History of Turin
A short historical mention about Turin
The foundation of the town.
The history of Turin begins in the third century B.C. when, along the PO's bank, the first tribes called "taurine" installed themselves, who are descentants of the fusions of Celtliguri with Gallic populations migrated beyond the Alps to search arable plains. During the period of the Roman expansion in the northern Italy, the ancient settlement of Turin was striked by wars, reconciliations and alliances with Rome, until the foundation, for Giulio Cesare's decision, of a real military station, which should be the Roman outpost towards Gallia, in the center of the main communication ways of the time towards the transalps world. The town took the traditional orthogonal plant of the Roman colonies, with square blocks and an almost square masonry structures. Borderline garrison and camp under Augustus, the town was edified over the Roman camp of Castra Taurinorum, and later was dedicated to Augustus and received the name Augusta Taurinorum (28-29 B.C.).
The arrival of the barbarian and the diffusion of Christianism during its first century of life, Augusta Taurinorum prospered in the reconcilled Italy by Rome. Then the crisis of the Roman Empire, the succession conflict between Constantin and Massenzio and, at the downfall of the Empire, the crossing of the barbarian armies, caused serious damages to the town, whose strategical position assumed now a bigger importance. The centuries which followed the downfall of the Empire were very hard for Turin and its territory: because it was the first urban center met by the barbarian during their displacements, it was many times devasted. In the beginning, it was subjected to the Gothes, in 5th century A.D. it became a dukedome of the Longobards and in 773 it was conquered by the Franks' troups of Carlo Magno. In reality, the arrival of the Longobards brought a relative quiet: Turin was the capital of one of the four dukedomes of the present Piedmond and it lived for a few centuries in a sufficient quiet. Then the inevitable battle between the Longobards and Franks had in Turin one of its fields of battle. After the Longobards defeat and the Franks' rise, the town became a county and a law seat.
In that period, the citizens life was dominated by the monasteries and by the charismatic figures of its bishops, such as Claudio, involved also in expeditions against the Saracen penetrations which a few years later, in the 10th century, had decreed the collaps of the potent abbey of Novalesa, in the Susa Valley. In fact, the Empire's crisis coinceded with the Christianization of the terrirory: the first bishop of Turin was Saint Massimo, untiring bearer of God's word in the still pagan town; the first cathedral, of the third century, rised near the actual cathedral and recent excavations have brought to light the foundations.
Turin, free municipality. The 10th century determined even one of the most important transformations of the territory of Piedmont, and Turin became the main center of the mark given by the king Berengario II to the Counts of Auriate and containing the Lanzo valley, the Astigiano and the coast which is contained between the End of Liguria and today's Monaco. The beginning of the Marquesan monarch of Adelaide turned the interests of the family to the Susa's valley, making Susa the most important center of his territory. And the displacement of the interests was underlined by the wedding of Adelaide with Oddone of Moriana, belonging to the dinasty which governed the other side of Moncenisio and which has then given life to the Savoy.
While the Savoys were reforcing their dominion in the territories between France and Italy, Turin lived its last season of free municipality around its bishop, maxim citizens authority, because Emperor and marquises were far away. In the conflicts between Empire and Papacy, where were involved Federico il Barbarossa and the Ottoni, Turin rallied to who guaranteed it independence from the threatening power of the Savoys and should so stand the hegemony of the richest Asti. The arrival of the Angiò and Guglielmo VII of Monferrato did not forbit, in 1280, the fightened passage of the town to the Savoys: it was the end of Turin's free municipality.
The Savoys. The annexation of the town to the sabaud territory did not change for a long time the political climate of Turin: the battles between the Guelfs (filosabauds) and the Ghibellines (filomnferrines and astian) continued, determinating, with defeats and victories, the social rises.
The power was shown through the Acaia principles, feudal landowners of Piedmont, and the main branch of the family, the one of the counts of savoy, then powerful on the two fronts of the Alps. The battle between this two poles of power ended in 13th century, until, in 1418, the Acaia were forced to leave also the formal control of thier territories to the potent cousins Savoys. For the town there was no traumatic change: for 50 years the Acaia has not political independence.
The arrival of the Savoys coinceded, in 14th century, with the transformation of Turin from a little town, even if it is in the center of one of the most important crossroads of western Italy, in a town with regional dimension. In 1404 the Savoys founded the university and during the century they turned the town into the administrative and economical pole of their Italian dominion. In the end of the century, Turin counted 10,000 inhabitants and it has become one of the main towns of a dukedom in difficult balance between the two fronts of the Alps.
Turin capital. After the administrative and political union of all the sabaud provinces in the beginning of 15th century, the Savoys decided to assign to Turin the role of capital. In reality, even if not officially, it already was the capital: the administrative and legal apparatus of Turin had more important dimension than those activated in the "official" capital, Chambery; the dukes, just rised to the throne entered in Turin and not in Chambery, and even for the inhabitant's number Turin overcame. So, in 1563, after the treat of Cateau-Cambresis, the duke Testa di Ferro Emanuele Filiberto established to bring the capital to Turin, justifying it with the pretext to shorten the Cardinal Carlo Borromeo's course who wanted to pray on the sacred sindone. In reality, he gave him back the possession of his dominions, in the end of the long war between France and Spain: it has therefore ancient roots. Turin was less exposed as Chambery to the French attacks, and replyed better to the intention of Emanuele Filiberto to move towards Italy the dinasty interests.
So, Turin was radically transformed in a few years: with Emanuele Filiberto it was immediately furnished of a modern citadel, projected by Francesco Paciotto (then destroyed in half of 18th century and now it remains only the Mastio, seat of the Artillery Museum (link MUSEUMS) and also the seat of the ducal power was placed here (during the previous years the seat belonging to the ones who exercitated the power was always been the Madama Palace; with him the court was moved to the Bishop Palace, which should only house it temporarily and it became whereas the actual Royal Palace). With his son Carlo Emanuele I the urban transformations began: under his kingdom the first enlargement of the town was realized, transforming even the center with the embellishment of the Royal Palace and the building of the new Gallery; moreover, he realized also the first Deliciae, the splendit Mirafiori and the Royal Park. This first phase of the development brought to the model of a "ordered" town with aligned roads and big main streets which became then its main characteristic.
Turin was therefore a town in total constructive fervour, but absolutely controlled by its duke: whoever wanted to build in the new enlargement had to obbey to the court architect's indications. To underline the will of the duke, the ancient Roman orthogonal plant was mantained. The development of Turin was pulled up in 1630, with the frightful plague which decimated the inhabitants. The following kingdoms were weak, with precocious deaths and characterized by the conflicts for the descent which promoted the interferences of France and Spain.
The climate cheered up with the rise to the throne of Carlo Emanuele I in 1663 and a second enlargement of the town, towards the Po, with the realization of today's Po street, the only sloping street of the perfect Roman chessboard which continued to characterize Turin's town planning. In 1666, Guarino Guarini arrived in the town, the architect who with Filippo Juvarra characterized the town center. Among his works: the chapel of the Sindone, the Boarding-school of the Nobles (today's seat of the Egyptian Museum) and the Savoy-Carignano Palace (seat of the first Italian Parliament).
Turin's Siege. It followed a period of economical crisis and political uncertainty (because of the always latent conflicts between France and Spain); moreover, between 1701 and 1714, the War of the Spanish Succession put Turin to the test. The town was besieged by the franc-spanish army disposed around the fortified citadel during 117 days, until the duke of Savoy Vittorio Amedeo and his cousin, the general Eugenio of Savoy-Soissons did not intervene. During the last phases of the siege the heroical act of Pietro Micca happened, who voluntarily died for blocking the street of the underground Turin to the French. (SEE FAMOUS PERSONAGES PIETRO MICCA)
Details about Turin's Siege: the prior event. In 1700 Carlo II of Asburgo died without descendants. Already since a few years the health condition of the king, which never has been good, began to get worse, letting foreshadow the worst. The European monarchies, which knew well the situation, started a complex diplomatic work about the succession. In particular King Luis XIV, Borbon of France, and the Emperor Leopold I of Asburgo, both, formally, because they married two stepsisters of Carlo: the first one had married Maria Teresa, and the second one Margherita Teresa; daughters of the first wedding of Philip IV. In reality, what's at stake was the possess of Spain and its possessions, in Europe and beyond the Atlantic. Furthermore, the Asburg of Austria made pretentions because they belonged to the same reigning dinasty in Spain.
Carlo II, before he died, asked advice to the Pope, who, to skip out that with Spain in the hands of the Asburgo it could be recreated the same big concentration of power as almost two centuries ago with Carlo V, he suggested the Spanish king to design as his successor a French. Carlo II accepted the advice and designed as his successor Philip of Angiò, nephew of Luis XIV. At the opening of the will it was inevitable that a war broke out, because the new alliance Spain-France was destinated to subvert the European balances.
The battle which followed is known as War of the Spanish Succession and was protracted for over ten years, ending with the Treats of Utrecht (1713) and Rastadt (1714). The battle saw lined up on one side Great Britain, the Asburg Empire, Portugal, Denmark and Holland; on the other side France and Spain, which accepted the new Borbon King. The dukedom of Savoy was situated between France and Milan which was propriety of Spain and constituted the natural connecting corridor between the two allies, therefore Luis XIV imposed to the duke Vittorio Amedeo II the alliance with the French-hispanics for obvious strategical exigencies.
Vittorio Amedeo II, supported by the cusin Eugenio of Savoy-Carignano, duke of Soisson and a great leader of the imperial troups, had the intuition that this time the main match between France and the Empire would have been played in Italy and not in Flanders or in Lorely any more. Because of this beliefe, he made alliance with the Asburg, the only ones who, in case of victory, could guarantee the complete independence of the sabaus state. In fact, an alliance with France, in case of its victory, it has only reafirmed the submitted state of Savoy which lasted alomst a century; while the Asburg Emperor promised Monferrato, part of Lomellina and of Valsesia, the Vigevanasco and part of the province of Novara. It was a clever, intelligent but also risky choise, because in case of defeat the sabaud state will be destroyed together with the dinasty. The camp choice made by Vittorio Amedeo II during autumn 1703 induced Luis XIV to start the military operations which happened first in Savoy and then in Piedmont.
The Siege Tight between two fires (westbound France and eastbound the Spanish army which controlled Lombardy), the sabaud territories were surrounded and attacked by three armies; lost Susa, Vercelli, Ivrea and Nice (in 1704), only the Citadel of Turin kept on resisting, fortification which was built by the duke Emanuele Filiberto almost 140 years ago.
Already in August 1705, the French-Spanish armies were ready to attack Turin posted near the citadel, but the commandant -the general Duke de la Feuillade- believed that the soldiers were still less and prefered wait the reinforcements. This choice turned out a mistake because it gave to the town the opportunity to fortify itself morely until the hill and to squeeze up around the own citadel, in view of a large siege.
The siege started on 14th May when the French-Spanish troups (composed by more than four thousand men) posted strategically in front of the fortress. the marshal of France marquis Sebastien la Peste of Vauban, an expert ideator of siege techniques, prefered a lateral attack to the town believing that the thick galleries' net of mines arranged by the besieged was a insurmountable obstacle; but de la Feuillade disobeyed making arrange by fourty-eight militar engeneers the dig of numerous lines of trenches. What was a dangerous mine quibble for Vauban, turned out lethal.
Tha besieged soldiers, supported by the population (who took part directly to the battle) and strong because of the thick galleries' net much dreaded by Vauban, inflicted many defeats to the enemy's army. The battle lasted for the whole summer of 1706.
On 7th June the duke Vittorio Amedeo II left Turin to go towards the prince Eugenio of Savoy, his cousin, who was arriving in his help to the command of the imperial Austrian troups. The town was left to the guide of the Austrian general Virico Daun. After the heroical act of the miner- soldier Pietro Micca, who defended instead of his life a door's town, the situation seemed to come to a head.
The epilogue. On 2nd Septmber, the two Savoys went up the Superga hill, from where the whole town can be dominated, for studying the counter-offensive tactics and they decided to trick the enemy using the biggest part of the army and a part of the Chavalry north-western of the town. The most vulnerable, even if this involved a great risk because of the closeness of the French lines. On 6th September the trick manoeuvre brought the sabaud troupes to post between the rivers Dora Riparia and Stura.
The final battle started on 7th September when the Austrian-piedmontes forces lined up along the whole front and repulsed each counter-offensive attempt of the French- hispanian. Their retreat towards Pinerolo and therefore towards France began during the first hours of the afternoon. Vittorio Amedeo II and the prince Eugenio of Savoy entered in the town already freed through Porta Palazzo and they went to the cathedral to assist at a thanks Te deum. On the Superga hill, to remember the victory, a royal basilica was built by the Savoys where still nowadays, each 7th September, a Te deum is celebrated.
The Sardinia's Kingdom. The Utrecht Treat, in 1713, turned the dukedom into a reign and the duke Vittorio Amedeo into the first king of his dinasty. Moreover, it gave to the Savoys the Sicily's dominion, a few months later substituted by Sardinia: so the Kingdom of Sardinia was born, whose capital was changed under the guide of Filippo Juvarra, one of the Italian barocco's masters, with the new facade of the Madama Palace, the Militar Quarters, the Superga Basilica, wanted by the king to honour the vow made to the Vergin during the siege, the churches of Saint Philip Neri and of the Carmine, the Stupinigi hunt Villa. In the political point of view, Vittorio Amedeo II and his successors made a series of absolutistic reforms, which touched off strong resistences because they knackered out the town authorities.
Napoleon and the annexation to the France. In this years Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Turin, who in the beginning, left on the throne Vittorio Amedeo III, but, when Carlo Emanuele IV succeeded, weak and inept, the sabaud territories were annexed to the France. In 1799 the intervention of the Austrian-russian coalization expulsed provisionally the French, but in 1800 the napoleonic troups returned in Turin and stayed there for 14 years. The walls were demolished, the ecclesiastic goods approprieted by the state, the town planning transformed. In 1802, Piedmont was annexed to the France and Turin became one of the 25 main towns of the French Republic; the annexation involved therefore the adoption of the French political-administrative organization and the reordering of the public finances.
The Restoration. In 1815 the Wien Congress restored to the Savoys Piedmont and Turin, which became capital. Vittorio Emanuele let build the church of the Great Mother of God to celebrate the Restoration. Anyway, the ancient regime could never be the same as before: the romantic anxieties, the Italy union ambitions, the carbonary and then mazzinian movements were the first signs of the Risorgimento.
The Risorgimento. When Carlo Felice died, the main branch of the Savoy died out and the throne passed to the cadet branch of the Savoy-Carignano: Carlo Alberto became king, who in his youth had lithted the hopes of patriots and liberals. The King, in fact, wanted to "unage" tha state: his reformer action followed but the tradition. In 1848 he conceded the religious freedom and , finally, the statute. But 1848 was above all the year in which the sabaud dinasty headed the Italian union movement: Carlo Alberto, hitten by the popular enthusiasm and to counterbalance the republican aspirations present in influent sectors of patriots, declared war to Austria (First Independence War).
His son rised the throne, Vittorio Emanuele II, and with him began the Risorgimento's season. His first minister, Camillo Benso of Cavour; thanks to a clever net of diplomatic relationships was able to incline France to the Italian cause, against the Asburgic Austria. Turin became the destination of all the Italian exiles and liberals, who setted above to the republican cause, the Italian union one, to achieve with the collaboration of the king of Sardinia. The second Independence War and the Thousand Expedition allowed, in 1861, to achieve this goal and on 8th February, it was inaugurated in Carignano Palace the first Italian Parliament, where all the heroes of the Italian Union had their seats, from Giuseppe Garibaldi to Giuseppe Mazzini, from Allessandro Manzoni to Giuseppe Verdi. On 14th March it was elected the law on the basis of which Vittorio Emanuele II assumpted the title of king of Italy. Turin, ornated for the party, welcame people from every corner of Italy, hastened to celebrate the conquired unity. The Risorgimento period will bring it to become the capital of Italy's Reign from 1861 to 1864, year in which, because of the definitive transfer to Rome, it will be brought from Turin to Florence. This news was not good received by the inhabitants of Turin, who poured through the streets giving life to days of disorder. Between 21st and 22nd September, in the town center serious riots broke out to contest this decison which ended with the death of 30 person and more than 200 injured people. Turin will face its most terrible moment with a population quickly passed from 200 thousand to 20 thousand unites and this was because of the move of the ministerial offices, the Account Court and the whole administrative appartatus, which provoked even a depression of the local economy. After four centuries Turin lost his status of capital of the Savoys and was forced to search a new identity.
Industrial Turin. In 1884 the General Exposition, in Valentine Park, constituted the occasion to reawaken the town from the torpor in which it was fallen: it was built the Medieval District and the Park was restored. In 1897, because of the serious ecomonical-financial crisis of the Crispi's governments, the Socialists entered in Turin's municipal Council. It was an important news: the municipality had a first-rate part in the transformation of the ex capital in industrial town. Important to quote is the "professors' Socialism" promoted by Edmondo de Amicis, Cesare Lombroso and Arthur Graf. The local administration in this years was employed in the improvement of the railway connections, of the instruction, of the social assistence. in 1889 was created the car industry: the FIAT grew up on the tradition of the little craftsmanship of Piedmont, but with great innovative spurs, thanks to the instructions of Giovanni Agnelli. Besides the FIAT even Lancia and Itala were created. The municipalization of the urban transports and the statalization of the railway contributed to the creation of a mechanical industry of Turin.
In addition Turin became, in the end of the century, the first Italian center where the cinema developed: here the first Italian movies were produced (of big national and international success) and the first worship was born (among the stars Lydia de Robertis, Maria Jacobini, Lydia Quaranta; among the produced movies, those obtained by Gabriele D'Annunzio). The new industrial town attracted population from thw countryside and, during the first years of the century it grew up with the rhythm of 9,000 people in a year. New worker quarters were built, the road network was enlarged, courses of professional formation were opened. It is in this period when the traditional urban order was left: in a Turin which still traces the ancient Roman colony plant, the spokes system is introduced, with the creation of the first worker barrier, out of the excise belt. The first industrial revolution was "blessed" with the first general strike of history happened between 16th and 18th September 1904.
The First World War. The first world war surprised a Turin in full development: it caused first a depression and than an economical recovery, even if the only sections which found a real advantage in the war ending were the iron and steel and the car ones.
The Fascism and the Second World War. The years which brought to the fascicm were also for Turin years of social crisis: the riots were followed by repressions. In 1919 the Turin's Bundles, in 1922 was set fire to the seat of New Order, the review directed by Antonio Gramsci; lishort time after, in December, Mussolini took the power in Turin. During the Fascism Turin continued its industrial expansion and welcame southern and from Veneto's immmigrants. The colonial politic of the regime favoured the development of the FIAT, which could so overpass the depression caused by the Wall Street's collapse. In this years fashion, from the tradition of the "little dessmakers" of Turin, and, above all, the Italian radio, which transmitted its programmes from Turin, were created. With the break out of the second world war, Turin's industry was converted in a military industry and discovered the female work. The bombardments of 1942 caused a drastic reduction of the production; the reduction of the aquiring power of the workers caused, in 1943, a rebellion. In September of the same year there was the German occupation. The regime crisis and the Nazi occupation induced many young men on the mountains, for the Resistance. On 18th April 1945 a big strike paralysed the town, on 26th April the partisans started the liberation of Turin, ended on 30th. On 3rd April 1945 the Allies entered in the town already freed.
Turin during the post-war period. The first years of the post-war period were drammatic: building estate and factories were hardly damaged; the Turin's municipality was the first in Italy to bulid new popular houses. The FIAT became the real power center with which the town was forced to match against since the early 50's: the presence of the car gigant had on Turin great relapses of incomes and riches, but it determinated also conflicts which only in the following years could find a solution. During the 50's, thanks to the recall of the FIAT happened a new wave of immigration, from other northern regions (above all from Veneto) and from southern ones. The presence of the southern immigrates caused a series of drammatic problems, from the housing problem to the services, and Turin was unprepared. In a decade Turin became the third southern Italian town, after Naples and Palermo; the disordered and uncontrolled arrival of the new residents caused for a long time conflicts of mentality and culture, which the town overpassed during the following decades, only with huge difficulty.
The 60's. In 1961, year of the union centenarian, Turin was an unrecognizable town. The old capital of the Savoys had more than a milion of inhabitants, it was Italy's most industry attraction poles and a real economical metropolis. The 60's were not easy. To the economical boom followed in fact the social tensions which flowed into the '68's pretensions and the warm autumn of the workers.
The 70's. In the beginning of the 70's, the trade unions had strong force positions in the Ffactories: in 1972 the occupation of Mirafiori drew the Industrial association to accept the demand of the trade unions; in 1975 rised for the first time to the power a junta of the Left and contemporany the oil-bearing crisis forced FIAT to the first redundancy payment. The economical crisis of the 70's had its turning-point with the march of the 40,000 who demanded the reopening of the Mirafiori's gates, paralysed since by 35 days of strike.
The 80's, 90's and 00's. The 80's and 90's, in which juntas of the Left, big-tent parties and left-center have alternated, have been years of social reconciliations: to the conflicts during the 70's followed the FIAT's recovery, arrived during the 80s to useful records thanks even to the throwing of new models. The face of Turin further changed: the industrial restosration's processes redimensioned the industry employment in favour of the service sector. The dimensions of the firms are reduced the research, the firms' services, the finance and the culture are the sectors where Turin searches new growth opportunities. The population decreased: the census of 1991 signs that Turin citizens are less than a milion.
Nowadays, among the new inhabitants of Turin, there are dozens thousands of immigrates coming from abroad, above all Marocco, Senegal, Nigeria, Albania. Their presence has upsetted the society reconcilated during the 80's and has changed the ascpects of the whole quarters: Turin's challenge, engaged in becoming a cultural, touristic and of the service sector attraction pole, is the integration of its new inhabitants, different for language and religion, but probably a new richness and exchange source. And it is a challenge which the ancient Roman colony, crossroads of roads and people, wants to win in its third millenium of history.