City of Aosta

City of Aosta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Province of northwestern Italy, named after its capital, a town on the Italian side of the Alps at the junction of the routes over the Great and Little St Bernard Passes.   Aosta, once Augusta Praetoria, is one of many towns which owe their name to the Emperor Augustus.

Aosta was surrendered in the 580s by the Lombards to the Merovingian King Guntram, whose realm lay in Burgundy, and was part of the Kingdom of Jurane Burgundy that emerged under King Rudolf I in 888, the one district of that Kingdom to lie on the Italian side of the Alps.   It belonged to the lands held by Humbert with the White-Hands, the founder of Savoy, in the first half of the 11th century, and by his successors.   It remains a French-speaking district to this day, although in Italy.

In 1792 the French seized Savoy, but Aosta remained in the Kingdom of Sardinia until it was occupied by French troops in 1800.   It was annexed (with Piedmont) in 1802, and was included in the Department of the Doire.   Aosta returned to the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1814, and remained in Italy in 1860 when the rest of Savoy was ceded to the French Empire.

After the Second World War there were some French claims to this French-speaking region, but they were unsuccessful.   The new Italian Republic of 1948 gave autonomous status immediately to four regions, among them the Valle d’Aosta (Val d’Aoste), which consists of just the one province of Aosta.

The title of Duke of Aosta has been borne by several princes of the House of Savoy.

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