Versum de Mediolano civitate

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The Versum de Mediolano civitate ("Verse of the City of Milan") or Versus in laudem mediolanensis civitatis ("Verse in Praise of the City of Milan") is an early medieval Latin verse encomium (praise) of Milan, written anonymously around 738, during the era of the Lombard Kingdom. It served as a model for the later Carolingian Versus de Verona (c.800), an encomium of its rival Verona. In comparison with the Versus de Verona the Milanese encomium is written in polished Latin and a more consistent, more regular prosody.[1]

The Versum celebrates not only the Christian heritage of Milan, its churches and saints, but also its pagan Roman history. The poet praises its "forum, with very beautiful buildings, and all its roads are solidly paved with blocks; it draws water for its baths through an aqueduct" (lines 16–18).[2] The bulk of the verses retell the spiritual history of Milan, especially its bishops and martyrs, and also its unique Ambrosian rite. The piety of the Milanese, their wealth, and their close connection with the Lombard kings are also cited in support of its pre-eminence among the cities of northern Italy.[1]

The Versum may be the contribution of Milan, the ecclesiastical capital of Italy, to a literary rivalry with the royal capital, Pavia. Milan is described as "the queen of towns, mother of the realm ... who bears the eminent title of metropolis. The immense dignity of her power endures, so that all the bishops of ancient Italy [presules Ausoniae] come to her to be instructed according to the dictates of canon law."[3] Pavia also had a canon law school.


  1. ^ a b Peter Godman (1985), Latin Poetry of the Carolingian Renaissance (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press), 29–31.
  2. ^ Bryan Ward-Perkins (1984), From Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Urban Public Building in Northern and Central Italy, AD 300–850 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-821898-2), 224. These buildings, however, were in use at the time; the Roman structures mentioned in the Versus de Verona were strictly monuments.
  3. ^ Nicholas Everett (2003), Literacy in Lombard Italy, c. 568–774 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 285.