History of Gubbio

The story of the town of Gubbio in Umbria, Italy

Gubbio's origins are very ancient: as Ikuvium, it was an important town, probably the capital, of the ancient Umbrian people, the Umbri, in pre-Roman times, and is famous for the discovery there of the Eugubine (or Iguvine) Tables, a set of bronze tablets that together constitute the largest surviving text in ancient Umbrian. After the Roman conquest in the 2nd century BC, Gubbio kept its ancient name with only a slight change (Iguvium) and remained an important city, as attested by its Roman theatre, the second-largest surviving in the world.

Gubbio became very powerful in the beginning of the Middle Ages. The town sent 1000 knights to fight in the First Crusade under the lead of Count Girolamo Gabrielli, and according to an undocumented tradition, they were the first to enter the Holy Sepulchre when the city was seized (1099).

The following centuries were quite turbulent and Gubbio was engaged in wars against the surrounding towns of Umbria. One of these wars saw the miraculous intervention of its bishop, Saint Ubaldo Baldassini, who secured Gubbio an overwhelming victory (1151) and a period of prosperity.

In 1350 Giovanni Gabrielli, count of Borgovalle, a member of the noblest family of Gubbio, seized power and became lord of Gubbio. However his rule was short and he was forced to hand over the town to Cardinal Albornoz, representing the Church (1354).

A few years later, Gabriello Gabrielli, Bishop of Gubbio, proclaimed himself again lord of Gubbio (Signor d’Agobbio). Betrayed by a group of noblemen which included many of his own relatives, the bishop was forced to leave the town and seek refuge at his home castle at Cantiano.

With the decay of the political prestige of the Gabrielli family, Gubbio was thereafter incorporated into the Montefeltro State, and eventually became part of the Papal States when this family extinguished (1631).

In 1860 Gubbio was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy along with the rest of the Papal States.


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