Padua (Lat. Patavium; Ital. Padova), a city of northern Italy, on the Bacchiglione river, 40km west of Venice and 29km southeast of Vicenza, with a population of 211,985 (2004). The city is picturesque, with arcaded streets, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione, which once surrounded the ancient walls.
The Palazzo della Ragione, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe; the hall is nearly rectangular, its length 815m, its breadth 27m, and its height 24m; the walls are covered with symbolical paintings in fresco; the building stands upon arches, and the upper storey is surrounded by an open loggia, not unlike that which surrounds the basilica of Vicenza; the Palazzo was begun in 1172 and finished in 1219; in 1306 Fra Giovanni, an Augustinian friar, covered the whole with one roof; originally there were three roofs, spanning the three chambers into which the hail was at first divided; the internal partition walls remained till the fire of 1420, when the Venetian architects who undertook the restoration removed them, throwing all three compartments into one and forming the present great hall.
In the Piazza dei Signori is the beautiful loggia called the Gran Guardia, begun in 1493 and finished in 1526, and close by is the Palazzo del Capitanio, the residence of the Venetian governors, with its great door, the work of Falconetto of Verona, 1532. The most famous of the Paduan churches is the basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, commonly called Il Santo; the bones of the saint rest in a chapel richly ornamented with carved marbles, the work of various artists, among them of Sansovino and Falconetto; the basilica was begun about the year 1230 and completed in the following century; tradition says that the building was designed by Nicola Pisano; it is covered by seven cupolas, two of them pyramidal. On the piazza in front of the church is Donatello's magnificent equestrian statue of Erasmo da Narni, the Venetian general (1438-1441).
The Eremitani is an Augustinian church of the 13th century, distinguished as containing the tombs of Jacopo (1324) and IJbertino[?] (1345) da Carrara, lords of Padua, and for the chapel of SS James and Christopher, illustrated by Mantegna's frescoes. Close by the Eremitani is the small church of the Annunziata, known as the Madonna dell'Arena, whose inner walls are entirely covered with paintings by Giotto. Padua has long been famous for its university, founded by Frederick II in 1238. Under the rule of Venice the university was governed by a board of three patricians, called the Riformatori dello Studio di Padova. The list of professors and alumni is long and illustrious, containing, among others, the names of Bembo, Sperone Speroni, Vesalius, Acquapendente, Galileo Galilei, Pomponazzi, Pole, Scaliger, Tasso and Sobieski. The place of Padua in the history of art is nearly as important as its place in the history of learning. The presence of the university attracted many distinguished artists, as Giotto, Fra Filippo Lippi and Donatello; and for native art there was the school of Francesco Squarcione (1394-1474), whence issued the great Mantegna (1431-1506).
The industry of Padua has greatly developed in modern times. Corn and saw mills, distilleries, chemical factories, breweries, candle-works, ink-works, foundries, agricultural machine and automobile works, have been established and are flourishing. The trade of the district has grown to such an extent that Padua has become the central market for the whole of Venetia.
Padua claims to be the oldest city in north Italy; the inhabitants pretend to a fabulous descent from the Trojan Antenor, whose relics they recognized in a large stone sarcophagus exhumed in the year 1274. Their real origin is involved in that obscurity which conceals the ethnography of the earliest settlers in the Venetian plain. Padua early became a populous and thriving city, thanks to its excellent breed of horses and the wool of its sheep. Its men fought for the Romans at Cannae, and the city became so powerful that it was reported able to raise two hundred thousand fighting men. Abano in the neighbourhood was made illustrious by the birth of Livy, and Padua was the native place of Valerius Flaccus, Asconius Pedianus and Thrasea Paetus. Padua, in common with north-eastern Italy, suffered severely from the invasion of the Huns under Attila (452). It then passed under the Gothic kings Odoacer and Theodoric the Great, but made submission to the Greekss in 540. The city was seized again by the Goths under Totila, and again restored to the Eastern Empire by Narses in 568. Following the course of events common to most cities of north-eastern Italy, the history of Padua falls under eight heads: (1) the Lombard rule, (2) the Frankish rule, (3) the period of the bishops, (4) the emergence of the commune, (5) the period of the despots, (6) the period of Venetian supremacy, (7) the period of Austrian supremacy, and finally (8) the period of united Italy.
- Under the Lombards the city of Padua rose in revolt (601) against Agiluiph, the Lombard king, and after suffering a long and bloody siege was stormed and burned by him. The city did not easily recover from this blow, and Padua was still weak when the Franks succeeded the Lombards as masters of north Italy.
- At the Diet of Aix-la-Chapelle (828) the duchy and march of Friuli, in which Padua lay, was divided into four counties, one of which took its title from that city.
- During the period of episcopal supremacy Padua does not appear to have been either very important or very active. The general tendency of its policy throughout the war of investitures was Imperial and not Roman; and its bishops were, for the most part, Germans.
- But under the surface two important movements were taking place. At the beginning of the 11th century the citizens established a constitution, composed of a general council or legislative assembly and a credenza or executive; and during the next century they were engaged in wars with Venice and Vicenza for the right of water-way on the Bacchiglione and the Brenta— so that, on the one hand, the city grew in power and selfreliance, while, on the other, the great families of Camposampiero, D'Este and Da Romano began to emerge and to divide the Paduan district between them. The citizens, in order to protect their liberties, were obliged to elect a podestà, and their choice fell first on one of the D'Este family (c. 1175). The temporary success of the Lombard League helped to strengthen the towns; but their ineradicable jealousy of one another soon reduced them to weakness again, so that in 1236 Frederick II. found little difficulty in establishing his vicar Ezzelino da Romano in Padua and the neighbouring cities, where he practised frightful cruelties on the inhabitants. When Ezzelino met his death, in 1259, Padua enjoyed a brief period of rest and prosperity: the university flourished; the basilica of the saint was begun; the Paduans became masters of Vicenza. But this advance brought them into dangerous proximity to Can Grande della Scala, lord of Verona, to whom they had to yield in 1311.
- As a reward for freeing the city from the Scalas, Jacopo da Carrara was elected lord of Padua in 1318. From that date till 1405, with the exception of two years (1388-1390) when Giangaleazzo Visconti held the town, nine members of the Carrara family succeeded one another as lords of the city. It was a long period of restlessness, for the Carraresi were constantly at war; they were finally extinguished between the growing power of the Visconti and of Venice.
- Padua passed under Venetian rule in 1405, and so remained, with a brief interval during the wars of the League of Cambray, till the fall of the republic in 1797. The city was governed by two Venetian nobles, a podestà for civil and a captain for military affairs; each of these was elected for sixteen months. Under these governors the great and small councils continued to discharge municipal business and to administer the Paduan law, contained in the statutes of 1276 and 1362. The treasury was managed by two chamberlains; and every five years the Paduans sent one of their nobles to reside as nuncio in Venice, and to watch the interests of his native town.
- After the fall of the Venetian republic the history of Padua follows the history of Venice during the periods of French and Austrian supremacy.
- In 1866 the battle of Koniggratz gave Italy the opportunity to shake off the last of the Austrian yoke, when Venetia, and with Venetia Padua, became part of the united Italian kingdom.
based on an article from a 1911 encyclopedia