A significant past Residence often attended by Frederick II, Melfi, before the arrival of the emperor, had an important past: in 1041, in fact, the city was chosen by the Normans as the capital of the Kingdom of Apulia for its strategic location as a point of passage between Campania, Apulia and Calabria. Four years earlier it had become a bishopric and, from 1059 until 1221, six councils were summoned here; of particular importance was the third, which was proclaimed in 1089, during which the pontiff, in addition to establishing the obligation of celibacy for religious, proclaimed the first Crusade to the Holy Land. During the Fifth Council, convened by the anti-Pope Anacleto, Ruggero II was crowned King of the Kingdom of Sicily, the oldest in pre-Unification Italy. Uncertain origins but prideful The origin of Melfi is of unknown date. According to Lombard reporter, the city was founded by some Roman knights who, on a trip toward Byzantium, were forced to lend in Ragusa for a storm, they were driven away and, back on the Apulian coasts, they stopped on the hill where they founded Melfi. Another version has it that the city was built by the Greeks, and still another one dates the foundation back to the Middle Ages, a period in which Melfi was surely contended for its strategic position, knowing his heyday. Often besieged and sacked in the course of its history, in 1199 it was conquered by the German Marcovaldo on behalf of the underage King Frederick II of Swabia. Melfi Urbs legis The emperor chose the city as a summer residence and here he spent his leisure time, as he preferred the woods of Mount Vulture to practice falconry, his favorite hobby. In May 1231 Frederick returned to Basilicata with Pier della Vigna, his close collaborator, and the Archbishop of Capua, who had been entrusted with the task of collecting, in a single body of law, the regulations issued in 1220, the year of his Coronation. In August of the same year, before the solemn Diet of Melfi, the Constitutiones Regni Siciliae were promulgated, commonly known as the Constitutions of Melfi or Augustali Laws, legislative instrument of primary importance in the panorama of medieval Europe. In June of 1241, the king decided that in the castle the centre of collection of the imperial treasury and one of the three schools of logic of the Kingdom of Sicily were to be established. The departure of the Swabian dynasty In 1254, Melfi inhabitants rebelled against King Manfred, natural son and heir of Frederick II, died four years before, but the city was soon resumed and was possession of the Swabians until 1266 when Manfred was defeated by the Angevins who killed him and took over the kingdom. When the habitants of Melfi learned that Conradin, grandson of Frederick II, had gathered an army to take back the reign of his great uncle, they rose against the new rulers but also the last heir Swabian Emperor was defeated and the city suffered severe oppression by the Angevins. The calm before the storm With the end of the Swabians, Melfi assumed the role of a mere spectator in the affairs of the kingdom. In the following centuries it was subject to important and noble families such as the Acciaiuolis, the Caracciolos and finally the Dorias. Until the eighteenth century, the city had a fairly quiet period, although the peasantry was always in conditions of extreme poverty. At the end of the nineteenth century, the city was a very lively centre for the first movement of historical socialism. Today Melfi is one of the most productive areas of Basilicata and one of the largest industrial centres in the South. Source:“Notizie storiche della città di Melfi” by Gennaro Araneo