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Lucera
—  Comune  —
Comune di Lucera

Coat of arms
Lucera is located in Italy
Lucera
Location of Lucera in Italy
Coordinates: 41°30′N 15°20′E / 41.5°N 15.333°E / 41.5; 15.333Coordinates: 41°30′N 15°20′E / 41.5°N 15.333°E / 41.5; 15.333
Country Italy
Region Puglia
Province Foggia (FG)
Frazioni Palmori, Reggente, San Giusto
Government
 - Mayor Michele Di Bari
Area
 - Total 338.64 km2 (130.7 sq mi)
Elevation 250 m (820 ft)
Population (30 June 2008)[1]
 - Total 34,605
 - Density 102.2/km2 (264.7/sq mi)
 - Demonym Lucerini
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 71036
Dialing code 0881
Patron saint Santa Maria
Saint day August 15
Website Official website

Lucera is a town and comune in the Province of Foggia, in the Apulia region of southern Italy.

Contents

History

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Ancient era and early Middle Ages

Lucera is an ancient city founded in Daunia, the centre of Dauni territory (in present day Apulia). Archeological excavations show the presence of a bronze age village inside the city boundaries. Lucera was probably named after either Lucius, a mythical Dauno king, or a temple dedicated to the goddess Lux Cereris. A third possibility is that the city was founded and named by the Etruscans, in which case the name probably means Holy Wood (luc = wood, eri = holy).

The Cathedral of Lucera.

In 321 BC the Roman army was deceived into thinking Lucera was under siege by the Samnites. Hurrying to relieve their allies the army walked into an ambush and were defeated at the famous Battle of the Caudine Forks. The Samnites occupied Lucera but were thrown out after a revolt. The city sought Roman protection and in 320 BC was granted the status of Colonia Togata, which meant it was ruled by the Roman Senate. 2500 Romans moved to Lucera in order to strengthen the ties between the two cities. From then on Lucera was known as a steadfast supporter of Rome.

During the civil wars of the late Republic Pompey set up his headquarters in Lucera, but abandoned the city when Julius Caesar approached. Lucera quickly switched its allegiance and Caesar's clemency spared it from harm. In the next civil war between Octavian and Mark Anthony the city did not escape as lightly. After the war Octavian settled many veteran soldiers on the lands of the ruined city. This helped Lucera recover quickly and marked an era of renewed prosperity. Many of the surviving Roman landmarks hail from this Augustan period, among them the Luceran amphitheatre.

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire the city of Lucera entered into a state of decline. In 663 AD it was captured from the Lombards and destroyed by the Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II.

Islamic period

In 1224 AD, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, responding to religious uprisings in Sicily, expelled all Muslims from the island, transferring many to Lucera - "Lugêrah", as she was known in Arabic - over the next two decades. In this controlled environment, they couldn't challenge royal authority and they benefited the crown in taxes and military service. Their numbers eventually reached between 15,000 and 20,000, leading Lucera to be called Lucaera Saracenorum because it represented the last stronghold of Islamic presence in Italy. During peacetime, Muslims in Lucera were predominately farmers. They grew durum wheat, barley, legumes, grapes and other fruits. Muslims also kept bees for honey.[2]

The colony thrived for 75 years until it was sacked in 1300 by Christian forces under the command of Charles II of Naples. The city's Muslim inhabitants were exiled or sold into slavery,[3] with many finding asylum in Albania across the Adriatic Sea.[4] Their abandoned mosques were demolished, and churches were usually built in their place, including the cathedral S. Maria della Vittoria.[5]

After the Muslims were removed from Lucera, Charles tried to settle Christians in the city. Those Muslims that converted to Christianity got part of their property back, but none was restored his former position of political or economic influence. As time progressed, grain production fell in the city, and in 1339 the city was hit by a famine. While Christians were allowed to farm as the Muslims, the loss of Muslim farmers may have been a cause of the famine.[6]

A significant genetic Northwest African contribution among today's inhabitants near the region of Lucera was revealed by a very recent genetic study in 2009[7].

Hohenstaufen castle.

Main sights

It hosts several important monuments from different ages:

  • the Roman Amphitheater
  • the medieval Castle
  • the Church of S. Francesco
  • the Cathedral, built in 1300 on the grounds of the last standing medieval mosque in Italy, which had been destroyed the same year.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ All demographics and other statistics from the Italian statistical institute (Istat)
  2. ^ Taylor, p.99
  3. ^ Julie Taylor. Muslims in Medieval Italy: The Colony at Lucera. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. 2003.
  4. ^ Ataullah Bogdan Kopanski. Islamization of Shqeptaret: The clas of Religions in Medieval Albania.
  5. ^ Taylor, p.187
  6. ^ Taylor, p.190-4
  7. ^ "An inspection of Table 1 reveals a nonrandom distribution of Male Northwest African types in the Italian peninsula, with at least a twofold increase over the Italian average estimate in three geographically close samples across the southern Apennine mountains (East Campania, Northwest Apulia, Lucera). When pooled together, these three Italian samples displayed a local frequency of 4.7%, significantly different from the North and the rest of South Italy (...). Arab presence is historically recorded in these areas following Frederick II’s relocation of Sicilian Arabs", [1],Moors and Saracens in Europe estimating the medieval North African male legacy in southern Europe, Capelli et al., European Journal of Human Genetics, 21 January 2009

Sources and references

  • Alexander Knaak: Prolegomena zu einem Corpuswerk der Architektur Friedrichs II. von Hohenstaufen im Königsreich Sizilien 1220–1250, Marburg 2001. ISBN 3-89445-278-1 (For the medieval Lucera Castle of the Hohenstaufen see pp. 24–38)

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Lucera [1] is a city in the province of Foggia in the region of Apulia (Puglia), Italy.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LUCERA, a town and episcopal see of Apulia, Italy, 122 m. W.N.W. by rail of Foggia. Pop. (1901) 16,962. It is situated upon a lofty plateau, the highest point of which (823 ft.), projecting to the W., was the ancient citadel, and is occupied by the well-preserved castle erected by Frederick II., and rebuilt by Pierre d'Angicourt about 1280. The cathedral, originally Romanesque, but restored after 1300 is in the Gothic style; the façade is good, and so is the ciborium. The interior was restored in 1882. The town occupies the site of the ancient Luceria, the key of the whole country. According to tradition the temple of Minerva, founded by Diomede, contained the Trojan Palladium, and the town struck numerous bronze coins; but in history it is first heard of as on the Roman side in the Samnite Wars (321 B.C.), and in 315 or 314 B.C. a Latin colony was sent here. It is mentioned in subsequent military history, and its position on the road from Beneventum, via Aecae (mod. Troja) to Sipontum, gave it some importance. Its wool was also renowned. It now contains no ancient remains above ground, though several mosaic pavements have been found and there are traces of the foundations of an amphitheatre outside the town on the E. The town-hall contains a statue of Venus, a mosaic and some inscriptions (but cf. Th. Mommsen's remarks on the local neglect of antiquities in Corp. Inscr. Lat. ix. 75). In 663 it was destroyed by Constans II., and was only restored in 1223 by Frederick II., who transported 20,000 Saracens hither from Sicily. They were at first allowed religious freedom, but became Christians under compulsion in 1300. Up to 1806 Lucera was the capital of the provinces of Basilicata and Molise. (T. As.)


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