town of Alessandria was born from the union of some pacific communities
of the area to protect itself better from the raids and the abuse
of the power of the Marquis of Monferrato Guglielmo the Old who,
even without being the lord of that land, wanted to keep their
freedom and independence, moved there after leaving their houses.
Some laws were passed that regulated, in a univocal way, an heterogenons
community made up of people with different experiences and thoughts
and, in order to keep the traditions of every single group, the
town was divided into quarters. The common wish of many people,
converging to the new town, was the independence, their ideal
wasn’t to defend the town, but to reach some agreement in order
to live with honour in freedom and in peace with the neighbour
people. A document dated 3rd May 1168 indicates the official existence
of the new town Alessandria in the congress of Lodi with the support
of the League of Lombardy.The name Alessandria was chosen after
the name of Pope Alessandro III who from the very first establishment
of the town recognized and defended it politically against the
It wasn’t so simple to obtain the such yearned freedom; William
the Old, who was eager for revenge put pressure on the Emperor
in order to have the town destroyed and separated inhabitants
came back to their villages of origin.
In the autumn 1174 Emperor Frederic I, called “the Barbarossa”,
who had already subjected other important towns of the present
Piedmont such as Turin and Asti, besieged the town of Alessandria,
with the support of the Marquis of .Monferrato. The inhabitants
fought with honour, and not only men, but also women defended
the town with all means and stratagems.
However some legends about the siege of Alessandria flourished.
The most well-known may be one of Gagliaudo, in which a common
man called Gagliaudo drove his cow, stuffed with wheat, in the
enemy camp, making Barbarossa believe that the town didn’t suffer
from any shortage of food or provisions.
After many months of privations and battles, the inhabitants got
their own way and in April 1175 the enemy troops, disheartened
by so much resistance, stopped the siege.
Emperor Frederic I, who considered the inhabitants of Alessandria
rebels, because they had constituted a new centre without his
consent, during the reconciliation imposed the town the name of
“Cesarea”, however the inhabitants and the near communities never
wanted to use such a name and “Alessandria” prevailed as years
went by until the consolidation.