Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career, he was noted for his important reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, reorganizing the structure of the legions into separate cohorts. Marius defeated the invading Germanic tribes, for which he was called "the third founder of Rome." His life and career were significant in Rome's transformation from Republic to Empire. Marius was born in 157 BC in the town of Arpinum in southern Latium; the town had been conquered by the Romans in the late 4th century BC and was given Roman citizenship without voting rights. Only in 188 BC did the town receive full citizenship. Although Plutarch claims that Marius' father was a labourer, this is certainly false since Marius had connections with the nobility in Rome, he ran for local office in Arpinum, he had marriage relations with the local nobility in Arpinum, which all combine to indicate that he was born into a locally important family of equestrian status.
The problems he faced in his early career in Rome show the difficulties that faced a "new man". There is a legend that Marius, as a teenager, found an eagle's nest with seven chicks in it – eagle clutches hardly have more than 3 eggs. Since eagles were considered sacred animals of Jupiter, the supreme god of the Romans, it was seen as an omen predicting his election to the consulship seven times; as consul, he decreed that the eagle would be the symbol of the Senate and People of Rome. In 134 BC, he was serving with the army at Numantia and his good services brought him to the attention of Scipio Aemilianus. Whether he arrived with Scipio Aemilianus or was serving in the demoralized army that Scipio Aemilianus took over at Numantia is not clear. According to Plutarch, during a conversation after dinner, when the conversation turned to generals, someone asked Scipio Aemilianus where the Roman people would find a worthy successor to him. Aemilianus gently tapped on Marius' shoulder, saying: "Perhaps this is the man."
It would seem that at this early stage in his army career, Marius had ambitions for a political career in Rome. He ran for election as one of the twenty-four special military tribunes of the first four legions who were elected. Sallust tells us that he was unknown by sight to the electors but was returned by all the tribes on the basis of his accomplishments. Next, he ran for the quaestorship after losing an election for local office in Arpinum; the military tribunate shows that he was interested in Roman politics before the quaestorship. He ran for local office as a means of gaining support back home, lost to some other local worthy. Nothing is known of his actions while quaestor. In 120 BC, Marius was returned as plebeian tribune for the following year, he won with the support of Quintus Caecilius Metellus, an inherited patronus. The Metelli, though neither ancient nor patrician, were one of the most powerful families in Rome at this time. During his tribunate, Marius pursued a populares line.
He passed a law. In the 130s voting by ballot had been introduced in elections for choosing magistrates, passing laws and deciding legal cases, replacing the earlier system of oral voting; the wealthy continued to try to influence the voting by inspecting ballots and Marius passed a law narrowing the passages down which voters passed to cast their votes in order to prevent outsiders from harassing the electors. In the passage of this law, Marius alienated the Metelli. Soon thereafter, Marius lost; this loss was at least in part due to the enmity of the Metelli. In 116 BC he won election as praetor for the following year and was promptly accused of ambitus, he won acquittal on this charge, spent an uneventful year as praetor in Rome. In 114 BC, Marius' imperium was prorogued and he was sent to govern Hispania Ulterior, where he engaged in some sort of minor military operation: according to Plutarch, he cleared away the robbers whilst robbery was still considered a noble occupation by the local people.
During this period in Roman history governors seem to have served two years in Hispania, so he was replaced in 113 BC. He received no triumph on his return and did not run for the consulship, but he did marry Julia, the aunt of Julius Caesar; the Julii Caesares were a patrician family, but at this period seem to have found it hard to advance above the praetorship. To judge by this marriage, Marius had achieved some substantial political or financial influence by this point; the Marii were the inherited clients of the Caecilii Metelli and a Caecilius Metellus had aided Marius' campaign for the tribunate. Although he seems to have had a break with the Metelli as a result of the laws he passed while tribune, the rupture was not permanent, since in 109 BC Quintus Caecilius Metellus took Marius with him as his legate on his campaign against Jugurtha. Legates were simply envoys sent by the Senate, but men appointed as legates by the Senate were used by generals as subordinate c
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2, it is the country's most populated comune, it is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio, along the shores of the Tiber; the Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been defined as capital of two states. Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe; the city's early population originated from a mix of Latins and Sabines.
The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, is regarded by some as the first metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, the expression was taken up by Ovid and Livy. Rome is called the "Caput Mundi". After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome fell under the political control of the Papacy, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the Renaissance all the popes since Nicholas V pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city.
In 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which, in 1946, became the Italian Republic. Rome has the status of a global city. In 2016, Rome ranked as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, the most popular tourist attraction in Italy, its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The famous Vatican Museums are among the world's most visited museums while the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in world with 7.4 million visitors in 2018. Host city for the 1960 Summer Olympics, Rome is the seat of several specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the city hosts the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean as well as the headquarters of many international business companies such as Eni, Enel, TIM, Leonardo S.p. A. and national and international banks such as Unicredit and BNL.
Its business district, called EUR, is the base of many companies involved in the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, financial services. Rome is an important fashion and design centre thanks to renowned international brands centered in the city. Rome's Cinecittà Studios have been the set of many Academy Award–winning movies. According to the founding myth of the city by the Ancient Romans themselves, the long-held tradition of the origin of the name Roma is believed to have come from the city's founder and first king, Romulus. However, it is a possibility that the name Romulus was derived from Rome itself; as early as the 4th century, there have been alternative theories proposed on the origin of the name Roma. Several hypotheses have been advanced focusing on its linguistic roots which however remain uncertain: from Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb ῥέω and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean "flow". There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites.
Evidence of stone tools and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. Between the end of the bronze age and the beginning of the Iron age, each hill between the sea and the Capitol was topped by a village. However, none of them had yet an urban quality. Nowadays, there is a wide consensus that the city developed through the aggregation of several villages around the largest one, placed above the Palatine; this aggregation was facilitated by the increase of agricultural productivity above the subsistence level, which allowed the establishment of secondary and tertiary activities. These in turn boosted the development of trade with the Greek colonies of southern Italy; these developments, which according to archaeological ev
Virtual International Authority File
The Virtual International Authority File is an international authority file. It is a joint project of several national libraries and operated by the Online Computer Library Center. Discussion about having a common international authority started in the late 1990s. After a series of failed attempts to come up with a unique common authority file, the new idea was to link existing national authorities; this would present all the benefits of a common file without requiring a large investment of time and expense in the process. The project was initiated by the US Library of Congress, the German National Library and the OCLC on August 6, 2003; the Bibliothèque nationale de France joined the project on October 5, 2007. The project transitioned to being a service of the OCLC on April 4, 2012; the aim is to link the national authority files to a single virtual authority file. In this file, identical records from the different data sets are linked together. A VIAF record receives a standard data number, contains the primary "see" and "see also" records from the original records, refers to the original authority records.
The data are available for research and data exchange and sharing. Reciprocal updating uses the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting protocol; the file numbers are being added to Wikipedia biographical articles and are incorporated into Wikidata. VIAF's clustering algorithm is run every month; as more data are added from participating libraries, clusters of authority records may coalesce or split, leading to some fluctuation in the VIAF identifier of certain authority records. Authority control Faceted Application of Subject Terminology Integrated Authority File International Standard Authority Data Number International Standard Name Identifier Wikipedia's authority control template for articles Official website VIAF at OCLC
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic. He came from a wealthy Italian provincial background, his father had been the first to establish the family among the Roman nobility. Pompey's immense success as a general while still young enabled him to advance directly to his first consulship without meeting the normal requirements for office, his success as a military commander in Sulla's second civil war resulted in Sulla bestowing the nickname Magnus, "the Great", upon him. His Roman adversaries insulted him as adulescentulus carnifex, "the teenage butcher", after his Sicilian campaign, he celebrated three triumphs. In mid-60 BC, Pompey joined Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gaius Julius Caesar in the unofficial military-political alliance known as the First Triumvirate, which Pompey's marriage to Caesar's daughter Julia helped secure. After the deaths of Julia and Crassus, Pompey sided with the optimates, the conservative faction of the Roman Senate.
Pompey and Caesar contended for the leadership of the Roman state, leading to a civil war. When Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, he sought refuge in Egypt, where he was assassinated, his career and defeat are significant in Rome's subsequent transformation from Republic to Empire. Pompey was born in Picenum to a local noble family. Pompey's father, Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, was first of his family to achieve senatorial status, despite the anti-rural prejudice of the Roman Senate; the Romans referred to Strabo as a novus homo. Pompeius Strabo ascended the traditional cursus honorum, becoming quaestor in 104 BC, praetor in 92 BC and consul in 89 BC, he acquired a reputation for political double-dealing and military ruthlessness. He fought the Social War against Rome's Italian allies, he supported Sulla, who belonged to the optimates, the pro-aristocracy faction, against Marius, who belonged to the populares, in Sulla's first civil war. He died during the siege of Rome by the Marians, in 87 BC—either as a casualty of an epidemic, or by having been struck by lightning.
His twenty-year-old son Pompey inherited his estates, the loyalty of his legions. Pompey had served two years under his father's command, had participated in the final part of the Social War; when his father died, Pompey was put on trial due to accusations that his father stole public property. As his father's heir, Pompey could be held to account, he discovered. Following his preliminary bouts with his accuser, the judge took a liking to Pompey and offered his daughter Antistia in marriage. Pompey was acquitted. Another civil war broke out between the Marians and Sulla in 83–82 BC; the Marians had taken over Rome while Sulla was fighting the First Mithridatic War against Mithridates VI of Pontus in Greece. In 83 BC, Sulla returned from landing in Brundisium in southern Italy. Pompey raised three legions in Picenum to support Sulla's march on Rome against the Marian regime of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo and Gaius Marius the Younger. Cassius Dio described Pompey's troop levy as a "small band". Sulla was appointed as Dictator.
He thought that he was useful for the administration of his affairs. He and his wife, persuaded Pompey to divorce Antistia and marry Sulla's stepdaughter Aemilia Scaura. Plutarch commented that the marriage was "characteristic of a tyranny, benefitted the needs of Sulla rather than the nature and habits of Pompey, Aemilia being given to him in marriage when she was with child by another man." Antistia had lost both her parents. Pompey accepted, but "Aemilia had scarcely entered Pompey's house before she succumbed to the pains of childbirth." Pompey married Mucia Tertia. We have no record of; the sources only mentioned Pompey divorcing her. Plutarch wrote that Pompey dismissed with contempt a report that she had had an affair while he was fighting in the Third Mithridatic War between and 66 BC and 63 BC. However, on his journey back to Rome he examined the evidence more and filed for divorce. Cicero wrote that the divorce was approved. Cassius Dio wrote that she was the sister of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer and that Metellus Celer was angry because he had divorced her despite having had children by her.
Pompey and Mucia had three children: The eldest, Gnaeus Pompey, Pompeia Magna, a daughter, Sextus Pompey, the younger son. Cassius Dio wrote, he was condemned to death, but released for the sake of his mother Mucia. The survivors of the Marians, those who were exiled after they lost Rome and those who escaped Sulla's persecution of his opponents, were given refuge in Sicily by Marcus Perpenna Vento. Papirius Carbo had a fleet there, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus had forced an entry into the Roman province of Africa. Sulla sent Pompey to Sicily with a large force. According to Plutarch, Perpenna left Sicily to Pompey; the Sicilian cities had been treated harshly by Pompey treated them with kindness. Pompey "treated Carbo in his misfortunes with an unnatural insolence", taking Carbo in fetters to a tribunal he presided over, examining him "to the distress and vexation of the audience", sentencing him to death. Pompey treated Quintus Valerius "with unnatural cruelty", his opp
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, known as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman and one of the canonical figures of Roman history. He had the distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as reviving the dictatorship. Sulla was a skillful general, achieving numerous successes in wars against different opponents, both foreign and Roman, he was awarded the most prestigious Roman military honor, during the Social War. Sulla's dictatorship came during a high point in the struggle between optimates and populares, the former seeking to maintain the Senate's oligarchy, the latter espousing populism. In a dispute over the eastern army command, Sulla marched on Rome in an unprecedented act and defeated Marius in battle. In 81 BC, after his second march on Rome, he revived the office of dictator, inactive since the Second Punic War over a century before, used his powers to enact a series of reforms to the Roman Constitution, meant to restore the primacy of the Senate and limit the power of the tribunes.
Sulla's ascension was marked by political purges in proscriptions. After seeking election to and holding a second consulship, he retired to private life and died shortly after. Sulla's decision to seize power – enabled by his rival's military reforms that bound the army's loyalty with the general rather than to Rome – permanently destabilized the Roman power structure. Leaders like Julius Caesar would follow his precedent in attaining political power through force. Sulla's life was habitually included in the ancient biographical collections of leading generals and politicians, originating in the biographical compendium of famous Romans published by Marcus Terentius Varro. In Plutarch's Parallel Lives Sulla is paired with the Spartan strategist Lysander. In older sources, his name may be found as Sylla; this is a Hellenism, like sylva for classical Latin silva, reinforced by the fact that two major ancient sources and Appian, wrote in Greek, call him Σύλλα. Sulla, the son of Lucius Cornelius Sulla and the grandson of Publius Cornelius Sulla, was born into a branch of the patrician gens Cornelia, but his family had fallen to an impoverished condition at the time of his birth.
Lacking ready money, Sulla spent his youth amongst Rome’s comics, lute-players, dancers. He retained an attachment to the debauched nature of his youth until the end of his life, it seems certain. Sallust declares him well-read and intelligent, he was fluent in Greek, a sign of education in Rome; the means by which Sulla attained the fortune which would enable him to ascend the ladder of Roman politics, the Cursus honorum, are not clear, although Plutarch refers to two inheritances. The Jugurthine War had started in 112 BC when Jugurtha, grandson of Massinissa of Numidia, claimed the entire kingdom of Numidia in defiance of Roman decrees that divided it between several members of the royal family. Rome declared war on Jugurtha in 111 BC, but for five years Roman legions under Quintus Caecilius Metellus were unsuccessful. Gaius Marius, a lieutenant of Metellus, saw an opportunity to usurp his commander and fed rumors of incompetence and delay to the publicani in the region; these machinations caused calls for Metellus's removal.
Marius took over the campaign while Sulla was nominated quaestor to him. Under Marius, the Roman forces followed a similar plan as under Metellus and defeated the Numidians in 106 BC, thanks in large part to Sulla's initiative in capturing the Numidian king, he had persuaded Jugurtha's father-in-law, King Bocchus I of Mauretania, to betray Jugurtha who had fled to Mauretania for refuge. It was a dangerous operation from the first, with King Bocchus weighing up the advantages of handing Jugurtha over to Sulla or Sulla over to Jugurtha; the publicity attracted by this feat boosted Sulla's political career. A gilded equestrian statue of Sulla donated by King Bocchus was erected in the Forum to commemorate his accomplishment. Although Sulla had engineered this move, as Sulla was serving under Marius at the time, Marius took credit for this feat. In 104 BC, the migrating Germanic-Celtic alliance headed by the Cimbri and the Teutones seemed to be heading for Italy; as Marius was the best general Rome had, the Senate allowed him to lead the campaign against them.
Sulla served on Marius' staff as tribunus militum during the first half of this campaign. With those of his colleague, proconsul Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Marius' forces faced the enemy tribes at the Battle of Vercellae in 101 BC. Sulla had by this time transferred to the army of Catulus to serve as his legatus, is credited as being the prime mover in the defeat of the tribes. Victorious at Vercellae and Catulus were both granted triumphs as the co-commanding generals. Returning to Rome, Sulla was Praetor urbanus for 97 BC. In c. 95 BC he was appointed pro consule to the province of Cilicia. While in the East, Sulla was the first Roman magistrate to meet a Parthian ambassador, by taking the seat between the Parthian ambassador and the ambassador from Cappadocia he unintentionally, slighted the Parthian
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto to the northwest and the Po Valley; the countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania and Herzegovina, Italy and Slovenia. The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands located along the Croatian part of its eastern coast, it is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of 1,233 metres. The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas; the prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally; the Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin.
The surface water temperatures range from 30 °C in summer to 12 °C in winter moderating the Adriatic Basin's climate. The Adriatic Sea sits on the Apulian or Adriatic Microplate, which separated from the African Plate in the Mesozoic era; the plate's movement contributed to the formation of the surrounding mountain chains and Apennine tectonic uplift after its collision with the Eurasian plate. In the Late Oligocene, the Apennine Peninsula first formed, separating the Adriatic Basin from the rest of the Mediterranean. All types of sediment are found in the Adriatic, with the bulk of the material transported by the Po and other rivers on the western coast; the western coast is alluvial or terraced, while the eastern coast is indented with pronounced karstification. There are dozens of marine protected areas in the Adriatic, designed to protect the sea's karst habitats and biodiversity; the sea is abundant in flora and fauna—more than 7,000 species are identified as native to the Adriatic, many of them endemic and threatened ones.
The Adriatic's shores are populated by more than 3.5 million people. The earliest settlements on the Adriatic shores were Etruscan and Greek. By the 2nd century BC, the shores were under Rome's control. In the Middle Ages, the Adriatic shores and the sea itself were controlled, to a varying extent, by a series of states—most notably the Byzantine Empire, the Croatian Kingdom, the Republic of Venice, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire; the Napoleonic Wars resulted in the First French Empire gaining coastal control and the British effort to counter the French in the area securing most of the eastern Adriatic shore and the Po Valley for Austria. Following Italian unification, the Kingdom of Italy started an eastward expansion that lasted until the 20th century. Following World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, the eastern coast's control passed to Yugoslavia and Albania; the former disintegrated during the 1990s. Italy and Yugoslavia agreed on their maritime boundaries by 1975 and this boundary is recognised by Yugoslavia's successor states, but the maritime boundaries between Slovenian, Bosnian-Herzegovinian, Montenegrin waters are still disputed.
Italy and Albania agreed on their maritime boundary in 1992. Fisheries and tourism are significant sources of income all along the Adriatic coast. Adriatic Croatia's tourism industry has grown faster economically than the rest of the Adriatic Basin's. Maritime transport is a significant branch of the area's economy—there are 19 seaports in the Adriatic that each handle more than a million tonnes of cargo per year; the largest Adriatic seaport by annual cargo turnover is the Port of Trieste, while the Port of Split is the largest Adriatic seaport by passengers served per year. The origins of the name Adriatic are linked to the Etruscan settlement of Adria, which derives its name from the Illyrian adur meaning water or sea. In classical antiquity, the sea was known as Mare Adriaticum or, less as Mare Superum, " upper sea"; the two terms were not synonymous, however. Mare Adriaticum corresponds to the Adriatic Sea's extent, spanning from the Gulf of Venice to the Strait of Otranto; that boundary became more defined by Roman authors – early Greek sources place the boundary between the Adriatic and Ionian seas at various places ranging from adjacent to the Gulf of Venice to the southern tip of the Peloponnese, eastern shores of Sicily and western shores of Crete.
Mare Superum on the other hand encompassed both the modern Adriatic Sea and the sea off the Apennine peninsula's southern coast, as far as the Strait of Sicily. Another name used in the period was Mare Dalmaticum, applied to waters off the coast of Dalmatia or Illyricum; the names for the sea in the languages of the surrounding countries include Albanian: Deti Adriatik. In Croatian and Slovene, the sea is referred to as Jadran; the Adriatic Sea is a semi-enclosed sea, bordered in the southwest by the Apennine or Italian Peninsula, in the northwest by the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the northeast by Slovenia, Croatia, B
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