Sites & cities that bear the name of Casale Monferrato

Casale Monferrato

Today in : Italy
First trace of activity : ca. 1st century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Vardacate, Sedula?, Sedulia?, Casal, Casale di Sant'Evasio, Casal Monfrà

Description : Casale Monferrato is a town in the Piedmont region of Italy, in the province of Alessandria. It is situated about 60 km (37 mi) east of Turin on the right bank of the Po, where the river runs at the foot of the Montferrat hills. Beyond the river lies the vast plain of the Po valley. Am ancient Roman municipium, the town has been the most important trade and manufacturing centre of the area for centuries. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Casale became a free municipality and, in the 15th and early 16th centuries, served as the capital of the House of Palaiologos. Then in 1536 the town passed to the Gonzagas who fortified it with a large citadel. In the 17th century Casale was heavily involved in the War of the Mantuan Succession and sieged by French and Spanish troops. During the wars of Italian unification the town was a defensive bulwark against the Austrian Empire. In the 1900s Casale, in the middle of the Turin-Milan-Genoa industrial triangle, developed as an important industrial centre, especially known for the production of asbestos cement. A local Eternit factory has been at the centre of a massive environmental scandal, with a subsequent high-profile litigation that often made international headlines. The origins of the town are fairly obscure. It is known that the Gaulish settlement of Vardacate (from var = "water"; ate = "populated place") existed on the Po in this area, and that it became a Roman municipium. By the beginning of the 8th century, there was a small town under Lombard rule, probably called Sedula or Sedulia. It was here (according to late and unreliable accounts) that one Saint Evasius, along with 146 followers, was decapitated on the orders of the Arian Duke Attabulo. Liutprand, King of the Lombards is said to have supported the construction of a church in honour of Evasius. Certainly, the martyr's cult flourished, and by 988 AD, the town had become known as Casale di Sant’Evasio. At the time of Charlemagne, the town came under the temporal and religious power of the bishops of Vercelli, from which it was freed by Frederick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Italy. It was sacked by the anti-imperial troops of Vercelli, Alessandria and Milan in 1215, but rebuilt and fortified in 1220. It fell under the power of the Marquess of Montferrat in 1292, (although it was conquered by the Visconti of Milan in 1370, it remained under their control until 1404) and later became the capital of the marquessate. The condottiere Facino Cane was born in Casale Monferrato and he participated, financed by the duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti, in the Battle of Casalecchio in 1402, but Theodore II, Marquess of Montferrat, the son of Isabella of Majorca, did not participate. Gian Galeazzo spent 300,000 golden florins in attempting to turn from their courses the river Mincio from the city of Mantua, but Gian Galeazzo died. In 1536 it passed to the Gonzagas of Mantua, who fortified it strongly. Thereafter it was of considerable importance as a fortress and was besieged during the Mantuan War of Succession.

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