Guelph, Ontario

 John Galt founded the city of Guelph in 1827. He designed the town to resemble a European city centre and chose the name "Guelph" after the House of Guelph, the ancestral family of George IV (the reigning English monarch at that time), and hence the nickname The Royal City.  The House of Welf (or House of Guelph) is a European dynasty that has included many German and British monarchs from the 11th century until the 20th century, with Queen Victoria (a niece of George IV) as the last of that line reigning in the U.K.  Queen Victoria was known to belong to the German House of Hanover, which was a younger branch of the House of Guelph. Her son, Edward VII, inherited his surname from his father, Albert, a member of the line of  Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. During World War I, anti-German sentiment caused the royal family to change their name to Windsor. 

The name "Guelph" is known historically as a faction supporting the Papacy, while their opponents, the Ghibellines, supported the  Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries. The name Ghibelline is an Italian derivation of the German word "Waiblingen" which is a town just north of Stuttgart, in southwest Germany. Remnants of the name Guelph can be found in northern Italy, such as in the town of Castelguelfo, halfway between Fidenza and Parma (where the word parmesan [cheese] comes from).

In Italy, the terms Guelfi and Ghibellini were introduced about 1242 in Florence. The names seem to have been grafted on to pre-existing papal and imperial factions within the city-republics. Eventually the original "party platforms" became obfuscated by more struggles for power by local factions so that if a rival city became Guelph, the other automatically became Ghibelline to maintain its independence (see here for more details).  Milan, Florence, and Genoa were usually Guelph; Cremona, Pisa, and Arezzo were usually Ghibelline. Venice remained neutral.

Florence has quite a history of internal conflicts and intrigues, and the Guelph faction figures quite prominently in these conflicts with the Ghibellines who they managed to defeat in Florence.  Then the Guelph faction split into two, white and black, and one drove the other out. Dante (an Italian Poet and author of the Divine Comedy) was a member of the white group, and he was driven out of Florence and remained in exile for nearly 20 years (see  this webpage for more details).


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