The Italian Renaissance was a period of Italian history that began in the 14th century and lasted until the 17th century. It peaked during the 15th and 16th centuries, spreading across Europe and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity; the French word renaissance means "Rebirth" and defines the period as one of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity after the centuries labeled the Dark Ages by Renaissance humanists. The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term "Rebirth" in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters and Architects but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the works of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt; the Renaissance began in Tuscany, was centred in the city of Florence. Florence, one of the several city-states of the peninsula, rose to economic prominence by providing credit for European monarchs and laying down the groundwork for capitalism and banking; the Renaissance spread to Venice, heart of a mediterranean empire and in control of the trade routes with the east since the participation in the crusades and the voyages of Marco Polo, where the remains of ancient Greek culture were brought together and provided humanist scholars with new texts.
The Renaissance had a significant effect on the Papal States and Rome rebuilt by Humanist and Renaissance popes, who were involved in Italian politics, in arbitrating disputes between competing colonial powers and in opposing the Reformation. The Italian Renaissance is best known for its achievements in painting, sculpture, music, philosophy and exploration. Italy became the recognized European leader in all these areas by the late 15th century, during the Peace of Lodi agreed between Italian states; the Italian Renaissance peaked in the mid-16th century as domestic disputes and foreign invasions plunged the region into the turmoil of the Italian Wars. However, the ideas and ideals of the Italian Renaissance endured and spread into the rest of Europe, setting off the Northern Renaissance. Italian explorers from the maritime republics served under the auspices of European monarchs, ushering the Age of discovery; the most famous among them are Christopher Columbus who sailed for Spain, Giovanni da Verrazzano for France, Amerigo Vespucci for Portugal, John Cabot for England.
Italian scientists such as Falloppio, Galileo, played a key role in the scientific revolution and foreigners such as Copernicus and Vesalius worked in Italian universities. Various events and dates of the 17th century, such as the conclusion of the European Wars of Religion in 1648, have been proposed for the end of the Renaissance. Accounts of Renaissance literature begin with the three great poets of the 14th century: Dante Alighieri and Boccaccio. Famous vernacular poets of the Renaissance include the renaissance epic authors Luigi Pulci, Matteo Maria Boiardo, Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso. 15th-century writers such as the poet Poliziano and the Platonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino made extensive translations from both Latin and Greek. In the early 16th century, Castiglione laid out his vision of the ideal gentleman and lady in The Book of the Courtier, while Machiavelli cast a jaundiced eye on "la verità effettuale della cosa"—the actual truth of things—in The Prince, composed, in humanistic style, chiefly of parallel ancient and modern examples of Virtù.
Historians of the period include Machiavelli himself, his friend and critic Francesco Guicciardini and Giovanni Botero. The Aldine Press, founded by the printer Aldo Manuzio, active in Venice, developed Italic type and portable printed books that could be carried in one's pocket, as well as being the first to publish editions of books in Ancient Greek. Venice became the birthplace of the Commedia dell'Arte. Italian Renaissance art exercised a dominant influence on subsequent European painting and sculpture for centuries afterwards, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Giotto di Bondone, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Titian; the same is true for architecture, as practiced by Brunelleschi, Leon Battista Alberti, Andrea Palladio, Bramante. Their works include, to name only a few, the Florence Cathedral, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, as well as several private residences; the musical era of the Italian Renaissance was defined by the Roman School and by the Venetian School and the birth of Opera in Florence.
In philosophy, thinkers such as Galileo, Giordano Bruno and Pico della Mirandola, emphasized naturalism and humanism, thus rejecting dogma and scholasticism. By the Late Middle Ages, the former heartland of the Roman Empire, southern Italy were poorer than the North. Rome was a city of ancient ruins, the Papal States were loosely administered, vulnerable to external interference such as that of France, Spain; the Papacy was affronted when the Avignon Papacy was created in southern France as a consequence of pressure from King Philip the Fair of France. In the south, Sicily had for some time been under foreign domination, by the Arabs and the Normans. Sicily had prospered for 150 years during the Emirate of Sicily and for two centuries during the Norman Kingdom and the Hohenstaufen Kingdom, but had declined by the late
In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed; the Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117. In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and to an autocratic semi-elective empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it dominated the North African coast and most of Western Europe, the Balkans and much of the Middle East.
It is grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world. Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, society, law, government, art, literature and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France, it achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments and public facilities. The Punic Wars with Carthage were decisive in establishing Rome as a world power. In this series of wars Rome gained control of the strategic islands of Corsica and Sicily. By the end of the Republic, Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa.
The Roman Empire emerged with the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. 721 years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in human history, have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires. Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak, it stretched from the entire Mediterranean Basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire broke up into independent "barbarian" kingdoms in the 5th century; this splintering is a landmark historians use to divide the ancient period of universal history from the pre-medieval "Dark Ages" of Europe.
The eastern part of the empire endured through the 5th century and remained a power throughout the "Dark Ages" and medieval times until its fall in 1453 AD. Although the citizens of the empire made no distinction, the empire is most referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" by modern historians during the Middle Ages to differentiate between the state of antiquity and the nation it grew into. According to the founding myth of Rome, the city was founded on 21 April 753 BC on the banks of the river Tiber in central Italy, by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, who descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas, who were grandsons of the Latin King Numitor of Alba Longa. King Numitor was deposed by his brother, while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth to the twins. Since Rhea Silvia had been raped and impregnated by Mars, the Roman god of war, the twins were considered half-divine; the new king, feared Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so he ordered them to be drowned. A she-wolf saved and raised them, when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor.
The twins founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over the location of the Roman Kingdom, though some sources state the quarrel was about, going to rule or give his name to the city. Romulus became the source of the city's name. In order to attract people to the city, Rome became a sanctuary for the indigent and unwanted; this caused a problem, in that Rome was bereft of women. Romulus visited neighboring towns and tribes and attempted to secure marriage rights, but as Rome was so full of undesirables he was refused. Legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins with the Sabines. Another legend, recorded by Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, says that Prince Aeneas led a group of Trojans on a sea voyage to found a new Troy, since the original was destroyed at the end of the Trojan War. After a long time in rough seas, they landed on the banks of the Tiber River. Not long after they landed, the men wanted to take to the sea again, but the women who were traveling with them did not want to leave.
One woman, named Roma, suggested that the women burn the ships out at sea to prevent their leaving
Western Roman Empire
In historiography, the Western Roman Empire refers to the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court. The terms Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are modern descriptions that describe political entities that were de facto independent; the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the Western imperial court was formally dissolved in 480. The Eastern imperial court survived until 1453. Though the Empire had seen periods with more than one Emperor ruling jointly before, the view that it was impossible for a single emperor to govern the entire Empire was institutionalised to reforms to Roman law by emperor Diocletian following the disastrous civil wars and disintegrations of the Crisis of the Third Century, he introduced the system of the tetrarchy in 286, with two separate senior emperors titled Augustus, one in the East and one in the West, each with an appointed Caesar. Though the tetrarchic system would collapse in a matter of years, the East–West administrative division would endure in one form or another over the coming centuries.
As such, the Western Roman Empire would exist intermittently in several periods between the 3rd and 5th centuries. Some emperors, such as Constantine I and Theodosius I, governed as the sole Augustus across the Roman Empire. On the death of Theodosius I in 395, he divided the empire between his two sons, with Honorius as his successor in the West, governing from Mediolanum, Arcadius as his successor in the East, governing from Constantinople. In 476, after the Battle of Ravenna, the Roman Army in the West suffered defeat at the hands of Odoacer and his Germanic foederati. Odoacer became the first King of Italy. In 480, following the assassination of the previous Western emperor Julius Nepos, the Eastern emperor Zeno dissolved the Western court and proclaimed himself the sole emperor of the Roman Empire; the date of 476 was popularized by the 18th century British historian Edward Gibbon as a demarcating event for the end of the Western Empire and is sometimes used to mark the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
Odoacer's Italy, other barbarian kingdoms, would maintain a pretence of Roman continuity through the continued use of the old Roman administrative systems and nominal subservience to the Eastern Roman court. In the 6th century, emperor Justinian I re-imposed direct Imperial rule on large parts of the former Western Roman Empire, including the prosperous regions of North Africa, the ancient Roman heartland of Italy and parts of Hispania. Political instability in the Eastern heartlands, combined with foreign invasions and religious differences, made efforts to retain control of these territories difficult and they were lost for good. Though the Eastern Empire retained territories in the south of Italy until the eleventh century, the influence that the Empire had over Western Europe had diminished significantly; the papal coronation of the Frankish King Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800 marked a new imperial line that would evolve into the Holy Roman Empire, which presented a revival of the Imperial title in Western Europe but was in no meaningful sense an extension of Roman traditions or institutions.
The Great Schism of 1054 between the churches of Rome and Constantinople further diminished any authority the Emperor in Constantinople could hope to exert in the west. As the Roman Republic expanded, it reached a point where the central government in Rome could not rule the distant provinces. Communications and transportation were problematic given the vast extent of the Empire. News of invasion, natural disasters, or epidemic outbreak was carried by ship or mounted postal service requiring much time to reach Rome and for Rome's orders to be returned and acted upon. Therefore, provincial governors had de facto autonomy in the name of the Roman Republic. Governors had several duties, including the command of armies, handling the taxes of the province and serving as the province's chief judges. Prior to the establishment of the Empire, the territories of the Roman Republic had been divided in 43 BC among the members of the Second Triumvirate: Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Antony received the provinces in the East: Achaea and Epirus, Bithynia and Asia, Syria and Cyrenaica.
These lands had been conquered by Alexander the Great. The whole region the major cities, had been assimilated into Greek culture, Greek serving as the lingua franca. Octavian obtained the Roman provinces of the West: Italia, Gallia Belgica, Hispania; these lands included Greek and Carthaginian colonies in the coastal areas, though Celtic tribes such as Gauls and Celtiberians were culturally dominant. Lepidus received the minor province of Africa. Octavian soon took Africa while adding Sicilia to his holdings. Upon the defeat of Mark Antony, a victorious Octavian controlled a united Roman Em
Norman conquest of southern Italy
The Norman conquest of southern Italy lasted from 999 to 1139, involving many battles and independent conquerors. In 1130 these territories in southern Italy united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included the island of Sicily, the southern third of the Italian Peninsula, the archipelago of Malta and parts of North Africa. Itinerant Norman forces arrived in the Mezzogiorno as mercenaries in the service of Lombard and Byzantine factions, communicating news swiftly back home about opportunities in the Mediterranean; these groups gathered in several places, establishing fiefdoms and states of their own and elevating their status to de facto independence within fifty years of their arrival. Unlike the Norman conquest of England, which took a few years after one decisive battle, the conquest of southern Italy was the product of decades and a number of battles, few decisive. Many territories were conquered independently, only were unified into a single state. Compared to the conquest of England, it was unplanned and disorganised, but complete.
There is little evidence for Viking activity in Italy as a precursor to the arrival of the Normans in 999, but some raiding is recorded. Ermentarius of Noirmoutier and the Annals of St-Bertin provide contemporary evidence for Vikings based in Frankia proceeding to Iberia and thence to Italy around 860; some modern scholars have connected this event with a much account by the infamously unreliable Dudo of Saint-Quentin, who has a Viking fleet led by one Alstingus land at the Ligurian port of Luni and sacking the city. The Vikings move another 60 miles down the Tuscan coast to the mouth of the Arno, sacking Pisa and following the river upstream attack the hill-town of Fiesole above Florence and win other victories around the Mediterranean. Building modern speculation on medieval invention, some scholarship has identified the leaders of this expedition as Björn Ironside and Hastein. Dudo's account, however adds no reliable information to the brief contemporary annals. Other contact between Italy and the Viking world occurred via Eastern Scandinavians coming to Italy via the Austrvegr and working as Varangian mercenaries fighting for Byzantium.
In particular, three or four eleventh-century Swedish Runestones mention Italy, memorialising warriors who died in'Langbarðaland', the Old Norse name for southern Italy. Varangians may first have been deployed as mercenaries in Italy against the Arabs as early as 936; the earliest reported date of the arrival of Norman knights in southern Italy is 999, although it may be assumed that they had visited before then. In that year, according to some traditional sources of uncertain origin, Norman pilgrims returning from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem via Apulia stayed with Prince Guaimar III in Salerno; the city and its environs were attacked by Saracens from Africa demanding payment of an overdue annual tribute. While Guaimar began to collect the tribute, the Normans ridiculed him and his Lombard subjects for cowardice, they assaulted their besiegers; the Saracens fled, booty was confiscated and a grateful Guaimar asked the Normans to stay. They refused, but promised to bring his rich gifts to their compatriots in Normandy and tell them about lucrative military service in Salerno.
Some sources have Guaimar sending emissaries to Normandy to bring back knights, this account of the arrival of the Normans is sometimes known as the "Salerno tradition". The Salerno tradition was first recorded by Amatus of Montecassino in his Ystoire de li Normant between 1071 and 1086. Much of this information was borrowed from Amatus by Peter the Deacon for his continuation of the Chronicon Monasterii Casinensis of Leo of Ostia, written during the early 12th century. Beginning with the Annales Ecclesiastici of Baronius in the 17th century, the Salernitan story became the accepted history. Although its factual accuracy was questioned periodically during the following centuries, it has been accepted by most scholars since. Another historical account of the arrival of the first Normans in Italy, the "Gargano tradition", appears in primary chronicles without reference to any previous Norman presence. According to this account Norman pilgrims at the shrine to Michael the Archangel at Monte Gargano in 1016 met the Lombard Melus of Bari, who persuaded them to join him in an attack on the Byzantine government of Apulia.
As with the Salerno tradition, there are two primary sources for the Gargano story: the Gesta Roberti Wiscardi of William of Apulia and the Chronica monasterii S. Bartholomaei de Carpineto of a monk named Alexander, written about a century and based on William's work; some scholars have combined the Salerno and Gargano tales, John Julius Norwich suggested that the meeting between Melus and the Normans had been arranged by Guaimar. Melus had been in Salerno just before his visit to Monte Gargano. Another story involves the exile of a group of brothers from the Drengot family. One of the brothers, Osmund or Gilbert, murdered William Repostel in the presence of Robert I, Duke of Normandy after Repostel boasted about dishonouring his murderer's daughter. Threatened with death, the Drengot brother fled with his siblings to Rome and one of the brothers had an audience with the pope before joining Melus of Bari. Amatus dates the story to after 1027, does not mention the pope. According to him, Gilbert's brothers were Osmund, Ranulf and Ludolf.
Between 1016 and
Music history of Italy
The modern state of Italy did not come into being until 1861, though the roots of music on the Italian Peninsula can be traced back to the music of Ancient Rome. However, the underpinnings of much modern Italian music come from the Middle Ages. Italy was the site of several key musical developments in the development of the Christian liturgies in the West. Around 230, well before Christianity was legalized, the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus attested the singing of Psalms with refrains of Alleluia in Rome. In 386, in imitation of Eastern models, St. Ambrose wrote hymns, some of whose texts still survive, introduced antiphonal psalmody to the West. Around 425, Pope Celestine I contributed to the development of the Roman Rite by introducing the responsorial singing of a Gradual, Cassian, Bishop of Brescia, contributed to the development of the monastic Office by adapting Egyptian monastic psalmody to Western usage. Around 530, St. Benedict would arrange the weekly order of monastic psalmody in his Rule.
In the 6th century, Venantius Fortunatus created some of Christianity's most enduring hymns, including "Vexilla regis prodeunt" which would become the most popular hymn of the Crusades. The earliest extant music in the West is plainsong, a kind of monophonic, early Christian singing performed by Roman Catholic monks, developed between the 7th and 12th centuries. Although Gregorian chant has its roots in Roman chant and is popularly associated with Rome, it is not indigenous to Italy, nor was it the earliest nor the only Western plainchant tradition. Ireland and France each developed a local plainchant tradition, but only in Italy did several chant traditions thrive simultaneously: Ambrosian chant in Milan, Old Roman chant in Rome, Beneventan chant in Benevento and Montecassino. Gregorian chant, which supplanted the indigenous Old Roman and Beneventan traditions, derived from a synthesis of Roman and Gallican chant in Carolingian France. Gregorian chant came to be identified with Rome as musical elements from the north were added to the Roman Rite, such as the Credo in 1014.
This was part of a general trend wherein the manuscript tradition in Italy weakened and Rome began to follow northern plainchant traditions. Gregorian chant supplanted all the other Western plainchant traditions and non-Italian, except for Ambrosian chant, which survives to this day; the native Italian plainchant traditions are notable for a systematic use of ornate, stepwise melodic motion within a narrower range, giving the Italian chant traditions a smoother, more undulating feel than the Gregorian. Crucial in the transmission of chant were the innovations of Guido d'Arezzo, whose Micrologus, written around 1020, described the musical staff and the Guidonian hand; this early form of do-re-mi created a technical revolution in the speed at which chants could be learned and recorded. Much of the European classical musical tradition, including opera and symphonic and chamber music can be traced back to these Italian medieval developments in musical notation, formal music education and construction techniques for musical instruments.
As the northern chant traditions were displacing indigenous Italian chant, displaced musicians from the north contributed to a new thriving musical culture in 12th-century Italy. The Albigensian Crusade to attack Cathar heretics, brought southern France under northern French control and crushed Occitan culture and language. Most troubadours fled to Spain and Italy. Italy called trovatori, including Sordello of Mantua. Frederick II, the last great Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, encouraged music at the Sicilian court, which became a refuge for these displaced troubadours, where they contributed to a melting pot of Christian and Muslim musical styles. Italian secular music was the province of these jongleurs and mimes. One important consequence of the troubadour influence during this period, in Italy and across Europe, was the gradual shift from writing in Latin to the local language, as championed by Dante in his treatise De vulgari eloquentia. Around this time, Italian flagellants developed the Italian folk hymns known as spiritual laude.
Between 1317 and 1319, Marchettus of Padua wrote the Lucidarium in artae musicae planae and the Pomerium artis musicae mensuratae, major treatises on plainchant and polyphony, expounding a theory of rhythmic notation that paved the way for Trecento music. Around 1335, the Rossi Codex, the earliest extant collection of Italian secular polyphony, included examples of indigenous Italian genres of the Trecento including early madrigals and ballate; the early madrigal was simpler than the more well-known madrigals consisting of tercets arranged polyphonically for two voices, with a refrain called a ritornello. The caccia was in three-part harmony, with the top two lines set to words in musical canon; the early ballata was a poem in the form of a virelai set to a monophonic melody. The Rossi Codex included music by the first famous Trecento composer; the Ivrea Codex, dated around 1360, the Squarcialupi Codex, dated around 1410, were major sources of late Trecento music, including the music of Francesco Landini, the famous blind composer.
Landini's name was attached to his characteristic "Landini cadence" in which the final note of the melody dips down two notes before returning, such as C–B–A–C. Trecento music influenced northern musicians such as Johannes Ciconia, whose synthesis
History of rail transport in Italy
The Italian railway system is one of the most important parts of the infrastructure of Italy, with a total length of 24,227 km. Railways were introduced in Italy; the first line to be built on the peninsula was the Naples–Portici line, in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, 7.640 m long and was inaugurated on October 3, 1839, nine years after the world's first "modern" inter-city railway, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The following year the firm Holzhammer of Bolzano was granted the "Imperial-Royal privilege" to build the Milano–Monza line, in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, a puppet state of the Austrian Empire. On request of the Milanese and Venetian industries, but for the clear military importance, construction of the Milan–Venice line was begun. In 1842 the Padua-Mestre stretch of 32 km was inaugurated, followed in 1846 by the Milan-Treviglio and Padua-Vicenza, as well as the bridge spanning the lagoon of Venice. In the Kingdom of Sardinia, King Charles Albert ordered on July 18, 1844 the construction of the Turin–Genoa railway, inaugurated on December 6, 1853.
This was followed by the opening of other sections which connected with France and Lombardy-Venetia. A locomotive factory was founded in Genoa, in order to avoid the English monopoly in the field; this became the modern Ansaldo. In Tuscany, the Duke of Lucca signed the concession for the Lucca–Pisa railway, while, in 1845, the Duchy of Parma began the construction of two lines towards Piacenza and Modena. In the Papal States, Pope Gregory XVI opposed Pope Pius IX took a more liberal view; some lines were begun in 1846 under Pius IX with the Rome and Frascati Rail Road the Rome and Civitavecchia Rail Road. In the course of the Wars of Italian Independence, railways proved to be instrumental in the defeat of Charles Albert's army at Peschiera, as well as in the Austrian ones at Palestro and Magenta: in the latter, French troops were able to reach the battlefield thanks to the new transportation mean, established a defence line right on the ballast of the line. At the creation of the unified Kingdom of Italy, railroads in the country were the following: for a total of 2,064 km active railroads.
Lines in the Papal States were still in construction, while Sicily had its first, short railroad only in 1863. The existing lines did not form an organized net: property of the line was statal or private, the latter in turn for private or statal use. A first organic structure began to be created in 1865 with the connections of the existing sections. In order to promote the industrial development, the government entrusted the existing lines to five concessionaires: SFAI SFR SFM Società Vittorio Emanuele Società Reale delle ferrovie sarde The war of 1866 caused great disruption to the industrial activities, including those of the railway companies, which went nearly bankrupt, a state intervention was needed to save them. In 1870 the last remnant of Papal States was annexed to Italy: it comprised the railway connection from Rome to Frascati, Civitavecchia and Cassino. In 1872 there were in Italy about 7,000 km of railroads, entrusted to the existing companies in the following shares: Other secondary lines were operated by minor companies.
After the unification, construction of new lines was boosted: in 1875, with the completion of the section Orte-Orvieto, the direct Florence–Rome line was completed, reducing the travel time of the former route passing through Foligno-Terontola. In 1875 a proposal of the Italian government to form a single company out of the existing concessionaires was refused by the Italian Parliament, provoking the fall of the government. In the meantime the economic situation of the secondary companies continued to get worse, enhancing the failure of the concessionaire regime when, at the same time, in the whole Europe the tendency to aggregate all railways into a single, state-owned company became predominant. This, among the other benefit, granted the fulfillment of social exigences in transportation, that a profit-oriented policy could not afford; the Italian government was however slow to react, only in 1878 and 1880 the deficitaire SFAI and SFR went under state administration. Despite this situation, in 1884 the Italian Parliament issued a commission study in which it was declared preferable a private administration of railways.
The Convenzioni between Italy and the three main remaining private companies were signed on April 23, 1884, for a period of 60 years. SFM was assigned the lines on the Adriatic Sea, while the Società per le Strade Ferrate del Mediterraneo and the Società delle Ferrovia della Sicilia received the Rete Mediterranea and the Rete Sicula; the companies received in total 8,510 km of railways, under the vigilance of the Ministry of the Public Works, through a General Inspectorate for Railroads, which replaced the previous position of the General Royal Commissariate. However, this move not only failed to improve the situation of railways, hampering the economic development and tourism as well, but worsened it further. Liabilities of the secondary lines exceeded the profits from the few remaining ones, absorbed all the state subsidies. By the 1880s the Italian railways amounted to 10,510 km. Private companies were definitively bought back by the Italian state on July 1, 1905, with the cre
Italy in the Middle Ages
The history of the Italian peninsula during the medieval period can be defined as the time between the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance. Late Antiquity in Italy lingered on into the 7th century under the Ostrogothic Kingdom and the Byzantine Empire under the Justinian dynasty, the Byzantine Papacy until the mid 8th century; the "Middle Ages" proper begin as the Byzantine Empire was weakening under the pressure of the Muslim conquests, the Exarchate of Ravenna fell under Lombard rule in 751. Lombard rule ended with the invasion of Charlemagne in 773, who established the Kingdom of Italy and the Papal States; this set the precedent for the main political conflict in Italy over the following centuries, between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, culminating with conflict between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV and the latter's "Walk to Canossa" in 1077. The term "Middle Ages" itself derives from the description of the period of "obscurity" in Italian history during the 9th to 11th centuries, the saeculum obscurum or "Dark Age" of the Roman papacy as seen from the perspective of the 14th to 15th century Italian Humanists.
In the 11th century began a political development unique to Italy, the transformation of medieval communes into powerful city states modelled on ancient Roman Republicanism. The republics of Venice, Genoa, among others, rose to great political power and paved the way for the Italian Renaissance and the "European miracle", the resurgence of Western civilization from comparative obscurity in the Early Modern period. On the other hand, the Italian city states were in a state of constant warfare, adding to and overlapping with the persistent conflict between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor; each city aligned itself with one faction or the other, yet was divided internally between the two warring parties and Ghibellines. Since the 13th century, these wars had been fought by mercenaries, giving rise to the Italian institution of condottieri and the Swiss mercenary culture. After the three decades of wars in Lombardy between the Duchy of Milan and the Republic of Venice, there was a balance of power between five emerging powerful states, which at the Peace of Lodi formed the so-called Italic League, bringing relative calm for the region for the first time in centuries.
These five powers were the maritime republics of Venice and Florence, whose naval powers dominated the east and west coast of the peninsula the territorial powers of Milan and the Papal States, dominating the northern and central parts of Italy and the Kingdom of Naples in the south. The precarious balance between these powers came to an end in 1494 as the duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza sought the aid of Charles VIII of France against Venice, triggering the Italian War of 1494–98; as a result, Italy became a battleground of the great European powers for the next sixty years culminating in the Italian War of 1551–59, which concluded with Habsburg Spain as the dominant power in Italy. The House of Habsburg would control Italy for the duration of the early modern period, until Napoleon's invasion of Italy in 1796. Italy was invaded by the Visigoths in the 5th century, Rome was sacked by Alaric in 410; the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, was deposed in 476 by an Eastern Germanic general, Odoacer.
He subsequently ruled in Italy for seventeen years as rex gentium, theoretically under the suzerainty of the eastern Roman emperor Zeno, but in total independence. The administration remained the same as that under the Western Roman Empire, gave religious freedoms to the Christians. Odoacer fought against the Vandals, who had occupied Sicily, other Germanic tribes that periodically invaded the peninsula. In 489, Emperor Zeno decided to oust the Ostrogoths, a foederatum people living in the Danube, by sending them into Italy. On February 25, 493 Theodoric the Great became the king of the Ostrogoths. Theodoric, who had lived long in Constantinople, is now considered a Romanized German, he in fact ruled over Italy through Roman personnel; the Goth minority, of Arian confession, constituted an aristocracy of landowners and militaries, but its influence over the country remained minimal. The reign of Theodoric is considered a period of recovery for the country. Infrastructures were repaired, frontiers were expanded, the economy well cared for.
The Latin culture flourished for the last time with figures like Theodoric's minister. However, Theodoric's successors were not equal to him; the eastern half of the Empire, now centred on Constantinople, invaded Italy in the early 6th century, the generals of emperor Justinian and Narses, conquered the Ostrogothic kingdom after years of warfare, ending in 552. This conflict, known as the Gothic Wars, destroyed much of the town life that had survived the barbarian invasions. Town life did not disappear, but they became smaller and more primitive than they had been in Roman times. Subsistence agriculture employed the bulk of the Italian population. Wars and disease epidemics had a dramatic effect on the demographics of Italy; the agricultural estates of the Roman era did not disappear. They produced an agricultural surplus, sold in towns; the withdrawal of Byzantine armies allowed the Lombards, to invade Italy. Cividal