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Benevento history

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Benevento is a town and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 m (300 ft) above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino (or Beneventano) and Sabato. It is also the seat of a Catholic archbishop.

Benevento occupies the site of the ancient Beneventum, originally Maleventum or still earlier Malowent and Maloenton. The "-vent" portion of the name probably refers to a market-place and is a common element in ancient place names. The Romans theorized that it meant "the site of bad events", from Mal(um) + eventum.

The most ancient cultural vestiges in the territory of Benevento and its surroundings go back to the Paleolithic age. The archaeological finds of lake-dwellings in the territory of Castelvenere and numerous finds in the area testify to the presence of the pre-historic man in this province.

As regards the foundation of the town of Benevento, the legend attributes it to Diomed, who landed on the coasts of Apulia after the War of Troy.

We can certainly say that it was inhabited by Samnite populations. of both Irpine and Caudine stocks, due to the cultural and historical finds, e.g. the archaeological area of Contrada Cellarulo, bearing witness of a human settlement close to the rivers Sabato and Calore; they used to treat and trade wool and earthenware.

Benevento, a flourishing centre of the Samnite civilization, became important for the history of the Samnites in 321 b.C., when these skilled warriors defeated the powerful Roman army in the battle of the Caudine Forks, thanks to the strategic move of the General Ponzio Telesino.

Not long after it had been sacked by Totila and its walls razed (545), Benevento became the seat of a powerful Lombard duchy. The circumstances of the creation of duchy of Benevento are disputed. According to some scholars, Lombards were present in southern Italy well before the complete conquest of the Po Valley: the duchy would have been founded in 576 by some soldiers led by a Zotto, autonomously from the Lombard king.

Papal Benevento

Benevento passed to the Papacy peacefully when the emperor Henry III ceded it to Leo IX, in exchange for the Bishopric of Bamberg (1077). Landulf II, Archbishop of Benevento, promoted reform, but also allied with the Normans. He was deposed for two years. Benevento was the cornerstone of the Papacy's temporal powers in southern Italy. The Papacy ruled it by appointed rectors, seated in a magnificent palace, and the principality continued to be a papal possession until 1806, when Napoleon granted it to his minister Talleyrand with the title of Sovereign Prince. Talleyrand was never to settle down and actually rule his new principality; in 1815 Benevento was returned to the papacy. It was united to Italy in 1860.

Last Updated (Saturday, 30 October 2010 17:33)