A document, emanated by Berengario, King of Italy, dating back to 951, contained the phrase “plebe Sancti Marini”. This document, together with the“Placito Feretrano” testifies presence of a community concentrated around the parish church of San Marino.
It is not until 1243 that we can find testimony in an official act that San Marino became a municipal system of government (even though it was, in effect, governed by the Bishop of Montefeltro, who had a residence on Mount Titano). The new organization was constituted by an “Arengo” (a forum of the heads of the families) which had legislative powers; the Arengo was presided over by two “Consules”. The first two “Consules” or Regents of whom we have traces are Filippo da Sterpeto and Oddone Scarito. These held office for six months only, so as to avoid the concentration of power in the hands of the same person for long periods of time.
The duties of the Arengo contemplated the drawing up of ordinances necessary to regulate life in the Municipalities under every aspect: institutional and occupational, as well as the course of their daily lives. Home politics, represented by laws and ordinances, was flanked by foreign politics aimed at expanding the territory, which grew from four to twenty-seven square kilometers (approximately half of the State’s present day extension).
The life of the Municipality was, however, under constant threat from the Bishops of Montefeltro, Rimini and Ravenna, who wanted to obtain control. During this period many attempts were made to impose taxes or customs duties on the territory; these were repelled by the population which appealed directly to PopeBoniface VIII. The case was discussed in Rimini in the presence of a Pontifical delegate who, seeing the evidence (documents which over time have been destroyed and which proved the independence since the times of the founding Saint, “libertatis fundator”), decided in favor of the San Marino population. Before making the final decision, however, he decided to interrogate the citizens of San Marino (for the most part illiterate) present during the discussions, asking them the meaning of “liberty” (“Quid est libertas?”); not intimidated by the question, they responded as follows, thus leaving a testament of the ideals of the citizens of San Marino at that time, “man is born free and is in possession of his own life and he need not respond to anyone but our Lord Jesus Christ” (Martino da Montecucco); “man is free and must not be subordinated to anyone” (Gianni da Christoforo da Sterpeto).
In the following century (1300) the Community will reinforce its fortifications, thus rendering the mountain unassailable from all sides and will assure itself a continuous supply of arms. As for home politics, the Arengo is transformed into the “Grand and General Council”, composed of sixty representatives, and no longer by the heads of the families (who have become too numerous), moreover, the Consuls are referred to as Capitans or Regents (“Capitaneus seu Rector”).
During the course of the XV century the territory underwent further expansion, thanks to the support of the Dukes of Urbino during the war against the Malatesta Family of Rimini. Finally, in 1462, with a treaty signed with the Pope in the town of Fossombrone, the territory reached its present-day extension, with the annexation of the Court of Fiorentino, of the castles and relative territories of Montegiardino, and of the castle of Serravalle, along with relative jurisdictions. In 1463 the territory of Faetano was annexed. The gesture of the Pope represents one of the most eloquent testimonials of the effective independence of San Marino and of its ever more tangible liberation from the domination of the Church of Rome – liberation which already began at the time of Placito Feretrano. The long voyage for the realization of its full independence was arriving at destination.