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From Aquileia to Gorizia, from Udine to Cividale, from Gradisca to Palmanova, a Middle Ages of "border", that of Friuli, almost unknown but essential for the development of Europe to come. History, culture, wars and conflicts but also the unprecedented meeting of the three main European civilizations, the Latin, the Slavic and the German, to which we in gopolis always add the Jewish one, which here interact exchange culture and traditions, they intertwine ways of life and languages, so much so that they become in Gorizia, a popular grammelot, not yet thoroughly investigated: to remain in the field of language in this territory on the extreme margins of empires and nations, cultures and civilizations, an original language develops , like the Friulian. Aquileia, founded by the Romans in 181 BC, developed in the following centuries until it became one of the most important centers of the empire, a hub of trade between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, a meeting point of philosophies and religions of the then known world, the whose fascinating and in some ways still mysterious complexity is still witnessed today in the oldest mosaics of its extraordinary Basilica, declared a Unesco World Heritage Site: a similar symbolism can only be found in the Gnostic texts found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi in Egypt and testify to the mithic and Gnostic influences on nascent Christianity. From Aquileia, a mystical forge halfway between the Baltic Sea and the Nile Delta, Christianity spreads in Eastern Europe: after the fall of the Roman Empire the city loses its role as a commercial power to assume a new fundamental religious function: the bishops of Aquileia exercise, together with the diocese of Milan, (in 381 A.D. Aquileia was celebrated a Council, promoted by St. Ambrose of Milan and presided over by the Bishop of Aquileia, Valerian, who condemned the Aryan doctrines spread in the West) a primacy on the church of the West, also for the authority exercised over about twenty dioceses in Italy and a dozen beyond the Alps.

As a ecclesiastical reality, in fact, the patriarchy of Aquileia was the largest diocese and metropolis of the entire European Middle Ages. Until 811 its ecclesiastical province reached up to the Danube River to the north, Lake Balaton to the east and west to Como and the present canton of Ticino. To the south it included Istria until 1751, the year of its suppression. In 811, Charlemagne extended its borders to the Danube and Drava. Also vast was the diocese of Aquileiese. The court of the Patriarch of Aquileia included different peoples of language and ethnicity. He combined the Latin world with the German and Slavic worlds, as indeed, although with quite different motivations, he made the County of Gorizia. 1001 is the year to which the first quote of Gorizia (from Slovenian Gorica) and Salcano (from the Latin Sylicanum) dates back to, in an edict of Otto Primo that foreshadows an administrative reordering of the Empire after the devastation of the Ungari. In the document, the emperor donates these territories half to the Eppestein family and half to the Patriarchs of Aquileia, creating a fundamental ambiguity that will give life in the centuries following countless conflicts. Between 1070 and 1090 the County of Gorizia was born, first dominated by the house of the Eppesteins and then of the so-called Ariboni originally from Milstatt, also originating in Carinthia.


The relationship of Aquileia and Gorizia with the Germanic world is absolutely relevant in medieval times, although from the fifteenth century the relations of strength in the Northeast of Italy will change radically. The county of Gorizia was indisputably born as a Germanic institution on a territory where Latino and Slavic populations have been living for centuries. In a patch of land, then, Gorizia, which at that time is little more than a cluster of huts perched on the hill now overlooked by the Castle, intersect and interact linguistically the three main European civilizations. The county is enlarged under the dynamic action of the mainardine dynasty (so called for the frequency of the name Mainardo in its lineage) and, although strongly opposed by the Patriarchate of Aquileia, develops unstoppably until it reaches the maximum of the extension around 1320, when the accounts of Gorizia dominate over vast territories of Istria, Friuli, Carinthia, Tyrol, present-day Slovenia, coming to conquer even for a few years, treviso and Padua. The influence of Aquileia in the first place, but also of Gorizia on Central and Eastern Europe is still little known today: for the Gorizian part, we could say almost unknown, except in Austria: visible testimonies, traces and often very interesting finds of this dominance are today located in Italian, Austrian, Slovenian and Croatian territory (Istria) confirming the foreshadowing, certainly on a smaller scale, but still with a rich diversity of peoples and languages, the future Mitteleuropa. There is therefore a very strong relationship between these two entities of the north-east Italian, a continuous interaction from the point of view of vocations to unite different traditions and worlds.

The patriarchy of Aquileia is subjected by the Serenissima, along with all Friuli, in 1420; The Pope of Rome recognizes the Patriarch who is confined to the now small town of Aquileia. The County of Gorizia, in the terms described so far ends in 1500, at the death of the last Earl, Leonardo, married to Paola Gonzaga (a marriage that testifies to the fatal attraction of Italy even for an Alpine dynasty, like that of Gorizian) that did not give him Heirs. The Shire after various war vicissitudes between Habsburg and Venice, with what remained of its territory and especially with its historical territorial privileges, went to enrich the nascent Empire of Maximilian The First of Habsburg, which lasted uninterrupted until the 1918.

The temporal and spiritual power of Aquileia and Gorizia overlaps between the 15th and 16th centuries in this hinged region of Europe. It is the opinion of many historians that the heritage of Gorizia County, which stretched from the Tyrol mountains to the Adriatic, was the fourth column that supported the enormous scaffolding of the nascent Empire, along with Flanders, Burgundy, Alsace. Gorizia and Lienz, the capital of Ost Tirol, were the engine centers of this lordship and even today both in Gorizia and Tyrol there are many interesting testimonies of the County of Gorizia which, paradoxically, is certainly better known in Austria than in Italy . Lienz in particular preserves the imposing castle that was for centuries the second home of the accounts and guards the tombs of Leonardo and Paola Gonzaga. The spiritual influence of the Patriarchate of Aquileia still remains, although sub-tracking, one of the most important glues that bind West and Eastern Europe: it would therefore be worth remembering a fragment of regional history, which perhaps more than any other has determined the european events: it is a little-known story also in Friuli Venezia Giulia. In fact, little remains of all this very rich amount of historical events, absolutely important for the intrinsic, original cultural and historical interest and for the future structures of the whole of Europe. The history of the County of Gorizia remains almost unknown in Italy: in Austria, Tyrol and Carinthia, above all, it has been more valued. The Patriarchate of Aquileia is remembered - and honoured - still among the Balkan peoples, from Carinthia to Hungary. One of the reasons for this porthole that we propose to correct is undoubtedly in the official historiography of the Italian Northeast (or the South-West of Austria), dominated for centuries by the Serenissima, which lucidly valued the Latin Friuli at the expense of that "" "German", imperial and therefore Habsburg whose mainardini counts were undoubtedly bishops. It was mirrored by the Habsburgs regarding Gorizia.

Yet, the history of the Middle Ages in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the Italian Northeast, in the eastern Alpine arc, cannot ignore the diarchy formed by the Patriarchate of Aquileia and the County of Gorizia and their periodic and continuous conflicts due to dominance over the Friuli. Wars battles, sieges, crimes, involving Udine, Cividale, Trieste, Grado mark a centuries-old rivalry that only ends when on the scene of history burst more important powers such as Venice and the Habsburg Empire. Following the serious disputes between Venice and Austria over the appointment of the metropolitans, the patriarchy was abolished on 6 July 1751 and replaced with the archbishop of Udine given to the last patriarch Daniele Dolfin on 19 January 1752, and that of Gorizia, where he was appointed Charles Michael d'Attems. The county of Gorizia ended its "official" life with the Victory of Italy on the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. It should be remembered that the treasure of Aquileia was divided into equal parts between Udine and Gorizia. Udine's was stolen a few years after the donation. The one in Gorizia is invaluable and in the year of the Jubilee a special museum of understanding was created between the City of Gorizia and The Archbishop's Curia, the Museum of St. Clare that is still waiting to host on display a fundamental part of the history of our Region. Today Cervignano and Aquileia fall under the archdiocese of Gorizia, which remains the true heir to this immense cultural and historical heritage. It would be worth valuing it.


Aquileia and Gorizia

Treasures of Aquileia