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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Vol. I

Anagnia [mod. Anagni; pop. (1901) 10,059],​a an ancient town of the Hernici, situated on a hill (1558 ft.) above the valley of the Trerusb and the Via Labicana (the post-station 3 m. below the town, from which a branch road ascended to it, was Compitum Anagninum, which was 40 m. ESE of Rome: see T. Ashby, in Papers of the British School of Rome, I.215). In 1880 a pre‑Aryan grave was found between the town and the river, with a skeleton painted red, stone implements and a bronze dagger. After the Italian immigration, its position in a fertile district soon gave it importance, and it became the seat of the assembly of the Hernican towns. In the war of 306 B.C. it was conquered by Q. Marcius Tremulus and lost its independence. Its inhabitants had certainly acquired Roman citizen­ship before the Social War and it continued to be a municipium throughout the Roman period. It was besieged by the Saracens in 877, but in the 11th century was a place of considerable importance, the Conti and Gaetani being the chief families; Pope Boniface VIII, a member of the latter, was there made prisoner in 1303. The ancient city walls are in some points still existing, in others they have been much restored; they are built of rectangular blocks of porous limestone about 1½ ft. high. On the north of the town they are especially well-preserved, and at one point the area within them is slightly extended by a terrace supported by three lofty pillars. Within the city there are no ancient remains, except some massive substruction walls which supported buildings on the hillside. The present town still preserves in parts its medieval aspect. The cathedral, constructed in 1074 at the summit of the hill, is externally plain; it has a fine Gothic interior, somewhat spoilt by restoration, with a good Cosmati pavement, and a canopy and paschal candlestick in the same style. The crypt contains frescoes of the 13th century, and in the treasury are valuable vestments. Lower down is the Palazzo Civico, belonging to the 11th or early 12th century, which is supported on arches of a single span, under which the road passes. Its posterior façade is fine. Pope Adrian IV (Nicholas Breakspeare) died here, and there is a chapel of St Thomas Becket in the crypt of the cathedral.

See L. Pigorini, in Bullettino di Paletnologia Italiana (1880, 8 seq.); J. Kulakowski, in Atti del Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Storiche (Rome, 1904), V.673 seq.

[T. As.]

Thayer's Notes:

a In 2001, the official census figures gave the comune (the town proper and its outlying township) 19,134 inhabitants.

b The river the Romans knew as the Trerus is now the Sacco.

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Page updated: 20 Feb 21