Castellaneta - History

History

Human settlements were present in the area since the Bronze Age (3rd-2nd millennium BC), and it was later probably settled by Sicels, Messapii and Iapyges. According to a theory, a fortified city (Castania in Latin) was founded in 550 and grew in size when the population of neighboring cities fled there from Saracen attacks. Other historians maintain instead that it was a Greek colony which existed until the 8th century. When the Saracens destroyed it, the inhabitants joined in a Castellum Unitum (United Castle) on the hills, whence the current name.

Whatever its origin, Castellaneta was conquered by the Normans in 1064, taken by Duke Robert of Taranto, who expelled its Byzantine inhabitants. At that time, probably, the episcopal see was created. In the 13th century Charles of Anjou turned it first into a fief, and later into a King's city.

In 1503, during the Italian Wars, the citizens pushed back a French occupation force under the Duke of Nemours, in the so-called "Sack of Castellaneta". In 1519 the Spaniards sold it to Flemish feudataries, and thenceforth the city started to decline as secondary center.

In the course of World War II, the withdrawing Germans bombed it, killing 27 people. For this feat the city received a bronze medal to civil valor.

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