Several Mafia bosses have come from Corleone, including Tommy Gagliano, Jack Dragna, Giuseppe Morello, Michele Navarra, Luciano Leggio, Leoluca Bagarella, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. It is also the birthplace of several fictional characters in The Godfather, most notably Vito (Andolini) Corleone.
The local mafia clan, the Corleonesi, led the Mafia in the 1980s and 1990s, and were the most violent and ruthless Mafia clan ever to take control of the organization.
The etymology of the name is uncertain, undergoing various modifications from the Ancient Greek Kouroullounè to the Arabic Kurulliùn\Qurlayun of the Emirate of Sicily, from Latin Curilionum to the Norman Coraigliòn, from the Aragonese Conillon, Coriglione from which the Sicilian Cunigghiuni originated. The modern name ascend from 1556.
Another belief is that the name derives from an Arab fighter named Kurliyun (Lionheart), who conquered it for the Aghlabids in 840.
The territory of Corleone is inhabited since prehistoric times. Recent research has identified several settlements distributed around two main poles: Pietralunga and "The Old ". This name refers to a mountain that rises to about and is about from today's town. The site of Pietralunga is occupied from the final Neolithic to the Bronze Age (the presence of a glass bell decorated pointillé) while the site of "The Old ", was inhabited even since the Middle Ages (the presence of an imposing castle with towers, recently identified), but the biggest part of the settlement was built in the archaic and classical period. "The few materials relating to the Hellenistic period found at the site have supported the identification of the ancient town situated on "the Old" with the ancient town of "Schera", cited by Cicero, Cluverio and Ptolemy, although the archaeological remains of which is based this theory are still too unstable " (D'Angelo - Spatafora) .
In 840, Corleone was conquered by the North African Aghlabids during the Muslim conquest of Sicily. It was during the Muslim occupation that it gained economic, military and strategic importance. Even in the 1170s it was recorded that the majority of the population of the area was Muslim (more than 80%), including those bearing Arabo-Islamic names derived from Greek. There was also a mosque, called Masgid al-Barid, within the town. Following the large-scale anti-Muslim attacks by Lombard settlers in eastern Sicily in 1161, led by future King of Sicily, Tancred, the town became a refuge for many fleeing Muslims. In 1208, a Muslim uprising succeeded in retaking the town from Christian rule. In 1222, while speaking with the pope, Frederick II of Sicily cited the need to fight the Muslims of Corleone as a reason for his inability to send a large crusader army to Jerusalem. To this day, the rock formation, Castello Soprano, has a Saracen lookout tower on top of it. While the towns other rock formation, Castello Sottano, did not preserve its own Saracen fortification, it is nonetheless still known as Castello di Saraceni.
In 1080 it was conquered by the Normans and in 1095 was annexed to the Diocese of Palermo. About a hundred years after it was annexed to the new diocese of Monreale. The city already enfeoffed in 1180 to the church of Monreale an it was largely repopulated by Ghibellines from Alessandria (modern Piedmont), Brescia and elsewhere - "Lombards" led by one Oddone de Camerana - when it became obvious that emperor Frederick II of Sicily could not prevail over the Guelph-leaning Lombard communes in the middle of the 13th century. . However, in 1249 Frederick II of Sicily, revoking the previous privilege, gave the city to the royal property, though the migration of the inhabitants from the Po Valley continued until the beginning of the Sicilian Vespers. Another Camerana, named Boniface, distinguished himself in the revolution of the Sicilian Vespers, leaded the insurretion vs the Angevins of about three thousand people from Corleone, helping for first the city of Palermo. So th Senate of Palermo called Corleone " soror mea " (my sister).
During the reign of Frederick IV of Sicily, said The Simply, the city rebelled against the crown, but was recaptured in 1355. Corleone was besieged from Ventimiglia in 1358. During the reign of the four vicars, Corleone became property of the powerful Chiaramonte family but in 1391 was donated by Mary Queen of Sicily to Berardo Queralt, canon of Lerida, but it never took possession. So it was occupied by Nicholas Peralta, vicar William's son, but King Martin the Younger returned to the royal property, confirming the privileges in 1397 and giving it some tax relief.
In March of 1434, King Alfonso the Magnanimous went to Corleone and conceded some tolls to the city with the aim of restoring the walls and to meet other needs, promising also the inalienability of the city to which he gave the title of "Animosa Civitas" (brave city). However Corleone, in 1440, was sold to Federico Ventimiglia for 19,000 florins. This concession was revoked in May 1447 by King Alfonso, to be resold in the same year to a certain John of Bologna. In 1452 the city was finally granted to attorney James Pilaya. In 1516, Corleone joined the revolutionary movements of Palermo against the Viceroy Moncada. The revolt of Corleone, led by Fabio La Porta, received popular support and had as purpose the request for tax relief. However, the revolt was violently repressed by the troops of the viceroy led by the Vicar General Gerardo Bonanno. Cardinal Anthony 'Bognor' Iannazzo (1480-1516?), a native of Corleone and a political ally of the Borgia family, otherwise known for a history of frequently terminating local clergy under his employ, tried unsuccessfully to quell the violence. His ship was lost at sea off the coast of North Africa in 1516. Towards the end of the same century the social conditions in the city worsened further because of the plague of 1575–77 and the famine of 1592. On June 3, 1625, Corleone was sold, with other cities, to some Genoese merchants from whom Corleone redeemed itself upon payment of 15,200 florins. The terms of sale were, however, very serious. In 1648, the city was sold to the jurist Joseph Sgarlata, who then accepted the redemption upon payment.
Remarkable demographic growth was reported in the 15th and 16th centuries, following the arrival of several religious orders.
Corleone contributed to the events of the Italian Risorgimento with the revolutionary action of Francesco Bentivegna, who after participating in the riots of 1848, captained an insurrection against the Bourbons in the surrounding cities until he was arrested and then shot in Mezzojuso on December 20, 1856. On May 27, 1860 the city was the scene of a fierce battle between the column of followers of Garibaldi led by Colonel Vincenzo Giordano Orsini and the bulk of the Bourbon army led by General Von Meckel, diverted from Palermo with a ploy hatched by the same Garibaldi. On that occasion formed a team of volunteers (Picciotti) which, led by Ferdinand Firmaturi, joined the march of Garibaldi in Palermo. The nineteenth century ended with the social action by Bernardino Verro, a leader of the social movement "Fasci Siciliani", who, after founding on the April 3, 1893 the "Fascio of Corleone", was the founder of the new Farm Lease that were entered into between farmers and agricultural Sicilian gabelloti in Congress on July 30, 1893, held in Corleone, so much so that the city began to assume the title of "peasant capital". Corleone contributed to the Great War with 105 deaths and numerous injuries on the field. After World War II, a peasant movement occupied vacant lands, led by trade unionist Placido Rizzotto, who was killed by the Mafia.
Since World War II, the Corleone has become notorious for having given birth to some dangerous bandits and mobsters (including Michael Navarra, Luciano Leggio, Bernardo Provenzano, Salvatore Riina and his brothers in law Calogero and Leoluca Bagarella), which were protagonists of a violent and bloody mafia power war. Linked to the Corleone clan was also the mayor of Palermo, Vito Ciancimino, born in Corleone.