Smooth hills cross the Monferrato Marquisate, pushing the visitor to search the traces of Aleramo’s passage for a never-ending history, 1050 years long old.
We don’t know if Aleramo’s legendary ride actually occurred or not, but what is certain is that today we celebrate the 1050 years of the Monferrato Marquisate. King Ottone I granted the Marquisate to Aleramo on 23 March 967 which lasted until 1708.
A wide land resting in the hills between the rivers Po, Tanaro, and Bomida, the Marquisate was governed for more than 3 centuries by Aleramo’s descendents until, in the absence of any new direct descendents, it passed to the Paleologi family who led it until the 16th century. Its capital was initially Chivasso, then Casale, a city in the north of the land.
Vast and well placed along northern Italy’s main communication routes, the Marquisate had to protect its borders from the expansionist ambitions of neighboring municipalities. Asti, Alessandria, and Vercelli were the enemies that, especially for commercial reasons, tried constantly to seize its hills.
Once the Era of Communes ended, the Monferrato Marquisate collided against the Savoia and Visconti families, hegemons of Piedmont and Lombardy. Although under pressure on the north side with the loss of the old capital Chivasso in the middle of the 15th century, the Monferrato Marquisate was able to develop towards the south gaining the cities of Alba, Acqui, and Casale which became the new capital.
The Marquisate’s independence ended with the extinction of the Paleologo dynasty. Contested by northern Italy’s noble families, its destiny was decided by King Carlo V of Spain who gave it to the Gonzaga family after the Peace of Cateau Cambresis. Despite a difficult relationship under the Gonzagas, the Marquisate was elevated to the rank of Duchy in 1675.
The Savoia’s interest for this land never faded and provoked two additional wars in the 17th century from which Monferrato emerged divided: control of the western part passed to the Savoia family while the rest remained under the Gonzagas. After a century of uncertainties and wars, control of this territory passed definitely back to the Gonzagas with whom from that moment onwards, it will share its future.