900 BC – 351 BC
The Etruscans were the first civilization that inhabited the region. They were heavily influenced by the Ancient Greeks and are known mainly for their art, agricultural improvements, and the first road systems. The name of Tuscany is also said to be derived from their language. The Etruscan civilization was conquered by Rome in 351 BC.
Founding of Rome
According to a legend, the city of Rome was founded by two twin brothers and demigods – Romulus and Remus – who had been nursed by a she-wolf. Until today, you can find their bronze sculpture in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. However, the true story behind the founding of Rome remains a myth.
509 BC – 27 BC
The Roman Republic dates back to 509 BC when the Roman monarchs were replaced with elected magistrates. The Roman Republic is one of the earliest examples of representative democracy and was characterized by significant economic growth. It lasted until 27 BC when Augustus Caesar rose as the first Roman emperor.
27 BC – 476 AD
The Roman Empire was one of the most extensive and powerful political and social structures in Western Europe. It was founded by Augustus proclaiming himself the ruler of the empire. It fell in 476 for many reasons, but the main ones were economic and political instability, corruption, and invasions of barbarian tribes.
Legalization of Christianity
Christianity was often misunderstood, and its followers were widely criticized, especially after the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD. In 313, emperors Constantine I. and Licinius came to an agreement, known as the Edict of Milan, which granted all people freedom to worship whatever deity they liked. Christianity soon became the prevalent religion of the Roman Empire.
Barbaric Kingdoms – Fall of the Roman Empire
The movements of Germanic tribes started way before the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted until Middle Ages. The growing dangers of the Barbaric tribes made emperor Constantine move the imperial capital to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople) in 324. While the Western part of the empire was slowly declining by repeated invasions, the Eastern part was growing stronger and richer under the rule of Theodosius I. After he died in 395, Rome split into Western and Eastern empires. The West was later severely damaged by the invasion of Visigoths, which led to the fall of Rome in 476. The East then continued as the Byzantine Empire until the Middle Ages.
6th to 15th century
After the fall of Rome, the regions of the former Western Roman Empire came under the rule of various rulers and emerged as separated political entities. Tuscany went under the Ostrogoth and Byzantine dominations. By the twelfth century, Tuscan cities gradually gained independence, with Pisa, Siena, Arezzo, Pistoia, Lucca, and Florence becoming the wealthiest for their textile manufacture, trade, banking, and agriculture. There were many wars between the cities. In the end, Florence conquered all of them.
15th to 16th century
Renaissance is known to be the period during which Italy flourished the most. Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is often called the Cradle of Renaissance for the many recognized writers and artists who emerged from there, such as Dante, Petrarca, Macchiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli.
1494 – 1559
Italian Wars was a series of conflicts for control of Italy. It involved much of Europe, including France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, Florence, Naples, and Venice. It resulted in Spanish Habsburgs dominating Italy. The wars ended with the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis on April 3, 1559.
1805 – 1814
The Italian Republic became a kingdom in 1805 under the rule of Napoleon I. He introduced several reforms. Even though they were in contrast with the Italian tradition, they had a positive effect on Italian social and economic progress. Napoleon fell from power in 1814, both in Italy and the rest of Europe.
1915 – 1918
World War I
Before the outbreak of World War I, Italy had been a member of the Triple Alliance along with Germany and Austria-Hungary. However, after the war erupted, it remained neutral. In 1915, Italy sided with the Allied Powers alongside France, Britain, and Russia. It was promised Trieste, southern Tyrol, and northern Dalmatia in return.
1922 – 1943
The rise of fascism in Italy began during World War I with Benito Mussolini and other radicals forming a political group. In 1922, the totalitarian regime was established in Italy as a result of weak social and economic post-war conditions. The fascist regime ended in 1943 with Mussolini being removed from his office by his own people.
1940 – 1945
World War II
Italy joined World War II in 1940 on the side of Germany. Three years later, Italian monarchs surrendered to the Allies and continued the war on their side. On the day of Italy’s surrender, Hitler launched Operation Axis and began occupying the northern part of the country, which turned into a collaborationist puppet state of Germany. It was led by Benito Mussolini, who was assassinated on April 28, 1945, along with his mistress.