23 Novembre 2020

Montopoli In Val d´Arno

Montopoli is located on the back of an outcrop of volcanic rock between Egola and Chiecina rivers and not far from the course of the Arno River, which flows northward. Montopoli was one of the most important castles in the Lower Valdarno, described by Boccaccio as "Illustrious Castle" for its powerful fortifications. Originally under Lucca bishops´ jurisdiction and subsequently, due to its important geographical location, object of contention between Pisa, Florence and Lucca, Montopoli was then subjected, from the first half of the twelfth century, to the pressures of Pisa Municipality, and became its possession in 1162 under the German Emperor Frederick I.
In 1222, after the Pisans was been defeated in Castel del Bosco, the Florentines imposed the restitution of the castle to Lucca Bishop. A new crushing defeat of the Pisans was then inflicted by the Florentines in Pontedera fifteen years later. After a few years of relative peace, other battles happened: in 1274 Giovanni Visconti, a powerful Guelph citizen of Pisa, in alliance with Florence and Lucca, laid siege to Montopoli and again, in 1315, it was subjected to occupation by Uguccione Faggiola, lord of Pisa and Lucca, but fortunately it did not suffer serious damage thanks to the protection of the Florentine troops.
After these continuous sieges, it was therefore possible to delineate the orientation of the submission of the Castle in Florence. There were some new attempts by Florence enemies to get Montopoli back, until "on the 12th July 1349, the population of the whole county, solemnly gathered in general parliament in the public square, spontaneously and perpetually agreed to be subjected to the City of Florence".
In preparation of new conflicts, Sir John Hawkwood, at the service of Florence, built massive fortifications in San Romano, digging a deep ditch defense and a mighty tower called "Torre del Fosso". These fortifications proved to be truly providential when, in the 1st June 1432 Filippo Maria Visconti´s army clashed with the Florentine army led by Niccolò da Tolentino. The Florentines won the battle and this event was remembered as the Battle of San Romano. In 1494, Montopoli was then occupied by Charles VIII´s troops and in 1512 it welcomed Niccolò Machiavelli, who came to organize city bands.


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