Arduino: the origins of the name

Possibly everyone in the world of makers, engineering, prototyping, electronics and the like has heard the name Arduino quite often and can think of our well known open source hardware project and boards.

Say Arduino, and one will think about the Arduino UNO, or the Arduino Mini, or name any other board, or eventually a shield like Arduino Motor Shield or even the newest Arduino 9 Axes Motor Shield or the Arduino Yún for those thinking wireless.


But have you ever wondered what the name Arduino stands for? Who or what was really Arduino?


Maybe you’re familiar with history and its secret or less known episodes and persons, but not everyone, 1000 years after his death, will know that Arduino was the King of Italy and Marquis of Ivrea round the year 1000.


Arduino the origin of the name


He was a very well known and important man, opposing the Church, until his excommunication, but at the same time he was the builder and founder of  churches and Abbeys, and he died almost a saint in 1015, exactly 1000 years ago.


His story is tightly tied to that of the northwestern part of Italy, in the surroundings of Turin. 


His town of origin was Ivrea, and Ivrea is also the town where the open source project Arduino was born. Can we think that Ivrea has a special soil, giving birth to such great ideas, women and men?


Maybe, who knows…but history so far has shown a special kind of fertility in these grounds.


A recent project, called “Re Arduino - Sans despartir”, has given birth to a mixed movie, the result pf mixing documentary parts and fiction bits representing real and historical facts; and to a short volume, about one hundred illustrated pages, called “I luoghi di Re Arduino tra storia e leggenda” (Arduino’s places between history and legend), written by Franco G. Ferrer and published by  Atene del Canavese, a local publishing company.


The movie introduces, through historical reenactments and images; interviews to historians, professors, writers and people passionate about history, to the legendary traditions about king Arduino and to enchanted places. At the same time it will help understand what was historical reality and what was later added and invented in the centuries following his death.


To make a long story short, Arduino was born in 955 ca. from Dado, the Count of Pombia, and from one of the daughters of Arduino Glabrione.


In 990 he became marquis of Ivrea and, with the favors of the countryside gentry, he battled fiercely against Peter, Vercelli’s Bishop, until he personally killed him in 997, and this cost him the  excommunication by Warmund (Varmundus), Ivrea’s bishop.


Arduino the origin of the name film


He didn’t submit, though, and, upon Ottone the Third’s death, he managed to be crowned King of Italy in Pavia, on February 12, 1002, and to be recognized as king by northern and central Italy. 


Arduino film the origin of the name


When his enemies asked for Henry the Second’s help and he descended from Germany to Italy, in 1004, to be crowned King of Italy, Arduino retired in his marquisate, after beating Odo, Duke of Carinthia.


Arduino name the origin film


After a long siege in the Sparone fortress, he won back his prestige in the Western part of Italy, therefore the imperial crowning (second descent) of Henry II in Rome (1014) was followed by a revolt of partisans on the side of Arduino. He apparently gained the favors of all of the nobleman in north Italy , but the opposition of Bonifatius, Marquis of Tuscany, and of Milan’s Bishop, Arnulf, and a serious illness made him quit the royal insignia and become a monk in Fruttuaria Abbey in 1014.


The movie features also an extraordinary soundtrack, with original music composed at the time of king Arduino, with the lute played by Paolo Lova and sung by the Choir En Clara Vox from Ivrea. The new music “Sans Despartir” was written by Igor Ferro and other original music is by Mirko Barbesino.


You can follow the launch of the documentary/movie on the dedicated Facebook page.


The photos in this article are published with permission of the authors of the documentary film, all rights belong to them. For more information on the film, the book and DVD and related resources, please contact or visit the Facebook page.


by Silvia Bianchi



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