History of Anghiari and the battle of Anghiari


See Anghiari guide for highlights and historic monuments

The ancient name of Anghiari, a town in Tuscany not far from Sansepolcro and “Città di Castello”, was "Anglarium" - the name derives from the expression "Castrum Angulare" which is a reference to a “Triangular Castle”. This was the nucleus of the village, which, as with Sansepolcro, belonged to the powerful and wealthy Monastery of Camaldoli.

Note however that the scholar Gino Franceschini believes that Anghiari derives from the word for "gravel", because the city is situated on gravel accumulated by the Tiber River over the centuries.

The oldest document in which Anghiari is mentioned dates back to 1083, when Bernardo, called “Sidonia” and the son of Rainier, the Lord of Galbino and Montedoglio (a vassal of the Marquis of Mont St. Mary), bought a portion of the castle and the jurisdiction of Anghiari from his brother Alberich.

After about 10 years, Bernardino, the son of Sidonia, donated the castle to the Prior of Camaldoli, on condition that he established a monastery in that place and he made the inhabitants of Anghiari subject to the rule of the Prior. They later escaped to the domain of Camaldoli and it was ruled as an independent municipality, although under constant pressure from the City of Arezzo, which managed to impose its authority over Anghiari until the second half of the 12th century.

Around the 14th century, the city was subjected to the power of the Tarlati. This period of rule also had positive aspects, and brought about the strengthening of the walls. Later, Anghiari was fought over again at various times and subjected to rule by Arezzo, Perugia, and, finally, Florence in 1385.

Battle of Anghiari

An act of war which still remains in the memory of inhabitants of Anghiari was the famous "Battle of Anghiari" that the city fought against the Duchy of Milan in 1440.

This battle was made famous by a fresco by Leonardo Da Vinci [1452-1519] (The Battle of Anghiari), unfortunately now lost along with the preparatory sketches. The only document we have left are the words of Leonardo himself about the ways to represent a battle, in the famous passage of which he says that, first of all, it is necessary to represent "[...] the smoke of artillery, mixed with the air and dust, moved by the movement of horses and combatants [...]" [1].

Anghiari history after the 15th century

Other wars that played a leading role in Anghiari manifested themselves in the 16th century when it defended its autonomy against Vitellozzo Vitelli (1458-1503), an ally of the Florentines, and again in 1517 when it resisted the siege of Francesco Maria della Rovere (1490-1538).

The city later became a member of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and, under the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo (1742-1792), it went through a period of great prosperity and increase in buildings. This continued in the Napoleonic Age, when various additions were made in the Mercatale Square, with an expansion of the space which is today referred to by a French word, "parterre".

The city later took an active part in the battles of the Risorgimento, and, finally, it entered the kingdom of Italy in 1860.

See Anghiari for a tourist travel guide to the town.

References

1. See L. Da Vinci, "Modo di figurare una battaglia", in G. Fumagalli, “Leonardo, Omo Sanza Lettere” ["Leonardo, a Man Without Letters", Florence, Sansoni, 1952, pp. 166-168