Rich, noble & feudal
The Malaspina family
The Malaspina family is known for ruling parts of northern Italy for more than eight centuries. This family belongs to the Obertenghi caste, which descended from Marquis Oberto I. Oberto was named Count Palatine in the 10th century by the holy Roman emperor Otto I. The family first claimed Tuscany, eastern Liguria, and Lombardy as its territories. The Malaspina family was well known throughout Europe, and in the words of Italian poet, Dante stated, "I have never visited the lands you ruled; the whole of Europe though has heard about your glorious domain." This was in VII Canto Purgatory where he spoke about Lunigiana and its lords, more specifically the Malaspina family.
The family controlled the great highways in the mountainous regions of the Apennines connecting the Ligurian and Tuscan ports with northern Italian cities. Having this much control of the highways made the Malaspina family powerful and resisted the encroachments of the neighboring cities. As the Malaspina family grew, they were divided into two main branches whose emblems were a thorny tree and a flowery tree that can still be seen throughout Lunigiana. Most of the castles in Lunigiana were built or owned by the Malaspina family and their noble stories are still recounted throughout the region today.
The Este family
Descendents of the Obertenghi caste, Alberto Azzo II, the grandson of Oberto I, branched away from the powerful Malaspina family forming the Este which ruled areas of the TEA Park for over 400 years. The Este Family lived in Ferrara and later in Modena and maintained rule over the entire Reggio Emilia district, a portion of Garfagnana and Lunigiana. By strengthening the relationship between the two sides of the Park, the Este family left a significant mark on the TEA Park lands and its culture.
The Este family were powerful and cultured patrons of the Renaissance, which enriched the architecture and culture of their time. Influences of the Este family remain today in Castle of Monti di Licciana Nardi and the Verrucole Fortress as the family expanded these walls after Matilde and Malaspina built them.
The Vallisneri family
The Vallisneri family was a rich, noble, and feudal family that ruled during the 11th century. This family based its power on an armed militia of free knights, which led to the name of their land, "Valley of the Knights." In the time of the Vallisneri rule, the territory expanded towards Parma and Reggio, as they ruled along the Enza and Cedra Valleys. Eventually, the House of Vallisneri split into two branches, Reggio Emilia with its settlement in Vallisnera and Parma with its settlement in Vairo. Both of these branches provided military services to the respective communities.
The Vallisneri authority was based on liberalism and was demonstrated through written law in 1207. By doing this, a relationship was established between the sovereign family and common people. There was an election of consuls and other public officials as well as a town leader known as the Podesta, which was named solely by the noble people. A tax system was created and certain privileges were taken away by the new administration. With their strength in the military and an established government, the Vallisneri family were known to be one of the most powerful families to rule the valleys of the TEA National Park.