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The territory of Tirol appears in the written historical record for the first time as part of Rhaetia, a Roman province founded by Emperor Augustus in 15BC. The conquered local tribes became loyal subjects of the empire and famous fighters in the imperial Roman army's auxiliary corps. During the slow decline of the Roman Empire assorted Ostrogoths, Franks, Lombards and Slavs invaded the territory and the local inhabitants moved into the relative safety of mountains to scratch a living from subsistence farming.


Things improved with the rise of Charlemagne in the 8th century as the region became an important bridgehead between the southern and northern parts of his new empire. In the 9th century the area came under the influence and  control of the Dukes of Bavaria, who established a germanic culture and language in the region for the first time. Bavaria was part of the flourishing Holy Roman Empire and living conditions begin to improve for the local inhabitants who established new towns and trading centres in the valleys. In the 11th century the Holy Roman Emperor granted most of the region to the newly created Prince Bishops of Brixen and Trent as part of an attempt to coordinate control over what has become a very prosperous and strategic part of the Holy Roman Empire. 

In the mid 12th century the lords of Tirol Castle near Meran begin to rise to prominence through a series of clever marriages, alliances and occasional acts of skullduggery. Despite nominally still being vassals of the Prince Bishops of Brixen & Trent, they became increasingly powerful and by the beginning of the 14th century they became Counts of the Imperial Estate of Tirol and briefly Kings of Bohemia. They lost the Bohemian crown almost immediately and after a series of unfortunate family fatalities also ran out of heirs so ceded the territory of Tirol to the Habsburgs in 1363. Because of its strategic position straddling the Alps, the County of Tirol changed hands numerous times over the next 800 years but the name stuck. After 1000 years of germanic rule at the end of World War 1 ancient Tirol was split between the Austrian state of Tirol in the north and the Italian autonomous region of Süd Tirol/Alto Adige in the south.

South Tyrol is today a highly diverse, peaceful Italian province at the heart of Europe. It is blessed with spectacular scenery, an excellent climate, a thriving economy and consistently ranks as one of the wealthiest and happiest regions in Europe.

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