Italy History

By | March 8, 2021

Italy is a country located in Southern Europe, bordered by France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. According to homosociety, it has a population of over 60 million people and an area of 301 thousand square kilometers. The capital city is Rome while other major cities include Milan, Naples and Turin. The official language is Italian but many other languages such as German and French are also spoken. The currency used in Italy is the Euro (EUR) which is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 1 EUR: 1.18 USD. Italy has a rich culture with influences from both Roman and Christian cultures, from traditional music such as opera to unique art forms like fresco painting. It also boasts stunning natural landscapes such as Gran Paradiso National Park and Cinque Terre National Park which are home to an abundance of wildlife species.


Humans (Homo erectus) are believed to have existed in Italy about a million years ago. The oldest traces from the Paleolithic period are simple stone implements; these have been found in the “settlement” of Isernia-La Pineta in Molise (about 700,000 years old). Acheule-type handguns are common, as are habitats both in the open and in caves, while very few early human remains have been found. Mosquito culture spread at the end of the last Middle Ages (in Italy about 120,000-80,000 years ago); at that stage belong two early Neanderthal skulls from Saccopastore outside Rome. A later Neanderthal cranium was found at Monte Circeo south of Rome.

Towards the end of the Paleolithic (from about 40,000 BC), modern man (Homo sapiens sapiens) made his entrance. The mustache culture was replaced by aurignacia and gravetti. In Late Paleolithic times (Italian epigravettiano), graves with ocher and seashells were decorated, and cave carvings were made. See AbbreviationFinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Italy. During Mesolithic times (about 10,000–5000 BC), small flint implements, so-called microliths, were used. In addition to hunting mammals, fishing and mussel and shell picking were now available.

During the Neolithic period (c. 5000–3000 BC), the hunter and gatherer population gradually transitioned to a settled culture of agriculture, animal husbandry and pottery production; the phenomenon first appears to have occurred on the east coast (Coppa Nevigata). Housing was made up of huts in fortified villages or caves, and burial was common. The types of ceramics have often been named after finding places (eg Stentinello, so-called stamp pottery in Sicily).

The oldest ceramics (with stamp decals, ie imprints after seashells, sticks, nails, etc.) were followed in Northern and Western Italy by various monochrome goods (Sasso-Fiorano, Lagozza); in central and southern Italy of painted ceramics, first in two, then in three colors (Capri, Ripoli, Serra d’Alto, Diana). In many places, the obsidian from Lipari has been found.

With the copper age (about 3000-2000 BC), collective burials and metal objects were introduced. Daggers, bikes, axes and copper ornaments have been found, together with stone tools and ceramics, in tombs from three different cultures: Remedello (Poslätten), Rinaldone (Lazio) and Gaudo (Campania). In Apulia, megalithic tombs were erected.

  • COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Italy. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.

During the Bronze Age (c. 2000 – c. 900 BC), metal handling was developed; however, bone and flint were still widely used. By the great lakes of northern Italy, the polada culture emerged; In Valcamonica in the northwest there was extensive rock carving. The farmland’s agricultural population cremated its dead; in their so-called terramar culture, bronze tools became more and more common. In the south, the Apennine culture flourished, based on agriculture and pastoralism. Its characteristic dark, polished ceramics have intricately designed handles and carved decor. In addition to permanent settlements, there are traces of seasonal camps high up in the mountains.

At the end of the Bronze Age, the fire burial condition spread over much of Italy with the protovillanova culture, whose settlements were placed in strategically selected locations. Bronze production increased, biconical urns with carved, geometric decor are characteristic. The population increased, crafts and trade exchanges became increasingly important, and the beginning of a more complicated social structure can be seen (compare Italians).

In Sicily and the Liparian Islands, local cultures flourished; During the Middle Bronze Age, at the same time as the Thapsos and Milazzese cultures there, Mycenaean pottery began to emerge, mainly in southern Italy. The periods Ausonio I and II in the islands belong to the Apennine cultural sphere. After about 1200 BC the population of eastern Sicily moved to fortified places inland, i.e. Pantalica, and in Sardinia fortified towers, so-called nuragher, began to be built around 1500 BC

The transition to the Iron Age occurred around 900–800 BC, although the metal was not used extensively until around 700 BC. The relatively uniform Bronze Age culture on the mainland has been replaced by regional cultures, and clear signs of social differentiation can be traced. Agriculture increased in importance, the craft became specialized and the urbanization process began; the future Etruscan cities now emerged in the form of hut villages.

In some cultures, the mill continued with burial in ash urns: Este in Piedmont, Golasecca in Lombardy (the bearers of the golas ecculture were probably celts), Villanova in Etruria and the Poslätten, and the latial culture in Lazio. In other areas, including Campania and Kalabrienm, skeletal tombs were common. Phoenician and Greek traders began to show interest in Etruria’s mineral resources, and new forms and décor styles appeared in the metal crafts. At this stage of development, prehistoric times can be considered over; at the end of the 7th century BC central Italy was dominated by Etruscan culture.

Italy Life Expectancy 2021


Italy’s oldest history is dominated by Greeks, Etruscans and Romans, because the ancient source material consists mainly of the writings of Greek or Latin historians. This means that the internal history of the Italian tribes, the settlement of the Celts in the Podalen, the history of the Venetians etc. are only known in relation to their contacts with Greek colonists or Romans. See, however, Etruscans, Italians, Celts, Ligurians and Venetians. For the Greek colonies in southern Italy, compare Magna Graecia; for the development of Rome from an international perspective, see Roman Empire.

Inscription research and archaeological research have, to some extent, increased awareness of the history of ancient Italy; e.g. valuable information about life both before and during the Roman Empire came from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other settlements destroyed by the outbreak of Vesuvius 79 AD, but the fate of these places is unique. However, both Italian and foreign researchers are making conscious efforts to systematically broaden their knowledge.

Birth of Roman Italy (ca. 750–201 BC)

Italy’s entry into history can be said to begin with the introduction of the Western Greek alphabet used on the colony of Pithekoussai and its offspring on the mainland from the latter part of the 7th century BC. (compare Ischia and Kyme). In modified form, it was used by both the Etruscans, Romans and other Italians; however, actual history writing did not occur much later (Rome’s first historian, Fabius Pictor, appeared in the 200s BC).

The name Italia, a word of unclear origin (during antiquity erroneously derived from the Latin viteʹllus ‘bull calf’), was first used by the Greeks as the term at the southern tip of the present Calabria; in the 400s BC it had come to include the area up to Metaponto and Taranto. The name was taken up by several indigenous people, including the Romans, and from the middle of the 20th century BC Italy was considered to extend up to the Podalen; from the reign of Augustus it marked all the land south of the Alps.

Among the people who inhabited central Italy, the Umbians organized themselves early in city states according to Etruscan patterns. Their internal organization is covered by the so-called iguanas. The people who lived further south tend to be historically (but not linguistically) divided into two main groups: Sabines, with a number of other tribes east of Rome, and Samnites, as well as a number of sub-tribes, in the interior of Campania.

Before 300 BC the Romans had already subdued many surrounding Italian tribes. Some (including the Sabines) were assimilated by obtaining citizenship but not voting rights; some were deprived of significant parts of their territories, which were made into Roman territory (ager publicus); again others were made “allies” (Latin socii), which in Roman language meant that they had internal autonomy, but had to align foreign policy with Rome and contribute militarily.

This diversified policy, which the Romans also used against the Etruscans, had ancient origins: the Latin Covenant, whose members sought to liberate themselves from Rome 340-338 BC, had been treated similarly. The union had previously founded colonies on conquered land, including current Potenza, Cosenza, Venosa, Benevento, Florence, Piacenza, Cremona and Aquileia. During the 20th century BC the Romans stopped founding colonies in Italy with Roman citizens, because they became unmanageable in state law. The Latin colonies, on the other hand, were used systematically to expand Rome’s power and control capabilities.

Rome’s main adversary in Italy became the Sami Federation, with which three fierce wars were fought around 325-295 BC. Roman operations east of Samnium in the 300s and south to the Luccans (a federation split from the Samnites in the 390s) brought the Italian-Roman state association into direct contact with the Greek cities on the south coast. After the war against King Pyrrhus of Epirus (270 BC), all of Italy stood south of the Podalen under Rome’s political leadership.

Most of Celtic Italy was incorporated 284–222 BC (compare Gaul). Since the defeat of Carthage’s invasion of Italy during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), the grids that supported the Carthaginian field lord Hannibal, as well as ligures and venues, were suppressed. The linguistic kinship between the Italian peoples and the similar social structures worked to Rome’s advantage. Large landowner families dominated everywhere, and the existing congregations were often tied to them through economic and social bonds. Because the Roman enclaves were scattered throughout Italy, they collaborated with the local generals, many of whom also established themselves in Rome. Accordingly, Hannibal’s attempt to persuade the allies to abandon the Romans failed, although the war against him must have put a very severe strain on Rome.

The Civil War and the Fall of the Roman Republic (200–31 BC)

Rome’s many wars abroad during the 100 century BC forced the allies to fight for the special interests of the Roman elite; Alienation and resentment were expressed in passive resistance and desertions. The field lord and politician Gaius Marius advocated the Italian civil rights and, unlike his opponent Sulla, a popular man in Italy. The Great Covenant War 91–88 BC finally solved the question that has been on the wallpaper since Gaius Gracchus’s tribunal of 123 BCE: all Italians gained Roman citizenship. However, the war between Marius’s followers and Sulla shortly afterwards led to major upheavals. Old landowners who held on Marius were expelled or liquidated, and large tracts of land were expropriated as pension funds for Sula’s veterans.

The distribution of capital flowing into Italy during the first century BC became uneven; In addition to the Roman Senate class, the big winners were state contractors with contracting contracts (compare the public). The majority of the latter were of course “Roman” in the old sense, but several came from other parts of Italy, especially Campania. Capital inflows received, among other things, the effect that old farm land was acquired by the upper class. Southern Italy was filled with large goods, latifundis, where the peasants were replaced by slaves. Capital-demanding specialization in freight operations increasingly characterized Italy, whose metropolitan areas required constant grain and animal imports.

One reaction to this became the slave revolt (compare Spartacus), another the social dissatisfaction that indirectly led to the fall of the republic. Italy’s history towards the end of the first century BC can be briefly recorded as a series of crises: Catilina’s coup attempt 63–62 BC; Caesar’s Campaign 49; the triumvirs of Antonius and Octavianus 42; the Peruvian war between their followers, etc.

Ancient Italy (30 BC – 476 AD)

Later in his government buying land instead of expropriating it, Octavian (Augustus) began to create more bearable conditions. An important element of the normalization was the law lex julia municipalis, which systematized the municipalities’ government and relations with the state power. Caesar had also granted the citizens of Gallia Transpadana citizenship, and Augustus now divided Italy into 14 regions; however, it is unknown what administrative consequences this measure had.

Only during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117–138 AD) was an incipient provincial administration in the form of four consular rank “country judges” (Latin iuridici). This meant a significant improvement in the relationship between the metropolitan areas of Rome-Ostia and the coastal region of Campania, with population figures in the million class, and the depopulation areas (Abruzzo’s mountainous regions, parts of the coastal areas where malaria was seized, etc.).

Italy remained a ruling country with a large capital inflow during the imperial period due to the amount of Italians in public service. By law, all senators would have a significant portion of their property invested in Italy, even if they originated in Spain or Asia Minor. The Knights, the communal middle class, were hired from the mid-100s AD increasingly like bureaucrats in the service of the kingdom (compare equites). Italy remained the main supplier of soldiers until the Hadrian government. Against this background, it is not incomprehensible that the country as a whole was financially viable or even rich, despite regional imbalances.

Diocletian (284–305) nearly doubled the number of provinces, most notably to improve justice; however, the correctores he established soon became ordinary provincial governors. Italy, now dioecesis Italiae (compare dieces), was divided under Constantine I in pars annoraria in the north, who paid ordinary tax, and pars urbicaria in the south, whose taxes went to the then existing special state subsidies to Rome. From 200 AD growth in Northern Italy’s economy is a continuous feature; Aquileia, Milan, Pavia and others became important cities, from about 400 also the emperor seat Ravenna, while the Apennine part of the peninsula weakened, relatively speaking.

Dissolution of Roman Italy (476-567)

During the 400s, the Roman core areas of the Mediterranean were exposed to invasions by females and Germans; In 410 Rome was plundered by the Visigoths. Vandalkungen Geiserik broke grain imports from Africa, and from the 430s the vandals plundered Italy’s coasts and cities. When the Germanic ruler Odovakar took over the formal power in Rome 476, the emperors had long lost political and military control over Italy. In 493, Odovakar was assassinated by the King of the Ostrogoths, who then established his rule over the entire Italian peninsula with Ravenna as its capital.

Culturally, no dramatic interruptions occurred: even during Theodoric the Great’s reign (493-526), Italy’s cities were well-populated and the economic structures of ancient times largely intact. The immigrant Germans were too few (at least a few hundred thousand) to make their mark on society. Admittedly, they retained some of their Germanic features and had a special legal status, but otherwise they occupied the culture and language of the Romans.

The end of ancient Italy came when Emperor Justinian I (527-565) decided to return the country under the direct rule of Constantinople. The Austro-Roman warlords Belisarius and Narses were successful, but the depopulation, the widespread plague epidemics (the “Justinian plague”) and the economic misery that followed the wars against the Ostrogoths 535-53 severely hampered the opportunities for the government of Constantinople and its representatives, to control the country.

Langobards and Byzantines (568–774)

The difficult times enabled a new German people, the Langobards, to conquer a large part of Northern Italy in 568. Here they established a kingdom that continued to exist until the Frankish conquest more than two hundred years later. The Langobards immediately came into conflict with the East Roman emperors, who retained control over large areas around Ravenna and Rome (the exarchate) and areas in southern Italy. Soon, the Langobardian chiefs succeeded in establishing independent duchies in Spoleto and Benevento, so that Byzantine Italy came to be divided into distinct parts. However, the emphasis in the Langobardian Empire remained in the north and northwest (“Lombardy”) with the capital of Pavia just south of Milan.

The long wars during the Ostrogoths and Langobards caused the society to become militarized. The city leadership came into the hands of military commanders, and the rural people were allowed to seek protection by submitting to the gentlemen. The Langobardian regime was for the most part solid and effective. The royal power rested mainly on an extensive royal domain; the Roman taxation system was not maintained. But during periods of disputes, violence and arbitrariness increased. It is during these troubled times that one begins to build fortified villages and towns on hills and mountain peaks away from the ambitious warriors on the plain.

The princes of the Byzantine parts of Italy assumed a fairly independent position vis-à-vis the emperor of Constantinople. On the other hand, they gradually became weakened by mutual rivalry, popular revolts and the religious struggles within the Greek Christianity (image struggle). In 751, the Langobardian king Aistulf succeeded in conquering Ravenna, and he then attacked the city of Rome. The Pope felt his position threatened and requested the help of the French King Pippin the Little. This forced Aistulf to give up the exarchate. It was handed over by Pippin 756 to the Pope and thus became the core of the Pope, the Church Cost, which came to exist right up until Italy’s unification in the 1860s.

The Frankish alliance with the Pope led to continued involvement in Italian politics, culminating in 773–774, when Pippin’s son Karl (the great) defeated the Langobardian rulers and assumed the title of rex Francorum et Langobardorum (‘King of the Franks and Langobards’). However, no uniform empire was created; the Frankish and Italian kingdoms were kept apart and united only through the Carolingian dynasty. One expression of this was when Karl, on a renewed military train 781, had his son Pippin crowned king of Italy.

Frankish and German gentlemen (774-1268)

The Italian kingdom thus created had its emphasis in the north but also included Spoleto. Frankish chiefs in most places replaced the Langobardian, and the Carolingian state administration with land graves and royal envoys (missions) was introduced. Otherwise, the continuity of the Langobardian era was clear. Pavia remained the capital. The population was made up of mixed Roman and Langobardic elements, as the name suggests. The king’s power remained at least initially as strong as during the langobardic era. It was still based essentially on the royal domain.

By the end of the 8th century, the Byzantines recaptured large areas of southern Italy (the Catania, Italy), while the area of the Loboards split into three parts (Benevento, Capua, Salerno) and former Byzantine enclaves (Naples, Amalfi, Gaeta) became independent. Both Sardinia and Corsica were now ruled by domestic great men, while the Arabs conquered Sicily in the 800s from the Byzantines, which for two centuries became a base for Arab warships in the western Mediterranean.

The Carolingian Italian policy reached its peak with the restoration of the Western Empire (renovatio imperii). This was done by Karl on Christmas Day in 800 being crowned Emperor of the Pope. Similar ambitions were taken over by German princes from the time of Otto I (the great), who in 962 was crowned Roman emperor. This empire later came to be called the German-Roman Empire and, at least formally, existed until the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. The foreign involvement came to have far-reaching consequences for Italy’s history up to the middle of the 13th century.

In the long run, Carolingian Italy could not maintain its unity and strength. The royal domain, which was the real base of state power, was continually diminished by large donations both to the church and to the great men. Central government representatives, including the counties, became increasingly independent, and their offices tended to be inherited. During the 9th century, Italy was again haunted by foreign looting armies, mainly Hungarians and Saracens. The state was unable to offer these intruders any organized resistance. This led to local defense devices becoming the sole protection of the people. The strongholds of the gentlemen and the walled cities became places of refuge and thus also centers of power. Large fortified agricultural villages, castelli, which could constantly house several hundred peasant families, was erected. By the beginning of the 11th century, the royal power had practically ceased to function. This development has led some historians to argue that it was then not possible to pursue Italian major politics other than from a base of power outside the peninsula, ie. from Germany and later also from France and Spain.

The later Carolingian and the first German kings had sought to retain their control over the local government by entrusting it to the bishops rather than to the increasingly self-sufficient tombs. This meant that the disposal of the higher church posts became an important instrument for the exercise of power. Otto I had appointed both popes and bishops at will, but gradually opposition to this worldly control of the church was raised. A reform movement that wanted to assert the independence of the church or even its supremacy grew strongly after the middle of the 11th century. This became the backdrop to the investiture battle and to the Pope’s power being developed so that it became equal to the Emperor’s. So was the pope (Urban  II) who took the initiative for the Crusades. In these, the young sons of the Western European nobility were mobilized, and seaside cities such as Venice and Genoa could benefit from the increasingly lively traffic on the Ancient Orient.

At the same time, with these major international changes, significant development took place at the local level. The Italian cities, especially in the north, had retained much of their continuity from Roman antiquity, although ruled by Langobardian and Frankish great men, later by the bishops appointed by the king. By weakening state power, these cities were able to establish themselves as independent entities with a municipal constitution at the beginning of the 11th century. This also contributed to economic prosperity. Through the Arabs’ conquest of Egypt, the Byzantine Empire became dependent on grain imports. from the rich agriculture of Podalen. At the same time, Northern Italy also became an intermediary of other goods between the Orient and Western Europe. Cities such as Florence, Milan and Venice became, through their favorable location, international centers for trade and banking.

In the south there was a long and complex battle between Arabs, Byzantines and Langobardian princes. In the 11th century, Norman mercenaries were summoned, who participated on all sides but soon began to act independently. By the middle of the century, they had gained control of cities and fortified places, mainly in northern Apulia. From this power base, in the 1050s, they began a systematic conquest of all of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily. Power was shared between the brothers Robert and Roger Guiscard, the latter (Roger I) as ruler of Sicily, where the last Arabs were defeated in 1091. Later (1130) the entire Norman empire was united by Roger  II, which took Palermo to the capital. His kingdom quickly developed into a firmly organized and strictly centralized regime, an early precursor to the late medieval European monarchies. In the meeting between Byzantine, Arab, Italian and Germanic impulses, here in the 1100s and 1200s flourished a rich and vital culture, which could well compare with that in the northern Italian cities.

By the middle of the 12th century, there were thus four main political players in Italy: the emperor, the pope, Norman Sicily and the northern Italian, mutually rivaling city republics. It was in this position that the German king Fredrik I Barbarossa of the house Hohenstaufen resumed his representatives’ active Italian politics. Citing classical Roman law, whose study had been revived by the law school in Bologna, he claimed royal supremacy (regalia) over the Lombardian municipalities and pulled one over the Alps to make these claims (1154). It became the beginning of a more than hundred-year battle between emperors, popes and mutually contending factions in the city republics. Soon two parties crystallized, the imperial ghibellins and the Pope’s followers, the Guelphs.

The conflict lasted until 1183, when peace was concluded in Konstanz. The Lombard cities, which with Milan at the forefront had formed a covenant with the emperor, the so-called Lombardy city association, succeeded in guarding their newly won freedoms. By contrast, Tuscany and Spoleto were organized under Fredrik’s administration. Through a marriage alliance with the Norman royal house, he also claimed the Sicilian kingdom. These demands soon came to fruition when Roger  II ‘s grandson died in 1189 without legitimate heirs. After a few years of turmoil, the Norman kingdom came to merge with the imperial possessions in the north and constitute a dominant power factor in Italy. Heirs to this empire became Fredrik Barbarossa’s grandson Fredrik  II, which continued its centralization policy from the 1220s. The conflict with the Pope and the free municipal authorities flared up again.

Frederick  II, with his strong and brilliant personality, characterized the history of Italy until his death in 1250. His regime at one time marked the highlight and end of the German emperor’s reign in Italy. During the battles that occurred after Fredrik’s death, the Pope invited the French prince Karl of Anjou to take over the Sicilian Empire. He defeated the last Hohenstaufer and established from 1268 a French dynasty in southern Italy.

Municipalities and despots (1268–1380)

The power struggle between emperor and pope had ebbed out by the middle of the 13th century. The German influence was replaced towards the end of the century by a French, who expressed himself in the Anjou kingdom in the south and during the pope’s stay in Avignon 1309–76. Nevertheless, in many places in the northern Italian cities, the historical contradictions between guelphs and ghibellines remained. However, they had lost their national political character and were now most expressive of the contradictions between rival groups within the city walls.

Counties and bishops had lost their political position almost everywhere. The municipal regime that came instead was far from democratic. The people’s wide layers were completely excluded, but also within the bourgeoisie the contradictions were clear. Power was in most places in the hands of the very topmost (popolo grasso), while the lower middle class consisting of craftsmen and small merchants (popolo minuto) was without influence.

The long period of growth from the 11th century with economic prosperity, population growth and strong urbanization came to an end around 1300. The strong population pressure increasingly led to food crises with severe famine in the overpopulated cities. Some of the major trading and banking companies in Venice, Florence, Milan and Genoa had difficulties and were forced into bankruptcy. To this was added at the turn of the century the great plague epidemic (the death toll), which greatly reduced the population. The unemployment in the cities was thereby changed to a shortage of labor, with rising wages and falling prices as a result. The lower classes slowly got better materially and thus also demanded political co-influence. In Rome and Florence this concern led to popular uprisings (see Cola di Rienzo, respectively)The Ciompi uprising), but also elsewhere, the contradictions were difficult both between the social classes and within the ruling elite. In some cities, power-hungry politicians, with the help of the people, could swing up to a position as dictator. Then the Este family came to power in Ferrara. In others, a leader (podestà) was voluntarily called in from outside. By standing above the internal party struggles, he was sometimes able to restore peace and order to the price of communal freedom. So laid the foundation for the position of power della Scala had in Verona, Gonzaga in Mantua and – most powerful of all – Visconti in Milan.

As the popes no longer resided in Rome, their power in central Italy also weakened, and the region became a thumping ground for local great men. Nor was the Kingdom of Sicily under the house of Anjou able to maintain its political unity. The advance of the French occupation troops in Sicily caused general resentment and had already led to a revolt in 1282 (Sicilian evening song) who threw the French regime over. Instead, Peter was summoned by King of Aragon as king. Thus, the ties between the mainland and Sicily were severed, while at the same time laying the foundation for a long-standing Spanish influence in Italy. The kings of Naples, however, continued to call themselves kings of Sicily, while the aragonese rulers of the island first called their kingdom the kingdom of Trinacria but later the kingdom of Sicily. When the island and the mainland came together during different periods, the whole kingdom was called “The Two Sicilies”.

The Renaissance State System (1380-1525)

Since the internal fighting in municipalities and urban republics in the latter part of the 1300s had ceased, a period of expansive foreign policy and war took place. The larger states threw themselves over the smaller ones, and these sought through alliances and with the help of army armies to defend themselves against the force of power. In the 15th century, a handful of larger states, mainly Venice, Milan and Florence, emerged from the diversity of small municipalities. In addition, the papal power re-established central Italy as well as the two southern Italian kingdoms named Sicily. The latter were reunited under aragonic kings. By the middle of the century, therefore, there were five main players on the peninsula, who mutually fought each other and the remaining small states. This is the classic period for the condottieri (condottieri)), war chiefs who contracted the wars of the states and switched sides as soon as the enemy made a higher bid. During this period, diplomacy was also developed into a professional and highly refined business. Here, Venice was at the forefront. Faced with the threat from the Ottoman Turks, who had conquered Constantinople in 1453, all the Italian great powers made peace in Lodi the following year. With minor interruptions, this came to last for four decades and enabled the cultural development of power during the High Renaissance.

Economically, however, the big days were long over. For the longest time, Venice managed to keep its business up, including by defeating Genoa, the foremost rival in the Levant. But the Turks’ push eventually weakened Venice’s position. Italian society also underwent other major changes. The establishment of strong principals with a developed administration, a court culture and an active foreign policy undermined the old Republican and bourgeois institutions.

The peace in Lodi turned out to be fragile in the long run. The participating states were in no way motivated by any national unity aspirations but by their own well-understood interests. If it provided benefits, they were prepared to resume hostilities. In addition, the French kings in the 1490s again turned their eyes to Italy. The royal house, through its side branch Anjou, still claimed Naples and through an old marriage alliance with the Visconti family also claims on Milan. In addition, with diffuse medieval greatness dreams, it was spent with Italy as the base to resume the crusades against the unfaithful, who were now the Turks.

When the French armies pulled over the Alps in the fall of 1494, they did not encounter any united Italian resistance. Venice remained neutral, and both Florence and the pope only reluctantly supported the threatened Naples, but were almost immediately forced to capitulate to the French force. Only when the conquest was a fact did the outside world arouse resistance. Ferdinand of Aragon, together with the German emperor, pope, Venice and Milan, formed an alliance with the aim of expelling the French from Italy. The peninsula had once again become involved in superpower politics. The Spanish and imperial interests soon came to unite through the Habsburg House, and the entire first half of the 16th century was marked by the power measurement between France and the Habsburg Empire. Italy became a major arena for this conflict.

Initially, the French kings had some successes and made agreements with Spain on a division of Naples. Milan also remained a French focal point during the protracted wars, which mainly concerned the control of the rich Lombardy. A turning point occurred with the Battle of Pavia (1525), where the Habsburgs under Emperor Karl V won a decisive victory. The war did continue, among other things. with the plunder of Rome (Sacco di Roma) in May 1527, but at a later peace end, 1529 in Barcelona and 1559 in Cateau-Cambrésis, the house of Habsburg’s power position in Italy was confirmed. It came to the Spanish branch of the family and consisted in the direct possession of Milan, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia as well as the protection of other states such as Genoa and Florence. This state of affairs continued to exist until the Spanish war of succession in the early 18th century.

The Spanish supremacy (1525–1700)

The established view of the Spanish period in the history of Italy has long been strongly negative. With Rome’s plunder in 1527, the decline in Italy would have taken full momentum. Maybe it had already started earlier. According to this view, the glossy municipal tradition in the northern Italian republics was long ago being destroyed by oligarchies, class struggles and Machiavellian princes. The economic boom in the commercial, financial and industrial cities of Venice, Florence, Genoa and Milan had received its first frostbite with the death of the poet and the general crisis of the late Middle Ages. The conquest of the entire Mediterranean by the Turks and the Portuguese voyages around Africa to India ended the Italian monopoly on the spice and silk trade. From 1530, the papal power began to lose not only the spiritual but also the important financial control of the churches in most of central and northern Europe. The Spanish branch of the Habsburg house gained dominion over Italy with Naples and Milan as the main support points. The Catholic reaction with the Jesuits, the Inquisition and the Counter-Reformation then submerged the country in the state of apathy and spiritual darkness that allowed Giordano Bruno to be burned and to block Galilei.

But this all-dark image must be nuanced. Although the severe wars at the beginning of the 16th century hit Lombardy hard, but the southern parts of the country flourished. Naples developed strongly and became the second largest city in Paris, with a quarter of a million residents. Milan soon regained its importance as a mediator between the Mediterranean region and Central Europe. Livorno became a center for international shipping. In the latter half of the 16th century, Italy’s population grew by almost 15%.

Culturally, the era also shows considerable vitality. Princes and popes were able to carry out great Baroque-style construction companies. Rome, which had been left to decay after the great plunder in 1527, soon regained some of its former glory with the St. Peter’s Church, the noble palace, the parades and the open spaces. During the first half of the 17th century, Italy indicated the style of European art, music and theater.

The 1620s, however, became a turning point. During the Thirty Years War, Italy was transformed – albeit to a limited extent – into an arena for the struggle between France and the Habsburg House. Mistresses and severe plague epidemics swept away the entire population growth of the previous period. Milan’s population was halved, and in many smaller northern Italian cities, losses were more than two-thirds. In Venice, port fees dropped from 4,000 ducats at the turn of the 1600s to 1,000 ducats thirty years later. Both production and prices fell.

The Spanish regime was also increasingly weakened. The French influence, especially in the Savoy, increased. In the south, the population revolted in several cities, including Naples in 1647, where the rise was led by a young fisherman, Tommaso Aniello. It failed almost immediately and “Masaniello” was murdered. He was soon hailed as a popular hero and remained the symbol of Italy’s longing for freedom right up to the final breakthrough of nationalism with rice orchimento in the 19th century.

When the last of the Spanish Habsburgs died in 1700, the struggle for influence in Italy came between France and Austria in the Spanish War of Succession, which lasted until the peace in Utrecht in 1713. This also had far-reaching consequences for Italy and meant that the Spanish gentlemen were replaced. with Austrian.

The Enlightenment (1700–96)

The Spanish regime had meant that Italy had on the whole been isolated from big politics. Now the country was drawn by the Austrians into a Central European context, characterized by cabinet politics and dynastic struggles. In the peace of 1713, the Austrians had received Milan, Mantua, Naples and Sardinia. The latter was changed to Sicily a few years later, which was thus reunited with Naples.

The new Bourbon regime in Spain was not yet willing to give up its Italian policy. Philip V’s son Don Carlos took advantage of the Polish war of succession in 1733 in an attempt to establish himself in Milan and Naples-Sicily. The former failed, but in the south he defeated the Austrians and was able to proclaim himself king over both Sicils (1735). The Bourbon regime lasted here – with interruptions during the Napoleonic Wars – right up to Garibaldi’s attack in 1860.

In the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which had been established with the support of the Habsburgs in the early 1500s, the last prince of the family Medici died in 1737 and was succeeded by Frans Stefan of Lorraine, then Emperor Frans Italy who maintained their independence. The latter experienced, during the latter part of the century, an industrial boom with textile, glass and weapons manufacturing, which compensated for the decline in trade and shipping.

The enlightenment period, illuminismo, meant for Italy a period of both recovery and development. The economy was growing, the population was growing and a middle class formed slowly began to multiply. Many historians today believe that risorgimento, the liberal freedom movement of the 19th century, has its roots in this era. The monastic rulers of Naples and Florence implemented enlightened reforms in the judicial and educational system. A limited redistribution of the earth occurred, mostly at the church’s expense, and the Jesuit order was forbidden. Even among the popes, the enlightenment was as valid as Benedict  XIV(1740–58), who maintained a friendly exchange of letters with both Montesquieu and Voltaire. In Milan, significant cultural figures emerged, for example. brothers Pietro and Alessandro Verri, who advocated free trade and founded the influential magazine Il Caffè, and Cesare Beccaria. Her work “Dei delitti e delle pene” (1764; “On Crimes and Punishments”) contributed actively to the criminalization of criminal justice in many places, not only in Italy, but also in Catherine  II ‘s Russia and Gustav  III ‘s Sweden.

The extent of modernization must not be exaggerated. Especially the south (Mezzogiorno) remained both socially and economically disadvantaged. Another poorly developed region was the Savoy in the Alpine region on the border with France. During the Middle Ages, it was a feudal county, which remained rural and without contact with the Lombardy-influenced municipalities. Culturally, too, it was isolated and unaffected by the Renaissance. The Duke of Savoy was faithful Catholics, who fought Calvin’s Geneva and employed massacres on the Waldensian heretics. However, during a long-lived prince family, the Savoy grew slowly in scope. For a long time it was under French influence. The feudal upper class remained well into modern-day French-speaking. During the Spanish succession war, however, Savoy liaised with France’s opponents. As a reward for this, in 1713, peace was granted to Sicily, which was soon changed to Sardinia. With this island followed the royal dignity, and the country continued to be called the Kingdom of Sardinia, despite its emphasis on the more developed mainland part. In the 18th century, the military and diplomatic traditions that made the country a dominant factor in Italy’s unification in the following century were founded.

Napoleonic epoch (1796–1815)

By the time of the outbreak of the Great French Revolution, reform in Italy had ceased. The new ideas for freedom were therefore immediately spread, especially among the middle class of the cities and with the Masonic lodges as an organizational base. This “Jacobin” opinion soon spread among peasants and peoples as well. It was aimed at both the Austrians and the monarchical kings of Naples and Savoy. These, for their part, united in opposition to revolutionary France and joined the so-called First Coalition.

In 1796, France took the offensive under the command of the young General Napoléon Bonaparte. The King of Sardinia was immediately defeated and forced to peace, and the French armies then invaded Lombardy and Venice. In rapid succession, revolutionary republics were established in all parts of northern Italy following the French model (the Ligurian, Cisalpine and Cispadan republics). In the peace that was finally concluded with Austria in Campo Formio (October 1797), these French satellite states were recognized. As a replacement, the Austrians received Venice. The more than millennial trade republic had thus ceased to exist.

During Bonaparte’s expedition to Egypt, Russian and Austrian troops everywhere re-established the old regimes in Italy. But after his return, Bonaparte, now the first consul, took the initiative again. He defeated the Austrians at Marengo in 1800 and, after the peace in Lunéville, was able to re-establish the Cisalpine (later Italian) republic the following year. After the empire’s introduction to France in 1804, Italy was proclaimed a kingdom in 1805 with Napoleon himself as monarch and his stepson Eugène de Beauharnais as reigning viceroy. After the Pope refused to participate in the continental block aimed at Britain, he was deprived of all worldly power, and the Church cost was shared between the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of France, whereupon Rome attacked France. In the south, Joseph Bonaparte was first deployed and a few years later Marshal Joachim Murat as King of both Sicilies, in practice only by Naples; the island of Sicily remained under British protection beyond French control and was nominally ruled by its bourbon king. Similarly, Sardinia remained a haven for the Savoy royal house.

The introduction of the new French law (Code Civil) led to the abolition of feudal institutions throughout Italy. However, in many places, especially in the south, the old aristocracy was able to maintain its privileged position by purchasing land confiscated from the church and the enemies of other regimes. However, the French gentlemen made improvements to both the school system and the road network, which helped to accelerate social and economic development also during the subsequent reactionary regimes.

Risorgimento (1815–60)

After Napoleon’s final fall of 1815, the Vienna Congress reestablished the old, pre-revolutionary and autocratic regimes everywhere. Emperor Francis I of Austria became king of Lombardy – Venice; Viktor Emanuel of Sardinia – Savoy recovered all his old empire along with Liguria with Genoa. The pope again became lord of Rome and Central Italy. In the south, Ferdinand I of the Bourbon became the sole king over both Sicilies. Old republics such as Venice and Genoa, as well as a series of petty princes, disappeared forever. Italy arrived at the unification of 1860 to be dominated by Austria, Sardinia, the Pope and the Two Sicilies. The liberal reforms were eliminated, the Jesuits were allowed to return, and the bourgeois revolutionaries were forced into exile. Many were given a sanctuary in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany,

Already during the French occupation, in Naples, nationalist societies that called themselves carbonari(‘Carbon support’). They were recruited in the middle class, especially among officials and officers. Their organization was reminiscent of the Freemasons, but their political goals were more far-reaching. They were now at the forefront of the demands for constitutional rule, freedom of speech and an Italian union. Under the impression of the revolution in Spain in 1820, riots broke out in both Naples and Sardinia, and the monarchical kings were forced to yield and grant constitutions. However, with the support of an Austrian army, the freedom movement was knocked down as early as the following year, and the old reactionary order was restored. Then, in many parts of Italy in the 1820s, Italy suffered a severe political repression, during which many carbonarians were sentenced to death or exiled. The economic situation was also bad, with widespread poverty among the peasants.

The July Revolution of 1830 triggered new unrest, especially in Emilia and other pope-controlled areas. But also these attempts at insurgency were stifled by Austrian troops. The Carbonari movement had again failed, and the revolutionary initiative passed in the 1830s to Giuseppe Mazzini and his organization The Young Italy (Giovine Italia). It gained its greatest importance as a propaganda machine, while its direct actions all failed.

In addition, more moderate opposition groups emerged, including the so-called New Guelphs led by Vincenzo Gioberti, who in the Pope saw the power around which Italy could unite. Especially after 1846, when the liberal Pius  IX had been elected pope, these hopes were alive. Viva Pio Nono (‘Leve Pius  IX ‘) became a nationalist slogan. As a collective term for all these liberties, the term risorgimento (‘revival’) began to be used. It was also the name of a newspaper published by the opposition man Camillo di Cavour from 1847.

The February Revolution of 1848 became the crucial test for Mazzini’s organization and the other openly revolutionary groups. The initial successes, which resulted in liberal constitutions in both Sicily, Sardinia and the Church, were soon changed in the defeat of freedom in Naples, Venice, Tuscany and Rome. Only in Sardinia was some freedom of expression and parliamentary institutions preserved. After the repeated defeat of the Carbonaris, Mazzini and the other revolutionaries, the political path to Italy’s unification appeared the only viable one. Conditions in Sardinia provided the best conditions for this. Especially since Cavour had entered the government in 1850, the country took the lead in resisting Austrian dominance.

Cavour purposefully built up Sardinia’s economy and secured its political position by seeking support from the moderate-conservatives. Foreign policy succeeded in isolating Austria, first by participating in the Crimean War on the part of the Western powers and then by establishing closer relations with Napoleon  III ‘s France. He received guarantees of support in the event of an Austrian attack and in return promised France compensation in the old duchy of Savoy and the city of Nice (Nice). In this way, he prepared with well-calculated diplomacy the Austrian emperor to declare war (April 1859). The Sardinian-French forces inflicted a series of bloody defeats on the Austrians (at Magenta, San Martino and Solferino). But just when the victory seemed to be won, Napoleon III withdrew out of the game and signed a standstill agreement with Austria. Once again, France had shown that its interests were not compatible with a united Italy. Austria was allowed to surrender Lombardy to Sardinia in peace, but otherwise the political division of Italy was maintained. Cavour took the consequences of this failure and resigned.

The Unification of Italy (1860–70)

However, many of the old freedom fighters refused to give up. Among them was Giuseppe Garibaldi, who in 1849 played a leading role in the defense of Rome and Mazzini’s Roman Republic. He now headed a group of volunteers (“the thousand”) and sailed to Sicily in May 1860, where a revolt had already erupted in Palermo. By that time Cavour had also returned to power in Sardinia, giving his expedition his silent support. The events then developed with great speed. Only a few days after the ascent, Garibaldi was able to proclaim himself a dictator over Sicily, and in August he took over to the mainland, where Naples was conquered.

These astonishing successes aroused enthusiasm throughout Italy, and Cavour realized the danger of being passive. His desire was to maintain control over the development to prevent overly radical solutions and secure the Italian succession to Sardinia’s Viktor Emanuel  II. He therefore occupied the whole of central Italy except Rome. In October, the royal armies were joined by Garibaldi’s troops. Viktor Emanuel was hailed as the King of Italy. In the following months, Italy’s unification was confirmed by referenda throughout the country. Only Venice and Papal Rome with the province of Lazio were so far outside. The formal proclamation of a free Italy took place in the Turin parliament on March 17, 1861. Cavour and the political establishment had thus taken back the initiative of Garibaldi and his army of revolution. Cavour himself, however, died unexpectedly in the summer of that year.

The position of Rome and Austrian Venice in the United Italy became the major subject of dispute in the following years. By participating in Prussian side 1866 in the war against Austria, Italy, despite its own military failures, succeeded in acquiring Venice in peace. The Roman issue became even more elaborate. French troops were deployed to Rome to protect the Pope. Garibaldi again gathered volunteers around and made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to liberate the city. In 1864, an agreement was reached with Napoleon  IIIon the withdrawal of the French troops. But it was only with the fall of the French Empire in the fall of 1870 that the possibilities opened up for a more definitive solution. When Italian troops invaded Rome in September, they were met by very little resistance from the papal army. However, the Pope himself, the old Pius  IX, refused to participate in any settlement and retreated to the Vatican. In bitter opposition to the new Italy, in the bun Non banned all Catholics from voting or otherwise participating in political life. However, this hostile act only had the effect of long preventing the emergence of a clerical right-wing party in Italy.

The Parliamentary Era (1870-1922)

The united Italy was a backward country for Western European conditions. Of the 26 million residents, only one third were employed outside agriculture and only one fifth were literate. It became one of the first tasks of the new regime to modernize the country by building an educational system and infrastructure that could benefit industrial development. The best conditions were in the northern parts of the country, while Calabria and Sicily were still characterized by widespread political corruption and the deepest poverty. It was also from the southern regions of Italy that the emigration was most extensive. It went on a large scale from 1880, and from the turn of the century to 1914, about 600,000 Italians emigrated annually, mainly to North or South America.

The first parliamentary governments were moderate-conservative. In order to solve the financial problems and pay off the huge government debt, they resorted to heavy-handed taxation, while at the same time keeping the expenditure for social purposes. This prepared the way for more left-wing groups, who, under the leadership of Agostino Depretis, sat in power most of the period 1876–87. During this period, politics was characterized by what came to be called trasformismo, a technique by which Depretis secured support from political opponents by rewarding them with office and awards. The political demoralization that these methods led to undermined the parliamentary system. In addition, the transition from free trade to protectionism in 1878 came to particularly favor the industrial magnates in the north and the large landowners in the south. Thus, the class divisions widened, and the period leading up to the First World War was marked by labor market conflicts and a radicalization of the parties on both the left and the right. A climax was reached in May 1898 (Fatti di Maggio), when the government intervened with troops against protesters in Milan and allowed military courts to sentence long prison sentences.

Depreti’s successor as a leading government leader first became Francesco Crispi and then until the World War Giovanni Giolitti. They were very different from each other, but both represented a mix of radical and repressive measures in their policies and sought parliamentary support, both to the right and to the left. Crispi ran an active state education policy and challenged the pope, among other things. by supporting the erection of the statue of Giordano Bruno at Campo dei Fiori in Rome. But he, without mercy, turned down a peasant rebellion in Sicily and intensified Italian conquest and colonial politics in East Africa. When this failed through the military defeat against an Ethiopian army at Adwa in 1896 he was forced to resign. During the years leading up to the World War, Giolitti continued this empire policy in Africa, now with the acquisition of Libya and Tripoli as the goal.

A prerequisite for the expansive colonial policy was that in the 1880s Italy had joined Germany and Austria-Hungary in the so-called triple alliance. It had, from an Italian point of view, its cape directed towards France, which was a competitor of influence in North Africa. Crispi became the head of this anti-French policy. In time, however, the old contradictions to Austria came to the fore again. Italy sought to increase its economic and political influence in the Balkans and claimed Alto Adige, Trentino and Trieste. Without leaving the triple alliance, Italy, under Giolitti, approached France, which led to a settlement in 1902 that regulated the parties’ interests in North Africa. This partial reorientation meant that Italy, when the First World War broke out, first stayed neutral and then broke with its allies and declared war on Austria (1915), later also on Germany. Behind this step lay a treaty with the entente, according to which Italy would be compensated with the irredent areas of the Alps and parts of Istria and Dalmatia.

In the 1919 Versailles Peace, these promises were only partially fulfilled: the Italian claims to Fiume (Rijeka) and northern Dalmatia were rejected, which led to the straining of relations with the newly formed Yugoslavia from the beginning. The feeling that Italy’s war efforts had been in vain was reinforced by the economic crisis during the first years of peace. Between 1918 and 1920, the trade union movement nearly doubled its membership. The harsh contradictions in the labor market got increasingly clear political overtones. The Socialist Party was blown up, and the outbreakers formed the Italian Communist Party (PCI) in 1921, led by, among other things. Antonio Gramsci. Already in 1919 Benito Mussolini had laid the foundation for the fascist movement.

The fascist era (1922–45)

The fascists had little success in the 1921 election, but in return had organized semi-military groups, arditi, which attacked striking workers and communist rallies. The parliamentary parties were unable to agree to the threat from Mussolini and his rapidly growing movement. Like King Viktor Emanuel  III, they fell away from the open violence shown by the fascists on October 28, 1922, with arms in hand towards Rome. A few days later, Mussolini was assigned to form a government. Through continued violence and by manipulating the electoral system, the fascists secured a majority in the election in the spring of 1924.

Over the next few years, the transformation continued into a fascist party dictatorship with Mussolini as undisputed leader (duce). He succeeded in settling the conflict between the church and the Italian state through the 1929 Lateran Treaty, when The Vatican City was established. Political propaganda was carried out by modern methods in schools, radio and other mass media. The cult of the classical Roman empire was expressed in monumental public construction and in an aggressive foreign policy, where the Mediterranean (mare nostro, ‘our sea’) was declared to be an Italian sphere of interest. The imperial ambitions in Africa that had been developed by Crispi in the 1890s were fulfilled by the conquest of Ethiopia in 1935–36. Moreover, during the 1930s, Mussolini’s foreign policy aimed to secure Italian influence in Central Europe and the Balkans by neutralizing the new aggressive Hitler Germany. However, a rapprochement between Rome and Berlin came into being in 1936 when the “Rome-Berlin” axis was proclaimed, and the two dictators united in 1938 in their interest to support Franco and the Spanish fascists and regulate their areas of interest in central and southeastern Europe. For Italy, this led to the occupation of Albania in April 1939. One month later, the so-called steel pact between Germany and Italy was signed. Despite this, Mussolini initially remained neutral,

Economic developments had been significant during the 1920s. National income increased by one third, mainly as a result of growth in the manufacturing industry. The strongest was this in Northern Italy, where modern chemical, electrical and metallurgical plants dominated (Edison, Fiat, Montecatini, Pirelli). The economic crisis in the 1930s also hit Italy hard. Through state intervention, a large number of banking and industrial companies were reconstructed, so that in 1939 there was public capital in nearly half of all companies, a feature of the Italian economy that also marked the post-war period. The fascist government encouraged this development, partly to achieve as far as possible economic autarchy in Italy, and partly to develop the armor industry.

Participation in the Second World War failed everywhere and eventually led to the fall of fascism. It was not until the German invasion of France in the spring of 1940 that Mussolini found the time to join his troops to the victorious German armed forces. In the Balkan Peninsula, in the autumn of the same year, he launched an offensive against Greece, which, however, energetically fought back and even invaded Albania. In North Africa, a small British army drove the Italian troops west through the Libyan desert. Germany took over the initiative at both scenes of war. In the summer of 1943, it was obvious that an Allied invasion of Italy itself was imminent and that Mussolini’s days were counted. Even the fascist Great Council abandoned its leader. He was arrested and the responsibility of the government was handed over to Marshal Pietro Badoglio. A few months after the Allied land rise in Sicily, Italy declared war on Germany (October 13). By then Hitler had already intervened by occupying large parts of Italy and liberating Mussolini. Under German protection, a fascist republic was established in northern Italy with the center of the small town of Salò on Lake Garda. The Allied invasion was halted at the height of the Monastery of onte Cassino (Gustavlinjen) and could not be carried further north in May 1944. Meanwhile, resistance groups had formed in the north and helped push back both Mussolini’s and Hitler’s allies. by liberating Milan and other cities in the spring of 1945. The final surrender came in May 1945, just a few days after the partisans had captured and executed Mussolini. Meanwhile, resistance groups had formed in the north and helped push back both Mussolini’s and Hitler’s allies. by liberating Milan and other cities in the spring of 1945. The final surrender came in May 1945, just a few days after the partisans had captured and executed Mussolini. Meanwhile, resistance groups had formed in the north and helped push back both Mussolini’s and Hitler’s allies. by liberating Milan and other cities in the spring of 1945. The final surrender came in May 1945, just a few days after the partisans had captured and executed Mussolini.

Republic (from 1946)

In the first elections after the end of the war, a Christian Democratic Party emerged as a counterbalance to the socialist and communist groups that were still strong in the north and which led the opposition to the fascists and the German occupation troops. King Viktor Emanuel, who was thoroughly compromised by his collaboration with Mussolini, abdicated in May 1946 in favor of his son Umberto, a maneuver aimed at saving the monarchy. However, it failed; in the referendum on the constitution that followed just a month later and where women were allowed to participate for the first time, 54% voted for the republic. A Constituent National Assembly was commissioned to write a Republican constitution, which came into force with the beginning of 1948.

The period 1945–53 was politically characterized by the Christian Democrats under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi. The party had received just over a third of the vote in the 1946 election and was therefore forced to rule in coalition with liberal and conservative small parties. Socialists and Communists, who together had slightly less than 40% of the vote, formed a loud and active opposition. By a visit to the United States in the New Year of 1947, De Gasperi had clearly shown which side Italy under his leadership would choose in the Cold War that was just under seal. Italy soon joined the Atlantic Pact (1949), the Council of Europe (1949) and the Coal and Steel Community (1952) and the EEC (1958). In domestic politics, the social issue became the dominant during the difficult years immediately following the war. In the poor south, with its semi-feudal ownership conditions, uprising moods spread among peasants and farm workers. They were blown by the left and forced De Gasperi into a land reform with redistribution of more than 100,000 acres of land; it was carried out at a slow pace throughout the 1950s. The reform proved insufficient, and the high unemployment rate led to large-scale emigration to America.

The laborious parliamentary conditions prevented the government from pursuing a powerful and consistent policy. Eventually, an orientation within the Christian Democratic Party took place to the left led by party secretary Amintore Fanfani. After Stalin’s death (1953) and the 20th Moscow Congress of Parties (1956), the Italian communists also came to orient themselves away from communism in order to create “a national path to socialism”.

Then was born the movement that later came to be called euro communism. After a few years this led to an opening to the left (apertura a sinistra), with the Christian Democrats seeking parliamentary support from left-center groups. In addition, the dynamic economic development in the 1950s also contributed: GDP doubled, and per capita income rose by over 60%. Agriculture’s share of the labor force fell sharply, among other things. as a result of extensive relocation from the south to the industrial north. This created difficult conversion problems with housing shortages and social misery in the large suburbs that grew up in the “industrial triangle” Milan – Genoa – Turin. The 1960s and 1970s were characterized by political instability with short-lived governments. A leading statesman was the multiple head of government, Christian Democrat Aldo Moro, murdered in 1978 by the Communist terrorist organization Red Brigades.

In 1981, a secret Masonic lodge, P2 (Propaganda Due), was revealed, in which more than a thousand prominent politicians and economists were members. The aim of the P2 was to take over power in the country if the influence of the communists would be too great. The revelation helped Italy get a Prime Minister from the Socialist Party for the first time. Bettino Craxi sat until 1986, as leader of the country’s most long-standing government since the inception of the republic. For Italian conditions, the period was unusually stable with strong growth in the economy and increased living standards for large population groups.

In the early 1990s, Italy was shaken by a widespread corruption scandal (key topology) that fundamentally changed the party system. Many prominent politicians were accused of bribery and contacts with the Mafia, and both the Christian Democratic and the Socialist Party dissolved. In this political chaos and during an ongoing deep recession, financier Silvio Berlusconi formed a new center/right party: Forza Italia (‘Heja Italia ‘, FI), which in the 1994 elections received more than 20% of the vote. Berlusconi formed a tripartite government with Alleanza Nazionale (AN), who had a neo-fascist background, and the Northern Italian autonomy movement Lega Nord(LN). Almost six months later, Lega Nord withdrew from the government, which was forced to resign. Until the 1996 elections, Italy was ruled by an unpolitical government official under Governor Lamberto Dini.

In the 1996 election, a new electoral system, a combination of majority voting and proportional elections, that favored partial alliances was applied. Former Christian Democrat Romano Prodi succeeded in forming a government based on the partial alliance L’Ulivo (the ‘Olive Tree’), which included the Social Democratic Democratici di Sinistra (‘Left Democrats’, DS) and a number of center-left parties. However, in order to gain a majority in the parliament, the government became dependent on the Euro Communist Party Rifondazione Communista(RC). In 1998, RC withdrew its support and the Prodi government resigned. Instead, DS leader Massimo D’Alema succeeded in forming a new government consisting of no less than eight parties. High unemployment and a tightly regulated labor market posed problems for the government. Privatization of in many cases unprofitable government companies was met by trade union protests. The extensive and often inefficient government bureaucracy was also the subject of reform efforts. In order for Italy to be accepted as a member of EMU, the government was forced to make substantial savings measures in public finances.

Protests against left-center government politics grew. In the 2001 election, the right-wing alliance Casa delle Libertà (‘House of Liberty’) won and Silvio Berlusconi formed government, in which Forza Italia (which received 30% of the vote) dominated.

Berlusconi had gone to elections with promises of tax cuts and new jobs but found it difficult to fulfill them. Criticism was increasingly directed at Berlusconi personally because of allegations of bribery, tax fraud and his self-interest when it came to media issues and prosecution immunity. Internal contradictions, where the LN was dissatisfied with failed reforms for increased self-government in the northern regions, along with growing popular dissatisfaction with Italy’s support for the US war in Iraq and low economic growth weakened the government.

In 2005, a new election system was introduced. When this also favored partial alliances, the 2006 election came between Berlusconi’s House of Liberty and the newly formed center-left alliance L’Unione (‘the Union’), led by Prodi, who in 1999-2004 chaired the European Commission. The election results were completely even, but the Union was able to form a government supported by a number of center – left and communist parties. Despite a relatively favorable economic development, there were early contradictions within the government regarding economic policy and as early as spring 2008 new elections must be announced. This resulted in Berlusconi’s right alliance, dominated by Popolo della Libertà(“The People of Liberty”) – a merger of Forza Italia and Alleanza Nazionale – could form government together with Lega Nord and its southern Italian sister party Movimento per l’Autonomia (“The Movement for Independence”). Center – Left Party Partito Democratico (PD), in which DS stated, made a pretty good choice.

The voters’ confidence in the political parties and their ability to deliver the desired policy was very low and the economic crisis made the government’s work even more difficult. A series of scandals surrounding Prime Minister Berlusconi caused hundreds of thousands of Italians to go out and demonstrate in 2010. Increased social problems due to widespread refugee flows, terrorist threats, corruption deals, organized crime and a shaky economy that troubled the eurozone countries and forced budget cuts with increased retirement age, frozen wages and pensions, and reduced support for education and research led to widespread protest demonstrations that undermined.

In the fall of 2011, public opinion against Berlusconi and his government, along with increased pressure from the EU and the outside world on Italy to rectify with its gigantic government debt, had created an unsustainable situation for Berlusconi, which resigned in November. At the same time, Parliament voted for a comprehensive reform package. To enable this to happen, the former EU Commissioner Mario Monti was appointed a new government leader.

Monti’s austerity measures were met with great dissatisfaction among large sections of the population. In late 2012, Berlusconi and PDL withdrew their support for Monti and his technocrat government and new elections were announced until February 2013. The election was a battle between Pier Luigi Bersani’s (PD) center-left coalition “Italy, the general good”, Berlusconi’s PDL and the newly formed “The Five Star Movement” (M5S) under the direction of comedian Giuseppe “Beppe” Grillo. Bersani’s Alliance gained the most votes in both the House of Representatives and Senate elections, but lacked a sufficient majority for government formation. Berlusconi’s PDL received surprisingly large support, especially in the Senate elections. Grillo’s M5S, which received 109 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 54 seats in the Senate, refused to cooperate with any of the major party blocs. There was thus a parliamentary stalemate where no new government could be appointed. The political crisis was a fact and both the Italians and the outside world’s confidence in the Italian political system was further eroded.

The parliamentary situation also set a bar for the election of a new president. After several failed attempts to agree on a new president, outgoing President Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected for a new seven-year term. He then appointed the Deputy Party Leader of the PD, Enrico Letta, as Government Former. Letta appointed a new government consisting of politicians from PD, PDL and Mario Monti’s middle party. Grillo’s M5S was left completely outside the new government.

Letta was replaced by the young Democratic Party chairman Matteo Renzi in February 2014. Renzi suffered a major defeat when his draft constitutional reform was clearly voted down in a referendum in December 2016, after which Renzi resigned as prime minister. He was replaced by Paolo Gentiloni (born 1954) of PD.

President Mattarella dissolved Parliament in December 2017 and announced new elections until March 4, 2018. The election was held with a new electoral system, a form of combination of majority voting and proportional elections.

The election was a great success for the Five Star Movement, which became the largest party with 32.5 percent of the vote. The largest coalition became the right-wing parties with 37 percent of the vote. The election was a big loss for the left parties. After the election, a parliamentary stalemate ensued as none of the proposed government alternatives were close to being able to form a majority government.

After tough negotiations, Lega and the Five Star Movement formed a government. The government coalition was problematic from an EU perspective as it is characterized by leading nationalists and EU critics and the first term was marked by internal contradictions. In the summer of 2019, these became sharper and resulted in the departure of Prime Minister Giuseppe Contes. After negotiations, a new Con-government consisting of the Five Star Movement and Partito Democratico (the “Democratic Party”, PD) could take office in the fall of 2019.

In March 2020, the whole of Italy was quarantined after more than 450 people died and more than 9,000 people were infected by covid-19. The quarantine, which, among other things, meant that schools were kept closed, initially applied until April 3, but was subsequently extended indefinitely. More than 10,000 people had died in early April as a result of covid-19 in Italy.

Historical overview

about 700,000 BC Isernia-La Pineta. Simple stone tools from Paleolithic times.
120,000–80,000 BC Moustérienkultur. Early Neanderthal people.
40 000 BC Traces of people of contemporary type (Homo sapiens sapiens).
10,000-5,000 BC Mesolithic cultures. Small flint implements (microliters) are used.
5,000-3,000 BC Neolithic time. Arable culture and ceramic production.
3,000–2,000 BC Copper Age. Metal objects and collective burials with rich burial finds are introduced. Megalith tombs are erected in Apulia.
2,000–900 BC The Bronze Age cultures. Metal handling is being developed. Fire burial conditions are becoming more common towards the end of the period.
900–700 BC The iron is introduced. Urbanization is initiated in regional cultures with social differentiation. Agriculture increasingly important. Etruscan culture emerged in the late 700s.
300 BC The Romans undercut the surrounding Italian people.
218–203 BC Hannibal’s invasion of Italy during the Second Punic War.
88 BC After the Allied War, all Italians gained Roman citizenship. Significant redistribution of land properties begins.
30 BC – 476 AD During the imperial era, Italy’s administrative division changed. The regional imbalance between northern and southern Italy is intensified.
476 The last West Roman emperor is deposed by the Germanic ruler Odovakar.
493 Theodoric the Great establishes his rule over Italy with Ravenna as the new capital.
568 Large parts of northern Italy are conquered by the Lobards, who establish a kingdom. Ravenna, Rome and southern Italy (the exarchate) are ruled by the Byzantine Empire.
751-756 The Langobards conquer Ravenna but are forced by the Franks to renounce the exarchate, which is handed over to the Pope and becomes the core of the Church Cost.
773-774 Karl the Great defeats the Loboards and establishes a Frankish kingdom.
800 Charles the Great is crowned Emperor of the Pope in Rome.
800s The Byzantines recapture large parts of southern Italy. The Arabs conquer Sicily.
962 Otto I lets himself be crowned Roman emperor.
900s Foreign armies plunder Italy. The population takes refuge in local bourgeoisie.
1000’s The political disintegration continues. The royal power ceases to function. In northern Italy, city municipalities appear as independent centers of power. In Sicily, a Norman kingdom is founded. The investiture battle between the pope and the emperor begins.
about 1000 – about 1300 Economic prosperity, population growth and urbanization.
about 1220–1250 Fredrik II fights the pope and the free city municipalities.
1300s Economic stagnation. Unemployment is replaced by labor shortages after the death of the poet (c. 1350).
about 1450 Five main political players, Venice, Milan, Florence, the Pope and the Two Sicilies, fight each other but end the Ottoman threat peace in Lodi (1454).
1494-1559 The Spanish branch of the Habsburg house becomes the dominant power in Italy after the war against France. Emperor Charles V’s troops win at Pavia in 1525 and plunder Rome in 1527.
1620 The fight for Italy resumes between France and the Habsburg House. Fertilization and plague epidemics.
1700 The Spanish empire in Italy ceases.
1700-96 Enlightenment. Economic growth and modernization in northern Italy.
1713 In the peace following the Spanish war of succession, Austria receives possessions in Italy.
1796 France establishes revolutionary republics in northern Italy.
1805 The Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed with Napoleon as the monarch.
1815 The pre-revolutionary regimes are restored.
1830 Attempts to rebel in the wake of the July Revolution are defeated by Austrian troops.
1848 The February revolution. After initial successes, the revolutionaries suffer defeat.
1859 Austria is forced to relinquish Lombardy to Sardinia after being defeated by Sardinian and French troops.
1860-70 Italy unites under the leadership of Garibaldi and Cavour. Sardinian regent Viktor Emanuel II becomes King of Italy. The Pope retires to the Vatican.
about 1880–1914 Extensive emigration from Italy’s southern regions.
1896 Italy’s conquest policy in East Africa ceases after military defeat in Ethiopia.
1915 Italy declares war on Austria.
1916 Italy declares war on Germany.
1922 The fascist march towards Rome. Mussolini forms government.
1929 Lateran; the conflict between church and state is settled. The Vatican City is established.
1935-36 Italy conquers Ethiopia.
1936 “Axeln Rome – Berlin” proclaimed.
1939 Italy occupies Albania.
1940 Italy joins World War II on Germany’s side.
1943 Sicily and southern Italy are being invaded by the Allies. Italy declares Germany war. A fascist republic is established in northern Italy (Salò).
1945 Salò surrenders. Mussolini is executed.
1946 Viktor Emanuel III abdicates.
1948 The Republic of Italy is proclaimed.
1949 Italy becomes a member of NATO.
1950 Land reform in southern Italy. Emigration.
1952 Italy joins the Coal and Steel Union.
1955 Italy becomes a member of the UN.
1958 Italy becomes a member of the EEC.
1970 Political instability. A wave of assaults from extreme right and left groups.
1992 Political and economic crisis.
1999 Silvio Berlusconi founds the party Forza Italia, which becomes the largest party in the parliamentary elections. He then becomes head of government for a right-wing coalition.
2001 Berlusconi forms government for the second time.
2002 The currency lira is replaced by the euro.
2008 Berlusconi becomes head of government for the third time.
2011 Berlusconi resigns as head of government following a series of political, economic and private scandals. Mario Monti is appointed as a government and is trying to push through austerity measures.
2013 After political turmoil, Enrico Letta is appointed to form government.
2014 Mario Renzi runs through a government reform and is named prime minister.
2020 Italy issues quarantine for the entire country after about 9,000 people were infected by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, of which over 450 people lost their lives.