Italian Family History
Genealogy in Italy

Roots in Italy (5499 byte)

Italy and the world
In the bronze era Italy was inhabited by different populations (Etruschi, Marsi, Celti, Falisci, Sanniti, Latini, Messapi, etc.). Since the ninth century B.C.Greek and Phoenician settlers founded cities and colonies in the south of the Italian peninsula.
Around the year 753 BC Rome was founded, a town that grew from a city-state and became in few centuries a large kingdom.
In few centuries the Roman state developed conquering the Etrurian state in central Italy, the populations of the south: Sanniti, Apuli, Marsi, Siculi, etc. and later on conquering the Celtic populations of north Italy.


In the upcoming centuries the efficient economic, political and military systems of Rome increased the power of the state which became richer, developped in culture and civilization and enlarged its territories.
Italy was the central part of the Roman Empire and Roma the capital of a world-wide state that included large part of Europe, the Middle-East and North Africa.
The Roman Empire, divided in two parts in the 4th century AC,  fall in an irreversible crisis and finally collapsed under the waves of the invasions of germanic tribes: Vandals, Ostrogoths, Lombards.
Most parts of Italy were conquered by the Franks in 774. Their King, Charlemagne, was crowned Roman Emperor in 800.

South Italy was under the control of the Arabs and later Spain. Among these small political entities some rich "Maritime Republics" (Gaeta, Genova, Pisa, Venezia) conquered influence in the East Mediterranean Sea.
During the Middle ages Italy was ruled by small states, principalities and small kingdoms, which fought among themselves subject to foreign powers an to the Church. Rome became the see of the Pope and the Papal State became the centre of European spiritual power.
The commercial and economic prosperity of the northern and central Italian cities gave origin to the Rinascimento. Tuscany, rulled by the De' Medici family, became the center of this cultural, artistic and scientific movement.
At the beginning of the 16th century Italy suffered the effects of a political, economic and spiritual crisis. First the Reformation against the power and the corruption of the Church swapt away the geo-political power of the Catholic Church. To this the Church answered with the Counter-Reformation.
Secondly the discovery of the America moved the center of world from the Mediterranean to the countries on the coast: France, Spain, Portugal, England.
Most of the small and weak Italian states were rulled by foreign powers, some states (e.g. Milan and Naples) were annexed, others (e.g. Venice and Florence) were reduced to a lesser role.
At the end of the 18th century, Italy had the same internal borders which correspond to the actual administrative division in to Regioni.
After the fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna Italy was divided between Austria, the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, Tuscany, the Papal state.
In about ten years (1859-70) the whole peninsula was unified under the Savoia dinasty. In 1866 the kingdom of Italy annexed Venice and in 1870 conquered Rome and the Papal States.
In 1911 after a successful war with the Ottoman empire, Italy conquered part of Lybia and some islands in the Aegean Sea.
After the First World War (1915-1918) and the annexation of new territories (Trento, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia) strong social conflicts brought to power in 1922 Benito Mussolini. His fascists party installed a dictatorship that lasted twenty years.
Fascism lead Italy into the Second Word War that ended in a bloody defeat and in a civil war. These tragic events were the foundations the Italian Republic in 1946.