The First Battle of Spoleto was a conflict centered around the city of Spoleto in the year 897. Taking place in the capital of the Duchy of Spoleto, this battle was part of the Italian Wars. This specific battle was fought between the Carolingian Empire and the Duchy of Spoleto. The battle ended in a Carolingian victory. The loss of Spoleto resulted in the end of the Duchy of Spoleto.
Following the assumption of John IX to the Papacy, the Italian nation of Spoleto sought retribution in the name of the Christian Church. While Formosus was not a popular Pope at all, the actions of the Carolingian Empire angered Spoleto, leading to a declaration of war. Along with Benevento, Spoleto invaded Ravenna and the former Papal States in the hopes of making it clear to the Carolingian Empire that the Christian Church did not belong to the Carolingian Empire. Spoleto was partially successful in its goals; it was able to disrupt the Carolingian Empire's control of the Papal States for a time by cutting off supply lines.
With the Carolingian Empire distracted by rebellions in the Papal States, the war with Benevento, and their supply lines cut by Spoleto, many military leaders considered withdrawing from the Papal States. Christophorus, however, remained adamant in his resolve to not only hold the Papal States, but also acquire Spoleto and Benevento. In 895, Spoleto's conquests in the Papal States were disrupted by the Carolingian Empire. Spoleto would suffer a two-year-long invasion before falling to the Carolingian Empire.
The Carolingian forces arrived from the north in 897 in order to subjugate the city of Spoleto. The city was surrounded by Carolingian forces, practically doomed before the battle even began. Smaller forces arrived from the east and west. As the northern force attempted to enter the city via the Ponte Sanguinario, a Roman bridge that led into the city of Spoleto, they were met by Spoletan forces and began a battle on the ancient bridge.
During this time, the eastern and western forces took advantage of the distraction to enter the city and engage the Spoletans. The surrounded city valiantly and vainly fought against the Carolingian invaders. Before long, the Carolingians at the Ponte Sanguinario overtook the Spoletan forces while the Carolingians from the east and west wreaked havoc inside of the city. The battle lasted several hours before the Spoletans officially surrendered.
The First Battle of Spoleto resulted in the fragmentation of the Duchy of Spoleto, the foremost opposition of the Carolingians in Italy at the time. Their fall allowed for the Carolingians to begin securing their holdings in Italy, though local rebellions made this task very difficult. The battle also spurred the southern Italian nations into forming the League of Napoli in fear of the Carolingian empire. The League of Napoli would challenge the Carolingians for twenty years, taking Spoleto at some point in the process in the Second Battle of Spoleto.