BENEVENTO

Benevento, situated on a hill (colle della Guardia, 135m) between the Sabato and Calore streams, in the middle of a fertile basin, was the native land of Popes Vittore III and Gregorio VIII. The earthquake of 1980 gravely damaged some areas of its historical centre.

Capital of the Sanniti Irpini and given the name of Maluentum or Maleventum, it was conquered in the 4th-3rd Centuries by Rome, who changed its name to Beneventum when making it a colony in 268. Seven years earlier, in 275, the City saw the defeat of Pirro and in 214 saw that of the Carthaginian Annone, by the Romans.
During the Greek-Gothic war, it was destroyed by Totila (545AD), but retrieved its own importance by passing under the power of the Longobards of Zottone (571), who changed it to a Duchy; it was then made a principality in 774; the title of princes was recognized by its nobility at the moment of its conquista franca (Franca conquest). The last Longobard prince, Landolfo VI, to get away from Norman domination, accepted the Rule of the Church and the role of vassal or subject (1073). Consequently, at his death (1077), the City passed hands to the Pontificate State. From that day on, Benevento remained under Pontificate domination for nearly eight centuries, governed by church rectors, who were usually descendants from the old Longobard aristocracy and initially elected by the general public, then nominated directly by the Pope and transformed in the 18th Century to Governors and in the 19th Century to Delegates. The Pontificate dominion was frequently discussed and was stiffly tested during the tormented history of the region. The stage for the encounters between the Svevi and Angioini (1266), in the 15th Century, Benevento was subject to various renewals by the Kings and Queens of Naples, with Ladislao (1408), Giovanna II (1414-1418) and Alfonso d’A ragona (1443-1458) who ruled it as a Papal Vicar. Once again subtracted from the Papacy by Ferdinando IV of Boubon (1768-1774) in feud with Clemente XIII and XIV, it was occupied by the French in 1798 and became part of the Partenopea Republic.
Established as a Principality by Napoleon (1806), who conferred the title to Talleyrand, it returned to the Holy State in 1815. Centre of Carbonari (meaning coal-burners – a secret revolutionary society akin to the Freemasons) and liberal revolts (1820-1821 and 1848), it was then annexed to the Italian Reign after the popular insurrection of 3rd September 1860 and occupation by the Garibaldi’s.

A great deal of the origins of old Benevento is evidenced by a Roman Theatre (dating back to the Adriano era, II Century AD, but which was restored under Caracalla. It was capable of accommodating 20,000 spectators) and by the majestic Triumphal Arch of Traiano dedicated to the Emperor in 114 AD, and which is certified as one of the most important ancient triumphal arches; it’s situated at the beginning of Via Traiana direction Brindisi; the structure is a barrel-vault, 15,60m in height and 8,60m wide. It is entirely decorated with low reliefs which constitute one of the principal documents of art of the Traianeo period and which certifies the “merits” of the Emperor.

From the Medieval era, there are the City Walls, the Castle or Stronghold of the Rectors from the 14th Century; the Cathedral from the 7th Century; containing five naves (reconstructed during the 9th-13th Centuries and in 1959 after the Second World War bombardments, which almost totally destroyed it); the Church of Santa Sofia in Voto (8th Century), built on the spot where the legend would like the famous witches of the City to assemble.
The Vanvitelli Bridge over the Calore is noteworthy.
The (Archeological) Museum of Sannio is well documented and is situated in the old Monestery to the right of the Church of S. Sofia, which contains a cloister from the 12th Century.

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