History of Milan

Are you going on holiday to Milan in Italy? Are you interested in learning about the history of Milan? Our guide to the history of Milan gives you the facts & information you’ll want to know.

Milan is one of the premier cities in Italy today and although it’s not the government capital of Italy, it is the financial heart of the country. Most of the big Italian banks and multinational corporations have their headquarters in Milan. Milan has a population of roughly 1.5 million people and is situated in the affluent Lombardi region of northern Italy. Milan is a popular shopping destination and also has several world class art museums around the city.

Early History of Milan in Italy

Milan was first inhabited as a permanent settlement during the 7th century BC. The first settlers in the history of Milan were Celtic tribes who established a community near the river Po. These Celtic tribes remained in Milan for approximately five hundred years until they were overtaken by the Romans who developed a new chapter in the history of Milan.

Roman History of Milan in Italy

The Roman army invaded and overran the Celtic settlements near Milan in the 2nd century BC and renamed it ‘Mediolanum’. This Latin word is where modern day Milan derives its name from and means in the middle of the plain. It was chosen to describe the geographical location of Milan. As the Roman Empire expanded northwards into Western Europe, the future of Milan was assured as an important trade route between Rome in the south and the Roman territories in France, Germany and England. In the 4th Century AD, Milan became the capital of the Western Roman Empire; however, this was a short lived glory as the Western Roman Empire was already being eclipsed by the Byzantines and it was only a matter of time before the Western Roman Empire diminished greatly in importance.

History of Milan During the Middle Ages

The history of Milan during the middle ages was consumed to a large degree with wars fought against rival cities in Italy. Italy used to be ruled as dozens of separate city states up until the 19th century and Milan was one such independent state. Around the same time, the Lombardo League was created as an alliance of city states in the north of Italy to rival those cities under the control of Emperor Frederick I.

Renaissance History of Milan

Although the renaissance is thought of as a time of development and achievement in the fields of art and architecture, Milan underwent severe turmoil in the 16th century which was repeated twice in the 18th century. In 1535 Spanish military forces invaded and occupied Milan and in the 18th century Milan fell under the control of the Austrian Empire and Napoleon at different times.