Friuli frēo͞o´lē [key], historic region, now divided between Friuli–Venezia Giulia, NE Italy, and Slovenia. It extends from the E Alps to the Adriatic and includes, in the east, a fertile plain and a section of the Karst region. The inhabitants are Italians in the west and Slovenes in the east. Udine and Gorizia, both in Italy, are the principal cities.

Friuli derives its name from the Roman city of Forum Iulii (modern Cividale del Friuli). Occupied by the Romans (2d cent. BC), it became a Lombard duchy (6th–8th cent.) and a Frankish march (8th cent.). Before AD 1000 it was divided into the counties of Gorizia (east) and Friuli (west). The western county passed (11th cent.) to the patriarchs of Aquileia, who made Udine their capital. In 1420 it went to Venice, and the name Friuli lost its political connotation. After the counts of Gorizia became extinct (1500), Emperor Maximilian I incorporated the eastern county into the Hapsburg possessions; attempts by Venice to acquire it were unsuccessful.

By the treaties of Campo Formio (1797) and Paris (1814, 1815) all Friuli became Austrian. After the Austro-Prussian War, Austria ceded (1866) W Friuli (i.e., Udine prov.) to Italy. During World War I, Friuli was a battlefield. In 1919, E Friuli was also awarded to Italy; with Istria and Trieste it formed the region of Venezia Giulia. The Italian peace treaty of 1947 gave E Friuli (but not Gorizia) to Yugoslavia, and it became part of the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia (now independent). The name Friuli was officially revived when Friuli–Venezia Giulia was formed as a region of Italy.

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