basilica of Saint Dominic
A brief description.
Perugia was an Umbrian settlement but first appears in written history as Perusia, one of the twelve confederate cities of Etruria; it was first mentioned in Q. Fabius Pictor's account, utilized by Livy, of the expedition carried out against the Etruscan league by Fabius Maximus Rullianus in 310 or 309 BCE.
In the Lombard period Perugia is spoken of as one of the principal cities of Tuscia. In the ninth century, with the consent of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, it passed under the popes; but by the eleventh century its commune was asserting itself, and for many centuries the city continued to maintain an independent life, warring against many of the neighbouring lands and cities— Foligno, Assisi, Spoleto, Todi, Siena, Arezzo, etc.
In 1186 Henry VI, rex romanorum and future Emperor, granted diplomatic recognition to the consular government of the city; afterward Pope Innocent III, whose major aim was to give state dignity to the dominions having been constituting the patrimony of Saint Peter, acknowledged the validity of the imperial statement and recognized the established civic practices having the force of law.
On various occasions the popes found asylum from the tumults of
Roma within its walls, and it was the meeting-place of five conclaves, including
those which elected Honorius III (1216), Clement IV (1285), Celestine V (1294),
and Clement V (1305); the papal presence was characterized by a pacificatory
rule between the internal rivalries.
But Perugia had no mind simply to subserve the papal interests and never accepted papal sovereignty: the city used to exercise a jurisdiction over the members of the clergy, moreover in 1282 Perugia was excommunicated due to a new military offensive against the Ghibellines regardless of a papal prohibition. In the other hand side by side with the thirteenth-century bronze griffin of Perugia above the door of the Palazzo dei Priori stands, as a Guelphic emblem, the lion, and Perugia remained loyal for the most part to the Guelph party in the struggles of Guelphs and Ghibellines. However this dominant tendency was rather an anti-Germanic and Italian political strategy.
The Angevin presence in Italy appeared offer a counterpoise to papal powers: in 1319 Perugia declared the Angevin Saint Louis of Toulouse "Protector of the city's sovereignty and of the Palazzo of its Priors" and set his figure among the other patron saints above the rich doorway of the Palazzo dei Priori. At the half of the 14th century Bartholus of Sassoferrato, who was a renowned jurist, asserted that Perugia was dependent upon neither imperial nor papal support.
In 1347, at the time of Rienzi's unfortunate enterprise in reviving the Roman republic, Perugia sent ten ambassadors to pay him honour; and, when papal legates sought to coerce it by foreign soldiers, or to exact contributions, they met with vigorous resistance, which broke into open warfare with Pope Urban V in 1369; in 1370 the noble party reached an agreement signing the treaty of Bologna and Perugia was forced to accept a papal legate; however the vicar-General of the Papal States, Gérard du Puy, Abbot of Marmoutier and nephew of Gregory IX,was expelled by a popular uprising in 1375, and his fortification of Porta Sole was razed to the ground.
Civic peace was constantly disturbed in the fourteenth century by
struggles between the party representing the people (Raspanti) and the nobles (Beccherini).
After the assassination in 1398 of Biordo Michelotti, who had made himself lord
of Perugia, the city became a pawn in the Italian Wars, passing to Gian Galeazzo
Visconti (1400), to Pope Boniface IX (1403), and to Ladislas of Naples (1408-14)
before it settled into a period of sound governance under the Signoria of the
condottiero Braccio da Montone (1416-24), who reached a concordance with the
Papacy. Following mutual atrocities of the Oddi and the Baglioni families, power
was at last concentrated in the Baglioni, who, though they had no legal
position, defied all other authority, though their bloody internal squabbles
culminated in a massacre, 14 July 1500.
Gian Paolo Baglioni was lured to Roma in 1520 and beheaded by Leo X; and in 1540 Rodolfo, who had slain a papal legate, was defeated by Pier Luigi Farnese, and the city, captured and plundered by his soldiery, was deprived of its privileges. A citadel known as the Rocca Paolina, after the name of Pope Paul III, was built, to designs of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger "ad coercendam Perusinorum audaciam.
.In 1797, the city was conquered by French troops. On 4 February 1798, the Tiberina Republic was formed, with Perugia as capital, and the French tricolour as flag. In 1799, the Tiberina Republic merged to the Roman Republic.
In 1832, 1838, 1854 and 1997 Perugia was visited by earthquakes;
Following the collapse of the Roman republic of 1848-49, when the Rocca was in
part demolished, in May 1849 it was seized by the Austrians. In the June of 1859
the inhabitants rebelled against the temporal authority of the Pope and
established a provisional government but the insurrection was bloodily defeated
by Pius IX's troops.
In the September of 1860 the city was finally united, along with the rest of Umbria, to the Kingdom of Italy.
Basilica of Saint Dominic, begun in 1394 and finished in 1458.
The basilica of San Domenico is located in the place where, in Middle Ages times, the market and the horse fair were held, and where the Dominicans settled in 1234. According to Vasari, the church was designed by Giovanni Pisano. The interior decorations were redesigned by Carlo Maderno, while the massive belfry was partially cut around mid-16th century. It houses examples of Umbrian art, including the precious tomb of Pope Benedict XI and a Renaissance wooden choir.
For the chapel of Saint Nicholas in the church Fra Angelico painted in 1437 the triptych known as Perugia triptych, oil on panels, 332x80 cm., today in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbira in Perugia.
Ghana 1980, Mi 857, Sc 737. Saint Lucia 1977, Mi 421, Sc 428.Uganda 1989, Mi 754, Sc 739.
The stamp ‘Madonna with Child and four Angels’, oil on panel, 128x80 cm. by Fra Angelico (1437) is the central part of the triptych (332x80 cm), oil on panel for the chapel of Saint Nicholas in the church of Saint Dominic in Perugia. Today the whole triptych is preserved in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia, and known as Perugia triptych. Catalogue of Else Morante EM 57.
Return to REGISTER B Return to HOMEPAGE