History of Italy
From ancient culture to European Union
Hardly any other European country experienced such an extraordinary up and down during its history as Italy. Already in early times, the Mediterranean country developed a high culture and became a first superpower: The Roman Empire. For centuries, the Romans dominated the European history because of their culture, progression and military power and established the ground of today’s Europe. Although a long phase of ups and downs started after the decline of the Roman Empire, the powerful Italian city states and the Italian Renaissance contributed in great ways to the progress of today’s civilization. Only since the foundation of the kingdom and the two world wars, Italy has found its appropriate place among the European countries.
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The Cradle of European Civilization
As early as 753 BC, according to Roman history, the city of Rome was founded, which two centuries later should become the capital of an emerging Roman Empire. Systematically, the Romans conquered the Mediterranean area and half ofEurope and lay the foundation stones of our civilization today. From now on Roman law, Roman Catholicism, art and culture as well as technological progress have characterized not only the history of Italy, but of the entire western world. But after the break-up of Rome in a Western Roman and Eastern Roman Empire, the heyday was over. While the Eastern Roman Empire existed until 1453, the rule of the Romans in Italy ended with the continuing invasion of foreign nations and the eventual conquest of Rome by Odoacer in 476 after Christ.
Colourful History: Italy in the Middle Ages
Shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was at the mercy of the newly established European powers. Teutons, Goths and Lombards successively ruled different parts of Italy and have influenced the country for some parts until today. The growing power of the papacy and the rise of the Franconians led to the destruction of the Lombardian Empire and the trisection of Italy in a Roman-GermanEmpire in the north, the Papal States in the middle and to the south of Italy, which was ruled by varying powers. With the development of the middle class, city states were formed during the Investiture Controversy between the Pope and the Emperor in upper and middle Italy and these city states have characterized the history of Italy up to modern times.
History of Italy: Foundation of the State until today
After a long depression, in the 15th century Italy gainedcultural and economic dominance in Europe for a short period of time. Italy's powerful city states were the centre of humanism and the Renaissance. However,with the discovery of America, this supremacy was lost quickly and Italy was again at the mercy of the newly emerged great powers France and Austria. Finally under Napoleon, who proclaimed the Kingdom of Italy and crowned himself king, the Italian city states were united for the first time since Roman times. With the emerging nationalism, the Italian people finally rose against Austria and in 1861 eventually founded the Kingdom of Italy. But the upcoming idea of a great power ended with the First World War. Although Italy emerged as a winner, the war rushed the country into economic and social problems and therefore paved the way for fascism. After the Second World War, Italy was proclaimed a parliamentary republic in 1946, and as a founding member of the European Union, the country has found back its place in Europe.
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