Introduction   Geographical Setting    Early Humans   The Etruscans   The Romans   Middle Ages   Renaissance  

 Foreign domination (1559 to 1814)   Unification (1814 to 1861)   World War I

    Mussolini and WWII   Italian African Colonies   Italian Republic (after 1945)










The Etruscans and Greek Colonies in Italy


The Romans

 Middle Ages






 Foreign domination

(1559 to 1814)   

Unification (1814 to 1861)

World War I

Mussolini and WWII

Italian Republic (after 1945)



Introduction to Italian History




The Italian peninsula was the home for one of the greatest empires in history, the Roman Empire, and one of the worlds largest religions, Catholicism. The dynamic city states that arose after the fall of the Roman Empire gave birth to the Renaissance.  Italian ports and trade declined with the discovery of America .The rise of the more powerful nations states to the north, France, Spain  and Austria controlled Italian affairs till the Risorgimento and the unification of most of Italy by 1870.  Italy fought the fought against Austria and Germany in WWI , losing 600,000 and leading to the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few. In the economic hard times that followed, Mussolini formed the Fascist party in 1919 and allied with German and Japan in WW2, leading to the invasion of Italy in 1943 and surrendered to the Allies on April 28, 1945. Italy became a republic in 1946 and joined NATO in the 1950s.By the 1950s, the economy began to recover and Italy joined the EEC in 1958.A major factor in the recovery was the growth of the Italian automobile industry.The late 70s and early 80s are known at the Years of Lead ( anni di piombo ) because of student protests and terrorism by communist and neo-fascist groups.

The Mani pulite(clean hands) investigation into political corruption led to the demise of the first republic in 1992.


The Geographical Setting  


The Italian peninsula extends from the foot of the Alps into the Mediterranean sea, about seven hundred and fifty miles. Its breadth is very unequal. In the extreme north, where it is bounded by the circular sweep of the Alps, which separate the plains of Lombardy from Switzerland and the Tyrol, the country presents a breadth of one hundred and fifty miles. In the center it is but about eighty miles from the bay of Naples to the Adriatic, while in Calabria the width dwindles to but eighteen miles from sea to sea. The islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, with several others of minor importance, have also been usually considered as a part of Italy.Italia original applied to the southern extremity of the peninsula;during the Roman republic it was extended  to the central provinces, the territory north of the Apennines being called Cisalpine Gaul.  The use of the word Italia for the whole peninsula came during the Roman empire (27 BC-395AD)


Early Humans  


Remains of Homo erectus have been found in Italy from 200,000 BC. Cro-Magnons appeared by 10,000 BC. By around 4,000 BC Neolithic humans were entering Italy. Agriculture appeared by 3500 BC. In 1991, hikers in the Italian Alps found the body of a 5,000 year old man.The man was in his twenties or thirties, wore animal skins and a grass cape and leather shoes stuffed with grass. Of special interest was his copper ax.


A Concise History of Italy



The Force of Destiny


Mussolini by Mack Smith



Murder of a Medici Princess

the brilliant life and tragic death of Isabella de Medici








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