Historical Outline - prorichinvelda

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Historical Outline

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The territory of San Giorgio della Richinvelda has always been a part of Friuli and has followed its ups and downs.
Archaeological remains date back some settlements – favoured by the proximity to the rivers Tagliamento, Meduna and Cosa – to the Bronze Age (1500 B.C.), even if the most important remains belong to the end of the Roman Empire (4th and 5th century A.D.).
Subsequently Friuli went through dark ages with repeated devastating barbaric invasions and also our area was affected. 
The Lombard rule was established from 568 and the Frank rule of Charlemagne from 776, which included Friuli in the Holy Roman Empire.
Meanwhile, from Aquileia and for our area from Concordia, Christian religion spread and substituted Roman paganism.
In 1077 the Patriarch of Aquileia, whose authority was wielded over a very large area with supremacy over several nearby dioceses, among which Concordia, was appointed earl of Friuli by the Emperor Henry IV, with ducal privilege, almost with powers of a king (but he had to coexist with quarrelsome feudal realities, and with towns and villages subjected to other rulers). Also our area was under the “civil” jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Aquileia (even if the exact date is unknown) while the “spiritual” power was wielded by the Bishop of Concordia.
The parish of S. Giorgio is considered very old. In 1177 it was bestowed to the canons of Concordia by an act of the Bishop Gerardo. The “plebem St. Georgei” appeared among the forty parishes, situated between the springs and the mouths of the rivers Tagliamento and Livenza, where Pope Urban III, in the Bull of 1186, recognized the spiritual jurisdiction to the Bishop of Concordia.
In the course of the centuries from the parish of S. Giorgio 15 parishes originated: four on the left bank of the Tagliamento river (Grions, Rivis, Redenzicco and Turrida) and eleven on the right one (Arzene, Aurava, Barbeano, Cosa, Domanins, Gradisca di Spilimbergo, Pozzo, Provesano, Rauscedo, S. Martino al Tagliamento, Valvasone).
It is not known exactly when the earls of Spilimbergo obtained the territory of S. Giorgio as a fief from the Patriarch of Aquileia. S. Giorgio was mentioned in a document of the house of Spilimbergo in 1281. On February 3, 1332 the earls of Spilimbergo and Valvasone defined the boundaries of their fiefs, establishing that the earls of Spilimbergo had jurisdiction over S. Giorgio, Domanins, Rauscedo, Aurava, Pozzo, Cosa and Provesano. This situation did not change for over four centuries.
The earls of Spilimbergo built two castles or fortifications at Domanins and Cosa, then transformed into imposing palaces.
All history books of Friuli report about the ambush to the Patriarch of Aquileia, Bertrand of St. Geniès on June 6, 1350 in the plain of the Richinvelda, therefore within the parish of S. Giorgio. The old prelate, stabbed to death by his rebel feudal lords, died in the church of S. Nicolò. Bertrand, of French origin, had ruled the Patriarchate for 16 years and had proved outstanding as a bishop and ruler and also for his charity. The brutal event struck the Friulian people so much that they venerated him as a thaumaturge ever since. Later the Blessed Bertrand was beatified by the church.
In 1420 the “Serenessima Repubblica di Venezia”, the Venetian Republic, conquered Friuli, putting an end to the temporal power of the Patriarch of Aquileia. The “domineering Venice” left the privileges and the feudal possessions in the Patria del Friuli unchanged, provided that the feudal lords complied with the “loyalty pacts”, that is they swore allegiance to the Republic, as the earls of Spilimbergo did. In some villages community councils took shape (called “vicinie”) constituted by the heads of the families.
A long peaceful period went by, only interrupted by some raids by the Turks, like the horrible one in 1478 which is recorded in the parish annals of Provesano.
People were generally very poor and struggled for life through hard work and suffering, surviving of what they could grow in the fields, often with gravelly soil for the overflowing of the rivers.
Such quiet though poor condition was suddenly upset by the battle that the French troops led by Napoleon fought along the Tagliamento river on March 16, 1797 against the Austrian troops, led by the archduke Charles, who were soon defeated and obliged to withdraw towards Austria.
Radical and endless changes started with the Treaty of Campoformio of October 17, 1797. Napoleon ceded the territory formerly belonging to the Venetian Republic to Austria. In 1806 Napoleonic rule was reintroduced. Napoleon was now Emperor of the French and King of Italy. He imposed the institution of the Municipalities, definitely eliminating any feudal rule (the earls of Spilimbergo ceased any public function).
When the Austrian domination reappeared with the Lombardy-Venetia Kingdom in 1818 the municipality was confirmed. It was composed by S. Giorgio as main village, and the hamlets of Domanins, Rauscedo, Aurava, Pozzo, and Cosa.
Also the inhabitants of these villages took part in the Risorgimento from 1848.
After the unification to the Kingdom of Italy in 1866 the municipality took the official name of S. Giorgio della Richinvelda, and the hamlet of Provesano joined in 1871.
Embankments of the main rivers started in 1880 and were completed in 1885, saving the villages situated near the banks of the rivers from floods.
The economical conditions of the people continued to be crucial. Experimental and cooperative farming projects were started. The “Cassa Rurale dei Prestiti di S. Giorgio della Richivelda” (now Friulovest Banca) was founded in 1891; it greatly contributed to the improvement of “moral and material condition” of its members and not only, as stated in the statute of the association. Many people emigrated to earn their living wherever possible. Some made their fortune as building contractors in Austria, Hungary, Romania.
When World War I broke out a great number of men of the municipality were recalled for military service and many died, as the war memorials in the villages remembering their supreme sacrifice attest. Since the end of October 1917, after the “Battle of Caporetto”, the population was dramatically stricken by the war, enduring oppression, destruction, violence by Austrian and German occupation troops. Many were the war refugees and a photo of some women from Provesano in flight on a cart from the invading army, became the national symbol of those tragic days.
The years after World War I were very difficult. Many demanded jobs and provoked “turmoil” also in the town hall. Many emigrated to North and South America, as the states born from the dissolved Central Empires were in serious depression.
At Rauscedo the production of grafted vine (the “barbatelle”) started, as the only effective technique to eradicate the phyloxera, the insect which attacked the vineyards and destroyed them. In 1933, from a de facto company which had started two years before, the Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo were constituted.
During World War II most of the fallen soldiers from our municipality died during the Russian retreat, in the sinking of the ship “Galileia” and in the combats in Albania. After the armistice on September 8, 1943 the area suffered the hard German occupation. Provesano was bombed. Supporters of the Resistance were deported to Dachau, Mauthausen or imprisoned in Udine or Pordenone.
The years after World War II were a troubled period and emigration started again. Some people returned when the economic growth allowed work opportunities.
Besides agriculture, artisan commercial service businesses and small industries have been created. The pace of change has been dizzy, but if compared to the immobility of past centuries, it is the new that has asserted itself.
Vannes Chiandotto

War refugees from Provesano. Nov. 1917
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