Chronology of Italy's History

A.D. 476 Through 1996

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 of the most important struggles for power in Europe.

Calendar of Important Events

YEAR

 

EVENT

476

 

The Germanic leader Odoacer sacked Rome, ending the Western Roman Empire.

572

 

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

800

 

Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III

962

 

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

1300s

 

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

1494

 

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

1559

 

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

1796

 

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

1814

 

Following Napoleon's defeat, Italy was divided into the Papal States, Austrian duchies, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

1859

 

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

1861

 

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

1866

 

Venice became part of Italy

1870

 

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

1912

 

Italy acquired Libya after a war with the Ottoman Empire

1915

 

Although it was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, Italy entered World War I on the side of the Allies

1922

 

Benito Mussolini became prime minister of Italy and rapidly assumed dictatorial powers

1929

 

The Lateran Treaty normalized relations between Italy and the Vatican

1940

 

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

1943

 

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

1946

 

Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and Italy became a republic

1952

 

Italy became a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would eventually become the European Union

1984

 

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

1986

 

Italy took its most visible steps toward fighting organized crime, convicting 338 Mafia members of criminal activities

1990s

 

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

1994

 

A rightist coalition, led by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi and 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

1996

 

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

Source: Encarta 1997

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Created: November 1996
Updated: 10/12/04
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