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Origin of the name Italy
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History of Italy
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Ancient Civilisations

Several civilasations flourished on Italian soil: the Greeks, Ligurians, Italiots, Etruscans and Romans.


Rome was founded by Romulus In 753 BC according to the legend. In fact it was formed by the union of Latin and Sabine villages in the 8th century BC.

Carthage and Rome fought for the supremacy over the Mediterranean area during the First (264-241 BC) and Second Punic Wars (218 to 201 BC). Carthage abandons Sicily to the Romans at the end of the First Punic War.
Hannibal crosses the Alps and defeats the Romans at Lake Trasimeno during the Second Punic War. Scipio finally defeats Hannibal at Zama in 202 BC.

The Roman Republic is formed in 509 BC: the king's powers are transferred to two consuls, elected for one year.

The first triumvirate (Pompey, Crassus, Julius Cesar) is formed in 60 BC.

Julius Ceasar declares himself the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, but is killed in 44 BC.

The second Triumvirate (Octavius and Antony and Lepidus) in 43 BC.

The Early Roman Empire (27BC to 284 AD) sees the Julio-Claudian dynasty (Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero), the Flavian dynasty(Vespasian, Titus, Domitian) and the Severus dynasty (Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Heliogabalus, Alexander Severus, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian).

The Later Empire (284-476 AD) starts with the reign of Diocletian and the institution of Tetrachy or 4-man government.

The deposition of the Emperor Romulus Augustus by Odoacer results in the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.

Otto I the great, Duke of Saxony, King of Germany and King of Italy
founds the Holy Roman Empire in 962 AD.

A struggle between the Church and the Roman Empire lasts more than a century 11C. to 1250 AD.

The French influence in the Empire is at its peak in 13C.

1492 marks the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, the same year the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus discovers America.

The Renaissance

The centre and the north of Italy flourished thanks to the commercial activity of craftsmen and merchants, as well as through wide-ranging banking activities. Merchants and bankers who had settled at the courts of Italian rulers spread the influence of Italian civilisation.

During this period the political and cultural influence of Florence achieved its peak under the patronage of the Medici dynasty. Other influential patrons of that time were the Sforza of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, the Montefeltro of Urbino, the Gonzaga of Mantua and the Roman Popes Julius II and Leo X.

As trade shifted towards the Atlantic the maritime Republics (Genoa, Amalfi, Pisa, Venice) declined and the political fragmentation of the country further facilitated the emergence of more powerful nation-states emerging in the rest of Europe.

The Napoleonic era

Napoleon's campaign in Italy starts in 1713 with the creation of the Cispadan Republic.

Napoleon transforms the Italian Republic into a Kingdom in 1805.

1815 marks the fall of the Napoleonic regime.


In 1831 the Young Italy movement was founded by Giuseppe Mazini and resulted in the First War of Independance against Austria. Camillo Cavour and Garibaldi were the further architects of Italy's independance.

On March 17, 1861 Italy officially became a Kingdom with Turin as its capital and Victor Emmanuel as King.

Rome was proclamed the capital of unified Italy in 1871.