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PARMA

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 851 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PARMA, a town and episcopal see of Emilia, Italy, capital of the province of Parma, situated on the Parma, a tributary of the Po, 55 M. N.W. of Bologna by rail. Pop. (1906), 48,523. Parma, one of the finest cities of northern Italy, lies in a fertile tract of the Lombard plain, within view of the Alps and sheltered by the Apennines, 170 ft. above sea-level. From south to north it is traversed by the channel of the Parma, crossed here by three bridges; and from east to west runs the line of the Via Aemilia, by which ancient Parma was connected on the one hand with Ariminum (Rimini), and on the other with Placentia (Piacenza). The old ramparts and bastions (excluding the circuit of the citadel of 1591, now in great part demolished, in the south-east) make an enceinte of about 42 m., but the enclosed area is not all occupied by streets and houses. In the centre of the city the Via Aemilia widens out into the Piazza Garibaldi, a large square which contains the Palazzo del Governo and the Palazzo Municipale, both dating from 1627. The cathedral of the Assumption (originally S. Herculanus), erected between ro64 and 1074, and consecrated in rro6 by Pope Paschal II., is a Lombardo-Romanesque building in the form of a Latin cross. The severe west front is relieved by three rows of semicircular arches, and has a central porch (there were at one time three) supported by huge red marble lions, sculptured no doubt with the rest of the facade by Giovanni Bono da Bissone in 1281. On the south side of the facade is a large brick campanile, and the foundations of another may be seen on the north. The walls and ceiling of the fine Romanesque interior are covered with frescoes of 1570, subdued in colour and well suited to the character of the building; those of the octagonal cupola representing the Assumption of the Virgin are by Correggio, but much restored. The crypt contains the shrine of the bishop S. Bernardino degli Uberti and the tomb of Bartolommeo Prato—the former by Prospero Clementi of Reggio. In the sacristy are fine intarsias. To the south-west of the cathedral stands the baptistery, designed by Benedetto Antelami; it was begun in 1196 and not completed till 1281. The whole structure is composed of red and grey Verona marble. Externally it is an irregular octagon, each face consisting of a lower storey with a semicircular arch (in three cases occupied by a portal), with sculptures by Antelami, four tiers of small columns supporting as many continuous architraves, and forming open galleries, and above these (an addition of the Gothic period) a row of five engaged columns supporting a series of pointed arches and a cornice. Internally it is a polygon of sixteen unequal sides, and the cupola is supported by sixteen ribs, springing from the same number of columns. The frescoes are interesting works of the early 13th century. In the centre is an octagonal font bearing date 1294. The episcopal palace shows traces of the building of 1232. To the east of the cathedral, and at no great distance, stands the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista, which was founded along with the Benedictine monastery in 981, but as a building dates from 1510, and has a facade erected by Simone Moschino early in the 17th century. The interior is an extremely fine early Renaissance work. The frescoes on the cupola representing the vision of S. John are by Correggio, and the arabesques on the vault of the nave by Anselmi. The Madonna della Steccata (Our Lady of the Palisade), a fine church in the form of a Greek cross, erected between 1521 and 1539 after Zaccagni's designs, contains the tombs and monuments of many of the Bourbon and Farnese dukes of Parma, and preserves its pictures, Parmigiano's " Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law " and Anselmi's " Coro-nation of the Virgin." S. Francesco, probably the earliest Franciscan church in northern Italy (123o-1298; now a prison), is a Gothic building in brick with a fine rose-window. The Palazzo delta Pilotta is a vast and irregular group of buildings dating mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries; it now comprises the academy of fine arts (1752) and its valuable picture gallery. Among the most celebrated pictures here are Correggio's " Madonna di San Girolamo " and "Madonna della Scodella." The Teatro Farnese, a remarkable wooden structure erected in 1618-1619 from Aleotti d'Argenta's designs, and capable of containing 4500 persons, is also in this palace. Thereare other beautiful ceiling frescoes by Correggio in the former Benedictine nunnery of S. Paolo, executed in 1518-1519; in an adjoining chamber are fine arabesques by Araldi (d. 1528); thence come also some fine majolica tiles (1471-1482), now in the museum. The royal university of Parma, founded in 16or by Ranuccio I., and reconstituted by Philip of Bourbon in 1768, has faculties in law, medicine and natural science, and possesses an observatory, and natural science collections, among which is the Eritrean Zoological Museum. A very considerable trade is carried on at Parma in grain, cattle and the dairy produce of the district. The grana cheese known as Parmesan is not now so well made at Parma as in some other parts of Italy—Lodi, for example. From archaeological discoveries it would appear that the ancient town was preceded by a prehistoric settlement of the Bronze Age, the dwellings of which rested upon piles—one, indeed, of the so-called terremare, which are especially frequent in the neighbourhood of Parma. Parma became a Roman colony of 2000 colonists in 183 B.C., four years after the construction of the Via Aemilia, on which it lay. The bridge by which the Via Aemilia crossed the river Parma, from which it probably takes its name, is still preserved, but has been much altered. A bishop , of Parma is mentioned in the acts of the council of Rome of A.D. 378. It fell into the power of Alboin in 569 and became the seat of a Lombard duchy; it was still one of the wealthiest cities of Aemilia in the Lombard period. During the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries Parma had its full share of the Guelph and Ghibelline struggles, in which it mainly took the part of the former, and also carried on repeated hostilities with Borgo San Donnino and Piacenza. Its bishop Cadalus (1046-1071) was elected to the papacy by the Lombard and German bishops in ro61, and marched on Rome, but was driven back by the partisans of Alexander III. To him is due the building of the cathedral. As a republic its government was mainly in the hands of the Rossi, Pallavicino, Correggio and Sanvitale families. The fruitless siege of Parma in 1248 was the last effort of Frederick II. In the cathedral flags captured in this siege are preserved. In 1307 the city became a lordship for Giberto da Correggio, who laid the basis of its territorial power by conquering Reggio, Brescello and Gaustalla, and was made commander-in-chief of the Guelphs by Robert of Apulia. The Correggio family never managed to keep possession of it for long, and in 1346 they sold it to the Visconti (who constructed a citadel, La Rocchetta, in 1356, of which some remains exist on the east bank of the river, while the later teete du pant may be seen en the west bank), and from them it passed to the Sforza. Becoming subject to Pope Julius II. in 1512, Parma remained (in spite of the French occupation horn 1515 to 1521) a papal possession till 1545, when Paul III. (Alexander Farnese) invested his son Pierluigi with the duchies of Parma and Piacenza. There were eight dukes of Parma of the Farnese line—Pierluigi (d. 1547), Ottavio (1586), Alessandro (1592), Ranuccio I. (1622), Odoardo (1646), Ranuccio II. (1694), Francesco (1727), Antonio (1731). Antonio and Francesco both having died childless, the duchy passed to Charles of Bourbon (Don Carlos), infante of Spain, who, becoming king of Naples in 1734, surrendered Parma and Piacenza to Austria, but retained the artistic treasures of the Farnese dynasty which he had removed from Parma to Naples. Spain reconquered the duchies in the war of succession (1745); they were recovered by Austria in 1746; and Maria Theresa again surrendered them to Don Philip, infante of Spain, in 1748. Ferdinand, Philip's son, who succeeded under Dutillot's regency in 1765, saw his states occupied by the revolutionary forces of France in 1796, and had to purchase his life-interest with 6,000,000 lire and 25 of the best paintings in Parma. On his death in 1802 the duchies were incorporated with the French republic and his son Louis became " king of Etruria." Parma was thus governed for several years by Moreau de Saint-Mery and by Junot. At the congress of Vienna, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla were assigned to Marie Louise (daughter of Francis I. of Austria and Napoleon's second consort), and on her death they passed in 1847 to Charles II. (son of Louis of Etruria 1905).
End of Article: PARMA
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