MODENA (ancient Mutina), one of the principal cities of Emilia, Italy, the chief town of the province of Modena and the seat of an archbishop*, 31 m. E.S.E. of Parma by rail. Pop. (1906), 26,847 (town); 66,762 (commune). It is situated in a xvra. 21 damp, low plain in the open country in the south side of the valley of the Po, between the Secchia to the west and the Panaro to the east. Some of its main streets (as their names indicate) follow the lines of canals, which still (though now covered) traverse the city in various directions. The observatory stands 135 ft. above the level of the sea. Dismantled since 1816, and now largely converted into promenades, the fortifications give the city an irregular pentagonal contour, modified at the north-west corner by the addition of a citadel also pentagonal Within this circuit there are various open areas the spacious Ippodromo in front of the citadel, the public gardens in the north-east of the city, the Piazza Grande in front of the cathedral, and the Piazza Reale to the south of the palace. The Via Aemilia passes obliquely right through the heart of the city, from the Bologna Gate in the east to that of Sant' Agostino in the west.
Begun by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany in 1099, after the designs of Lanfranc, and consecrated in i r84, the Romanesque cathedral (S Geminiano) is a low but handsome building, with a lofty crypt, under the choir (characteristic of the Tuscan Romanesque architecture), three eastern apses, and a facade still preserving some curious sculptures of the 12th century. The interior was restored in 1897. The graceful bell-tower, erected in 1224-1319, named La Ghirlandina from the bronze garland surrounding the weathercock, is 335 ft. high; in the basement may be seen the wooden bucket captured by the Modenese from the Bolognese in the affray at Zappolino (1325), and rendered famous by Tassoni's Secchia Rapita. Of the other churches in Modena, the church of S Giovanni Decollate contains a Pieta in painted terra-cotta by Guide Mazzoni (1450-1518). The so-called Pantheon Estense (the church of S. Agostino, containing works of sculpture in honour of the house of Este) is a baroque building by Bibbiena; it also contains the tombs of Sigonio and Muratori. San Pietro and San Francesco have terra-cottas by Begarelli (1498-1565). The old ducal palace, begun by Duke Francis I. in 1635 from the designs of Avanzini, and finished by Francis Ferdinand V., is an extensive building with a fine courtyard, and now contains the military school and the observatory. The Albergo d' Arti, built by Duke Francis III,, accommodates the civic collections, comprising the Museo Lapidario (Roman inscriptions, etc.); the valuable archives, the Biblioteca Estense, with 90,000 volumes and 3000 MSS.; the Museo Civico, with large and good palaeo-ethnological and archaeological collections; a fine collection of textile fabrics, and the picture gallery, a good representative collection presented to the city by Francis V. and since augmented by the addition of the collection of the Marchese Campori. Many of the best pictures in the ducal collection were sold in the 18th century and found their way to Dresden. The town hall is a noteworthy building, with arcades dating from 1194, but in part rebuilt in 1826. The university of Modena, originally founded in 1683 by Francis II., is mainly a medical and legal school, but has also a faculty of physical and mathematical science. The old academy of the Dissonanti, dating from 1684, was restored in 1814, and now forms the flourishing Royal Academy of Science and Art. In industrial enterprise silk and linen goods and iron wares are almost the only products of any note. Commerce is chiefly agricultural and is stimulated by a good position in the railway system, and by a canal which opens a water-way by the Panaro and the Po to the Adriatic. Modena is the point at which the railway to Mantua and Verona diverges from that between Milan and Bologna, and has several steam tramways to neighbouring places. It is also the starting-point of a once important road over the Apennines to Pistoia by the Abetone Pass.
Modena is the ancient Mutina in the territory of the Boii, which came into the possession of the Romans probably in the war of 215-212 B.C. In 183 B.C. Mutina became the seat of a Roman colony. The Roman town lay immediately to the southeast of the modern; its north-western wall is marked by the modern Corso Umberto I. (formerly Canal Grande) It appears to have been a place of importance under the empire, but none of its buildings is now to be seen. The Roman level, indeed, is some 15 to 20 ft. below the modern town. Its vineyards and potteries are mentioned by Pliny, the latter doing a considerable export trade. Its territory was coterminous with that of Bononia and Regium, as its diocese is now, and to the south it seems to have extended to the summit of the Apennines. During the civil wars Marcus Brutus, the lieutenant of Lepidus, held out within its walls against Pompeius in 78 B.C., and in 44 B.C. the place was successfully defended by D. Brutus against Mark Antony for four months. The 4th century found Mutina in a state of decay; the ravages of Attila and the troubles of the Lombard period left it a ruined city in a wasted land. In the 7th century, perhaps owing to a terrible inundation, 1 its exiles founded, at a distance of 4 m. to the north-west, a new city, Citta Geminiana (still represented by the village of Cittanova) ; but about the close of the 9th century Modena was restored and refortified by its bishop, Ludovicus. When it began to build its cathedral (A.D. 1099) the city was part of the possessions of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany; but when, in 1184, the edifice was consecrated by Lucius III., it was a free community. In the wars between Frederick II. and Gregory IX. it sided with the emperor, though ultimately the papal party was strong enough to introduce confusion into its policy. In 1288 Obizzo d'Este was recognized as lord of the city; after the death of his successor, Azzo VIII. (1308), it resumed its communal independence; but by 1336 the Este family was again in power. Constituted a duchy in 1452 in favour of Borso d'Este, and enlarged and strengthened by Hercules II., it became the ducal residence on the incorporation of Ferrara with the States of the Church (1598). Francis I. (1620-1658) erected the citadel and commenced the palace, which was largely embellished by Francis II. Rinaldo (ob. 1737) was twice driven from his city by French invasion. To Francis III. (1698-1780) the city was indebted for many of its public buildings. Hercules III. (1727-1803) saw his states transformed by the French into the Cispadine Republic, and, having refused the principality of Breisgau and Ortenau, offered him in compensation by the treaty of Campo Formic, died an exile at Treviso. His only daughter, Maria Beatrice, married Ferdinand of Austria (son of Maria Theresa), and in 1814 their eldest son, Francis, received back the Stall Estensi. His rule was subservient to Austria, reactionary and despotic. On the outbreak of the French Revolution of 1830, Francis IV. seemed for a time disposed to encourage the corresponding movement in Modena; but no sooner had the Austrian army put an end to the insurrection in Central Italy than he returned to his previous policy. Francis Ferdinand V., who succeeded in 1846, followed in the main his father's example. Obliged to leave the city in 1848, he was restored by the Austrians in 1849; ten years later, on the zoth of August 1859, the representatives of Modena declared their territory part of the kingdom of Italy, and their decision was confirmed by the plebiscite of 1860.
See Vedriani. Storia di Modena (1666); Tiraboschi, Mem. storiche modenesi (1793); Scharfenberg, Gesch. des Herzogth. Modena (1859); Oreste Raggi, Modena descritta (1860); Baraldi, Storia di Modena; Valdrighi, Diz. Siorico, etc., delle contrade di Modena (1798-1880); Crespellani, Guida di Modena (1879); Cavedoni, Dichiarazione degli antici marmi Modenesi (1828).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)