Italy History

Italy History

Prehistory to migration

Findings indicate that Italy has been populated since the Paleolithic about a million years ago. Around 1200 BC Italians and Illyrians immigrated to the country, later also Etruscans and Greeks, from whom the name “Italia” comes – first for the Calabrian peninsula, then for the whole of southern Italy.

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The name came from the Romans in the 3rd century BC. taken over and used for the area up to the northern Apennines, later up to the Alps. According to legend, it was 650 BC. Rome was built by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus; Romulus murdered his brother shortly before the city was founded and then became Rome’s first king. In the centuries that followed, Rome was the center of the Roman Empire, which in addition to large parts of the then known world also included the central province of Italy. AD 395 the Roman Empire was divided into an eastern and a western part. After the fall of the last Western Roman emperor Romulus Augustus 476, the unity of Italy began to disintegrate and was finally destroyed by the collapse of the Lombards in 568 AD. Broken. The coastal landscapes of Genoa, Rome, Ravenna, Venice and Lower Italy as well as Sardinia and Sicily remained in the hands of Byzantium; independent small empires emerged in central and southern Italy.

Early Middle Ages

In addition to the Longobards and Byzantines, the popes became another power factor in Italy from the 7th century. Even militarily too weak to assert themselves, they allied themselves with Frankish kings, which led to Franconian-German domination from the 9th to around the middle of the 13th century. Pippin III. prevented the Longobard king Aistulf from conquering Rome and, with the “Pippin donation”, gave the papacy, in addition to Rome, the possession of Byzantine Ravenna. Charlemagne subjugated the Longobards in 774 and bound the “Regnum Italicum” to the Frankish Empire for the first time at the end of the 8th century. In 800 he was crowned emperor in Rome and thereby renewed the western empire. As the “Holy Roman Empire” Northern and Central Italy was ruled by German emperors. The Normans had occupied Lower Italy and Sicily in the course of the 11th century and received the conquered land as a fief from the Pope. At about the same time there was a conflict between imperial (secular) and papal (spiritual) violence in the so-called “Investiture dispute”. The issue at issue was the award (investiture) of bishops and ministries, which had become an important instrument of government and administration for the kings. The immediate occasion was the occupation of the Archdiocese of Milan. Pope Gregory VII threatened King Heinrich with deposition, Heinrich then had the Pope deposed in 1076 and the Pope reacted by banishing the King. After the proverbial walk to Canossa by Henry IV. 1077 the spell was released.Heinrich prevailed politically and, after being banned again by Pope Gregory.

High and late middle ages

Despite the Emperor’s apparent success, Italy’s gradual detachment from the Holy Roman Empire began after the Investiture dispute. According to AbbreviationFinder, the papacy gradually became the strongest force in Italy, but at the same time the influence of the Lombard city-states also increased: Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Florence, but also Milan inland developed into independent trading states that had their center on the Mediterranean. The foundations of successful capitalist behavior and thinking had been laid by the northern Italian cities since the 11th century. Money transactions, stock exchanges and modern bookkeeping combined with the first university founding in Parma and Bologna. Barbarossa’s attempt to re-enforce the imperial government failed as did the efforts of Emperor Friedrich II. Who had founded a highly organized state in Sicily. With his death in 1250, the period of Hohenstaufen domination in Italy ended and a century of French domination began while the papacy moved to Avignon from 1309-1376. Power struggles between papal Guelves and Ghibellines loyal to the emperor also prevented a new central power from emerging. Territorial principalities replaced the powerful city republics, so Genoa and Venice had largely independent noble republics in the 14th century, Piedmont was ruled by the dukes of Savoy.

Modern times

In the 15th century, Italy became the center of humanism and Renaissance. The Platonic Academy was founded in Florence in 1440, Pico della Mirandola designed a world view of Christian, ancient and Jewish cultural elements. The Vatican Library was founded in Rome and a philological humanism with text and Bible criticism began. The humanistic study (“studia humanista”) with the basic subjects of rhetoric, grammar and poetics was taught at schools and universities. Art and science came together and a new attitude towards life was expressed through a changed world view: The pilgrim to the heavenly home “Viator mundi” had become “Faber mundi”, the creator and ruler of the world.

After the beginning of modern times, symbolized by the discovery of America, trade flows began to shift from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. This meant loss of power and finally the end of the once thriving territorial principalities. Once again, foreign powers fought for supremacy in Italy. After the defeat of France against Habsburg, Milan, Sardinia and Naples-Sicily came to Spain, which gained dominance in Italy, even though France had succeeded in gaining influence in northern Italy in 1659. At the beginning of the 18th century, power was redistributed in Italy.Within a few decades, all the native dynasties, with the exception of the Savoyan ones, who out and a struggle began between the French rulers of the Bourbons and the German-Austrian line of the Habsburgs for the Spanish heritage in Italy. This was decided in the War of the Spanish Succession in favor of the new power Austria. Milan, Naples and Sardinia came under Austrian rule, Corsica was sold to France.

19th century

As part of the Revolutionary Wars, Napoleon managed to oust the Austrians for a short time and to be crowned Italian king in Milan in 1805. However, French domination was short-lived: after the Vienna Congress in 1815, the Papal States and Austrian domination were restored in northern Italy.

The period between 1815 and 1870 was marked by the so-called “risorgimento” (Italian for resurrection) of consciousness, which aimed for a politically united and culturally important Italy. This was accompanied by resistance movements against restorative Austrian hegemony, but the uprisings led by Mazzini in the 1930s and 1940s failed. Only after Italy joined the revolution in Europe in 1848 did the freedom fighters succeed in driving the Austrians out of Venice and Milan. Mazzini and Garibaldi proclaimed the Italian Republic in Rome. Independence was short-lived. The Pope’s French auxiliary corps gradually regained the liberated regions and with the fall of Venice, the reaction in the form of Austrian troops returned to northern Italy.Only the Sardinian-Piedmontese king, who had supported the Republicans in the struggles, maintained a parliamentary republic and, together with his Prime Minister C. Benso Graf Cavour, became the leader in the further fight for a united Italian nation-state. Within a few years Sardinia managed to gather Italian Republicans. When the French king Napoleon III. brought to their side by territorial commitments from Savoy and Nice, the Austrians were attacked again and defeated several times in 1858. In the peace of Zurich, Lombardy went to Piedmont, Veneto stayed with Austria.

Kingdom of Italy

In 1860 G. Garibaldi succeeded in overthrowing the Bourbon rule in Naples-Sicily with the “Train of a Thousand”. After a referendum, these areas were annexed to Piedmont and after the first parliamentary elections in 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed under King Victor Emmanuel II. Because French troops occupied Rome, Florence became the Italian capital for a short time. In 1866 Venetia was liberated with Prussian help, in 1870 Rome as the capital and the rest of the Papal States were integrated into the Italian Republic after the French left. The politically disempowered Pope felt that he was a prisoner in the Vatican and called on Catholic Italians to stay away from the parliamentary elections.

Contrasts to the former ally France made Italy seek a connection to Austria-Hungary and Germany with the Triple Alliance. In terms of foreign policy, Italy began to strive for colonial possessions in the 1880s. Eritrea and the Somali coast were occupied, but the attempt to conquer Ethiopia failed several times. Domestically, after social unrest and upheavals, the liberal G. Giolitti became a reform politician who, with interruptions from 1903 to 1921, was prime minister and initiated extensive reforms in social and labor legislation, but also in electoral law.

First and Second World War

During the First World War, Italy was initially neutral, but then, after being promised territorial gains in secret contracts with England and France, entered the war against Austria (23 January 515) and Germany (28 January 916). The war won only a portion of the promised territorial gains with South Tyrol, Trentino, Gorizia and Trieste. Disappointment threatened to lead to a civil war between radical left and right groups. The fascist movement, founded in 1919 by the former socialist Mussolini, took advantage of this and, through the “March on Rome”, forced the king to appoint Mussolini to the head of a coalition government in 1922. Terror and abuse of power gave the fascist minority sole authority in the following years, democracy was totally transformed.

Initially, Italian and German fascism opposed each other, but after the joint effort in the Spanish Civil War, rapprochement was reached in 1936 and the Berlin-Rome axis was subsequently formed. Italy resigned from the League of Nations, passed anti-Semitic racial laws and in 1939 entered into a military alliance with Germany and Japan. On 10 January 1940, Italy intervened in the Second World War on the German side.

Already in 1943 the anti-fascist mood in the population increased, there were strikes and on July 24, 1943 Mussolini was imprisoned by the king and the fascist party was dissolved. After secret negotiations in September 1943, Father Badoglio managed to negotiate an armistice with the Allies. But Hitler-Germany reacted by disarming and capturing the Italian troops in the areas occupied by Germany, liberated Mussolini in the same month and appointed him as the leader of the Italian-occupied regions. The king and Badoglio fled to Sicily and a guerrilla was against the German occupation began. In 1944 Rome was liberated and a transitional government was formed. Partisans Mussolini were shot on January 28, 1945.

In the Paris Peace Treaty, Italy lost the remaining territorial gains achieved in 1919 except for South Tyrol and Trieste.

Postwar and new millennium

In 1946, a referendum abolished the monarchy and the king left the country with his family. In 1948 a new constitution came into force and with Prime Minister Gasperi of the Democrazia Christiana (DC) a member of the party came to power, which was to remain the strongest political force in Italy until 1994. In the same year the Sardinian autonomy movement was allowed to establish a region with special statute Sardinia. Sicily had already achieved the same goal in 1946. In the decades that followed, numerous development programs attempted to promote the island, shaken by the mafia and bureaucracy and corruption, economically and politically.

Italy joined NATO in 1949 and the Rome Treaties tied Italy to the EEC in 1957. The Marshall Plan enabled rapid reconstruction and economic growth reached record numbers as early as the 1950s. Numerous social and land reforms have been passed. In 1953, the DC lost its absolute majority and a center-right coalition government led by the DC replaced the government until 1962. The Papal States also reformed in the Second Vatican Council, in which, among other things, the demand for the return of the other churches was abandoned.

Under the Aldo Moro (1963-1968) government, the Republic went through years of domestic political stability, which was replaced in the early 1970s by political polarization that was accompanied by an economic crisis. The clashes between left and right terrorist groups culminated in 1978 when Aldo Moro was murdered by the leftist terrorist “Red Brigades”. Alternating governments were only able to hold office for a short time in succession, and in 1981 the prime ministers Spadolini (1981 to 1982) and Craxi (1983-1987) were the first non-members of the DC to head an Italian post-war government.

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The nineties of the twentieth century were marked by the dissolution of the Soviet Union in world politics. The Communists, the second-strongest Italian party, renamed themselves the “Democratic Party of the Left” in 1991 and designed a new party program. President Cossiga was succeeded by OL Scalfaro in 1992, but he could not stop the loss of confidence in the established parties in view of the unchanged north-south divide and a very high level of public debt. The election to the new parliament in 1992 brought regional parties, in particular the northern Italian Lega Nord, numerous votes for the first time. At the same time, the political establishment was discredited by corruption scandals, mafia murders of senior judicial officials and suspected involvement between politics and the mafia, which led to a state crisis in 1993. In the “Clean Hands” campaign, Milan prosecutors uncovered a sophisticated system of corruption between politics, business and organized crime and brought charges against more than 6,000 people, including former Prime Ministers Andreotti and Craxi. In the same year, a comprehensive political reform was launched through a referendum. The immediate consequence was the dissolution of the DC in 1993. The immediate consequence was the dissolution of the DC in 1993. a comprehensive political reform was launched through a referendum. The immediate consequence was the dissolution of the DC in 1993. a comprehensive political reform was launched through a referendum. The immediate consequence was the dissolution of the DC in 1993.

Amato resigned in 1994 and the new electoral law brought victory for right-wing populist Silvio Berlusconi, who led a center-right alliance between Forza Italia, Nationale Allianz and Lega Nord. That same year, however, he was suspected of corruption and had to resign. In April, a center-left alliance “L’Ulivo” from PDS, PPI, Dini and Greens list won and with R. Prodi until 1998, M. D’Alema until 2000 and Giuliano Amato the Prime Minister. In the 2001 elections, however, Berlusconi was able to assert himself again with his center-right alliance “House of Freedoms” and was appointed head of government for the second time, in 2005 after a (formal) resignation for the third time. The center-left alliance prevailed in the 2006 elections, Romano Prodi became Prime Minister again. After his alliance lost the majority in the Senate in early 2008, it was replaced by Berlusconi in May (Alliance “People of Freedom”). Berlusconi, prime minister for the fourth time, declared modernization of the country as his main task. After the parliamentary elections in 2008, the Italian party spectrum had simplified considerably. Therefore, significantly fewer parties were represented in the newly elected parliament. This constellation, which is completely new for Italian conditions, caused many observers to speak of the departure into a “Third Republic”.

Berlusconi came under increasing pressure from reports of private scandals and legal disputes. In 2011, the Prime Minister was brought to trial because of allegations of abuse of office and the advantage of prostitution for minors. At the same time, his government also suffered several defeats when the population spoke out in 2011 in referendums, among other things, against the construction of nuclear power plants and a new procedural law. Against the background of the European debt crisis, the Senate and the House of Representatives approved several austerity packages from July. Berlusconi saw itself under increasing pressure within the EU as the Italian sovereign debt crisis widened.After further austerity measures were passed by the Italian parliament, he finally resigned in November 2011. A transitional government under Mario Monti and his “technician government” followed. After the early elections in February 2013, forming a government proved extremely difficult. Finally, a cabinet led by PD politician Enrico Letta, PD, Popolo della Liberta (PdL) and the Center Party were sworn in. Prime Minister Letta’s policy, like his predecessor Monti, focuses on comprehensive growth and reform measures to get the financial and economic crisis under control.

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