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    The Montefeltro

    The first member of the family was Count Antonio da Montefeltro, descendent of the Carpegna dynasty, a legendary figure who acquired his title as he was of noble descent.

    The Montefeltro covered an area near San Leo, once known as Mons Feretrus in honour of a temple dedicated to Jupiter Feretrius built there. His son, Montefeltrano, consolidated the name and prestige of the family, making it one of the most powerful in the region.

    Even when they became counts of Urbino they continued to live in San Leo and indeed, Guido I da Montefeltro, also known as “The Elder”, was born there in 1255. In his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri put him in the Inferno, in the eighth bolgia.

    In 1443, Pope Eugene IV appointed Federico’s father, Oddantonio II da Montefeltro, first Duke of Urbino, the city that became capital of the state and would become one of the most important towns of the Italian Renaissance. This was thanks mainly to Federico, who called to his court the greatest men of letters and artists of the period, like Piero della Francesca, Luciano Laurana and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who built the splendid Ducal Palace.

    The decline of the city began when the capital was transferred to Pesaro in 1523.

    Federico da Montefeltro

    As stated in a bull by Pope Martin V, Federico III was the illegitimate son of Guidantonio da Montefeltro, lord of Urbino, Gubbio and Casteldurante and Count of Spoleto, and one of the ladies-in-waiting of his barren wife.

    He managed to become duke when his half-brother was killed in a palace plot. The Duchy of Urbino was a state entity of feudal origin, tied by obligations of vassalage to the Papal State.  It occupied the northern part of the Marche and Umbria and was established following transformation of the County of Urbino, founded two centuries earlier.

    It was powerful and stable and Federico had the determination and intelligence necessary to follow a personal strategy aimed at consolidating the duchy. He didn’t have to wait long to achieve his goal. After fighting Sigismondo for 20 years, often in violent battles in which no holds were barred, and thanks to the support of Pope Pius II, who was set on eliminating the Malatesta seignory, he managed to finally defeat his bitter rival in 1463.

    Having achieved such splendour under the patronage of its leader, Rimini was now defenceless, whilst Urbino continued on its road to grandeur and glory under Federico. The latter’s personal triumphs peaked when he was appointed captain general of the army of the Italian League and commanding officer of the armies of the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan and the Pope. These roles forced him to draw on all his expertise as a shrewd and prudent diplomat, always careful to assess all the possible consequences of his choices in order to gain the most benefit from his actions.

    (Taken from Malatesta & Montefeltro a journey through the hills of Rimini ed. Assessorato al Turismo della Provincia di Rimini)

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    Last update: 10/02/2016