Novara - Encyclopedia

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NOVARA, a town and episcopal see, of Piedmont, Italy, capital of the province of Novara, 31 m. by rail W. of Milan, 53 8 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1906) 37,962 (town), 48,694 (commune). Railways diverge hence to Varallo Sesia, Orta, Arona (for Domodossola), Busto Arsizio, Milan, Vigevano and Vercelli. Previous to 1839 Novara was still surrounded by its old Spanish ramparts, but it is now an open, modern-looking town. Part of the old citadel is used as a prison. The cathedral dates from the 4th century (?), but (with the exception of the octagonal dome-roofed baptistery belonging to the first part of the 10th century, and separated from the west end by an atrium) was rebuilt between 1860 and 1870 after designs by Antonelli; the church of S Gaudenzio, dedicated to Bishop Gaudentius (d. 417), who is buried under the high altar, rebuilt by Pellegrino Tibaldi about 1570, has a baroque campanile and a dome 396 ft. high, the latter added by Antonelli in 1875-1878; and San Pietro del Rosario is the church in which the papal anathema was pronounced against the followers of Fra Dolcino. The two first contain pictures by Gaudenzio Ferrari. The city also contains handsome market-buildings erected in 1817-1842, a large hospital dating from the 9th century and a courthouse constructed in 1346. The town has also a museum of Roman antiquities. The principal industry is the carding and spinning of silk; there are also iron-works and foundries, cotton mills, rice-husking mills, organ factories, dye-works and printing works.

Novara, the ancient Novaria, according to Pliny a place of Celtic origin, according to Cato (but wrongly) of Ligurian origin, was a municipal city, and lay on the road between Vercellae and Mediolanum. Its rectangular plan may well be a survival of Roman days. Dismantled in 386 by Maximus for siding with his rival Valentinian, it was restored by Theodosius; but it was afterwards ravaged by Radagaisus (405) and Attila (452). A dukedom of Novara was constituted by the Lombards, a countship by Charlemagne. In 1110 the city was taken and burned by the emperor Henry V. Before the close of the 12th century it accepted the protection of Milan, and thus passed into the hands, first, of the Visconti, and, secondly, of the Sforzas. In 1706 the city, which had long before been ceded by Maria Visconti to Amadeus VIII. of Savoy, was occupied by the Savoy troops. At the peace of Utrecht it passed to the house of Austria with the duchy of Milan; but, having been occupied by Charles Emmanuel in 1734, it was granted to him in the following year. Under the French it was the chief town of the department of Agogna. Restored to Savoy in 1814, it was in 1821 the scene of the defeat of the Piedmontese by the Austrians, and in 1849 of the more disastrous battle which led to the abdication of Charles Albert and an Austrian occupation of the city. The painter Gaudenzio Ferrari was a native of Novara; and so was Peter Lombard. (T. As.)

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