The first traces relating to a first settlement in the area of the present Pieve di Cento territory date back to the VIII and IX centuries AD.
At that time the area, like many parts of the river territory between Ferrara and Bologna, presented itself as a vast and homogeneous marshy area, rich in fishing valleys and marked by the course of the Reno river.
Pieve di Cento, as its name suggests, constituted a “Parish“, that is a territorial area subject to a church, called “Pievana” and, extremely important for its time, it was the only one to have a baptismal font.
So it was that near the place where the current Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Pieve di Cento stands, was built an elevated village compared to the surrounding marshes.
This was the period in which the famous “Partecipanza Agraria” [literally Agricultural Participation] was born, an ancient form of collective ownership of land involved in land reclamation, which originates from the Middle Ages, still in use in Emilia and Veneto in the Polesine di Rovigo. The land that surrounded the village, in fact, was owned by the Bishop of Bologna, who granted them in usufruct to the inhabitants of Cento alone, but with two clauses: that of improving the land, and that of living there permanently. Every 29 years there was a redistribution of land between the living male children of the participating families who, if they were without heirs, would lose all rights.
When, a century later, the towns and villages began to fortify to defend themselves from barbarian incursions, the church and town were included within a fortified perimeter. Thus the center of Pieve di Cento was born, a fortified village whose parish continued to maintain its ecclesiastical and citizen supremacy compared to the nearby village of Cento.
At first under the influence of the Municipality of Bologna, in 1502 the two Centesies passed under the domination of the Estense family; they were, in fact, part of the wedding gift of Pope Alexander VI Borgia to his daughter Lucrezia, who had recently been married to Alfonso I d’Este Duke of Ferrara. When in 1598 the Este domination came to an end in 1598, the small town passed to the Papal States and became a papal possession until 1796 when Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops took possession of the village, revolutionizing ecclesiastical and civil life.
In fact, after a secular history under the dominion of the Papal State, in 1865 the Workers Society of Mutuo Soccorso was founded in Pieve di Cento, a liberal philanthropic institution that intended to supplant religious assistance initiatives and, in 1889 was founded the Mutual Cooperative Society among laborers, to give work to the farmers.