Pisa History, Italy
Pisa, Italy is said to be an ancient city and its foundation dates back to the 13th century B.C. The city was situated on the Arno River and had been influenced by the Ligurians, the Etruscans, the Greeks, and other ancient European peoples. In 180 B.C., Pisa became a Roman colony and was soon built into a thriving port. After the decline of the Roman Empire, the city became a sovereign state. By 800 A.D., it had been invaded by the Vikings, the Byzantines, the Saracens and other conquering peoples. The city’s residents managed to keep the city to themselves, however, through many different means including success at battle, land deals, and trade agreements. By keeping their city sovereign, the Pisans became a trade center between northern Africa and Spain.
In 1099 A.D., the Pisans entered the Crusades on the side of the Vatican. The powerful economic and political influence that this action afforded Pisa allowed the city to grow and expand. The following century led to the development of several Pisan colonies, including Tunis, Tripoli, and Antioch. The city was also able to establish a trade agreement with the Byzantine Empire and began to trade with several Middle Eastern cities.
Some of the growth and expansion that Pisa gained was lost by 1254 when Florence finally defeated Pisa after three decades of small battles. Florence allowed Pisa to remain sovereign in exchange for some of the Pisan land. Florence also restricted some of Pisa’s trade agreements with other countries. Thirty years later, Pisa suffered an even greater loss during the Battle of Meloria against Genoa. During the battle, several naval ships were destroyed and over 11,000 men were killed or captured and held prisoner. In 1293, while Pisa was still in a weakened state, the Guelph’s invaded the city and took their harbor. Many Pisan colonies were taken by the Guelph’s and harsh terms were placed on the city.
By 1298, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was already under construction. Over 100 years earlier, a wealthy widow donated money to the city for a new bell tower. A slight tilt had been detected and an investigative committee was formed in order to inspect the tower. At that time, the tilt was still small and construction continued. The tower was completed in 1370 and since then the tilt in the tower has grown.
Throughout the 15th and early 16th centuries, attacks by Florence on Pisa continued. Pisa was forced to surrender its sovereign state in 1509 to Niccolo Machiavelli, a political leader in Florence during the Italian Renaissance. Later in the century, Galileo Galilee moved to Pisa in order to teach mathematics at the university there. He also conducted experiments on the earth’s gravitational pull by dropping objects off of the Leaning Tower.
The Leaning Tower became sensational once again in the 1700’s and 1800’s when investigative committees were once again called in to find a solution for the continually worsening tilt in the tower. By this time, the tower was a tourist attraction and the city’s most valuable site. The foundation below the building was fixed during the 19th and 20th centuries. Because of this, the tower is thought to be stable even though it still has its famous tilt.Pisa became part of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861 along with the rest of the region of Tuscany. Today, the city of Pisa is the capital of the Italian province of Pisa.
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