Milano is the second largest city of Italy, located in the plains of Lombardy. It is the capital in the Province of Milan, as well as the regional capital of Lombardy. The municipality (Comune di Milano) has a population of 1.3 million, while its urban area is about 4.5 million. The Milan metropolitan area is the largest in Italy, with a population of 7.4 million.
The picture on glass no. 2500 [left] shows the
The word Milano is derived from the ancient Latin name of the city, Mediolanum. This name is born by a number of Gallo-Roman sites in France, such as Mediolanum Santonum (Saintes) and Mediolanum Aulercorum (Evreux) and appears to contain the Celtic element -lan, signifying an enclosure or demarcated territory. Around 400 BC, the Celtic Insubres inhabited Milan and the surrounding region. In 222 BC, the Romans conquered this settlement, which received the name Mediolanum. After several centuries of Roman control, Milan was declared the capital of the Western Roman Empire by Emperor Diocletian in 293 AD. Diocletian chose to stay in the Eastern Roman Empire (capital Nicomedia, modern İzmit, Turkey) and his colleague Maximianus the Western one. In the Edict of Milan of 313, Emperor Constantine I guaranteed freedom of religion for Christians. The city was besieged by the Visigoths in 402, and the imperial residence was moved to Ravenna. Fifty years later (in 452), the Huns overran the city. In 539, the Ostrogoths conquered and destroyed Milan in the course of the so-called Gothic War against Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. In the summer of 569, the Longobards (from which the name of the Italian region Lombardy derives) conquered Milan, overpowering the small Byzantine army left for its defence. Milan surrendered to the Franks in 774 when Charlemagne, in an utterly novel decision, took the title "King of the Lombards" as well (before then the Germanic kingdoms had frequently conquered each other, but none had adopted the title of King of another people). Subsequently Milan was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
During the Middle Ages, Milan prospered as a center of trade due to its command of the rich plain of the Po and routes from Italy across the Alps. The war of conquest by Friedrich I Barbarossa against the Lombard cities brought the destruction of much of Milan in 1162. After the founding of the Lombard League in 1167, Milan took the leading role in this alliance. As a result of the independence that the Lombard cities gained in the Peace of Constance in 1183, Milan became a duchy. In 1395, Gian Galeazzo Visconti became duke of Milan. In 1447 Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, died without a male heir; following the end of the Visconti line, the Ambrosian Republic was enacted. However, the Republic collapsed when in 1450, Milan was conquered by Francesco Sforza, of the House of Sforza, which made Milan one of the leading cities of the Italian Renaissance. The French king Louis XII first laid claim to the duchy in 1492. At that time, Milan was defended by Swiss mercenaries. After the victory of Louis's successor François I over the Swiss at the Battle of Marignano, the duchy was promised to the French king François I. When the Habsburg Charles V defeated François I at the Battle of Pavia in 1525, northern Italy, including Milan, passed to the House of Habsburg. In 1556, Charles V abdicated in favour of his son Philip II and his brother Ferdinand I. Charles's Italian possessions, including Milan, passed to Philip II and the Spanish line of Habsburgs, while Ferdinand's Austrian line of Habsburgs ruled the Holy Roman Empire. However, in 1700 the Spanish line of Habsburgs was extinguished with the death of Charles II. After his death, the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1701 with the occupation of all Spanish possessions by French troops backing the claim of the French Philippe of Anjou (later Philippe V of Spain)to the Spanish throne. In 1706, the French were defeated in Ramillies and Turin and were forced to yield northern Italy to the Austrian Habsburgs. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht formally confirmed Austrian sovereignty over most of Spain's Italian possessions including Lombardy and its capital, Milan.
Napoleon conquered Lombardy in 1796, and Milan was declared capital of the Cisalpine Republic. Later, he declared Milan capital of the Reign of Italy and was crowned in the cathedral. Once Napoleon's occupation ended, the Congress of Vienna returned Lombardy, and Milan, along with the Veneto, to Austrian control in 1815. On 18 March, 1848, the Milanese rebelled against Austrian rule, during the so-called "Five Days" (It. Cinque Giornate), and Field Marshall Radetzky was forced to withdraw from the city temporarily. However, after defeating Italian forces at Custozza on 24 July, Radetzky was able to reassert Austrian control over Milan and northern Italy. However, Italian nationalists, championed by the Kingdom of Sardinia, called for the removal of Austria in the interest of Italian unification. Sardinia and France formed an alliance and defeated Austria at the Battle of Solferino in 1859. Following this battle, Milan and the rest of Lombardy were incorporated into the Kingdom of Sardinia, which soon gained control of most of Italy and in 1861 was rechristened as the Kingdom of Italy.
In 1919, Benito Mussolini organized the Blackshirts, who formed the core of Italy's Fascist movement, in Milan. In 1922, Mussolini started his March on Rome from Milan.
During the Second World War Milan suffered severe damage from British and American bombing, even though Italy quit the war in 1943, the Germans occupied most of Northern Italy
until 1945. As the war came to an end, the American 1st Armored Division advanced on Milan as part of the Po Valley Campaign. But even before they arrived, members of the
Italian resistance movement rose up in open revolt in Milan and liberated the city. Nearby, Mussolini and several members of his Italian Social Republic
(Repubblica Sociale Italiana, or RSI) were captured by the resistance at Dongo and executed. On 29 April 1945, the bodies of the Fascists were taken to Milan and hanged
unceremoniously upside-down at piazzale Loreto, a major public square. During the economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s a large wave of internal immigration, especially
from Southern Italy, moved to Milan and the population peaked at 1,723,000 in 1971. The population of Milan begun to shrink during the late 1970s, so in the last 30 years
almost one third of the total city population moved to the outer belt of new suburbs and small cities that grew around Milan proper.
[Text adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milan]
[Text adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milan]