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History

City History

From Early Medieval origins to the Renaissance and modern city: a harmonic balance between water and earth

The present-day Sacile was formed in the Renaissance and by the events in the modern age, which was also the golden age of the Republic of Venice, the so-called “Serenissima”. Starting from 1420, the city began to establish itself as a gateway to Friuli. Now, the ruins of its earliest origins are almost invisible and barely imaginable, even though the original structures made thisstrategically located city, at the meeting point of a main road and a navigable river, into both a thriving trading centre and an armed fortress of the patriarchal state of Friuli.

SACILE

Origins

Its ancient origins date back to the Early Middle Ages, when the ford across the river Livenza became strategically important for the economy. Reliable sources show that in 796, after the Carolingian conquest, Henry, Duke of Friuli, built a church in honour of Saint Nicholas “to heal his soul”. Around this church, the city centre was built, and then fortified after the Hungarian invasions, becoming a nerve centre for commerce and for collecting duties.
In 1077, by order of Emperor Henry IV,the jurisdiction of the city was passed to the church of Aquileia, which helped to further develop the city.

The Communeperiod (1190-1420)

In 1190, a series of rights and prerogatives acquired through the constant and benevolent intervention of the Patriarchs of Aquileia culminated in the granting of “middle class privilege”(communal liberties). Therefore, the city was the first in Friuli to adopt its own statutes. Exciting new prospects opened up for Sacile: while elsewhere Feudalism reigned supreme, the “free” city started to develop a mercantile entrepreneurship. In the long run, this would lead to the wealth of the city and its inhabitants. During the 13th and 14th centuries, due to its economic standing, Sacile was involved in many conflicts during which the city was conquered and then set free, lost and set on fire, and suffered violence and lootings. For its inhabitants, participating in these clashes was perceived as an act of loyalty towards the Patriarchate and free trading, and an act of devotion towards the Commune and its privileged autonomy which was constantly threatened by minor feudal lords.

The Venetian Period (1420-1797)

In 1411, after the expansion of the Republic of Venice towards the mainland, Sacile signed a pact of mutual assistance and defence with the Venetian Senate against Emperor Sigismondo, who was at war with the Venetians over the Istrian coasts.In exchange forthe town’s support, Venice grantedSacile the rights and privileges enjoyed under the government of the Patriarchs. However, the conflict ended in favour of Sigismondo. Venice then returned to power and reclaimed Sacile in 1419, which remained faithful until Napoleon’s reign and the end of the Republic in 1797.The Venetian domination did not impose many changes: the representative of the Patriarchwas replaced by the representative of the Venetian Senate, who reconfirmed the city’s pre-existing privileges. This was the precursor to a long period of peace, favouring an intense political and cultural life, and an economic awakening. The consequent well-being led to the reorganization of the town in accordance with the principles of humanistic culture, influencing urban planning as well as social conditions (servicessuch as healthcare, free education, a fight against extreme poverty, and pawnshops). All of these helped to create the city which, for the most part, is still visible today.

The French and Austrian Dominations (1798-1866)

On 13th March 1797, the long series of battles between French and Austrians in the Lombard and Venetian territories reached Sacile for the first time. After defeating the Austrians, General Bonaparte entered Sacile before continuing towards river Tagliamento. Under the French rule, the Municipality replaced the Noble Council. After a few months, in 1798, the Austrian Empire reconquered the city, which again fell under French rule between 1805and 1813. After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, all Italian territories including Sacile were given back to Austria. The new Viennese administration was not very different from the French structure: Sacile became a district capital with a Podestà (chief magistrate), a municipality (committee) and a city council. Thus, the city definitively turned its back on the past.

From the Unification of Italy to the present day (1866-today)

Reached after a unanimous plebiscite, the unification of Italy was vigorously supported by the middle class that had increasingly replaced the noble class in the government of the city. On the occasion,King Vittorio Emanuele II stopped in Sacile on its way to Udine for the celebrations. In this period, many problems had tobe resolved, but great progress was made in the agricultural, industrial and construction sectors. The Great War then turned Sacile into a purely military city causing severe destruction: the city wastargeted mainly due to the presence of the Venice-Udine railway line. Equally disastrous was the Second World War, which came to an end thanks to the help of the Americans who paved the way to the great economic boom of the Sixties. After the last earthquake in 1976, following those of 1873 and 1936, Sacile adopted harmonic architectural structures that have compensated the losses suffered throughout its long history.