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Milan is on the great plain north of the Po River and south of the great passes through the Alps. It was first settled by the Celts, then taken over by the Romans. Diocletion made it the capital of the Roman Empire. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313, declaring Christianity the official religion of the empire. Then the barbarians came.
The Lombards invaded last. They were a small tribe, only big enough to conquer the Po Valley. Charlemagne destroyed them in 800.
During the Dark Ages, Milan was a haven in a violent world. Under Archbishop Heribert (1018-1045) carroccio (municipal patriotism) was the policy. Milan took control of neighboring towns: Lodi, Como, Pavia.
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I razed the town in 1162 but the Milan people rebuilt it. Within 20 years, it was again a major metropolis in the West. It’s chief industries were armor manufacture and the wool trade.
By 1200 the city already had a 1,000 year history as a major city.