A Short History

The region of the Marches as it is at present, was inhabited in the times before Christ by the Picentes, while the coastline from Pesaro to Esino represents the point of maximum penetration into Italy by the Gauls (Ager Gallicus). At the beginning of the fourth century B.C., Ancona was founded by Syracusan exiles. In the third century B.C., the region fell to the Romans. At this time of Augustus Piceno constituted the Vth. region. In 292 A.D., Piceno and Ager Gallicus were united to form the province of Aemilia and Picenum. Diocletian instituted a new subdivision and subsequent administrative changes which affected the territory during the succeeding period. The Lombards occupied the whole region to the south of Ancona, while that consisting of the five seaports ( Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, Ancona ) was given to the papacy by Pipino and Carlo Magno; thriving in this situation were various abbeys which developed methods of land cultivation. Only under the Ottoni in the tenth century did the name Marca appear to indicate the limits of the area under papal influence. In this way the district of Camerino was created and detached from the dukedom of Spoleto. Yet later the district of Fermo was established which then merged with that of Ancona. The municipalities led a lively existence. Ancona was the main municipality, and it competed with Venice for the Adriatic trade and successfully resisted Barbarossa. The municipalities of Fabriano, Matelica and Osimo were also significant. During the period of the minor gentry, the most notable family was, at first, that of the Montefeltro which extended its domination over Gubbio, Urbino, Cagli etc. While Camerino came under the Varano, later, the Malatesta imposed themselves extensively from Pesaro to Osima. But not even the Holy See ever renounced its ancient rights and sought to exercise them through its envoys or else handing over to the local gentry the apostolic holdings. In the middle of the fourteenth century, the cardinal Egidio de Albornoz succeeded in bringing back to the dependency of the Church many cities and castles and agreed a stable settlement with the nobility. Francesco Sforza, from 1433 to 1444, established himself as a major figure in the area and in the second half of the century, Cesare Borgia took charge of all the Marca; but the endeavours, in fact, of the Borgia family only served to favour the administrative centralisation which the Church had been pursuing for some time, and which was completed in 1532 with the occupation of the municipality of Ancona and in 1631 with the acquisition of the dukedom of Urbino, the Della Rovere family having died out.
The Republic of Ancona (1797) arose under the protection of French revolutionary troops. Then, the cities of the Marches joined with the Republic of Rome (1798-99) after which they became part of the Italian Kingdom, from 1808 to 1813. Restored to the Church following the Napoleonic catastrophes, the Marches were occupied by Piedmontese troops until 1860 when they finally rejoined the Kingdom of Italy.