cliffs in which flank the Fiora and Olpeta rivers; the hermitage of Poggio Conte, near the bridge of St. Peter is particularly interesting.

(from 632)
Beginning in the year 632, that of Mohammed's death, the Islamic religion began spreading in the Mediterranean area. the Arabs conquered Anatolia, Sicily, north Africa, they crossed the strait of Gibraltar and conquered southern Spain. Cordoba and its mosque became the heart of the Arab world. The "mare Nostrum" became an Arab lake. These new invaders of Europe adversed Christianity and Roman civilisation without any opportunity for mediation.
From Spain they crossed the Pyrenees with the intention of invading the Frankish reign and Europe. At that time the inept Merovingian dynasty reigned over the Franks, but the effective power was determined by the great vassal Charles Martel, who vanquished and stopped the Arabs at Poitiers in 732. In the successive centuries the Tuscia was repeatedly invaded and pillaged by Saracen pirates who had installed themselves in Sardinia and Corsica . To avoid lootings, death and slavery, the population built a network of signaling towers along the coast, the remains of which are still visible.
Once the Saracens disembarked near Rome and plundered the basilicas of St. Peter and St Paul. In 964 they razed Vulci to the ground. The coastline inhabitants of the Tuscia were forced to abandon their villages and seek refuge on an overhanging hill, where they founded Montalto. The inhabitants of Marta and Capodimonte repeatedly sought refuge on the two islands of Lake Bolsena.

The Pope had asked Pepin the Short, son of Charles Martel, for help against the Longobards. A French delegation came to Rome to ask counsel as to who should reign over the Franks. Pope Zaccarias answered: " it is better that he who is to be made king is the one who effectively detains power, rather than one who is such by name but no longer exercises such a power". This put an end to the Merovingians and marked the beginning of the Carolingian dynasty.
Pepin the Short became the Church's most trustworthy ally. Out of gratitude he rid the Pentapolis of the Longobards and instead of giving back to Eastern Roman Empire, he donated it to the Church.
Pepin the Short died in 768, succeeded by his son Charlemagne who, as aforesaid , came to Italy, defeated Desiderius and put a definite end to the Longobard reign in 773.
Charlemagne suppressed the Longobard dukedoms and substituted them with counties and marquisates, instituting feudalism.
In 786 Charlemgne detatched from the "Tuscia Longobardorum" (which at the time also included the greater part of Tuscany), Viterbo, Orvieto, Sovana, Marta, Montefiascone, Tuscania and Bagnoregio and ceded it to the Pope. The aforesaid territory was called "Tuscia Romanorum". The name Tuscia is still used with reference to the Viterbo Province, whereas further north the same name was successively transformed into Tuscany.

The Frankish reign, which included a good part of today's France and Germany, was the greatest military power of the time.
Within the Frankish reign and well beyond their reach, the Church had an organised hierarchic network consisting of bishops sees, parishes, monasteries, and abbeys. Each parish, from the Atlantic to the Eastern Europe, from Ireland to Sicily, had at least one parish church, assigned to a parish priest whose role was that of acting as a strict spiritual and political guide over tens of millions of believers. The allegiance between monarchy and papacy gave rise to the greatest Medioeval imperial project.
On Christmas day of the year 800 Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, thus equalling him to the other Christian Emperor of Constantinople.
Charlemagne was the effective temporal guide of the Church. In fact, in a letter to the Pope he wrote "our role is that of defending the Church of Christ in all places, yours is to raise your hands towards Heaven contributing to our battles with your prayers, so as to attain victory in all places".
In the year 814 Charlemagne died, succeeded by his son Ludwig, nicknamed "the Good", under which the vassals seized greater independence: Charlemagne had reduced them to obedience, Ludwig was incapable of doing so. Three years later the Empire was divided between Ludwigs' sons, multiplying divisions, conflicts and rivalries. Then the empire faced a major crisis, until the Carolingian dynasty ended in year 888.

After the Carolingian dynasty had come to an end, the Empire was broken up, giving rise to a French and a German state in central Europe. These frequently competed against each other for the possession of Italy which continued to be a yearned for land of conquest. The Popes took advantage of this rivalry to ask the French for help against the Germans and vice versa according to the changing circumstances.
In 962, Pope John XII called the German Otto of Saxony to Rome and crowned him Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which at that time was reduced to being constituted solely by the German part.
With the Saxons the entire ecclesiastic hierarchy underwent a further submission to feudalism in as much as an imperial control in papal elections with a right to repeal was established. Church and Empire were united to the benefit of the Empire which relied on the ecclesiastic hierarchy to keep itself in power, and the latter, in turn, on the tens of millions of believers. The 93 bishoprics and abbeys in Italy and Germany were turned by Otto into counties, where the bishops became feudal lords having the titles of viscounts, that is bishops-counts.
Under the Saxons, papacy plummeted to very low levels of morality as it was in the hands of two factions, one imperial, the other belonging to the Roman aristocracy. Simony, concubinage and corruption were widespread. One Pope was suffocated with a pillow , another was elected when he was less than 20 years old, at times there where up to three popes who excomunicated each other reciprocally. Word was even spread of an improbable papess. The emperor thus imposed a series of German popes, who were in part driven away by the Roman nobles. In the year 1014 the Saxon dynasty ended.
The eastern schism occurred in 1054. The Patriarch of Constantinople separated from the Church of Rome, giving origin to the Orthodox or Greek Church.

(Fight for investitures, 1073-1122)
The Saxon dynasty was followed by the Franconian one. Disputes between Church and Emperors regarding investitures became rather heated.
Popes and sovereigns agreed in affirming that regal power was a divine concession, whereas the sovereigns considered they were such because of the direct will of God, the Popes claimed that, as representatives of God in earth, it was up to them to nominate the sovereigns.
In the feudal system, investiture was the ceremony with which the sovereign granted his vassal possession of a feud through the consignment of a sword which symbolised temporal power, but in successive periods the sovereigns also gave the pastoral staff, a symbol of divine power, assuming the right to nominate the viscounts (bishop-counts).
As a result of popular acclaim and by the will of cardinals, in 1073, Hildebrand of Soana in Tuscany (now Sovana) was made Pope with the name of Gregory VII. Humble, but brave and tenacious, he was convinced the authority bestowed upon him derived from Christ, thus he used it to moralize the Church and reaffirm its right with respect to the sovereigns.
With great audacity he issued the "dictatus papae", in which, among other things it was ordered that: only the Roman Pope could be called universal – the Pope was the only man whose feet were to be kissed by all the sovereigns – the Pope could legally destitute emperors – no one could condemn a decision made by the apostolic see – the Roman Church never erred and would never do so – whoever is not with the Roman Church cannot be considered a Catholic – the Pope could resolve a vow of loyalty made to the unjust . priestly dignity was superior to regal dignity.
As an efficacious means of pressure the emperors threatened to invade the State of the Church, whilst the Pope could strike them with excommunication. To this the emperors would respond by electing other popes enslaved to them.
The Franconian emperor Henry IV, contested Gregory VII stating that regal power was conceded directly by God and could not depend on a man, albeit a Pope. He gathered together the German bishops and had Gregory VII deposed.
In turn, Gregory VII excommunicated him. Many German bishops repented their act end ended by dissociating from the emperor.
Having pondered the adverse situation, not long before Christmas1076. Henry IV moved into Italy where, at Canossa, barefoot and repentant he begged for the Pope's forgiveness. Having denied him pardon for three days, the Pope ended by granting it to him in exchange for an oath of faithfulness. The problem remained unsolved because further contestations, destitutions and excommunications ensued.
Henry IV conquered Rome in 1084 and had an anti-Pope elected, while Gregory shut himself within Castel Sant'Angelo. He was freed by the Normans who had taken office in Southern Italy. He died in Salerno the following year. Henry IV did not emerge victorious either: he was deserted by his vassals and died in poverty in 1106.
In 1122 with the Worms pact, the fight for investiture ceased with a compromise: Henry V of Franconia recognized the Church the right to nominate its own prelates. The Franconian dynasty ended in 1125.

(XII Century)
Wile the Popes and the emperors vied for the right of granting feuds, the various populations who had until then been passed on from one feudal lord to another, like animals, grew aware of their strength and began organizing themselves in Communes. They substituted the feudal lords nominated by the Pope or the emperor with magistrates elected by the people. Being unable to check the desire for freedom and in an attempt to turn the situation to its own advantage, Church and empire competed with each other in granting the communes exemptions so as to obtain help from their troops in exchange. The emperors partisans were called Ghibellines and those of the Pope Guelphs.
The revolution promoted by the communes experienced an exalting moment: with their council decisions and injunctions they created the new Italic law, a new art and the Italian language. The communes recognized the Pope spiritual authority only, without accepting civilian interference.
The first communes in the Tuscia to hoist the flag of rebellion against papal authoriry were Viterbo, Orvieto, Tuscania and Castro. So as not to remain isolated, the smaller townships allied themselves with the major communes, promising they would repay by providing a sum of money annually and to go to war or stay at peace at their will. The formula for allegiance was simple: "you shall be a friend of my friend, and an enemy of my enemies" the various promises were sworn on the Holy Gospel.
The communes had an irresistible passion for widening their boundaries. Wars and pacts ensued between communes so that the castles of our regions came and went from one faction to the other. Castro and Sovana had to fight against Siena for the possession of Maremma, Orvieto against Viterbo for the possession of the lake Bolsena valley, Tuscania against Viterbo for the possession of the same lake valley and Viterbo against Rome because of traditional enmity.
Many phases of the struggle against Pope and emperors were disputed at Viterbo and Orvieto, which being favoured at one time by the Pope and another by the Emperor, perforce had to side with one or the other of the contenders.

The Franconian dynasty was succeeded by that of Hohenstaufen. The objections against the Church were continued by the emperors Frederick I, called Redbeard, and by his grandson Frederick II.
Frederick Redbeard effected four expeditions to Italy against the Pope and the Guelph communities. In 1164, he permitted Viterbo, which at the time was Ghibelline, to add to its coat of arms the two winged eagle which represented the Empire. The inhabitants of Viterbo became enslaved to Frederick Redbeard, if only to fight the hated Romans.
In 1167 the troops from Viterbo followed the imperial army and attacked Rome, from which they returned bearing the bronze doors they had unhinged from St. Peter's Basilica. Viterbo was the seat of the two anti-Popes created by Frederick Redbeard. They followed the emperors fate until he was vanquished in Lombardy by a league of Guelph communes.. Viterbo was also defeated and placed under the Church's control: therefore it had to give back the stolen doors. Frederick Redbeard drowned in 1189.
Frederick II, king of Naples and Sicily, had a German father and Sicilian mother. He was crowned emperor in 1220 and followed the same political line as his grandfather Redbeard. Thanks to a series of negotiations with the Muslims he obtained the restitution of Gerusalem, of which he had himself nominated king.
As a consequence of his disagreement with Pope Gregory IX, he was excommunicated. He reached Rome and occupied the Montefiascone stronghold. He was well met by the Ghibellines at Viterbo, but then the Guelph party prevailed as it was led by a cardinal and by a young woman named Rose (later to become St. Rose, patron of Viterbo). The Guelph defeated Frederick and drove him from the city.
He was excommunicated by Pope Innocentius IV and civil war ensued in Germany ending with his destruction "stripped by God of all his honour and dignity". In 1218 the Empire was transferred to the Hapsburg dynasty.
Frederick II remained king of Sicily. Under the influence of Arab culture, his court at Palermo was the centre for literature, arts and science. He wrote a treatise on falconry in Latin, founded the University of Naples , constructed numerous buildings, among which the famous "Castel del Monte (Castle on a Hill) in Apulia.
At the sudden death of Frederick II in 1250, the Hohenstaufen dynasty ended, but the challenge against the Church was again taken up by Manfred, king of Sicily, Frederick's illegitimate son.
One of the principal defenders of the rights of the Church was Innocentius III (1198-1216) who led the papacy to its ultimate power. He identified the Montefiascone stronghold as the ideal place in the Tuscia in which to install the Rector of the St. Peter's Patrimony.
In 1231 Gregory IX instituted the Inquisition entrusting it to the Dominican Order. Terror was added the subtle means of persuasion, when in 1252 Innocentius IV authorized the Inquisition to use tortures.

The Communes' rebellion caused the Papacy to lose control over the State of the Church. Pope Urban IV was even forced to flee from Rome which had become a free Commune.
In 1261 he sought refuge in Viterbo and Orvieto which granted him hospitality more out of the forthcoming prestige and financial convenience than out of submission. As he was a French Pope he was not recognized by the Ghibellines whom he considered "extremely venomous scorpions and snakes", so that in the end he sought refuge in Perugia.
The political situation was precarious, the Ghibellines throughout Italy placed pressure on Manfredi, king of Sicily, so as to have him cast the final blow against the tottering Church domain and take the crown as king of Italy.
To counteract Manfredi the Pope turned to the French court, offering Manfredi's reign to Charles of Anjou, the king of France's brother. He struck the Ghibellines with a series of excommunications and sent the people of Viterbo letters exuding blandishments, indulgences and thousands of blessings from Heaven so as to obtain their help. The people of Viterbo let themselves be convinced and decided to take arms on behalf of the Church.
The French and the people of Viterbo defeated Manfredi's Saracen armies and his Ghibelline upholders. Meantime Urban IV died, but his successors were able to return to Rome victoriously.

In 1268 the cardinals met at the papal Palace in Viterbo to elect a new Pope. Some wanted a French Pope and others, an Italian. Philip III king of France, his brother Charles of Anjou and Prince Henry of Cornwall came to Viterbo personally to urge the election. The Prince of Cornwall was murdered during Mass in the St. Sylvester Church (now called Gesus' Church) for personal matters. Months passed without the cardinals being able to agree as to a candidate. They were locked (clausi cum clave) inside the palace under the threat they would be let out only after the election had been effected. As the situation still stalled, the population unroofed the building and rationed their food. Finally, after almost three years from the beginning of the conclave, the Italian Gregory X was elected . Other Popes followed but were short-lived. Among them the Italian Nicolò III Orsini, who was very active at enriching his relatives.
In 1305, following a thousand intrigues, the king of France had a French Pope, subordinate to his political policy, elected in Viterbo. The man did not even come to Viterbo at the time of the conclave : he established himself in Avignon where he subsequently had the entire papal court transferred.

The Rectors represented the Church's Authority with regards to the Patrimony, and they being French, employed their time with nothing other than accumulating wealth and exercising an oppressive dictatorship. There being no Pope present, the Ghibellines, among whom Dante Alighieri, were enlivened by new hopes.
They greeted Emperor Henry VII of Luxemburg enthusiastically, when he came to Italy with a strong army in 1310, but just south of Siena , he became ill and died. His soldiers suspected he had been poisoned by a friar so they slaughtered a great number of friars. With the death of Henry VII, the Ghibelline dream of creating a lay, united Italy faded for good.
In 1326 Ludwig the Bavarian came to Rome wanting to be crowned Emperor at St. Peters. To reach this objective he nominated an anti-Pope who had slapped Pope Bonifacio VIII at Anagni 25 years previously, under the instigation of the king of France Philip the Beautiful.The Bavarian ravaged the Tuscia but on the way back to Germany he underwent ponderous defeats at Florence and Milan.
An epidemic of plague exploded in 1348, which manifested itself with black buboes at the armpits and groins, and people died within three days. Three quarters of the inhabitants of Viterbo, Orvieto and Florence died. The nobles tried to elude the disease by seeking refuge in isolated mountain places. It was during this epidemic that, while at a refugee in Fiesole, Boccaccio wrote the Decamerone. Orvieto and Viterbo remained so depopulated that they had to call in the survivors from the surrounding townships, which being abandoned, fell into ruin.

Taking advantage of the fact the Pope had established himself at Avignon, Viterbo, having as Prefect the Ghibelline Di Vico, increased the Communes properties to the Church's disadvantage, reaching the apex of its conquests with the occupation of Orvieto.
In 1352, Pope Innocent VI, an austere energetic man, decided to tame the rebels and take the Holy See back to Rome.
He sent the Spanish cardinal Egidio Alvarez Albornoz to Montefiascone; the man was more soldier than priest, having fought side by side with the king of Castille. He formed alliances with a series of local families, the Farnese and the Orsini, and for a brief period he had 10.000 men placed at his disposal by the Romans "because of their heartfelt desire to damage Viterbo".
Prefect Di Vico had to surrender. Prostrated at the cardinal's knees he renounced the conquered lands and publicly confessed his fellony, swearing to keep faith to the Church. After having humiliated him by leaving him genuflected for a long time, Albornoz admonished him severely and then pronounced his absoluion.
At this point Albornoz could fully exploit his victory: he abolished the city armies and the republican constitutions of the Communes and substituted the magistrates elected by the people with ecclesiastic officials. As a powerful affirmation of the Church's sovereignty he had sturdy strongholds built at Orvieto and Viterbo. After two centuries of badly hidden adversity with respect to the Communes, the Popes could freely dominate within the Patrimony provinces. In 1367 Pope Urban V made his solemn entry to Rome. The Church had won.

It appeared as if the Rome's earth beneath them burnt the feet of Pope Urban V and his court. He rested a long time at the Montefiascone stronghold, than he decided to return to Avignon, notwithstanding the Guelph appeals, including that of Petrarch.
After his death, the college of cardinals, which for the greater part was composed by Frenchmen, met in 1377 in Rome. As a consequence of the tumultuous pressure placed upon them by the Romans, the college submitted to nominating an Italian Pope, Urban VI.
The following year the cardinals recanted the election of Urban V1 and elected the anti-Pope Clement VII. The great western schism thus exploded and for 40 years it was impossible to know who was the legitimate Pope. Religious antagonism between Pope and anti-Pope rapidly degenerated into civil war.
Urban VI had many cities belonging to the State of the Church on his side and the Republic of Siena. Clement VII who had established himself at Anagni, just south of Rome, had an army of Bretons and Viterbesi mercenaries at his service, captained by the son of the deceased Prefect Di Vico.
For safety's sake the French anti-Pope sought refuge with Queen Joanna of Naples, causing the Roman Pope to wage war against her.
Taking advantage of the absence of the papal army which was fighting against Naples, Di Vico again re-conquered the entire State of the Church.
After a serie of alternating and complicated events the Roman Pope made peace with Queen Johanna, and, with the help of the Orsini recuperated the State of the Church. Di Vico was killed, while the French anti-Pope and his court moved from Naples to Avignon.
The schism became aggravated successively because the Italian cardinals elected a third Pope. Christianity faced the spectacle of three Popes who excommunicated each other in the name of Christ which claimed to represent. In 1410 Hadrian V was poisoned by Cardinal Cossa, who succeeded him. The three Popes summoned councils after councils which never reached any objective. Finally they resorted to weapons.
After battles and bloodshed and 40 years of scandals, the Council of Constance 1n 1417, solved the schism and elected Pope Martin V. His taking office in Rome was not immediately possible because during the schism the Church had lost all authority over its State.
With the waning of Communal freedom the military art had become a profession and people of all creeds ran beneath the banners of this or that captain, according to profit.
The most famous captains of fortune in the Tuscia were Braccio da Montone and Tartaglia, lord of Tuscania. These mercenaries had allied with each other and it was obvious they were going to acquire the entire patrimony.
Through burdensome and costly negotiations, Martin V recuperated the Patrimony. So as to end disagreements Queen Johanna accepted to adopt Louis of Anjou as a son, indicating him as heir to the throne of the reign of Naples. Beaccio da Montone left for Umbria and Tartaglia was decapitated. Martin V solemnly entered Rome in 1420.

After Martin V, Eugene IV of noble Venetian descent, was elected Pope. Hostility arose between the family of the deceased Pope and the newly elected one, causing a new war. Other calamities befell the State of the Church; in 1433, Visconti, Duke of Milan declared war against the Pope and sent an army headed by Captain Francesco Sforza.
Lacking the means to oppose Sforza, Pope Eugene IV hired him as general of the Pontifical Army . Because of this volte-face, Visconti became further irritated and instigated the Romans who forced the Pope to escape to Florence. Another Di Vico appeared among the numerous personages who allied with Visconti.
The Pope entrusted Bishop Vitelleschi with the charge of recuperating the Patrimony and the latter re-conquered Rome, deposed Sforza, captured Di Vico and had him decapitated. Thus ended the Di Vico family who had so tormented the Church.
There being no sign of war, in 1443 the Pope left Florence to return to his beloved Rome. The Sforza Palace at Onano remains as evidence of this period.

(XV-XVII centuries)
In 1453 unexpected news 31 upset Europe: Mohammed II had entered Constantinople "walking over the corpses of 50.000 Christians", thus putting an end to the Eastern Roman Empire. The risk for an invasion of Europe became real.
Many artists, philosophers and men of letters who had fled Constantinople, sought refuge in Italy, especially in Florence, where they were welcomed by the Medici court. The Greek bases of their culture later left its mark in the development of Humanism and the Renaissance.
Notable artists lived and worked in this period: Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Oalladio, Bramante, Donatello, Cellini, Masaccio, pier della Francesca, Botticelli, Mantegna, Leonardo, Titian, the politician Macchiavelli and many others who enlightened Italian culture.
The Renaissance Popes must be given credit for having been generous patrons of letters and arts, rivalling the courts of Florence, Milan, Ferrara, Naples and Urbino.
Insead, as bearers of the word of Christ, these Popes were a real disaster for the Church, to the point that their immoral behaviour was the cause of the Reform and Protestantism.
In 1492 the conclave elected Pope Rodrigo Borgia who took the name of Alexander VI. The cardinals had yielded to shameless corruption, made of gold, promises and flattery. They all new that, while a cardinal, Borgia had five children, among which the famous Lucretia and Caesar, and it was known that recently his lover was the young Giulia Farnese, wife of Orsino Orsini, who had borne him a daughter.
A few months after his election he had no qualms over nominating his illegitimate son Caesar as Cardinal together with the 26 year old Alexander Farnese, brother to Giulia. With reference to this the Venetian ambassador referred to his senate that "the promotion of Alexander Farnese as Cardinal was not honest as it was preceded by an obscene matter."
The Pope scarcely heeded these comments and the Roman clergy even less, seeing they shared the same customs. A historian wrote that "to have a young woman take vows in some convents was the same as destining her to prostitution".
The pleasurable idleness of Pope Borgia and his court was troubled by Charles VIII of France who, against the Pope's will demanded the throne of Naples. He came to into Italy with a powerful army, conquered numerous castles, including Viterbo.
The Neapolitan army which was supposed to defend Rome surrendered. A confederated army was thus formed with the participation of Milan, Venice, Spain and Germany.
For fear they would cut him off on his return route re-entered France hastily. Along the way Tuscania was destroyed savagely for having refused him hospitality. Defeated by the confederates Charles VIII concluded his ambitious expedition miserably with the destruction of his army and financial ruin.
The Borgia's time has also come to an end. He intended poisoning o cardinal at a dinner in his honour but mistakenly drank the wine destined to the other and died. His son Caesar drank the same wine but managed to survive, though barely.

(from 1510)
Martin Luther came to Rome in 1510 hoping to find "the living centre of Christianity". Instead he found the Borgia's Rome. He returned to his native Germany with a feeling of hatred towards the simonian clergy and its cardinals which were lacking in faith and morality. Among other things, St. Peter's basilica was being built and its colossal expenses were paid by the "indulgences", that is to say the payable reduction of purgatorial torments not only for the living but also for the dead.
The request for moralization was great. In Florence, Savonarola was accused of heresy and burnt alive for this same reason. In central Europe the Church's problems multiplied because of the religious straggles stirred up by Luther, Calvin and Zwingli who were the authors of the Reform and established the foundation of the Protestantism. Sanguinary religious wars flared in France and through the Empire.
All this occurred during the course of a great change in the political dimension of some states which began in Europe and spread world-wide. After Christopher Columbus discovered America and following the brave sea ventures of Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Vasco Nunez. The Portuguese, Spaniards, English, Dutch launched their well armed ships to conquer America, Africa and Asia. Spain gained great wealth from its colonies and thanks to them wielded enormous power. It furthermore headed the struggle against the "Moors". In 1571 the Christian fleet destroyed the Muslim one at Lepanto thus putting an end to the Arab domination in the Mediterranean.
Not having an oceanic fleet, France and Germany continued their endless struggle for the possession of Italy. In 1527 the Emperor of Germany, Charles V occupied Rome and imprisoned the Pope, but had to release him because of the pressing requests of the Catholic states.

In 1534, after the death of Clement VII, Cardinal Alexander Farnese was elected Pope at the age of 67 years, taking the name of Paul III.
This Pope was a great Renaissance patron also. He embellished Rome, completed St. Peter's basilica, built the Paolina chapel, the Farnese Palace and the Capitol. In the Tuscia, together with his nephew Alexander, he built and restored palaces at Gradoli, Capranica, Capodimonte and others of minor importance.
With the aim of limiting the Reformation and wishing to recover the countries which had chosen Protestantism, Paul III promoted the Catholic counter reformation summoning the Trento Council in 1545, during which important decisions were made in the regards to morality, discipline, culture and politics. He approved the creation of the Gesuit Order founded by Ignatius of Loyola, which later became the Church's most efficacious and zealous instrument. The inquisition was strengthened, especially in Spain.
Paul III was a determined, appreciated Pope, but was affected by shameless nepotism. While a cardinal he had four children of which two died young. Peter-Louis and Constance survived and he had them recognized as legitimate and did his utmost to ensure them a grandiose future.
Constance married an Orsini from Pitigliano. So as to give his son a dukedom, Paul III purposely create the dukedom of Castro, consisting of over thirty towns situated in the strip of territory between Lake Bolsena and the Tyrrhenian Sea, along the present boundary with Tuscany.
Many of these towns still carry the name of the said dukedom (Montalto di Castro, Ischia di Castro, Grotte di Castro, etc.) . Latera and Farnese were excluded because they were assigned to another relative, Galeazzo Farnese, who was also raised to the dignity of a Duke. Montefiascone refused to adhere to the dukedom as it wished to remain in the Pope's service.
Castro was the chosen capital. For the ancient medieval village to be transformed into a capital which could underline the greatness and power of the Farnese family he assigned the project to Anthony from Sangallo the Younger.
Frenzied work ceased when in 1545, Paul III succeeded in nominating Peter-Lois duke of Parma and Piacenza, Castro thus became a dependence of the said more prestigious dukedom.
Peter-Louis was a depraved man whose libidinous actions and unbridles luxury were forgiven by the Pope who considered them youthful thoughtlessness. This justification did non convince the Parma nobles who had him murdered by stabbing him to death in 1547.
Peter Louis left four children who differed from him completely: Octavian whom Paul III immediately nominated successor to the dukedom of Parma and Piacenza, Alexander, who became a famous cardinal. Horace, who was nominated duke of Castro and the young Ranuccio whom the good Pope, forgetting the Church Reforms he himself proposed, nominated had no scruples electing him Cardinal and Bishop of Naples when he was only 15 years old. Paul died in 1549.

Horace was short-lived so the dukedom of Castro returned to the service of the Dukedom of Parma and Piacenza. Over the century the two dukedoms fell under the guide of father and son as follows: Horace, Alexander, Ranuccio I, Odoardo and Ranuccio II.
To maintain their image of power and wealth, they had strongly indebted themselves with the Apostolic Chamber, guaranteeing the debt with the Castro dukedom. The Church was more than happy to grant the loan which could not be met, thus being able to make use of it by annexing the dukedom. And in fact the terms of payment were not met.
In 1641 Pope Urban VIII Barberini, following Odoardo's refusal to hand over Castro, recruited 10.000 men who marched to cease the Castro possessions. After having occupied the dukedom the papal troops, reinforced by an additional 10.000 men, proceeded towards Parma.
Venice, Modena and Tuscany, intervened to help the Farnese family, constituting a numerous army. With a dash of luck Odoardo, at the head of only 3000 mounted troops scattered the 20.000 papal ones, even if only temporarily.
The war consequently took on vaster proportion, sucking up the revenues of all the contendants. In I644 the king of France intervened as mediator and forced the Church to return Castro to the Farnese Family. In the same year Urban VIII died, succeeded by Innocent X Panphili..
In 1646 Odoardo died too, leaving his sixteen year old son Ranuccio II, an inheritance made of debts more than patrimonial belongings.

It appeared that the young duke was willing to hand over Castro to close his debts with the Apostolic Chamber but disagreement arose as to the nomination of the Bishop of the same town. The one proposed by the Church was killed in an ambush in 1649 while he was travelling towards the Bishop's See, of which he was to take possession.
Consequently Innocent X sent an army to conquer Castro and another towards Parma to halt the reinforcements sent by Ranuccio, which were defeated near Bologna.
France, Spain and the Italian princes thought twice about helping the duke Farnese as they had done a few years previously. As a result, Castro had no hopes of receiving help and exhausted by the siege surrendered to Pope Panphili in 1649.
In 1618, Europe was devastated by the extremely violent war of religion termed the "thirty year war" which clamed millions of victims. It ended in 1648 with the Pact of Westphalia, which caused the Church to lose the majority of its power in Europe.
Perhaps the particular obstinacy against Castro was influenced by the quite negative period the Church was going through at the time, but according to historians, it was a private matter between the Farnese and Pamphili families more than anything else. Innocent X was influenced by his relatives and his sister in law, Lady Olympia Maidalchini, a greedy, intriguing woman who strongly opposed the Farnese family. It was she that demanded that Castro be wiped off the face of the earth.
Her mad, merciless desire was fulfilled with extreme consequences. Innocent X ordered the demolition of Castro, even though that at that point it belonged to the Church. More than a thousand men attacked roads and houses with pick-axes, shovels and wheel-barrows to reduce it to rubble of the smallest dimensions, so any type of re-utilisation was impossible. A marble slab was placed above the rubble with the inscription "Here lay Castro".
The Farnese family died out in 1731 and the Parma dukedom went to Charles of Bourbon, who then become king of the Two Sicilies. Many of the works of art which had belonged to the Farnese family are now kept in the royal palace at Naples.
With the destruction of the Dukedom of Castro our brief history of the Tuscia comes to end.

Napoleon put an end to the Hapsburg Imperial power and the Temporal power of the Popes in 1809. These were restored in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna. In 1870 the Savoy army entered Rome and put an end to the temporal powers of the Popes. Rome became the capital of Italy.