The History of Italy

Discover the fascinating history of Italy

Once the seat of the Roman Empire, Italy has had a long and involved history. It has shaped the development of virtually the whole Mediterranean area and strongly influenced European culture. Today it continues to be of global importance, maintaining it grip on leading fashion design.

Before 800 BC, the central and northern half of Italy was inhabited by the Etruscans. The background of these people is still not quite known and while they initially gained citizenship under Roman rule, their lack of allegiance resulted in the repressing and outlawing of their language, culture and traditions. This resulted in the eventual complete loss of the Etruscan language. The Romans did, however, draw from the more advance technology of the Etruscans, adapting items such as arches, aqueducts, sewers and paved streets. The Etruscans eventually fell to Roman rule because of the disunity amongst various cities.

The Romans continued to go forth and conquer, slowly expanding their territories until they became a world power. It was at this time that they exerted such a great influence on other cultures which can still be seen today. However, the Roman Empire soon fell into decline and the Romans were unable to adequately defend their states and they suffered attacked by various nations.

In this time of war and uncertainty, the church gained power due to its relative stability. The church was the only source of learning at the time and this meant that all uneducated invaders often used the clerics to help them administer conquests. After the Lombard invasion, the popes received little help in fending off further invasions from Constantinople and this led to the fathering of an independent state. A few years after Charlemagne defeated the Lombards, he was crowned king of the Holy Roman Empire. However, after his death the Empire was eventually divided up between his three sons, Northern Italy becoming the Kingdom of Italy under the rule of Louis II. Not long afterward, trade started to pick up on the seas resulting in some of Italy's sea based cities gaining immense power.

It was around this time that the Renaissance began to sweep across the developed world - starting in Italy. It saw the rebuilding of Rome and other parts of Italy as well as a new way of thinking and acting amongst the upperclass. Artists such as Michelangelo Leonardo emerged, gracing the world with their talented designs, paintings and sculptures. It was the renaissance which first saw much of the Italy that we know today.

Though initially unified as a Monarchy and suffering a brief period of fascism, Italy eventually went on to become a republic. Today it is a charter member of NATO and the European Union and it continues to thrive in all aspects of life.


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