Bergamo occupies the site of the ancient town of Bergomum, founded as a settlement of the Celtic tribe of Cenomani. In 49 BC it became a Roman municipality, containing c. 10,000 inhabitants at its peak. An important hub on the military road between Friuli and Raetia, it was destroyed by Attila in the 5th century.
From the 6th century Bergamo was the seat of one of the most important Lombard duchies of northern Italy, together with Brescia, Trento, and Cividale del Friuli: its first Lombard duke was
After the conquest of the Lombard Kingdom by Charlemagne, it became the seat of a county under one
Auteramus (d. 816). An important Lombardic hoard dating from the 6th to 7th centuries was found in the vicinity of the city in the 19th century and is now in the British Museum.
From the 11th century onwards, Bergamo was an independent commune, taking part in the Lombard League which defeated Frederick I Barbarossa in 1165. The local Guelph and Ghibelline factions were the Colleoni and Suardi, respectively.
Feuding between the two initially caused the family of Omodeo Tasso to flee north c. 1250, but he returned to Bergamo in the later 13th century to organize the city's couriers: this would eventually lead to the Imperial Thurn und Taxis dynasty generally credited with organizing the first modern postal service.
From 1264, Bergamo was intermittently under the rule of Milan. In 1331, it gave itself to John of Bohemia, but the Milanese Visconti reconquered it.
After a short period under the House of Malatesta starting from 1407, Bergamo was ceded in 1428 by the Duchy of Milan to the Republic of Venice in the context of the Wars in Lombardy and the aftermath of the 1427 Battle of Maclodio.
Despite the brief interlude granted by the Treaty of Lodi in 1454, the uneasy balance of power among the Northern Italian states precipitated the Italian Wars, a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, also the Papal States, France, and the Holy Roman Empire.
The wars, which were both a result and cause of Venetian involvement in the power politics of mainland Italy, prompted Venice to assert its direct rule over its mainland domains.
As much of the fighting during the Italian Wars took place during sieges, increasing levels of fortification were adopted, using such new developments as detached bastions that could withstand sustained artillery fire.
The Venetian works of defence were built between 1561 and 1588, and Bergamo was transformed into a fortified city. It was meant to be a stronghold on the Western frontier with the Duchy of Milan, and to protect the trade routes leading into the Three Leagues territories (Grisons) and the Rhine Valley.
While the countryside was seen as a cheap source of resources and workforce, the Venetian rule resulted in several urban improvements.
A Jacobin revolutionary municipality was established on 13 March 1797, in the context of the 1796 campaign led by the French Revolutionary Army, effectively ending more than three centuries of Venetian rule.
The Treaty of Campo Formio (17 October 1797) formally recognized the inclusion of Bergamo and other parts of Northern Italy into the Cisalpine Republic, a "sister republic" of the French First Republic that was superseded in 1802 by the short-lived Napoleonic Italian Republic and in 1805 by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.
Late modern and contemporary
At the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Bergamo was assigned to the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, a crown land of the Austrian Empire. The visit of Ferdinand I in 1838 coincided with the opening of the new boulevard stretching into the plains, leading to the railway station that was inaugurated in 1857.
The Austrian rule was at first welcomed, but later challenged by Italian independentist insurrections in 1848.
Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Bergamo in 1859, during the Second Italian War of Independence. As a result, the city was incorporated into the newly founded Kingdom of Italy.
For its contribution to the Italian unification movement, Bergamo is also known as Città dei Mille ("City of the Thousand"), because a significant part of the rank-and-file supporting Giuseppe Garibaldi in his expedition against the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies came from Bergamo and its environs.
During the twentieth century, Bergamo became one of Italy's most industrialized areas.
In 1907, Marcello Piacentini devised a new urban master plan that was implemented between 1912 and 1927, in a style reminiscent of Novecento Italiano and Modernist Rationalism.
The 2017 43rd G7 summit on agriculture was held in Bergamo, in the context of the broader international meeting organized in Taormina. The "Charter of Bergamo" is an international commitment, signed during the summit, to reduce hunger worldwide by 2030, strengthen cooperation for agricultural development in Africa, and ensure price transparency.