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Today the second largest city in Lombardy, Brescia was founded by the Cenomani Gauls as their capital several centuries before the Romans captured it in 197 BC. During the Roman Republic and later the Pax Romana of the Empire, the city of Brixia, as it was called, grew in size and importance as a center of trade and commerce in Northern Italy. During the 4th century AD, with the decline of the Roman Empire, the city was besieged by the Huns, and later fell to the Goths, who ruled Northern Italy.
Brescia was part of the Kingdom of the Lombards until 774 AD when Charlemagne captured it, and the city remained at the center of conflict between various powers in the struggle for Italy. The city suffered greatly due to sieges in the 13th and 14th centuries, and in 1326 control passed to the Venetians. As a result of its strategic location, the city remained in conflict during the Renaissance, when various Italy city-states and kingdoms battled one another. It was the site of another siege in the 15th century, and was occupied by the French from 1512 until 1520.
In 1796 Brescia became part of the Cisalpine Republic, which lasted until the fall of Napoleon in 1814, when it came under Austrian control. During this period the city was a center of revolutionary movements, and was one of the many cities that rose up in the revolutions of 1849, earning the nickname of “Italian Lioness.” In 1859, with the Wars of Independence in Italy, the city became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia under the House of Savoy, and in 1861 part of a unified Italy. Today it is the second largest city in the Lombardy, and is a center of industry and commerce. It is also a city with a rich history, where visitors can take in the centuries of outside influence.