1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lombardy

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LOMBARDY, a territorial division of Italy, bounded N. by the Alps, S. by Emilia, E. by Venetia and W. by Piedmont. It is divided into eight provinces, Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Mantua, Milan, Pavia and Sondrio, and has an area of 9386 sq. m. Milan, the chief city, is the greatest railway centre of Italy; it is in direct communication not only with the other principal towns of Lombardy and the rest of Italy but also with the larger towns of France, Germany and Switzerland, being the nearest great town to the tunnels of the St Gothard and the Simplon. The other railway centres of the territory are Mortara, Pavia and Mantua, while every considerable town is situated on or within easy reach of the railway, this being rendered comparatively easy owing to the relative flatness of the greater part of the country. The line from Milan to Porto Ceresio is worked in the main by electric motor driven trains, while on that from Lecco to Colico and Chiavenna over-head wires are adopted. The more remote districts and the immediate environs of the larger town are served by steam tramways and electric railways. The most important rivers are the Po, which follows, for the most part, the southern boundary of Lombardy, and the Ticino, one of the largest tributaries of the Po, which forms for a considerable distance the western boundary. The majority of the Italian lakes, those of Garda, Idro, Iseo, Como, Lugano, Varese and Maggiore, lie wholly or in part within it. The climate of Lombardy is thoroughly continental; in summer the heat is greater than in the south of Italy, while the winter is very cold, and bitter winds, snow and mist are frequent. In the summer rain is rare beyond the lower Alps, but a system of irrigation, unsurpassed in Europe, and dating from the middle ages, prevails, so that a failure of the crops is hardly possible. There are three zones of cultivation: in the mountains, pasturage; the lower slopes are devoted to the culture of the vine, fruit-trees (including chestnuts) and the silkworm; while in the regions of the plain, large crops of maize, rice, wheat, flax, hemp and wine are produced, and thousands of mulberry-trees are grown for the benefit of the silkworms, the culture of which in the province of Milan has entirely superseded the sheep-breeding for which it was famous during the middle ages. Milan is indeed the principal silk market in the world. In 1905 there were 490 mills reeling silk in Lombardy, with 35,407 workers, and 276 throwing-mills with 586,000 spindles. The chief centre of silk weaving is Como, but the silk is commercially dealt with at Milan, and there is much exportation. A considerable amount of cotton is manufactured, but most of the raw cotton (600,000 bales) is imported, the cultivation being insignificant in Italy. There are 400 mills in Lombardy, 277 of which are in the province of Milan. The largest linen and woollen mills in Italy are situated at Fara d’Adda. Milan also manufactures motor-cars, though Turin is the principal centre in Italy for this industry. There are copper, zinc and iron mines, and numerous quarries of marble, alabaster and granite. In addition to the above industries the chief manufactures are hats, rope and paper-making, iron-casting, gun-making, printing and lithography. Lombardy is indeed the most industrial district of Italy. In parts the peasants suffer much from pellagra.

The most important towns with their communal population in the respective provinces, according to the census of 1901, are Bergamo (46,861), Treviglio (14,897), total of province 467,549, number of communes 306; Brescia (69,210), Chiari (10,749), total of province 541,765, number of communes 280; Como (38,174), Varese (17,666), Cantù (10,725), Lecco (10,352), total of province 594,304, number of communes 510; Cremona (36,848), Casalmaggiore (16,407), Soresina (10,358), total of province 329,471, number of communes 133; Mantua (30,127), Viadana (16,082), Quistello (11,228), Suzzara (11,502), St Benedetto Po (10,908), total of province 315,448, number of communes 68; Milan (490,084), Monza (42,124), Lodi (26,827), Busto Arsizio (20,005), Legnano (18,285), Seregno (12,050), Gallarate (11,952), Codogno (11,925), total of province 1,450,214, number of communes 297; Pavia (33,922), Vigevano (23,560), Voghera (20,442), total of province 504,382, number of communes 221; Sondrio (7077), total of province 130,966, number of communes 78. The total population of Lombardy was 4,334,099. In most of the provinces of Lombardy there are far more villages than in other parts of Italy except Piedmont; this is attributable partly to their mountainous character, partly perhaps to security from attack by sea (contrast the state of things in Apulia).

Previous to the fall of the Roman republic Lombardy formed a part of Gallia Transpadana, and it was Lombardy, Venetia and Piedmont, the portion of the Italian peninsula N. of the Po, that did not receive citizenship in 89 B.C. but only Latin rights. The gift of full citizenship in 49 B.C. made it a part of Italy proper, and Lombardy and Piedmont formed the 11th region of Augustus (Transpadana) while Venetia and Istria formed the 10th. It was the second of the regions of Italy in size, but the last in number of towns; it appears, however, to have been prosperous and peaceful, and cultivation flourished in its fertile portions. By the end of the 4th century A.D. the name Liguria had been extended over it, and Milan was regarded as the capital of both. Stranger still, in the 6th century the old Liguria was separated from it, and under the name of Alpes Cottiae formed the 5th Lombard province of Italy.

For details of subsequent history see Lombards and Italy; and for architecture see Architecture. G. T. Rivoira in Origini dell’ Architettura Lombarda (2 vols. Rome, 1901–1907), successfully demonstrates the classical origin of much that had hitherto been treated by some authorities as “Byzantine.” In the development of Renaissance architecture and art Lombardy played a great part, inasmuch as both Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci resided in Milan at the end of the 15th century.