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Monastero di San Giacomo Maggiore
The construction of the Monastero di San Giacomo Maggiore is credited to Saint Alberto of Pontida, who was one of the most fervent defenders of the Cluniac Reforms in Lombardy while managing to remain a political ally of the emperor.
The political importance of Alberto and his closeness to the empire are attested to by several documents which show him supporting emperors Henry III and Henry IV, in line with the pro-imperial political climate in Bergamo at the time.
His spiritual vocation completely took over him, but before taking the vows he decided to embark on a pilgrimage to be sure of the road he was set to follow. With the Holy Land out of bounds due to the oppression of Christian pilgrims by Seljuk Turks, Alberto decided on Santiago de Compostela.
Departing between 1071 and 1075, he followed the path to the Spanish city, coming into contact with several monasteries of the Cluniac congregation along the way. Alberto was struck by those monasteries, whose way of life he admired greatly.
Alberto returned to his homeland sure in his vocation and decided to completely dedicate himself to monastic life. He donated part of his estates in Pontida to the Abbey of Cluny. He went on to found a monastery on the site in 1079, dedicating it to Saint James and placing under the rule of Hugh of Cluny.
The monastery was built by extending an existing church dedicated to Saints Giacomo, Bassano and Nicola. It was run by Alberto da Prezzate himself, with the help of Enrico da Cremona and the monk Vito.
Many will be familiar with the Giuramento di Pontida [Oath of Pontida], which took place in the Abbey of Pontida on 7 April 1167. According to tradition, the oath ratified the creation of the Lombard League, a military alliance between the towns of Bergamo, Brescia, Verona, Cremona, Bologna, Modena, Milan, Mantua, Parma, Piacenza, Lodi, Ferrara, Treviso, Padua, Vicenza and Venice formed to engage in armed struggle against the Holy Roman Empire led by Frederick I. The emperor's army was defeated at Legnano in 1176 and forced to abandon its action against the Towns. It went on to recognise the League in the Peace of Constance (1183).