History of Todi


See Todi guide for highlights and historic monuments

Todi, the ancient town called “Tuder”, is situated on a hill about 400 meters above sea level, between the rivers Naja and Rio, tributaries of the Tiber.

In the pre-Roman period, Todi was the most powerful fortress city of the Umbrias in a difficult area, bordering on the Etruscans.

"In umbris Tuder sunt principes" ["The ‘Tudertini’ are the first among the Umbrians"] [2].

According to studies, despite the strenuous defence of the Umbrias, the presence of the Etruscans in “Tuder” was both massive and important, as is testified by the Etruscan funerary furniture discovered in the city.

Origins of the name Todi

It is as a border town with Etruria that the etymology of the city is explained by scholars, who interpret the name "Tuder" as "border town":

"[.. .] Todi (‘Tuder’) seems to reflect the Umbro-Etruscan term 'Tular-Tuder', 'border' [...]" [1].

Todi in Roman times

As Regards the relations with Rome, the sources refer to the 2nd century BC. After the Social War, in 89 BC, Todi obtained the Roman citizenship with a “Senatusconsultum” [executive decree of the Senate] reported by Sisenna (120-67 BC):

"[...] Finally, by the decree of Senate and will of the Roman people, Roman citizenship was given to the inhabitants of Todi "] [3].

The city was assigned to the "Clustumina" tribe, as various inscriptions attest. It also actively participated in the Civil War, supporting Marius (157-86 BC), and, for this reason, suffering a severe destruction and looting by Marcus Licinius Crassus [115-53 BC] in 83 BC.

After the Battle of Philippi (42 BC), a colony of veterans was drawn to Todi, and Octavian [Augustus] (63 BC-19 AD) also allowed it to expand into surrounding areas. For its loyalty to Rome, it was defined in inscriptions with the title of "Colonia Iulia Fida Tuder "[" Todi, a very faithful Colony].

Under Emperor Diocletian (244-311 AD), Todi was inserted in the Region "Tuscia et Umbria".

Todi after the Romans

During the Greek-Gothic war it was initially a garrison of Goths and later of the Byzantines, and, according to some sources, it was also destroyed by the Goths [4]. Towards the end of the 6th century AD, it was occupied by the Lombards, and later it belonged to the Byzantine Exarchate.

The growth of Christianity in Todi is believed to date back to the 3rd-4th century AD; the sources indicate Bishop "Terentianus" as the first martyr of the city and, in fact, the only catacombs of Todi, discovered at the “Villa San Faustino”, seem to date from the 4th and 5th centuries AD.

Todi in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages the city's name changed from “Tuder” to “Tudertum-I”.

Between the 13th and 14th century Todi was a powerful municipality, affected like all Italian cities by the fighting between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and engaged in exhausting struggles against neighbouring towns, such as Orvieto and Spoleto, and against attempts by Emperor Frederick II (1184-1250) to subject municipalities to the imperial authority.

From the 14th century the municipal autonomy of Todi weakened, and the city depended more and more on the Church State, although various families, such as the Malatesta from Rimini, Fortinbras Braccio da Montone (1368-1424) and Francesco Sforza (1401-1466) conquered it for some years. Among these, we remember especially the lordship of the “Atti” Family: in 1329, Ranieri Atti was appointed Vicar of Ludwig of Bavaria (1315-1361). But Todi soon returned under Papal rule and the “Atti” were appointed Papal Vicars.

The Church State fully restored its authority with Cardinal Albornoz (1310-1367), who, in the second half of the 14th century, imposed a papal governor on the city and the construction of a fortress for better control of the town. From the beginning of the 14th century Todi recorded a slow decline, although the Temple of “San Fortunato” was finished.

From the 15th to the 16th century, in the most representative areas of the upper town, the private residences of noble families such as the two Palaces of the “Atti” were built, in Piazza Garibaldi and Palazzo Cesi. With Bishop Angelo Cesi (1566-1606) the city seemed to recover from the demographic crisis of the early 16th century, caused by a wave of plague, which had reduced the population to less than half.

During the episcopate of Angelo Cesi, some town-planning and buildings of importance were carried out in Todi, such as the enlargement of Via Cesia and Via Rua; the restoration of the Cathedral and the construction of the Bishop's Palace; the edification of the “Crocifisso” Church outside the city walls, and the “Tempio della Consolazione”, which began in 1508.

The Temple “of Santa Maria della Consolazione” was probably created with a plan by Bramante (1444-1514), and its construction lasted until the early 17th century, with contributions by artists like Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481-1536), Vignola (1507-1573) and Ippolito Scalza (1532-1617).

Todi in recent centuries

The city remained under the rule of Church State until the Napoleonic Age, during which it was the capital of a very large department, reaching to Orvieto and Acquapendente, and it was reduced in sizeonly after the “Risorgimento”, when the city entered the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

It can be argued that the city maintains, even today, a particularly historical integrity; in fact, in the urban aspect, the ancient Roman "municipium" remained virtually unaltered, although in the 19th century, the city underwent several renovations especially for improving roads inside and outside the walls, but, overall, the Old Town of Todi has been well maintained over the years

See also the Todi visitor guide.

References

1. See “Archivio Glottologico Italiano”, Florence, Le Monnier, 1983, Vol. 68-71, p. 149

2. Cato [243-149 BC])

3. See Sisen." Hist. Rom. Reliquiae, I, 119, p. 292

4. See Procopius (500-565 ca.), "De Bello Gothico", II, 13