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Historical Outline

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Nowadays archaeological traces in the Chignolo territory are scarcely to be found out, although the village is comprised in a geographical district which has given, throughout history, several witnesses dating back to prehistory, Classicism and the Middle Ages. Anyway, there are traces of mentions related to the Chignolo territory starting from the 7th century A.D.

Nevertheless, when historical texts become more explicit, we are faced with written tales which, starting from 1112, refer more and more often to the name of Chignolo in acts regarding the so called "decime" or sales of land. One of such kind of texts clearly refers to a settlement named Chignolo, which boasts a fortified castle standing on a not very high hill overlooking the plain below.

The 12th century sees the coming of the "Umiliati" (humiliated), which were to leave an uncancellable sign in the inhabitants' mind. The humiliated made themselves known where the Benedictine Monasticism failed since incapable to face the decay of the feudal system, the development of the city states and all the problems they brought about: the growth of new social orders and of new poverty.
The houses of the Humiliated were centres which melted work to spirituality: on one hand they were forerunners of the work of spinning mills and on the other hand bound to an absolute religious commitment.
The name of Venturino, who got blessed and lived in the first half of the 14th century, became a piece of Chignolo history, since the descendants of the Ceresoli family of the Chignolo branch claimed that he belonged to their family. Actually the Ceresoli family kept an important relic (the index finger of his right hand) belonging to Venturino for centuries, which was then given in 1960 to St. Peter's Church in Chignolo, where it is still kept.

 

The crucial years for Chignolo history are those between the fourteenth and fifteenth century: then the Chignolo community was achieving his own identity. On the one hand the country planning and the balance in the division of land (for the first time the names of Roncalli, Rota and Locatelli appeared) were being defined, on the other hand the cruel clashes between Guelphs and Ghibellines were involving and devastating the territory of the so-called island.
These dramatic events led to the conquest of the Chignolo castle by the Guelph Galeazzo Gonzaga. After a confused and stormy period followed by a short dominion of Milan, Bergamo passed under the leadership of Venice which had the towers of various noble residences knocked down: even the Castle of Chignolo couldn't do anything but undergoing the same destiny.
Between the 15th and the 16th century the settlements definitively settled down and urban structures moved where you can find now the so called historical centre.
Even the land transfer to new families was a sign of historical and social changes. A new group of families settled down in Chignolo not for political but for economical reasons, which, together with a rising brand new middle-class awareness, brought about in the 16th century the idea that moving to Chignolo could be a safe investment especially thanks to its agricultural development which has characterized it till today.
The Church had a prominent importance throughout the 17th and 18th centuries; witnesses are the four Churches which were built throughout years: the first parish Church of St. Peter in Campis stood where now the Cemetery is. St. Mary's was the second parish Church and stood near the present Oratory; the third parish Church is the present Sanctuary; the current Parish Church is the New Church, the entry of which opens to the main village square. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth century the new cultural and secular awareness of the Enlightenment was born and immediately spread in the most important centres, even though it found it hard to penetrate the smaller communities where, on the opposite, the congregation came nearer the Parish which ended up by getting the only cultural centre. As a matter of fact, the many priests in the Parishes devoted themselves to literacy deeds, through which also the clergy thought was conveyed. On the one hand the religious consciousness took stable roots in the parish environment which depended on Post-Tridentine schemes but around which a devotional life and a deep social practice developed; on the other hand the meeting points of civil life consolidate more slowly, even because of the rapid changes which were taking place.
With the decay of the Republic of Veneto and the coming of the French people, we were faced to the attempt of rationalising the political-administrating institutions and adapting them to the territory. So the old "quadra" was replaced by new divisions, such as departements, districts and commons as per French model.
On the 9th July 1897 the Serio department was founded which, in the following February, assumed its definitive form including Val Seriana, Val Brembana, Canonica, Val di Scalve, Val San Martino and the whole plain spreading from Fontanella as far as Rivolta: Lake Sebino and the River Oglio in the east and the River Adda in the west were the natural borders of the department. The district was divided at first into 24 cantons and later on into 17.
The chief town of the 11th canton was Chignolo, which was also a point of reference for the villages of the deep Bergamask island.

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