History of Fabriano


See Fabriano guide for highlights and historic monuments

The town of Fabriano is located on the banks of the Giano River, a tributary of Esino. The ancient name of Fabriano was “Faberius” - we note that the origins date back to the 12th century AD, and thus to the Middle Ages.

This geographical position, so rich in water, literally made the fortune of the city, encouraging the development of the paper industry (...) the first core of which dates back to the fifth century AD, with the arrival of people from the cities of "Attidium" (now "Attiggio") and "Tuficum" (now "Tufico Village"), abandoned due to the barbarian invasions.

Does Fabriano have more ancient origins?

Some scholars have noted that "Faberius" was a noble name, and, according to the documents,  it referred to a "Gens Faberia”, who had his landholdings in the area of Fabriano:

"[...] It was also a “a Roman family that probably derives her name from 'smiths', i.e. the trade of blacksmith". Thus, the etymology of "Faberius-Fabriano" means simply "smith" (...) it is probably the same 'Faberius' who possessed a considerable area of the “Giano” River Valley [where Fabriano is located], where similar or identical names are repeated" [1].

Moreover, linguistic studies confirm the accuracy of this hypothesis and they concluded that the place-name "Faberius" is, precisely:

“linked to the name or occupation of the landowner. According to Giovan Battista Pellegrini, [Fabriano derives] from 'Fabrius' or 'Faberius', with the suffix "-iacus" of Gallo-Roman area, from which [we also derive] 'Fabriaco' or 'Fabriago' (Romagna)” [2].

Fabriano and the Middle Ages

During the 12th century, two ancient castles, the "Castrum Vetus" ["Old Castle"] and "Castrum Novum" ["New Castle"], located on the right bank of Giano River merged, and the new city developed rapidly.

Towards the middle of the 13th century Fabriano became a municipality, as shown by documents that indicate the presence of city magistrates, and also the typical expansion of the territory of the city took place, which controlled the entire Giano River Valley and surrounding hills.

The economic activity grew during this period because of the development of a mercantile middle class, who took advantage of profits mainly from the manufacture of iron - the city coat of arms was a blacksmith.

Later the paper industry also developed, which spread the fame of Fabriano in Italy until the present time. At the same time, the city also developed a school of art that had real talent with artists such as Allegretto Nuzi (1315 ca.-1374 ca.) and Gentile da Fabriano (1375-1427).

Towards the middle of the 13th century the building had begun of new city walls, which were terminated by Alberghetto I Chiavelli (1308-1348) in the early 14th century, and the city reached its greatest extent and it was divided into four quarters. At the end of the 14th century, the powerful family of the Chiavelli made itself known, and imposed its rule until 1435.

The domain of Francesco Sforza (1401-1466) followed, until 1444, and later the town was annexed by the Church State. After the looting by Spaniards in 1515 and the Government of Giulio de Medici (1478-1534), in 1527 a certain calm and economic prosperity returned to Fabriano.

Fabriano history since the 17th century

The 17th century was a period of decline and economic stagnation, but in the 18th century the city, thanks to the paper industry, experienced a new period of economic expansion and building development, so that Fabriano, in the mid-18th century, was elevated by Benedict XIII (1649-1730) to the Diocese.

In the Napoleonic period (1808) it had been annexed to the so-called “Italic Kingdom”, but, in 1813, it passed under the government of Naples, and, in 1814, under Austrian rule. In 1815, it came under the rule of Church State until 1860, when it entered the Kingdom of Italy.

See also the Fabriano travel guide.

References

1. See “Atti del XXI Convegno di Studi Storici Maceratesi: Macerata, 15-16 novembre 1986, Centro di Studi Storici Maceratesi, 1989, p. 8).  "Proceedings of the XXI Congress of Historical Studies of Macerata: Macerata 15-16 November 1986, Centre for Historical Studies of Macerata, 1989, p. 8)

2. See "Studi Romagnoli, 2005, Vol 53, p.304