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In 1522 Giovanni de ‘Medici, famously known as Giovanni della Bande Nere, bought the fief of Aulla from the Malaspina family. The mercenary leader planned to create his own state in the north of Tuscany. With this in mind he had the Brunella Fortress built, but popular opposition to his ideas resulted in him re-selling the fief.
Aulla was again ceded by the Malaspinas in 1543, this time to the Centurione family of Genoa, and under Adamo Centurione it became an independent marquisate and stronghold of the Genoese.
During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) the Fortezza della Brunella at Aulla was occupied by Franco/Bourbon Spanish troops, allies of the Centuriones, who were at arms with the (Habsburg) Holy Roman Emeror.
In 1706, after the Centuriones were ousted, the small state was ceded to the Malaspinas of Podenzana who annexed it in 1710, paying the sum of thirty thousand florins to the Holy Roman Empire’s Exchequer for the privilege.
On 24 December 1733, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), Aulla was conquered by Spanish troops who landed in La Spezia under the command of the Neapolitan Francesco Eboli, Duke of Castropignano. The Fortezza held out for three weeks, defended by a garrison provided by the local feudal lords, but eventually capitulated. It remained in the possession of the Spaniards until 1737 when it was returned to the Marquis of Podenzana following an agreement between the Emperor Charles VI and Philip V of Spain.
The Malaspina family continued to rule Aulla until the French invasion of 1797.
The town is mentioned for the first time in a document dated 963. Its name is derived from that of the stream which flows close by the castle, the original nucleus of the town. This castle was a base used to control movements along the Via Francigena which occupied the floor of the Magra valley.
Bagnone became an independent fief under the control of the Antonio Malaspina in 1351 when the fief of Filattiera was broken up. A century later it became part of the territory of the Republic of Florence and later of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under whose control it remained until the Napoleonic period. In 1815 Bagnone was returned to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, but in 1849 it was annexed to the Duchy of Parma and remained there until the unification of Italy in 1859.
Comano belonged to the lands that Spinetta Malaspina the Great bequeathed to his legitimate heirs at the time of his death (1352). Gabriele, Gugliemo and Galeotto Malaspina, sons of Azzolino II (Spinetta’s brother) were therefore able to boast the title of Lords of Fosdinovo, Marciaso, Comano and the Terre dei Bianchi.
Later, Comano became part of the Marquisate of Fivizzano and then a possession of the Florentine Republic in 1478.
At the unification of Italy Comano was a village within the municipality of Fivizzano and it remained so until April 26, 1918 when it was hived off to become an autonomous comune.
Originally belonging to the House of Este, Filattiera came under the control of the Malaspinas during the 12th century. After the division of the family’s lands in 1221 by agreement between Conrad and Obizzo Malaspina (to form the Spino Secco and Spino Fiorito branches respectively), Filattiera became the capital of the Spino Fiorito’s territory, and the castle became the official residence of its chief. Filattiera remained the property of the marquesses of Malaspina until 1787. Over the years the original military fortification was gradually transformed into the residential palace that can be seen today.
The name Fivizzano first appears in a 1149 bull of Pope Eugene III. It is also mentioned in the Codex Pelavicino of 13 June 1229. In earlier times the town had taken its name from the nearby castle of Verrucola, over which the Bosi family exercised both temporal and spiritual jurisdiction. Indeed, the Fivizzanesi used the Romanesque church of Verrucola for civil rites and the church of Pognana for funeral rites until their own parish church was erected in 1377.
In the Middle Ages Fivizzano continued to be associated with castle of Verrucola, enlarged in the first half of the fourteenth century by the feudal lord Spinetta Malaspina known as “Il Grande” and located on the hill adjacent to the town.
For centuries Fivizzano was ruled by a branch of the Malaspina until, in 1477, it came under the rule of the Republic of Florence, aided by the support of the marquis Gabriele II Malaspina di Fosdinovo, who until the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici was one of the most important allies of the Republic. With the dedication to Florence, signed on 7 March 7 1477 in the presence of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Captaincy of Fivizzano was born. Originally including the twenty-six Villas of Terra and Corte, another twenty-one Castles were later added to its domain together with the ancient self-governing towns of Albiano and Caprigliola which once had the Count-Bishops of Luni as overlords.
The First Chapter of the Dedication of Fivizzano in Florence stated “That the Municipality and the Court of Fivizzano at all times may enjoy every benefit, privilege and favour that the true and original Florentine Citizens enjoy, and as for the aforementioned things they are treated as if they were the City, County and District of Florence”.
At the foundation of Luni (177 BC) the territory of Fosdinovo was an agricultural centre comprising small farms overlooking the coastal plain. Nothing is then known about the area until the medieval period; the castle and town being mentioned in 1084.
The birth of Faucenova, the ancient name of Fosdinovo, is almost certainly linked to the control of a new “pass”, “crossroads” or “mouth” between the coastal area and the internal valleys of Lunigiana.
At the dawn of the fourteenth century, the Lords of Fosdinovo, the De la Musca, are mentioned in the Preamble of the Peace Act of Castelnuovo (6 October 1306), a treaty resulting from the personal diplomatic efforts of Dante Alighieri. At the time the village was not Malaspinian and was probably a protectorate of the Count-Bishop of Luni.
The transition to being a domain of the Malaspina was gradual. By 1308 Spinetta Malaspina had judicial powers but even as late as 1340 Spinetta Malaspina the Great was not actually Lord of Fosdinovo. In 1340 Spinetta bought all the rights of the Fosdinovesi nobles for the price of 500 gold florins and became the undisputed Lord of the fief. His successors ruled the state with the title of Marquis of Fosdinovo.
In 1797, the Marquis Carlo Emanuele Malaspina of Fosdinovo in response to the initial victories of Napoleon Bonaparte against the Austrians, acceded to the abolition of his imperial fiefdoms by means of a decree dated 2 July 1797 in which he renounced all sovereign rights over his lands.
Following the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) Fosdinovo became part of the Duchy of Massa and Carrara, later absorbed into the Duchy of Modena & Reggio (1829).
The town was an Imperial fiefdom and marquisate belonging to the Malaspina family from 1164. Starting from the 13th century the various villages were fortified by vassals following their decision to leave Piacenza for the Lunigiana. The Ghibelline branch of the family, called “dello Spino Secco”, gave sanctuary to Dante Alighieri in April 1306 following his exile from Florence.
Self-governing and autonomous from 1550 until 1797, the fief was jointly governed by two Malaspina family lines until 1776. In 1559 Mulazzo had 325 resident families. During the eighteenth century it benefited from territorial expansion arising from the purchase in 1710 of the marquisate of Calice, Madrignano and Veppo. These fiefs were confiscated from Prince Giovanni Andrea Mariano Doria del Carretto (1660-1742) by the Emperor who, despite protests by the Genoese, gave them to the second line of the Marquises of Mulazzo. After the extinction of that Malaspinian line, he also transferred to Mulazzo part of the marquisate of Castevoli (1744) and the marquisate of Castagnetoli (1746). In 1772 the marquisate of Calice and Madrignano was ceded to Tuscany (of which the Malaspina were faithful allies) in payment of debts outstanding. Mulazzo remained independent until in July 1797 Napoleon abolished all the Imperial fiefdoms of Italy. Later, in the period immediately preceding Italian unification, Mulazzo was part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
The village of Tresana developed around a fortification of Lombard origin, granted by the Emperor Federico Barbarossa in 1164 to the Malaspina of Mulazzo. In 1559 it became an independent marquisate of the Malaspina family (Lusuolo branch) until 1652, though in 1575 it was made a protectorate of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Under the Malaspina a mint which produced local coinage for a short period was active.
When on the death of Guglielmo Malaspina in 1652 the Lusuolo branch became extinct, the little state was occupied by Spain in the name of the Holy Roman Emperor. Sold at auction, the fief was purchased for 123,000 Tuscan lire by the Corsini princes of Florence who administered it with their own viceroys until Napoleon abolished fiefdoms in 1797. From 1814 to 1859 it was part of the duchy of Modena.
Villafranca in Lunigiana
The ancient castle of Malnido, garrison on the Via Francigena of the Ghibelline branch of the Malaspina, was almost intact before the Allied bombing of the Second World War: today it is but a ruin.
At the time of Dante’s arrival in 1305/6, the fiefdom was ruled by Moroello and Corradino, grandchildren of Corrado II (called the Younger to distinguish him from the progenitor of the Spino Secco) on who Dante Alighieri heaped praise in Canto VIII of Purgatory. Indeed, Corrado is one of only six characters in the Divine Comedy who Dante addressed with the highest deference pronoun “voi”.
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75) was a great admirer of Dante and also wanted to honor Corrado the Younger, making him and his daughter Spina the protagonists of one of the longest short stories of the Decameron, the sixth of the second day.
Villafranca was one of the imperial fiefs of the Malaspina “dello Spino Secco”, marquises of Virgoletta. Its lands included Beverone, Gargugliaga, Rocchetta di Vara and Villa in the Aulella valley near Aulla. In 1547 the brothers Bartolomeo and Giovanna Battista Malaspina split the marquisate, generating the two lines of Virgoletta and Castevoli, keeping the fief of Villafranca undivided, governing it in alternate years. From 1567 it was under the Tuscan protection until in the 18th century it was adopted by Dukes of Modena, who in 1720 granted the marquises the right to add “Estense” to the surname Malaspina.
In 1559 Villafranca had about 460 families. It is remembered in historical chronicles for the serious revolt that broke out in 1705 against Marquis Giovanni who asked for help from Medici troops. It remained an independent feud until 1797.
The history of Zeri is closely related to events affecting the nearby town of Pontremoli and, to a lesser extent, the rest of Lunigiana. Some sources attest that a Decree of Frederick I of 1164 granted the Malaspina privileges over Zeri, but some time later the territory passed to Pontremoli.
Zeri always had a strong identity, with well-defined borders that often led to territorial disputes. In 1502 a dispute began with the inhabitants of Torpiana di Zignago, which lasted for many years and degenerated into armed conflict during 1574. Another dispute, which lasted centuries and saw the succession of armed clashes and short-lived agreements, was one that began in 1526 between Rossano (today part of the Municipality of Zeri) and Suvero (today part of the Municipality of Rocchetta di Vara), which was only resolved in 1783 when definitive boundaries were established. Zeri took up arms again, this time against Pontremoli after the Battle of Pavia (1525), because of its refusal to contribute to the maintenance costs of the Spanish troops who had come to Lunigiana to support their King, Charles V, who was also Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor at the time.
After a period of Spanish domination, in 1647 Pontremoli together with Zeri was ceded to the Republic of Genoa, which three years later re-sold it to the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The Florentine dominion lasted until the end of the eighteenth century and constituted a period of great economic and mercantile development thanks to the tax concessions granted by the Grand Duke to some Pontremolese families. In 1777 the general council of the municipality of Pontremoli was dissolved and the municipalities of Caprio and Zeri were established.
On 25 May 1799 the population rose up against a Napoleonic unit of about 300 soldiers, pushing them back to Borgotaro.