Il Castello di Lucera
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LUCERA

Lucera is situated in the Northern part of the "Apulian Table" of Puglia, in the province of Foggia. It boasts ancient origins which are not easily identified.

It is considered as founded by the Daunii, an ancient Italian population, from which the Samnites sprung, or maybe from the Etruscans (luc in Etruscan signifies Sacred Woods). A further legendary version states that it was founded by the Greek hero Diomedes, who after the Trojan war, disembarked along the Adriatic coasts and founded various cities, including Lucera.
The City enjoyed great importance after being mentioned by Polibio, Plinio and Aristotle.
It was allied to Rome during the Samnite Wars. Due to this, when it became a colony in 314 BC, it also received numerous privileges: including minting its own currency, making fiscal laws and nominating magistrates.
During the Punic Wars (3rd Century BC), it renewed its fidelity to the Republic without surrendering to the Carthaginians, even after the victory at Cannes by Hannibal.
It became a municipium in 90 BC, and was enriched by monuments, forums, thermal baths, a Roman amphitheatre and a temple dedicated to Cerere (Demetra).
During the Imperial era, the apostle Peter passed through and gave start to the conversion to Christianity in the City. The first churches were founded.
By miracle, it escaped devastation by the hands of the Goths and Vandals during the 5th Century. Lucera was instead firstly protagonist in the clashes between the Byzantines and Ostrogoths (535-553), then between the Byzantines and the Longobards (7th Century). In this last setting it was brought to the ground by the Byzantine troops of Costanzo Secondo (670).
It was only after Lucera was taken by Grimoaldo, Duke of Benevento during the 9th Century, that the City experienced a period of relative calm until the arrival of the Normans (11th Century).
The City developed and enjoyed a period of major splendour under the Swabians. Here, the Emperor Federick II brought around 60 thousands Saracens from Sicily between 1222 and 1223. This move was aimed at reducing the clashes between the Saracens and Siculi.
This resulted in a change of town-planning: Mosques, minarets and harems were constructed and the classical square Roman plan was substituted by roads characteristic of Arabic centres. It therefore became the marvellous Lugêrah. The Saracens, grateful to Federick II, sought peace with the Muslim population of Puglia.
The Emperor also had a magnificent castle built.
With the arrival of the Angioini in 1269, commanded by Carlo I of Angiò, Lucera was besieged and won over in a short time.
A gigantic city wall was built, which is still visible today from the Cathedral and Royal Palace. The San Francesco and San Domenico Churches were also constructed during the same period.
Carlo II of Angiò, on succession to the throne, decided to exterminate the Saracens: Lucera was besieged and 20.000 inhabitants were murdered. The City changed name and became known as the City of Santa Maria.
In 1442, Lucera surrendered to the Aragonese, who granted it many privileges.
In 1456, the City was damaged by an earthquake.
The Renaissance period saw the appearance of many religious orders in the City and the construction of new churches. The orders were then suppressed by decree in 1806, under Governor Giuseppe Bonaparte.
The 17th Century brought economic depression, aggravated by events of pestilence. It was only when the Bourbons arrived that the City experienced new intellectual and economic fervour.
After the Renaissance clashes, Lucera was annexed to the Reign of Italy in 1861.

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