Kaleidoscope - Fragment of Modern Reality (Italian Edition)

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Provincial governors were stripped of military authority, and command of the armies in a group of provinces was given to generals duces appointed by the Emperor. These were no longer members of the Roman elite but men who came up through the ranks and had seen much practical soldiering. With increasing frequency, these men attempted sometimes successfully to usurp the positions of the Emperors who had appointed them.

Decreased resources, increasing political chaos and civil war eventually left the Western Empire vulnerable to attack and takeover by neighboring barbarian peoples. Comparatively less is known about the Roman navy than the Roman army. Prior to the middle of the 3rd century BC, officials known as duumviri navales commanded a fleet of twenty ships used mainly to control piracy. This fleet was given up in AD and replaced by allied forces. The First Punic War required that Rome build large fleets, and it did so largely with the assistance of and financing from allies. This reliance on allies continued to the end of the Roman Republic.

The quinquereme was the main warship on both sides of the Punic Wars and remained the mainstay of Roman naval forces until replaced by the time of Caesar Augustus by lighter and more maneuverable vessels. As compared with a trireme , the quinquereme permitted the use of a mix of experienced and inexperienced crewmen an advantage for a primarily land-based power , and its lesser maneuverability permitted the Romans to adopt and perfect boarding tactics using a troop of approximately 40 marines in lieu of the ram.

Ships were commanded by a navarch , a rank equivalent to a centurion, who were usually not citizens. Potter suggests that because the fleet was dominated by non-Romans, the navy was considered non-Roman and allowed to atrophy in times of peace. Available information suggests that by the time of the late Empire AD , the Roman navy comprised a number of fleets including both warships and merchant vessels for transportation and supply.

Warships were oared sailing galleys with three to five banks of oarsmen. Flotillas of small river craft classes were part of the limitanei border troops during this period, based at fortified river harbors along the Rhine and the Danube. The fact that prominent generals commanded both armies and fleets suggests that naval forces were treated as auxiliaries to the army and not as an independent service.

The details of command structure and fleet strengths during this period are not well known although it is known that fleets were commanded by prefects. Throughout the Middle Ages , from the collapse of a central Roman government in the late 5th century to the Italian Wars of the Renaissance , Italy was constantly divided between opposing factions fighting for control. At the time of the deposition of Romulus Augustulus , the Heruli Confederation governed Italy, but it was displaced by the Ostrogoths , who fought a long war with the Byzantine army in Italy the Gothic War.

The Byzantine came out of the war victorious only to find Italy invaded by a new wave of barbarians led by the Lombards.

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They established a kingdom centred on Pavia in the north. During the interregnum called the Rule of the Dukes — , the dukes of the Lombards invaded Burgundy , but were repulsed by the Merovingian king Guntram , who in turn invaded Italy and took the region of Savoy. The Lombards were forced to elect a new king to organise their defence. For the next two centuries, the Byzantine power in the peninsula was reduced by the Lombard kings, the greatest of which was Liutprand , until it consisted of little more than the tips of the Italian toe and heel, Rome and its environs being practically independent under the popes and the Neapolitan coast under its dukes.

In , Charlemagne of the Franks invaded and conquered the Lombard kingdom. In the south of the peninsula, the Duchy of Benevento remained independent of Frankish dominion, however. During the period of Carolingian strength, Charlemagne's descendants governed the north of Italy in relative peace, except for the brief period of the rebellion of Bernard and the constant raids from the Slavs to the east and the Saracens to the south. Pirates harassed the Adriatic and Ligurian coasts and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. The south was very different, as the Lombards were at the height of there power there.

Warfare between Lombard and Greek, especially the Greek city-states of the Tyrrhenian , was endemic. The Greek cities fell out of the orbit of Constantinople and Byzantine possessions shrank to their smallest mark as the Lombards and the Saracens increased their predations. In , the Arabs conquered Palermo and in they conquered Taormina , ending the conquest of Sicily. They likewise established their presence on the peninsula, especially on the Garigliano and in Bari.

The story of the incessant conflicts of the states of the Mezzogiorno is chaotic until the arrival of the Normans in the early 11th century Under their leadership, the Jews of the south found themselves eventually united, the Arabs expelled, and the whole Mezzogiorno subjugated to the Hauteville dynasty of kings of Sicily The second half of the Middle Ages in Italy was marked by frequent conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy , the latter eventually emerging victorious in that it ultimately prevented political unification of northern Italy under Imperial rule.

Imperial invasions were led by more or less all medieval Emperors, the most notable episodes being the end of the Investiture controversy by the pilgrimage of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor at Canossa in and the no less than five major invasions staged by Frederick Barbarossa against the Lombard League , culminating in the sack of Milan in , after which every building in the city was demolished, except the churches.

The lasting conflict led to the emergence of the Guelph and the Ghibelline parties in northern Italy, supporting respectively the Pope and the independent cities and the Emperor, though siding with a party was often dictated by other political considerations more or less each city has belonged to both parties. The victory of the Guelph party meant the end of Imperial overlordship over northern Italy, and the formation of city-states such as Florence , Venice , Milan, Genoa or Siena.

While Venice was turning to the seas, supporting, and acquiring large loot from, the Fourth Crusade 's sack of Constantinople, the other city-states were struggling for control of mainland, Florence being the rising power of the time annexation of Pisa in This set the background for later French claims over Naples and Sicily. Disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire and the Hundred Years War in neighbouring France meant that Italy was more or less left in peace during the 15th century; this allowed its cities to grow rich and to become attractive preys for its neighbours during the 16th century.

The relative peace that had prevailed in Italy following the Treaty of Lodi was shattered by the beginning of the Italian Wars in Ludovico Sforza , seeking allies, suggested to Charles VIII of France that the latter press his claim to the throne of Naples ; Charles obliged and launched an invasion of the peninsula. The French march to, and capture of, Naples was accomplished with relative ease—the Italian states being shocked at the brutality of French tactics and the efficacy of the new French artillery —but Charles was forced to withdraw from Italy in , after a hastily constructed alliance fought him at the Battle of Fornovo.

Charles died in , but the conflict he started would be continued by his successors; the Italian Wars would last until , involving, at various times, all the major states of western Europe France , Spain , the Holy Roman Empire , England , Scotland , the Republic of Venice , the Papal States , and most of the city-states of Italy as well as the Ottoman Empire , and rapidly becoming a general struggle for power and territory among the various participants, marked with an increasing degree of alliances, counter-alliances, and regular betrayals. He then reached an agreement with Ferdinand I of Spain to divide Naples.

By , combined French and Spanish forces had seized control of the Kingdom; disagreements about the terms of the partition led to a war between Louis and Ferdinand. The French defeated the Venetian army at the Battle of Agnadello , capturing extensive territories; but Julius, now regarding France as a greater threat, left the League and allied himself with Venice. The election of Charles of Spain as Holy Roman Emperor in led to a collapse of relations between France and the Habsburgs which resulted in the Italian War of , in which France and Venice were pitted against England, the Papacy, and Charles's Habsburg possessions.

Released in , Francis repudiated the terms of the agreement, allied himself with Venice, the Papacy, Milan, and England, and launched the War of the League of Cognac. In , Imperial troops sacked Rome itself ; the French expedition to capture Naples the next year failed, leading Francis and Charles to conclude the Treaty of Cambrai.

Charles then concluded a series of treaties at Barcelona and Bologna which eliminated all his opponents save the Florentine Republic , which was subdued by the Siege of Florence and returned to the Medici. The remainder of the Italian Wars—which flared up again in —was primarily a struggle between the Habsburgs and the Valois ; while Italy was, at times, a battlefield, the Italian states played little further role in the fighting. By the end of the wars in , Habsburg Spain had been established as the premier power of Europe, to the detriment of France.

The states of Italy, which had wielded power disproportionate to their size during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , were reduced to second-rate powers or destroyed entirely. The Italian Wars had a number of consequences for the work and workplace of Leonardo da Vinci ; his plans for a " Gran Cavallo " horse statue in were dropped when the seventy tons of bronze intended for the statue were instead cast into weapons to save Milan. Later, following a chance encounter with Francis I after the Battle of Marignano , Leonardo agreed to move to France, where he spent his final years.

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In France, Henry II was fatally wounded in a joust held during the celebrations of the peace. His death led to the accession of his year-old son Francis II , who in turn soon died. The French monarchy was thrown into turmoil, which increased further with the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion in The history of Italy in the Early Modern period was characterized by partial foreign domination. Following the Italian Wars to , Italy saw a long period of relative peace, first under Habsburg Spain to and then under Habsburg Austria to However in these centuries the Republic of Venice and the Papal States remained fully independent.

Italy was conquered by the French and became organized into French client republics. The Congress of Vienna restored the situation of the late 18th century, which was however quickly overturned by the incipient movement of Italian unification. The Italian unification Italian: il Risorgimento, or "The Resurgence" was the political and social movement that unified different states of the Italian peninsula into the kingdom of Italy.


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The First — , Second and Third Italian War of Independence were fought against the Austrian Empire as part of the process to unify the Italian peninsula. The kingdom of Italy did not participate in the Franco-Prussian War of —, but the defeat of France and the abdication of French emperor Napoleon III enabled Italy to capture Rome the city was de jure declared the capital of Italy in [31] , the last remnant of the Papal States ruled by the Catholic church.

Italy took part in the scramble for Africa the European conquest and colonization of Africa that started in the late 19th century. Between and Italy colonized parts of the Horn of Africa , forming the colonies of Eritrea and Italian Somalia , but the conquest of Ethiopia was stopped at the Battle of Adwa in Italian warships and infantry took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China Italy also conquered the Dodecanese island group in the Aegean Sea.

In this war Italy pioneered the military use of aircraft and airships for bombing, artillery spotting and reconnaissance. In spite of its official status as member of the Triple Alliance together with Germany and Austria-Hungary , in the years before the outbreak of the conflict the Italian government had enhanced its diplomatic efforts towards United Kingdom and France.

This was because the Italian government had grown convinced that a support of Austria which had been also the traditional enemy of Italy during the 19th century Risorgimento would not grant to Italy the Italian-speaking lands the country was aiming for in its territorial expansion: Trieste , Istria , Zara and Dalmatia , all Austrian possessions.

In fact, a secret agreement signed with France in practically nullified Italy's membership in the Triple Alliance.

A few days after the outbreak of the conflict, on 3 August , the government, led by the conservative Antonio Salandra , declared that Italy would not commit its troops, maintaining that the Triple Alliance had only a defensive stance, whereas Austria-Hungary had been the aggressor. In reality, both Salandra and the minister of Foreign Affairs, Sidney Sonnino , started diplomatic activities to probe which side was ready to grant the best reward for Italy's entrance in the war. Although the majority of the cabinet including former Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti was firmly contrary to the intervention, numerous intellectuals, including socialists such as Ivanoe Bonomi , Leonida Bissolati and Benito Mussolini , declared in favour of the intervention, which was then mostly supported by the Nationalist and the Liberal parties.

The diplomatic moves led to the London Pact 26 April , signed by Sonnino without the approval of the Italian Parliament. Other agreements concerned the sovereignty of the port of Valona , the province of Antalya in Turkey and part of the German colonies in Africa. Germany and Austria-Hungary had only advanced the possibility of negotiating parts of the Trentino and Eastern Friuli , without Gorizia and Trieste.

The offer of the French colony of Tunisia was deemed unsatisfactory. In the following days Giolitti and the neutralist majority of the Parliament fought to keep Italy out of the conflict, while the nationalists demonstrated in the squares in favour of entrance into the war the nationalist poet Gabriele D'Annunzio defined them le radiose giornate di Maggio - "the sunny days of May".

Giolitti, fearful of a further blow to governing institutions, declined to succeed as prime minister and also resigned. Italy thenceforth entered the war under the impetus of a relative minority of its population and politicians. Mussolini repeatedly stated his dream of the Mediterranean Sea becoming an "Italian lake" Mare Nostrum , "our sea" and valued war, saying "Though words are beautiful things, rifles, machine guns, planes, and cannon are still more beautiful". In the Corfu incident Italy forced Greece to pay reparations and apologize for the murder of an Italian general by bombarding and temporarily occupying the Greek island of Corfu.

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This incident was indicative of the aggressive posture of the new Fascist regime. The Second Italo-Ethiopian War was to be Mussolini's way of making up for Italy's embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Ethiopians in the First Italo-Ethiopian War in , and was also a chance to expand the Italian empire by taking one of the last regions of Africa not controlled by other European powers and divert the populace from economic woes. General Emilio de Bono put on record that preparations for the invasion of Ethiopia Abyssinia had been going on since as roads were being built from Italian Somaliland into Ethiopian territory, though Mussolini constantly claimed that he was not a "collector of deserts" and would never think of invading.

Ethiopians protested this build-up to war which eventually led up to a border clash at Walwal. Mussolini called this clash "unprovoked aggression" by Ethiopia and Italian forces invaded on 3 October , led by de Bono. In only three days the Italians had captured Adwa by committing the world's first mass aerial bombardment of civilians. In violation of the Geneva convention, the Italian military committed war crimes by extensively using chemical warfare against the Ethiopian military and, even more so, against Ethiopian civilians as well as attacking Ethiopian, British, and Swedish Red Cross facilities.

Franco was fairly sure that he would be able to secure German and Italian help for his National Faction , sending emissaries out on 20 July to achieve this. Mussolini was very devoted, eventually sending in 37, men and huge numbers of planes to ensure that this "campaign against communism " would succeed. The foreign press started to heap pressure on Mussolini when Italian troops suffered a major defeat at Guadalajara , which led to Mussolini sending in normal troops rather than militia to fight in Spain, eventually ruining the Italian economy with the expense of a war Mussolini thought would end any day.

This war also distracted Italy, allowing Germany to carry out the annexation of Austria with the Anschluss , a move that otherwise may have been a breaking point between the two powers, due to Austria's alliance with Fascist Italy.

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The war was supposed to be a staging ground for Italian tactics, potential time to fix any creases out of the system, but Italy continued during World War II to use the same tactics as long before that, unlike Germany's new revolutionary war tactics. As Germany was occupying Czechoslovakia , Mussolini decided to accompany that invasion with his own invasion of Albania. Albania had long been politically dominated by Italy and several of its military officers were actually Italian.