- City in north central Italy,
- A province in modern Italy.
On the road from northeastern Italy to Florence, at the point where the Po Plain meets the Apennines.
Originally the Roman city of Bononia, Bologna belonged to the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna from the mid-6th to mid-8th centuries and thus was part of the region subsequently claimed by the Popes. The strategic position of the city was such that whenever the Emperor was powerful he sought to control it. In the 12th and 13th centuries Bologna was fiercely anti-Imperial.
It was a member of the Lombard League in the later 12th century and generally maintained its freedom. In 1249 it was Bologna that dealt the brutal political and personal blow to the Emperor Frederick II of capturing his able and favourite bastard, King Enzio of Sardinia – for whom only death brought release, twenty-three years later.
The Emperor’s capacity to intervene in Bologna disappeared. In 1274 his Ghibelline supporters within the city were expelled and the city submitted to the Pope. In 1278 the German King, Rudolf I, acknowledged that Bologna lay in Papal territory. Papal rule was not secure, and at times noble families controlled the city: the Popoli, 1320-1, 1334-50; the Visconti of Milan 1350-60, 1402-3; the Bentivoglio, 1401-2, 1438-1506 (and they were strongly influential during 1420-38 when the Popes were in control). The city also briefly returned to communal government, 1416-20.
In 1506 the Popes finally secured lasting control over the city, a control interrupted when Bologna belonged to Napoleonic Italy, 1797-1814, and ended by the unification of Italy in 1860.
The province consists of mountain and plain and is in the region of Emilia-Romagna.