Centuries before the birth of Oristano, Phoenicians, Punics and Romans identified and take advantage of the area of the peninsula of Sinis.
The presence of a safe port, in the shelter of the maestrale never clement, salty brackish waters, very fertile lands with wide pastures, make unique this area in the whole island. The traces of the Phoenicians-punics civilization existing are few, this mainly due to wear of the existing structures from the invaders of turn.
Tharros was a very important port for its built, the ruins of temples, shops and well-paved roads as well as rich necropolises testify it. The continued incursions of the Saracens forced the people to move inward and leave the coastal city.
One of most credited hypothesis about the bird of Oristano is that it was been built with the same stones of Tharros. Whether it is true or not, the birth of Oristano is dated 1070 p. C., year of real abandonment of Tharros, confirm mainly by the transfer to the capital of government and ecclesiastic authorities.
The saying “Portant de Tharros sa perda a carros”, made by popular tradition means “ They bring stones from Tharros with chariots”, with the clear allusion that they exploited the walls of the ancient city to built the new.
The middle ages period
The internal issues around the year 1000 tore the obsolete Byzantine empire, they gave to islanders the freedom to move from central power and create a self-government organ. Between the tenth and the eleventh century p. C. the four “Giudicati” were born Torres-Logudoro (north-west), Gallura (north East), Cagliari (south) and Arborea with Tharros capital.
The Giudicato di Arborea was the one that played a crucial role in the history of the island, distinguishing thanks to judges models of political coherence and wit in the dream of gathering all of Sardinia under one great “Giudicato”. The other three “Giudicati” went through periods of decay, under the dominion of Pisa, Genova and Aragona. Leaving the Judge of Arborea the only bastion of Sardinian independence.
The Giudicato di Arborea
You know little about the first period of life of Giudicato d’Arborea, it certainly was not an important centre of power like those of Cagliari and Logudoro. However Sardinia of that time was a very important hub for trades in the Mediterranean, exploited extensively by the maritime republics of Genova and Pisa, who, allied with the different kingdoms, animated power games during the Giudicati long time. From the little Giudicato of Arborea, the first attempt was made to unite the island into a single kingdom, a business blocked because of the huge debts that Barisone I had accumulated in an attempt to accomplish his senseless project of conquest. For over 100 years the Giudicato di Arborea left the political scene of the Sardinian Giudicati, concerned only by intrinsic powers of power for succession to the throne. In 1257 the kingdom participated in the offensive that the other Giudicati had moved against that of Calaris (Cagliari), which was defeated and dismembered, allowing the Arborea to widen considerably beyond its borders and to increase its weight within the island’s political equilibrium. In 1259, at the fall of Judge of Logudoro, the Arborea began a tough battle with the Doria for the control of the ancient kingdom, which was divided into two parts, one to the north and one to the south. All this took place during the glorious reign of Marian II, who with intelligent military and political moves came to control more than half of Sardinia, where the most fertile plains and the richest deposits were. The richness of the small realm of Arborea was even more evident if compared to that of the rest of Europe, hit in those years by a tough economic crisis. In 1297, after the death of Mariano II, Pope Bonifacio VIII deliberately careless of the current state orders of the island formed the Kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica, subjugating it to the King of the Aragona Crown, thus giving him free access to the invasion of the two islands. Actually, the Kingdom of Aragona did not have the means and men needed for an invasion, but were “helped” by the intrusion of the Toscani into the internal political affairs of the islanders, thus crippling the ancient covenant between the Giudicato di Arborea and Pisa. Indeed, Ugone II, who rose to the throne as King of Arborea, clashed with the Aragonesi, and in less than a year almost all the Pisani banners from the island disappeared. The victory, however, forced the Kingdom of Arborea to almost total submission to the crown of Aragona, making the arborensi as if they were guests on their own land. The turn of the Giudicato di Arborea came with the rise to the throne of Mariano IV, formed under the school of the Kingdom of Aragona, but he was the one to guide the revolt that in less than a year defeated the Spaniards forcing them to very good conditions. Beginning a period of great splendour for the whole kingdom, under the guidance of the illustrious judge, established very important legal laws for education, the arts, and the road system of the whole Arborea Kingdom with the First drafting of the “Carta de Logu”, which will be issued during the Giudicato di Eleonora d’Arborea. After 10 years of peace and quiet in the Kingdom, here it rejoined in Mariano IV, the thirst for glory and conquests. In less than a year the whole island was unified under the control of Mariano, with the exception of Cagliari, Alghero and Sassari, the latter governed by Brancaleone Doria, always ally of the Aragonese. In 1375, the plague decimated a large part of the Sardinian population, also affecting Mariano IV and thus arrested the great war manoeuvres that had characterized and changed the island in those years.
Eleonora d’Arborea and the Carta de Logu
In the most famous version, Eleonora d’Arborea, went to the Giudicato power after the killing of his brother by his own soldiers, probably corrupted by the Aragonesi with the intent of seizing the powerful and most important Giudicato d’Arborea. Eleonora saw and understood the danger in which the kingdom was located, he became the leader of the still faithful militia, forcing the rebels to return, then return to Oristano, proclaim himself judged and marry with Brancaleone Doria, who in the years before his death Mariano IV had linked several diplomatic relations with him.
During her husband’s years of imprisonment, Eleonora instead of throwing an offensive against the Aragonesi, I think it is good to undertake a firm political resistance against the Aragona crown. Unfortunately, however, after six years of her husband’s prolonged imprisonment, in order to re-embrace her, Eleonora had to surrender all the territories her father had conquered. Brancaleone Doria, moved by the hatred that grew in the years of imprisonment against the Kingdom of Aragona, in a few months grouped a vast army and defeated the Spaniards, returning all the lands to Eleonora d’Arborea, which from that moment could be completely Devote to administering the Kingdom in complete tranquillity.
Thus, in 1392 Giudicessa Eleonora d’Arborea issued the “Carta de Logu”, a set of measures relating to criminal, civil and procedural law, which was to codify the laws and uses which until then were handed down only orally . Eleonora died in 1403, struck by another terrible plague epidemic that struck Sardinia.
The end of Giudicati in Sardinia
From 1409 onwards, Sardinia and Judges saw no other rulers able to guide and carry on the glory of the kingdom. They succeeded the throne of William of Narbona first, and his son Leonardo Cubello then, who gave the kingdom to the Aragonesi shamelessly and thus sanctioned the end of the Giudicati.
The last governor of Oristano was Leonardo Alagon, a philosophical Marquis who defended the Arborea’s decline by defeating the Spaniards in the battle of Uras in 1470, and then falling deceitfully and unfortunately in the Battle of Macomer of 1478. This last chapter marked The end of the Kingdom of Arborea and the independent dreams of Sardinia.