Italy History: 476–951

By | October 11, 2021

The area of ​​today’s Italian state did not form a state unit in post-ancient times until 1870. According to 3rjewelry, the term “Italy”, originally understood only geographically and by a long way not encompassing the entire peninsula, gained political significance from the 12th century; Regardless of the state fragmentation, a sense of community among the people of the country became tangible, not least due to the commonalities of the language and the development of an overarching high-level language.

On the prehistory and early history of the Mediterranean area; Etruscans, Italians, Villanova culture. On ancient history up to AD 476. Roman history, Roman Empire; Italia.

From the end of the Western Roman Empire to the intervention of Otto I (476–951)

With the decline of the Roman Empire in late antiquity, Italy became a battleground for invading tribes and foreign powers; the population decreased and gradually impoverished in large parts of the country. In the heavily barbarized army, Germanic tribes dominated long before they took over rule themselves. In 476, the part of the Western Roman Empire ended when the Skire Odoacer deposed Emperor Romulus Augustulus. Nevertheless, the Roman imperial and cultural tradition proved to be powerful in later times (especially in the High Middle Ages, in the Renaissance and again at the time of the Risorgimento).

Odoacer was defeated and murdered by the Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great (in the legend: Dietrich von Bern) on a Byzantine order in 493; A brief period of peace began with recognition of the Eastern Roman sovereignty, but despite some measures for economic improvement and tradition-conscious cultivation (Boethius, Cassiodor), the Ostrogoths, among others, failed. the limitations of the aloof Gothic warriors and gentlemen, the cultural difference and the contrast between their Arian creed and the Catholicism of the mass of the population. After Theodoric’s death (526) and the weak regiment of his daughter Amalasuntha, the generals renewed emperors Justinians I, Belisarius and Narses, through a war of extermination 535-553, the direct Eastern Roman rule over Italy, which reached a demographic, economic and cultural low because of the war costs and excessive taxation. The number of cities fell sharply, and the influence of the church increased in the surviving communes. Agriculture shrank in terms of both the area used and the intensity of use.

In 568 the Germanic tribe of the Longobards broke into northern Italy. They occupied the Po Valley together with Tuscany, founded a kingdom with the capital Pavia (584) and advanced to central Italy by 650 (foundation of the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento). In southern Italy, the areas around Rome and Ravenna and some coastal areas (Genoa, Venice), Byzantine rule initially continued, but quickly lost its concrete importance with the progressive autonomy of local oligarchies (including Venice). In the Lombard areas, elementary social and cultural continuities were broken off. Unlike the Goths, the Arian Lombards initially took massive action against the Catholic (Latin) Church and generally against the local upper social class; the social and political power around the rather weak kingship was based on property, in the hands of v. a. of the great Lombard aristocratic clans, to which many of the great families of Italy will later refer to in their family trees. Against the new Lombard threat (751 conquest of Ravenna) the popes (Gregory III., Stephan II.) the Franks to help, as they could no longer find support in Byzantium because of the iconoclasm. The Pippin donation (754) secured the papacy the possession of Rome, Ravenna and others. to; it became the basis of the papal state. Charlemagne conquered the Lombard kingdom in 774 and made the Duchy of Spoleto a Franconian mark.

The dukes of Benevento remained independent. Under Charles’ son Ludwig the Pious, the northern Italian kingdom began to be called “Imperial Italy”.

The Islamic expansion, which disrupted the unity of the Mediterranean during the 8th century, also increasingly threatened Italy in the 9th century. The Saracens conquered Sardinia and Corsica in 810, and Sicily from 827–902, where they achieved a restructuring of agriculture and economic conditions through technological innovations, thus establishing the island’s long cultural heyday. The last king of Italy and emperor from the Carolingian house, Ludwig II (855–875; called “Imperator Italiae” in contemporary sources, since his government activities were limited to the Apennine peninsula), and Pope John VIII (872–882) had with fight them.

Since the death of Ludwig II, the imperial dignity and the crown of imperial Italy became the plaything of mostly only brief ruling domestic and foreign princes. In the process, the feudalization of Upper and Central Italy was completed, against which the royal power lost more and more influence, so that great territorial dominions could develop. The danger from the Saracens did not subside; Byzantium recaptured parts of southern Italy from the Lombard rulers there (Bari 876). In addition, from 889 the Hungarians began to extend their raids to northern Italy. The dukes of southern Germany also intervened in the incessant disputes, which prompted Otto I in 951 to pursue an active policy in Italy himself. He married Adelheid, the widow of the briefly reigning Italian king Lothar von Niederburgund.

Italy History - 476–951