EMILIA, a territorial division (compartimento) of Italy, bounded by Venetia and Lombardy on the N., Liguria on the W., Tuscany on the S., the Marches on the S.E., and the Adriatic Sea on the E. It has an area of 7967 sq. m., and a population of 2,477,690 (1901), embracing eight provinces, as follows: - (1) Bologna (pop. 529,612; 61 communes); (2) Ferrara (270,558; 16 communes); (3) Forlì (283,996; 41 communes); (4) Modena (323,598; 45 communes); (5) Parma (303,694; 50 communes); (6) Piacenza (250,491; 47 communes); (7) Ravenna (234,656; 18 communes); (8) Reggio nell' Emilia (281,085; 43 communes). In these provinces the chief towns, with communal populations, are as follows: -
(1) Bologna (147,898), Imola (33,144), Budrio (17,077), S. Giovanni in Persiceto (15,978), Castelfranco (13,484), Castel S. Pietro (13,426), Medicina (12,575), Molinella (12,081), Crevalcore (11,408).
(2) Ferrara (86,675), Copparo (39,222), Argenta (20,474), Portomaggiore (20,141), Cento (19,078), Bondeno (15,682), Comacchio (10,745).
(3) Forlì (43,321), Rimini (43,595). Cesena (42,509).
(4) Modena (63,012), Carpi (22,876), Mirandola (13,721), Finale nell' Emilia (12,896), Pavullo nel Frignano (12,034).
(5) Parma (48,523), Borgo S. Donnino (12,019).
(6) Piacenza (35,647).·
(7) Ravenna (63,364), Faenza (39,757), Lugo (27,244), Bagnacavallo (15,176), Brisighella (13,815), Alfonsine (10,369).
(8) Reggio nell' Emilia (58,993), Correggio (14,445), Guastalla (11,091).
The northern portion of Emilia is entirely formed by a great plain stretching from the Via Aemilia to the Po; its highest point is not more than 200 ft. above sea-level, while along the E. coast are the lagoons at the mouth of the Po and those called the Valli di Comacchio to the S. of them, and to the S. again the plain round Ravenna (10 ft.), which continues as far as Rimini, where the mountains come down to the coast.
Immediately to the S.E. of the Via Aemilia the mountains begin to rise, culminating in the central chain of the Ligurian and Tuscan Apennines. The boundary of Emilia follows the highest summits of the chain in the provinces of Parma, Reggio and Modena, passing over the Monte Bue (5915 ft.) and the Monte Cimone (7103 ft.), while in the provinces of Bologna and Forlì it keeps somewhat lower along the N.E. slopes of the chain. With the exception of the Po, the main rivers of Emilia descend from this portion of the Apennines, the majority of them being tributaries of the Po; the Trebbia (which rises in the province of Genoa), Taro, Secchia and Panaro are the most important. Even the Reno, Ronco and Montone, which now flow directly into the Adriatic, were, in Roman times, tributaries of the Po, and the Savio and Rubicone seem to be the only streams of any importance from these slopes of the Tuscan Apennines which ran directly into the sea in Roman times (see Apennines).
Railway communication in the plain of Emilia is unattended by engineering difficulties (except for the bridging of rivers) and is mainly afforded by the line from Piacenza to Rimini. This, as far as Bologna, forms part of the main route from Milan to Florence and Rome, while beyond Rimini it follows the S.E. coast of Italy past Ancona as far as Brindisi and Lecce. The description follows this main line in a S.E. direction. Piacenza, being immediately S. of a bridge over the Po, is an important centre; a line runs to the W. to Voghera, through which it communicates with the lines of W. Lombardy and Piedmont, and immediately N. of the Po a line goes off to Cremona. A new bridge over the Po carries a direct line from Cremona to Borgo S. Donnino. From Parma starts a main line, followed by expresses from Milan to Rome, which crosses the Apennines to Spezia (and Sarzana, for Pisa and Rome), tunnelling under the pass of La Cisa, while in a N. and N.E. direction lines run to Brescia and Suzzara. From Reggio branch lines run to Guastalla, Carpi and Sassuolo, there being also a line from Sassuolo to Modena. At Modena the main line to Verona through Suzzara and Mantua diverges to the N.; there is also a branch N.N.E. to Mirandola, and another S. to Vignola. Bologna is, however, the most important railway centre; besides the line S. to Pistoia and Florence over the Apennines and the line S.E. to Rimini, Ancona and Brindisi, there is the main line N.N.E. to Ferrara, Padua and Venice, and there are branches to Budrio and Portomaggiore to the N.E., and to S. Felice sul Panaro and Poggio Rusco to the N., which connect the main lines of the district.
At Castel Bolognese, 5 m. N.W. of Faenza, a branch goes off to Lugo, whence there are connexions with Budrio, Lavezzola (on the line between Ravenna and Ferrara) and Ravenna, and at Faenza a line, not traversed by express trains, goes across the Apennines to Florence. Rimini is connected by a direct line with Ravenna and Ferrara; and Ferrara, besides the main line S.S.W. to Bologna and N. by E. to Padua, has a branch to Poggio Rusco, which goes on to Suzzara, a station on the main line between Modena and Verona. There are also many steam tramways in the flatter part of the province, the fertility and agricultural activity of which are considerable. The main products of the plain are cereals, wine, and, in the marshy districts near the Po, rice; the system prevailing is that of the mezzadria - half the produce to the owner and half to the cultivator. The ancient Roman divisions of the fields are still preserved in some places. There are also considerable pastures, and cheese is produced, especially Parmesan. Flax, hemp and silkworms are also cultivated, and a considerable quantity of poultry kept. The hill districts produce cereals, vines, olives and fruit; while on the mountains are considerable chestnut and other forests, and extensive summer pastures, the flocks going in part to the Maremma in summer, and in part to the pastures of the plain of the Emilia.
The name Emilia comes from the Via Aemilia (q.v.), the Roman road from Ariminum to Placentia, which traversed the entire district from S.E. to N.W., its line being closely followed by the modern railway. The name was transferred to the district (which formed the eighth Augustan region of Italy) as early as the time of Martial, in popular usage (Epigr. vi. 85. 5), and in the 2nd and 3rd centuries it is frequently named as a district under imperial judges (iuridici), generally in combination with Flaminia or Liguria and Tuscia. The district of Ravenna was, as a rule, from the 3rd to the 5th century, not treated as part of Aemilia, the chief town of the latter being Placentia. In the 4th century Aemilia and Liguria were joined to form a consular province; after that Aemilia stood alone, Ravenna being sometimes temporarily added to it. The boundaries of the ancient district correspond approximately with those of the modern.
In the Byzantine period Ravenna became the seat of an exarch; and after the Lombards had for two centuries attempted to subdue the Pentapolis (Ravenna, Bologna, Forlì, Faenza, Rimini), Pippin took these cities from Aistulf and gave them, with the March of Ancona, to the papacy in 755, to which, under the name of Romagna, they continued to belong. At first, however, the archbishop of Ravenna was in reality supreme. The other chief cities of Emilia - Ferrara, Modena, Reggio, Parma, Piacenza - were, on the other hand, independent, and in the period of the communal independence of the individual towns of Italy each of the chief cities of Emilia, whether belonging to Romagna or not, had a history of its own; and, notwithstanding the feuds of Guelphs and Ghibellines, prospered considerably. The study of Roman law, especially at Bologna, acquired great importance. The imperial influence kept the papal power in check. Nicholas III. obtained control of the Romagna in 1278, but the papal dominion almost fell during the Avignon period, and was only maintained by the efforts of Cardinal Albornoz, a Spaniard sent to Italy by Innocent VI. in 1353. Even so, however, the papal supremacy was little more than a name; and this state of things only ceased when Caesar Borgia, the natural son of Alexander VI., crushed most of the petty princes of Romagna, intending to found there a dynasty of his own; but on the death of Alexander VI. it was his successors in the papacy who carried on and profited by what Caesar Borgia had begun. The towns were thenceforth subject to the church and administered by cardinal legates. Ferrara and Comacchio remained under the house of Este until the death of Alphonso II. in 1597, when they were claimed by Pope Clement VIII. as vacant fiefs. Modena and Reggio, which had formed part of the Ferrara duchy, were thenceforth a separate duchy under a branch of the house of Este, which was descended from a natural son of Alphonso I. Carpi and Mirandola were small principalities, the former of which passed to the house of Este in 1525, in which year Charles V. expelled the Pio family, while the last of the Pico dynasty of Mirandola, Francesco Maria, having sided with the French in the war of Spanish Succession, was deprived of his duchy in 1709 by the emperor Joseph I., who sold it to the house of Este in 1710. Parma and Piacenza were at first under the Farnese, Pope Paul III. having placed his natural son Pier Luigi therein 1545, and then, after the extinction of the family in 1731, under a secondary branch of the Bourbons of Spain. In 1796-1814, Emilia was first incorporated in the Italian republic and then in the Napoleonic Italian kingdom; after 1815 there was a return to the status quo ante, Romagna returning to the papacy and its ecclesiastical government, the duchy of Parma being given to Marie Louise, wife of the deposed Napoleon, and Modena to the archduke Francis of Austria, the heir of the last Este. In Romagna and Modena the government was oppressive, arbitrary, corrupt and unprogressive, while in Parma things were better. In 1821 and 1831 there were unsuccessful attempts at revolt in Emilia, which were sternly and cruelly repressed; chronic discontent continued and the people joined again in the movement of 1848-1849, which was crushed by Austrian troops. In 1859 the struggle for independence was finally successful, Emilia passing to the Italian kingdom almost without resistance.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)