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Brief history of Italy and the population of Italy.

The initial history of Italy and Rome are intertwined, my brief history of Italy will only touch lightly on the history of Rome Italy. If you want a more detailed account of events in Rome refer to my history of Rome Italy section.

• Brief History of Italy: The beginnings

• The Roman Republic

• The Roman Empire

• The fall of the Roman Empire

• The middle ages

• Italy and the renaissance

• The Reunification of Italy

• Mussolini and Italy

• Italy and the modern era

Brief history of Italy: The beginnings

Paleolithic Neanderthals have been wandering around Europe and Italy during the last ice age more than 20 000 years ago and by the start of the Bronze age around 2000BC there are records of several Italic tribes spread throughout Italy.

At around 900BC the Etruscans settled and controlled the area between the Arno River in Tuscany and the Tevere in Rome. The population of Italy was roughly 200 000.
The Etruscans continued to develop along with the founding of Rome but in 509 BC the Tarquins (Tarquinius was the last Roman king) are expelled from Rome and the Roman republic began from there. The last Etruscan City falls to Rome around 300 BC.


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Brief history of Italy: The Roman Republic

In 390 BC the Gauls invade Italy and Rome but the new Roman Republic make a quick recovery and begin their expansion into Southern Italy.

264 BC The punic wars begin between Rome and Carthage. Punic coming from the Latin word "Punici" - meaning Phoenecians, the ancestors of the Carthaginians. Carthage was roughly where modern day Tunisia is today.
It was during this period that Rome began constructing their 1st navy; Rome not being a naval power until then.

241 BC Upon winning the 1st Punic war Rome colonizes Sicily, which was mostly under the control of Carthage, and later Sardinia and Corsica too

218 BC The 2nd Punic war, and Hannibal crosses the Alps. Hannibal devastates all Roman armies, and the Italian countryside, up until the gates of Rome. However lack of reinforcements and funding for the mostly mercenary army saw the Carthaginians run out of momentum right at the end.
(Interesting to note is that a few years previously Rome had cleverly sent Generals to Spain to capture the Carthaginian copper and silver mines and therefore strike a massive blow to their funding.)

At the end of the 2nd Punic war Rome lay claim to both Spain and Greece. The city of Carthage still remains but they are forced to pay heavy fines to the Romans and allowed no army or navy.

149 BC 146 BC The 3rd Punic war. Rome burns Carthage to the ground.


Brief history of Italy: The Roman Empire

1st Century BC Rome invades and conquers Gaul and also enters Egypt.
44 BC The Ides of March, Brutus and Cassius plot and succeed in assassinating Julius Caesar. After the death of Caesar a power struggle begins between Octavius (the adopted son of Julius Caesar) and Mark Antony.
32 BC War is declared against Mark Antony and Cleopatra, the reigning queen of Egypt.
31 BC Antony and Cleopatra are killed in Egypt.

brief history of rome

27 BC Rome becomes an empire and Octavius becomes the first Roman Emperor - Augustus Caesar. Augustus initiates the Roman Imperial system and Rome makes great leaps in Engineering, Literature and Architecture.

At the turn of the Millennium the majority of the population of Italy is concentrated in Rome. The population of Rome is about 1 000 000 and the population of Italy is a little more at 1 500 000.

402 AD Barbarians invade Italy and sack Rome.


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Brief history of Italy: Fall of the Roman Empire

476 AD Fall of the Western Roman Empire as it is gradually replaced by the Papacy. The Eastern Roman Empire continues in Byzantium under Emperor Constantine (eventually renaming the city Constantinople.)

The South of Italy and Sicily is dominated mostly by Arab bandits.


Brief history of Italy: The middle ages.

568 AD The Lombards invade Italy and most of Italy is divided between the Northern European Lombards and the Byzantium Eastern Roman Empire.

800 AD Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne as Emperor. Charlemagne, who was king of the Franks, fought on the churches behalf against the Lombards.

1097 AD The first crusade. Godfrey of Bouillon captures Jerusalem.

1176 AD Frederick I Barbarossa, King of Germany and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, is defeated at the battle of Legnano (see the Italian Anthem for reference to the battle of Legnano). The Lombard cities win the right to govern themselves.

1200 AD The population of Italy is about 9 000 000.

1273 AD The beginning of the Venice Empire and the coining of the gold ducats.

1300 AD The population of Italy is 11 000 000.

1348 AD The outbreak of black death reduces the population of Italy to about 8 000 000.

1434 AD Cosimo de Medici, a banker from Florence, begins the Medici era. The Medici as a family ruled Florence and Tuscany for centuries and were largely responsible for Florence being the initiator (and leader for a while) of the Italian Renaissance.
With the Medici there were massive advances in Architecture, Engineering and Arts, and their influence as a catalyst for the Popes of Rome to compete with equally impressive art can not be understated. The "spirit of competition" of the Popes greatly changed the urban landscape of Rome during the Renaissance period.

1520 AD Martin Luther is condemned as a heretic by the Papacy. Protestantism and the reformation begin.

1545 AD The Council of Trent, supposedly held to fix the doctrinal differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, later turns into the witch hunt of the notorious Inquisition.


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Brief history of Italy: The Renaissance.

By the 1400s what was largely begun by the Medici in Florence is now spreading throughout Italy. The Italian nation celebrates brilliant sons like Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi (il Duomo - the dome of Florence) to name a few!

brief history of italy il duomo

1630 Northern Italy is hit by another outbreak of the plague, Milan the worst off.

By the 1500s much of Italy is under the control of the Spanish, however, following the War of Spanish Succession, the Austrians become the new rulers of most of Italy.

1735 Italy's oldest newspaper begins publication - "La Gazzetta di Parma".

1796 AD Napoleon invades and Italy is briefly reunited for the first time since the Ancient Roman Republic.


Brief history of Italy: The Reunification of Italy.

1848 AD 1st war of Independence. After the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire Italians find themselves fighting Austrians again for independence.

1860 AD Italy's hero Giuseppe Garibaldi defeats the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and salutes Victor Emmanuel as king of Italy.

1870 AD Venice is finally wrestled from the Austrians and in 1871 Rome too is once again the capital of a united Italy.

1889 AD Italy colonizes Somalia but their armies are defeated in Ethiopia, making Ethiopia the only African Nation to have successfully resisted Colonization by a European Nation.

1900 AD The population of Italy is 33 000 000.


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Brief history of Italy: Mussolini and Italy.

1922 Benito Mussolini and his fascists march on Rome and King Victor Emmanuel III asks Mussolini to appoint a new government. Mussolini becomes prime minister with less than 8% representation in Parliament.

1925 Mussolini muzzles and dissolves all other political parties, and imprisons some, effectively becoming another dictator readily joining the already long list of self-absorbed despot tyrants.

The Lateran Pact (now part of the Italian Constitution) is made between Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri of the Catholic Church and brings to an end centuries of conflict between church and state. The Vatican State is established and Catholicism is declared the official state religion and taught in schools.

1935 Italy invades Ethiopia for the 2nd time (the 1st time, in 1896, they were defeated). The population of Rome is 1 000 000. The population of Italy is about 42 000 000.
1939 Mussolini's troops enter and occupy Albania.
1940 Italy join the Nazis and declare war against France and England.

1941 Italy and Germany declare war on the USA. After a series of Military disasters the Italian colonies in Africa are lost, and many a historic novel is written satirizing the Italians less than heroic attempts in war.
1943 The Italian king forms a coup against Mussolini and has him arrested. Marshal Badoglio substitutes Mussolini who is later freed by German paratroopers. Mussolini then starts a socialist alternative government at Salo, Lake Garda.
1945 Benito Mussolini is caught and executed.


Brief history of Italy: Modern Italy.

1946 Italy hold a National Referendum on whether to be a Republic or to keep the Monarchy. Republicans win at a ratio of 13:11. The monarchy is abolished, Italy is declared a Republic and King Umberto II goes into exile.

1981 The population of Italy sits at 56 500 000.

brief history of Italy Umberto

1993 "Tangentopoli", the beginning of the "clean hands" revolution. Investigations implicate thousands of Italian politicians public servants and businessmen in bribery and corruption. The main parties were left with virtually no members, and new candidates promised to be more careful (i.e. to not get caught!)

2002 The EURO becomes the official currency.

2005 Joseph Ratzinger is elected Pope and goes by the name of Pope Benedict XVI.

I hope that my brief history of Italy has been informative. For more information about the history of Rome visit the brief history of Italy Rome page.

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