Nobility of Italy
The Nobility of Italy comprises individuals and their families of the Italian peninsula, the islands linked with it, recognized by sovereigns, such as the Holy Roman Emperor, the Holy See, the Kings of Italy, certain other Italian kings and sovereigns, as members of a class of persons enjoying hereditary privileges which distinguished them from other persons and families. They held lands as fiefs and were sometimes endowed with hereditary titles or nobiliary particles. From the Middle Ages until 1871, "Italy" was not a single country but was a number of separate kingdoms and other states, with many reigning dynasties; these were related through marriage to each other and to other European royal families. Before Italian Unification there was a large nobility in Italy. Indeed, in the mid-19th century, the existence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Modena, the Duchy of Savoy, the Duchy of Milan, the Papal States, various republics and the Austrian and French dependencies in Northern Italy led to parallel nobilities with different traditions and rules.
16th-, 17th- and 18th-century Italy was home to myriad noble families that had risen to prominence via judicial appointment, election to the various regional senates or appointment to Catholic Church office. There were families, part of Italian nobility for many decades or centuries. Writing in the 19th century, Leopold von Ranke recorded: In the middle of the seventeenth century there were computed to be fifty noble families in Rome of three hundred years' standing, thirty-five of two hundred, sixteen of one hundred years. None were permitted to claim a more ancient descent, or were traced to an obscure, or a low origin. During this period, throughout Italy, various influential families came to positions of power through the election of a family member as Pope or were elevated into the ranks of nobility through ecclesiastic promotion; these families intermarried with aristocratic nobility. Like other noble families, those with both papal power and money were able to purchase comunes or other tracts of land and elevate family patriarchs and other relatives to noble titles.
Hereditary patriarchs were appointed Duke and Prince of various 16th- and 17th-century principalities. According to Ranke: Under Innocent X, there existed for a considerable time, as it were, two great factions, or associations of families; the Orsini, Borghese, Aldobrandini and Giustiniani were with the Pamphili. Popes elevated members of prominent families to the position of Cardinal. Popes elevated their own family members – nephews – to the special position of Cardinal-Nephew. Prominent families could purchase curial offices for their sons and did, hoping that the son would rise through Church ranks to become a Bishop or a Cardinal, from which position they could dispense further titles and positions of authority to other family members; the period was famous for papal nepotism and many families, such as the Barberini and Pamphili, benefited from having a papal relative. Families, limited to agricultural or mercantile ventures found themselves, sometimes within only one or two generations, elevated to the Roman nobility when a relative was elected to the papal throne.
Modern Italy is dotted with the fruits of their success – various family palazzi remain standing today as a testament to their sometimes meteoric rise to power. Modern Italy became a nation-state during the Risorgimento on 17 March 1861, when most of the states of the peninsula and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies were united under King Victor Emmanuel II of the Savoy dynasty, hitherto monarch of the Kingdom of Sardinia, a realm that included Piedmont; the architect of Italian unification was Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Chief Minister of Victor Emmanuel. Rome itself remained for a further decade under the Papacy, became part of the Kingdom of Italy only in 1870. In September of that year, invading Italian troops entered the city, the ensuing occupation forced Pope Pius IX to his palace where he declared himself a prisoner in the Vatican, as did his successors, until the Lateran Pacts of 1929. Under the united Kingdom of Italy a new national nobility, with an attempt to impose a uniform nobiliary law, was created, including male succession, some acknowledgement by the King of Italy of titles conferred by Francis II of the Two Sicilies in exile by making new grants in the same name.
Those nobles who maintained allegiance to the pope became known as the Black Nobility. After the unification, the kings of Italy continued to create titles of nobility to eminent Italians, this time with a validity for all of the Italian territory. For example, General Enrico Cialdini was created Duca di Gaeta for his role during the unification; the practice continued until the 20th century, when nominations would be made by the Prime Minister of Italy and approved by the Crown. In the aftermath of the First World War, most Italians who were ennobled received their titles through the patronage of the Mussolini government. Examples include General Armando Diaz, Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel, Commodore Luigi Rizzo, Costanzo Ciano, Dino Grandi (Conte di Mordan
Agnese del Maino
Agnese del Maino was a Milanese noblewoman and the mistress of Filippo Maria Visconti, the last legitimate Duke of Milan of the Visconti dynasty. Agnese was the mother of Bianca Maria Visconti, who succeeded to the title of Duchess of Milan in 1450, despite her illegitimacy. Agnese was born around 1411 in Milan, she was chief of police. Her mother's name and identity is unknown. Agnese had two brothers, Lancillotto del Maino and Andreotto del Maino, who were both courtiers and members of the ducal council, she became the mistress of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, the last Duke of Milan of the Visconti dynasty, whose wife Beatrice Lascaris di Tenda had been executed for adultery in 1418 and had produced no children. He was the son of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan by Caterina Visconti. On 31 March 1425 at Settimo Pavese, Agnese gave birth to Filippo's daughter, whom they named Bianca Maria; when the baby was six months old and Bianca Maria were sent to the castle of Abbiategrasso, where lavish apartments were provided for mother and child.
In 1426, Agnese bore the Duke a second daughter, Caterina Maria, but the child died shortly after her birth. Filippo, for reasons of state, married secondly, by proxy on 2 December 1427, in person on 24 September 1428, Marie of Savoy, the daughter of Amadeus VIII of Savoy and Marie of Burgundy; the duke's second marriage was childless, making Bianca Maria his sole heir to the duchy of Milan. On 25 October 1441, Bianca Maria was married, in a magnificent ceremony at the Abbey of San Sigismondo in Cremona, to Francesco Sforza, a renowned Condottiero and member of the Condottieri Sforza family. Agnese was present at her daughter's wedding; the extravagant festivities, which lasted for days, offered a sumptuous banquet, a series of tournaments, a palio, painted carts featuring allegorical scenes, an oversized cake that reproduced the Torrazzo, Cremona's most prominent tower. Bianca Maria's considerable dowry included the towns of Pontremoli; the marriage produced eight children, among these were, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, Ippolita Maria Sforza, Duchess of Calabria.
Agnese's many descendants included Caterina Sforza, Bianca Maria Sforza, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, Isabella of Naples, Bona Sforza, Queen consort of Poland. Marie de Medici, Diana, Princess of Wales were descendants of Agnese del Maino through the latter's great-granddaughter Caterina Sforza. Filippo Maria Visconti died on 13 August 1447. Bianca Maria was his only direct heir, albeit illegitimate, his death, without legitimate offspring, resulted in the creation of the short-lived Ambrosian Republic. That same year, Agnese convinced Matteo Da Bologna, the condottiero who held the city of Pavia, to restore the city to her son-in-law, Francesco Sforza who had inherited it upon the death of Filippo. Francesco subsequently took the title of Count of Pavia. A revolt broke out in Milan on 24 February 1450, due to a famine in the city which resulted in rampant starvation and brought about much suffering to the populace. One month on 25 March, after the disputed succession to the duchy was decided in their favour consequent to a meeting of nobles and leading citizens, Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria made their triumphal entry into the city as the Duke and Duchess of Milan.
The Ambrosian Republic had ended and was replaced by the Sforza dynasty which would rule Milan until 1535. Agnese resided with them at the ducal court. Extant diplomatic papers record that Agnese was a conspicuous participant in court functions, until her death on 13 December 1465 at the age of fifty-four years, her daughter, Bianca Maria died three years on 28 October 1468. Francesco had died in 1466, his eldest son Galeazzo Maria succeeded him as Duke of Milan. There are two contemporary paintings of Agnese. Agnese is a character in the 1833 tragic opera Beatrice di Tenda by Sicilian composer Vincenzo Bellini; the role of Agnese was played by Anna del Serre when the opera was first performed at Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 16 March 1833
Louis XII of France
Louis XII was King of France from 1498 to 1515 and King of Naples from 1501 to 1504. The son of Charles, Duke of Orléans, Maria of Cleves, he succeeded his cousin Charles VIII, who died without a closer heir in 1498. Louis was the eighth French king from the House of Valois, the first from the Orléans branch of that dynasty. Before his accession to the throne of France, he was known as Louis of Orléans and was compelled to be married to his disabled and sterile cousin Joan by his second cousin, King Louis XI. By doing so, Louis XI hoped to extinguish the Orléans cadet branch of the House of Valois. Louis of Orléans was one of the great feudal lords who opposed the French monarchy in the conflict known as the Mad War. At the royal victory in the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier in 1488, Louis was captured, but Charles VIII pardoned him and released him, he subsequently took part in the Italian War of 1494–1498 as one of the French commanders. When Louis XII became king in 1498, he had his marriage with Joan annulled by Pope Alexander VI and instead married Anne of Brittany, the widow of his cousin Charles VIII.
This marriage allowed Louis to reinforce the personal Union of France. Louis persevered in the Italian Wars, initiating a second Italian campaign for the control of the Kingdom of Naples. Louis conquered the Duchy of Milan in 1500 and pushed forward to the Kingdom of Naples, which fell to him in 1501. Proclaimed King of Naples, Louis faced a new coalition gathered by Ferdinand II of Aragon and was forced to cede Naples to Spain in 1504. Louis XII did not encroach on the power of local governments or the privileges of the nobility, in opposition with the long tradition of the French kings to attempt to impose absolute monarchy in France. A popular king, Louis was proclaimed "Father of the People" in 1506 by the Estates-General of Tours for his reduction of the tax known as taille, legal reforms, civil peace within France. Louis, who remained Duke of Milan after the second Italian War, was interested in further expansion in the Italian Peninsula and launched a third Italian War, marked by the military prowess of the Chevalier de Bayard.
Louis XII died in 1515 without a male heir. He was succeeded by his cousin and son-in-law Francis from the Angoulême cadet branch of the House of Valois. Louis d'Orléans was born on 27 June 1462 in the Château de Touraine; the son of Charles, Duke of Orléans, Marie of Cleves, he succeeded his father as Duke of Orléans in the year 1465. Louis XI, who had become king of France in 1461, became distrustful of the close relationship between the Orleanists and the Burgundians and began to oppose the idea of an Orleanist coming to the throne of France. However, Louis XI may have been more influenced in this opinion by his opposition to the entire Orleanist faction of the royal family than by the actual facts of this paternity case. Despite any alleged doubts that King Louis XI may have had, the King became "godfather" of the newborn. King Louis XI died on 30 August 1483, he was succeeded to the throne of France by his thirteen year-old son, Charles VIII. Nobody knew the direction. Accordingly, on 24 October 1483, a call went out for a convocation of the Estates General of the French kingdom.
In January 1484, deputies of the Estates General began to arrive in France. The deputies represented three different "estates" in society; the First Estate was the Church. The Second Estate was composed of the royalty of France; the Third Estate was composed of commoners and the class of traders and merchants in France. Louis, the current Duke of Orleans and future Louis XII, attended as part of the Second Estate; each estate brought their chief complaints to the Estates General in hopes to have some impact on the policies that the new King would pursue. The First Estate wanted a return to the "Pragmatic Sanction"; the Pragmatic Sanction had been first instituted by King Charles VII, the current King Charles VIII's grandfather. The Pragmatic Sanction eliminated the papacy from the process of appointing bishops and abbots in France. Instead, these positions would be filled by appointment made by the cathedrals and monastery chapters themselves. All church prelates within France would be appointed by the King of France without reference to the pope.
The deputies representing the Second Estate at the Estates General of 1484 wanted all foreigners to be prohibited from command positions in the military. The deputies of the Third Estate wanted taxes to be drastically reduced and that the revenue needs of the crown be met by reducing royal pensions and the number offices. All three of the estates were in agreement on the demand for an end to the sale of government offices. By 7 March 1484, the King announced. Five days the deputies were told that there was no more money to pay their salaries, the Estates General meekly concluded its business and went home; the Estates General of 1484 is called, by historians, the most important Estates General until the Estates General of 1789. Important as they were, many of the reforms suggested at the meeting of the Estates General were not adopted. Rather the reforms would only be acted on. Since Charles VIII was only thirteen years of age when he became king, his older sister Anne was to serve as regent until Charles VIII became 20 years old.
From 1485 through 1488, there
Alfonso V of Aragon
Alfonso the Magnanimous was the King of Aragon, Majorca and Corsica, Sicily and Count of Barcelona from 1416, King of Naples from 1442 until his death. He was one of the most prominent figures of the early Renaissance and a knight of the Order of the Dragon. Born at Medina del Campo, he was the son of Ferdinand I of Eleanor of Alburquerque, he represented the old line of the counts of Barcelona through the female line, was on his father's side descended from the House of Trastamara, the reigning House of Castile. By hereditary right he was king of Sicily and claimed the island of Sardinia for himself, though it was in the possession of Genoa. Alfonso was in possession of much of Corsica by the 1420s. In 1421 the childless Queen Joanna II of Naples adopted and named him as heir to the Kingdom of Naples, Alfonso went to Naples. Here he hired the condottiero Braccio da Montone with the task of reducing the resistance of his rival claimant, Louis III of Anjou, his forces led by Muzio Attendolo Sforza.
With Pope Martin V supporting Sforza, Alfonso switched his religious allegiance to the Aragonese antipope Benedict XIII. When Sforza abandoned Louis' cause, Alfonso seemed to have all his problems solved. After an attempt to arrest the queen herself had failed, Joan called on Sforza who defeated the Aragonese militias near Castel Capuano in Naples. Alfonso fled to Castel Nuovo, but the help of a fleet of 22 galleys led by Giovanni da Cardona improved his situation. Sforza and Joanna retreated to the fortress of Aversa. Here she repudiated her earlier adoption of Alfonso and, with the backing of Martin V, named Louis III as her heir instead; the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, joined the anti-Aragonese coalition. Alfonso requested support from Braccio da Montone, besieging Joanna's troops in L'Aquila, but had to set sail for Spain, where a war had broken out between his brothers and the Kingdom of Castile. On his way towards Barcelona, Alfonso destroyed Marseille, a possession of Louis III.
In late 1423 the Genoese fleet of Filippo Maria Visconti moved in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea conquering Gaeta, Procida and Sorrento. Naples, held by Alfonso's brother, Pedro de Aragon, was besieged in 1424 by the Genoese ships and Joanna's troops, now led by Francesco Sforza, the son of Muzio Sforza; the city fell in April 1424. Pedro, after a short resistance in Castel Nuovo, fled to Sicily in August. Joanna II and Louis III again took possession of the realm, although the true power was in the hands of Gianni Caracciolo. An opportunity for Alfonso to reconquer Naples occurred in 1432, when Caracciolo was killed in a conspiracy. Alfonso tried to regain the favour of the queen, but failed, had to wait for the death of both Louis and Joanna herself. In her will, she bequeathed her realm to René of Louis III's younger brother; this solution was opposed by the new pope, Eugene IV, who nominally was the feudal lord of the King of Naples. The Neapolitans having called in the French, Alfonso decided to intervene and, with the support of several barons of the kingdom, captured Capua and besieged the important sea fortress of Gaeta.
His fleet of 25 galleys was met by the Genoese ships sent by Visconti, led by Biagio Assereto. In the battle of Ponza that ensued, Alfonso was taken prisoner. In Milan, however, he impressed his captor with his cultured demeanor and persuaded him to let him go by making it plain that it was not in Milan's interest to prevent the victory of the Aragonese party in Naples. Helped by a Sicilian fleet, Alfonso recaptured Capua and set his base in Gaeta in February 1436. Meanwhile, papal troops had invaded the Neapolitan kingdom, but Alfonso bribed their commander, Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi, their successes waned. In the meantime, René had managed to reach Naples on 19 May 1438. Alfonso failed, his brother Pedro was killed during the battle. Castel Nuovo, where an Aragonese garrison resisted, fell to the Angevine mercenaries in August 1439. After the death of his condottiero Jacopo Caldora, René's fortune started to decline: Alfonso could capture Aversa, Benevento and Bitonto. René, whose possession included now only part of the Abruzzi and Naples, obtained 10,000 men from the pope, but the cardinal leading them signed a truce with Alfonso.
Giovanni Sforza came with a reduced corps, as troops sent by Eugene IV had halted his father Francesco in the Marche. Alfonso, provided with the most impressive artillery of the times, again besieged Naples; the siege began on 10 November 1441. After the return of René to Provence, Alfonso reduced the remaining resistance and made his triumphal entrance in Naples on 26 February 1443, as the monarch of a pacified kingdom. In 1446 he conquered Sardinia. Alfonso, by formally submitting his reign to the Papacy, obtained the consent of Pope Eugene IV that the Kingdom of Naples would go to his illegitimate son Ferdinand, he died in Castel dell ` Ovo in 1458. At the time, Alfonso was at odds with Callixtus III, his Spanish possessions were ruled for him by his brother John king John II of Aragon. Sicily and Sardinia were inherited by his brother. Alfonso was a powerful and faithful supporter of Skanderbe
Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Mary Tudor was an English princess, Queen of France and progenitor of a family that claimed the English throne. The younger surviving daughter of Henry VII, King of England and Elizabeth of York, Mary became the third wife of Louis XII of France, more than 30 years her senior. Following his death, she married 1st Duke of Suffolk; the marriage, performed secretly in France, took place during the reign of her brother Henry VIII and without his consent. This necessitated the intervention of Thomas Wolsey, although Henry pardoned the couple, they were forced to pay a large fine. Mary's second marriage produced four children, through her eldest daughter Frances, Mary was the maternal grandmother of Lady Jane Grey, the de facto monarch of England for nine days in July 1553. Mary was the fourth child of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, the youngest to survive infancy, she was born at Sheen Palace, "most probably" in March 1496. A privy seal bill dated from midsummer 1496 authorizes a payment of 50 shillings to her nurse, Anne Skeron.
Erasmus stated that she was four years old when he visited the royal nursery in 1499–1500. At age six, she was given her own household, complete with "a staff of gentlewomen assigned to wait upon her", a schoolmaster, a physician, she was given instruction in French, music and embroidery. As children and her brother, the future King Henry VIII, shared a close friendship, he named the future Queen Mary I, in her honour. They lost their mother when Mary was just six, given the number of bills paid to her apothecary from 1504 to 1509, it would appear that Mary's own health was fragile. Known in her youth as one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, Erasmus said of her that "Nature never formed anything more beautiful."In 1506, during a visit from Philip I of Castile, Mary was called to entertain the guests and playing the lute and clavichord. In September 1506, Philip died, on 21 December 1507, Mary was betrothed to his son Charles Holy Roman Emperor; the betrothal was called off in 1513. Instead, Cardinal Wolsey negotiated a peace treaty with France, on 9 October 1514, at the age of 18, Mary married the 52-year-old King Louis XII of France at Abbeville.
She was accompanied to France by four English maids of honour, one of whom was Anne Boleyn, under the supervision of her old governess lady Joan "Mother" Guildford, who acted as her principal lady-in-waiting. Despite two previous marriages, Louis had no living sons, sought to produce one, but he died on 1 January 1515, less than three months after marrying Mary, reputedly worn out by his exertions in the bedchamber, but more from the effects of gout, their union produced no children. Following Louis's death, the new king Francis I made attempts to arrange a second marriage for the beautiful widow. Mary had been unhappy in her marriage of state to King Louis XII, as she was certainly in love with Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. King Henry VIII was aware of Mary's feelings, but Henry VIII wanted any future marriage to be to his advantage. The King's Council, not wishing to see Charles Brandon gain further power at court, was opposed to the match. Meanwhile, rumors swirled in France that she would wed either Antoine, Duke of Lorraine or Charles III, Duke of Savoy.
At one point King Francis I in hope of his wife Queen Claude's death, was one of Mary's suitors in the first week of her widowhood. A pair of French friars went so far as to warn Mary that she must not wed Charles Brandon because he "had traffickings with the devil." When King Henry VIII sent Charles to bring Mary back to England in late January 1515, he made the Duke promise that he would not propose to her. Once in France, Mary persuaded Charles to abandon that pledge; the couple wed in secret at the Hotel de Clugny on 3 March 1515 in the presence of just 10 people, among them King Francis I. Technically, this was treason as Charles Brandon had married a royal princess without King Henry's consent, thus Henry was outraged, the privy council urged that Charles be imprisoned or executed. Because of the intervention of Thomas Wolsey, Henry's affection for both his sister and Charles, the couple were given only a heavy fine of £24,000 to be paid to the King in yearly installments of £1000, as well as the whole of Mary's dowry from King Louis XII of £200,000, together with the gold plate and jewels King Louis had given or promised her.
The £24,000 equivalent to £7,200,000 today, was reduced by the King. They later married on 13 May 1515 at Greenwich Palace in the presence of King Henry VIII and his courtiers. In 1528, Charles secured a papal bull from Pope Clement VII legitimizing the marriage. Mary was Charles Brandon's third wife, he had two daughters and Mary, by his second marriage to Anne Browne, who had died in 1511. Mary raised the girls with her own children. After her second marriage, Mary was referred to at the English court as "the French Queen", was not known as the Duchess of Suffolk in her lifetime, despite being allowed to be. Mary spent most of her time at the Duke's country seat of Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk. In the late 1520s, relations between King Henry VIII and his sister Mary were strained when she opposed the King's attempt to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, whom Mary ha
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death on 21 April 1509. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry attained the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses, he was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war, his supportive stance of the British Isles' wool industry and his standoff with the Low Countries had long-lasting benefits to all of the British economy. However, the capriciousness and lack of due process that indebted many would tarnish his legacy and were soon ended upon Henry VII's death, after a commission revealed widespread abuses. According to the contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, simple "greed" underscored the means by which royal control was over-asserted in Henry's final years.
Henry can be credited with a number of administrative and diplomatic initiatives. He paid close attention to detail, instead of spending lavishly he concentrated on raising new revenues and after a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII; the new taxes were unpopular and two days after his coronation, Henry VIII arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They were charged with high treason and were executed in 1510. Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle on 28 January 1457 to Countess of Richmond, his father, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, died three months before his birth. Henry's paternal grandfather, Owen Tudor from the Tudors of Penmynydd, Isle of Anglesey in Wales, had been a page in the court of Henry V, he rose to become one of the "Squires to the Body to the King" after military service at the Battle of Agincourt. Owen is said to have secretly married the widow of Catherine of Valois. One of their sons was Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII.
Edmund was created Earl of Richmond in 1452, "formally declared legitimate by Parliament". Henry's main claim to the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort. Henry's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, his third wife Katherine Swynford. Katherine was Gaunt's mistress for about 25 years, thus Henry's claim was somewhat tenuous: it was from a woman, by illegitimate descent. In theory, the Portuguese and Castilian royal families had a better claim as descendants of Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt and his second wife Constance of Castile. Gaunt's nephew Richard II legitimised Gaunt's children by Katherine Swynford by Letters Patent in 1397. In 1407, Henry IV, Gaunt's son by his first wife, issued new Letters Patent confirming the legitimacy of his half-siblings, but declaring them ineligible for the throne. Henry IV's action was of doubtful legality, as the Beauforts were legitimised by an Act of Parliament, but it further weakened Henry's claim.
Nonetheless, by 1483 Henry was the senior male Lancastrian claimant remaining, after the deaths in battle or by murder or execution of Henry VI, his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the other Beaufort line of descent through Lady Margaret's uncle, the 2nd Duke of Somerset. Henry made some political capital out of his Welsh ancestry, for example in attracting military support and safeguarding his army's passage through Wales on its way to the Battle of Bosworth, he came from an old, established Anglesey family that claimed descent from Cadwaladr, on occasion Henry displayed the red dragon of Cadwaladr. He took it, as well as the standard of St George, on his procession through London after the victory at Bosworth. A contemporary writer and Henry's biographer, Bernard André made much of Henry's Welsh descent. In reality, his hereditary connections to Welsh aristocracy were not strong, he was descended by the paternal line, through several generations, from Ednyfed Fychan, the seneschal of Gwynedd and through this seneschal's wife from Rhys ap Tewdwr, the King of Deheubarth in South Wales.
His more immediate ancestor, Tudur ap Goronwy, had aristocratic land rights, but his sons, who were first cousins to Owain Glyndŵr, sided with Owain in his revolt. One son was executed and the family land was forfeited. Another son, Henry's great-grandfather, became a butler to the Bishop of Bangor. Owen Tudor, the son of the butler, like the children of other rebels, was provided for by Henry V, a circumstance that precipitated his access to Queen Catherine of Valois. Notwithstanding this lineage, to the bards of Wales, Henry was a candidate for Y Mab Darogan – "The Son of Prophecy" who would free the Welsh from oppression. In 1456, Henry's father Edmund Tudor was captured while fighting for Henry VI in South Wales against the Yorkists, he died in three months before Henry was born. Henry's uncle Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke and Edmund's younger brother, undertook to protect the young widow, 13 years old when she gave birth to Henry; when Edward IV became King in 1461, Jasper Tudor went into exile abroad.
Pembroke Castle, the Earldom of Pembroke, were granted to the Yorkist William Herbert, who assumed the guardianship of Margaret Beaufort and the young Henry. Henry lived in the Herbert household