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History of Italy Summarized

Since earliest times the history of Italy has been influenced by cultural and political divisions resulting from the peninsula’s disparate geography and by circumstances that made Italy the scene of many struggles for power in Europe

Calendar of Important Events


The Germanic leader Otoacerf sacked Rome, ending the Western Roman Empire

The Lombards invaded Italy, ending the last period of Byzantine rule in Italy

Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo Ill

Otto the Great was crowned emperor, marking the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.

The thriving Italian city-states such as Florence and Venice contributed to the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy. Venice controlled European trade with Asia and the Middle East





The French army defeated the armies of several of the divided city-states. France and the holy Roman Empire subsequently feuded for control of Italy.


Most of Italy had come under the influence of the Spanish Habsburgs. Control passed to the Austrian branch of the family by the early 1700s

Napoleon Bonaparte conquered much of northern Italy and established Italian republics. Northern Italy was unified as the Kingdom of Italy under French rule in 1804.



following Napoleon's defeat, Italy was divided into the Papal States, Austrian dutchies, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of the two Sicilies.

Sardinia and France expelled the Austrians from all northern Italy except Venice.

the Kingdom of Italy was formed, encompassing the entire peninsula except for Rome, Venice, and San Marino. King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia became king of Italy.




Venice became part of Italy

Italian forces occupied Rome, which became the capital of Italy the following year.

Italy acquired Libya after a war with the Ottoman Empire

Although it was allied with Germany and Austria, Italy entered World War I on the side of the allies.

Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy and rapidly assumed dictatorial powers.

The Lateran Treaty normalized relations between Italy and the Vatican

Italy entered World War II, having previously formed an alliance with Germany.

Italy surrendered to invading Allied forces, but Germany took control of the country and fought the Allies until the end of the war.

Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and Italy became a Republic.

Italy became a founding member of the European coal and steel community, which would eventually become the European Union.

Reflecting the diminished influence of the church in Italian life, Roman Catholicism was de-institutionalized as Italy’s state religion.

Italy took its most visible steps towards fighting organized crime, convicting 338 mafia members of criminal activities.

A far-reaching scandal of political corruption and influence-peddling led to the fall of the Christian Democratic Party, which had been the most influential political party in Italy since 1948.














A rightist coalition, led by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, which included neo-fascist elements, was overwhelmingly elected to power. However, the coalition collapsed late in the year, and Berlusconi was forced to resign as Prime Minister.


The Olive Tree coalition was voted into power, marking the first time since World War II that a leftist government controlled Italy. Romano Prodi, an economics professor, headed the coalition as Prime Minister.


Massimo D'Alema, first leftist democrat is elected Prime Minister. He was accused of corruption in connection with the so called "Quatargate" and his activities as "international consultant" to several governments.


Giuliano Amato, leftist democrat, former professor of constitutional law and long-time member of the Italian parlament,  elected Prime Minister.  He would later (2022) become chief justice of the constitutional court (Presidente della Corte constituzionale)


Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia) is re-elected Prime Minister.  


Silvio Berlusconi (now People of Freedom) is re-elected Prime Minister.  He resigns in 2011 following notoirious "bunga bunga" sex party allegations, rumors of corruption and a staggering debt and budget crisis.


Independent economist Mario Monti, believed to have the political influence to pass major economic reforms


Two major earthquakes devastate the Emilia Romagna region, both in May, causing over 25 deaths.


In the span of 9 years, Italy elects five Prime Ministers, i.e. Enrico Letta (2013-2014), Matteo Renzi (2014-2016), Paolo Gentiloni (2016-2018), Giuseppe Conte (2019-2021), and Mario Draghi (2021-2022).


On October  22, Italy elects the Rome-born Giorgia Meloni, its first Woman Prime Minister, who has been a prominent leader of the Chamber of Deputies since 2006.  She was elected to lead the conservative Fratelli d'Italia party (Brothers of Italy) in 2014 and became president of the European Conservatives and Reformist Party in 2020. 


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