History of Milan


The English name Milan derives from the Lombard and the Italian form is Milano, which stems from the Latin Mediolanum, the ancient city founded by the Celtic tribe of the Insubres, who were in possession of the city until the Roman conquest in the third century BC. The Mediolanum name is borne by a number of Gallo-Roman sites in France, such as Mediolanum Santonum (Saintes) and Mediolanum Aulercorum (Évreux) and agreed to be of (Continental) Celtic, specifically Gaulish origin, a compound whose first element corresponds to Latin medius "middle". The traditional etymology considers the second element cognate with Latin planum "plain" (with the characteristic Celtic loss of ), and holds that the original meaning is "mid-plain", "situated in the middle of the plain". By other scholars, however, the second element has been identified with the Celtic element -lan, signifying an enclosure or demarcated territory (source of the Welsh word 'llan', meaning a sanctuary or church). Hence, Mediolanum could signify the central town or sanctuary of a particular Celtic tribe.

The origin of the name and of a boar (the scrofa semilanuta) as a symbol of the city are fancifully accounted for in Andrea Alciato's Emblemata (1584), beneath a woodcut of the first raising of the city walls, where a boar is seen lifted from the excavation, and the etymology of Mediolanum given as "half-wool", explained in Latin and in French. The foundation of Milan is credited to two Celtic peoples, the Bituriges and the Aedui, having as their emblems a ram and a boar; therefore "The city's symbol is a wool-bearing boar, an animal of double form, here with sharp bristles, there with sleek wool." Alciato credits Ambrose for his account.

Celtic and Roman times

Around 400 BC, the Celtic Insubres settled Milan and the surrounding region. In 222 BC, the Romans conquered this settlement, which was then renamed Mediolanum. After several centuries of Roman