FRIULI (in the local dialect, Furlanei), a district at the head of the Adriatic Sea, at present divided between Italy and Austria, the Italian portion being included in the province of Udine and the district of Portogruaro, and the Austrian comprising the province of Görz and Gradiska, and the so-called Idrian district. In the north and east Friuli includes portions of the Julian and Carnic Alps, while the south is an alluvial plain richly watered by the Isonzo, the Tagliamento, and many lesser streams which, although of small volume during the dry season, come down in enormous floods after rain or thaw. The inhabitants, known as Furlanians, are mainly Italians, but they speak a dialect of their own which contains Celtic elements. The area of the country is about 3300 sq. m.; it contains about 700,000 inhabitants.
Friuli derives its name from the Roman town of Forum Julii, or Forojulium, the modern Cividale, which is said by Paulus Diaconus to have been founded by Julius Caesar. In the 2nd century B.C. the district was subjugated by the Romans, and became part of Gallia Transpadana. During the Roman period, besides Forum Julii, its principal towns were Concordia, Aquileia and Vedinium. On the conquest of the country by the Lombards during the 6th century it was made one of their thirty-six duchies, the capital being Forum Julii or, as they called it, Civitas Austriae. It is needless to repeat the list of dukes of the Lombard line, from Gisulf (d. 611) to Hrothgaud, who fell a victim to his opposition to Charlemagne about 776; their names and exploits may be read in the Historia Langobardorum of Paulus Diaconus, and they were mainly occupied in struggles with the Avars and other barbarian peoples, and in resisting the pretensions of the Lombard kings. The discovery, however, of Gisulf's grave at Cividale, in 1874, is an interesting proof of the historian's authenticity. Charlemagne filled Hrothgaud's place with one of his own followers, and the frontier position of Friuli gave the new line of counts, dukes or margraves (for they are variously designated) the opportunity of acquiring importance by exploits against the Bulgarians, Slovenians and other hostile peoples to the east. After the death of Charlemagne Friuli shared in general in the fortunes of northern Italy. In the 11th century the ducal rights over the greater part of Friuli were bestowed by the emperor Henry IV. on the patriarch of Aquileia; but towards the close of the 14th century the nobles called in the assistance of Venice, which, after defeating the archbishop, afforded a new illustration of Aesop's well-known fable, by securing possession of the country for itself. The eastern part of Friuli was held by the counts of Görz till 1500, when on the failure of their line it was appropriated by the German king, Maximilian I., and remained in the possession of the house of Austria until the Napoleonic wars. By the peace of Campo Formio in 1797 the Venetian district also came to Austria, and on the formation of the Napoleonic kingdom of Italy in 1805 the department of Passariano was made to include the whole of Venetian and part of Austrian Friuli, and in 1809 the rest was added to the Illyrian provinces. The title of duke of Friuli was borne by Marshal Duroc. In 1815 the whole country was recovered by the emperor of Austria, who himself assumed the ducal title and coat of arms; and it was not till 1866 that the Venetian portion was again ceded to Italy by the peace of Prague. The capital of the country is Udine, and its arms are a crowned eagle on a field azure.
See Manzano, Annali del Friuli (Udine, 1858-1879); and Compendio di storia friulana (Udine, 1876); Antonini, Il Friuli orientale (Milan, 1865); von Zahn, Friaulische Studien (Vienna, 1878); Pirona, Vocabolario friulino (Venice, 1869); and L. Fracassetti, La Statistica etnografica del Friuli (Udine, 1903).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)