Montferrat formerly an independent duchy of Italy, between Piedmont, Milan, and Genoa, and consisting of two separate portions, Casale and Acqui, lying between the Maritime Alps and the Po, and having an area of over 1300 square miles, with its capital at Casale, is now incorporated in the kingdom of Italy. Montferrat, after the downfall of the Frankish empire, was ruled by its own margraves till the beginning of the 14th century. This illustrious house for a long time disputed the sovereignty of Piedmont with the house of Savoy, and sent to the Crusades more heroes than any other sovereign house in Europe. Members of the family ruled simultaneously in Montferrat, Thessaly, and Jerusalem. On the death of the marquis John I in 1305, his sister, Iolande or Irene, who was empress of Constantinople, succeeded to Montferrat; and her second son became the founder of the family of Montferrat-Palaeologus, which became extinct in 1533, when Montferrat passed to the Gonzagas of Mantua. In 1631 the dukes of Savoy obtained possession of a portion of the territory, and in 1703, with the consent of the German emperor, the remaining portion passed under their sway, and was incorporated with their own dominions. The cession of Savoy to France after the war of 1869 placed Montferrat for a while under French rule, but after the conflict between Germany and France in 1870 Italy gained back this territory, and it now forms a part of the united kingdom. The ecclesiastical history is detailed in the article ITALY.