Italy. According to countryaah, the current population of Italy is 60,461,837. Italy was thrown into a crisis at the end of the year in which the young, dynamic Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from one day to another and was replaced by his foreign minister and political friend, 62-year-old Paolo Gentiloni. Renzi’s successor is a political scientist with a past as a journalist and environmental writer and parliamentarian since 2001.
The government crisis was triggered by a referendum on the country’s constitution in which Matteo Renzi invested all his political capital and suffered a devastating defeat.
When the then 39-year-old Matteo Renzi almost three years ago as leader of the Socialist Democratic Party (PD) became a record young prime minister, he resolved to breathe life into the political institutions and put an end to the chronic mismanagement in the country. Renzi decided to change the constitution, which gives Italy’s parliament two parallel chambers with all that it has entailed in terms of costs and snail pace in the legislation.
In early December, the Italians went to the referendum on a thorough slimming of the Senate House. The result was a resounding defeat for the jasmine, and since Matteo Renzi had, in his arrogance, tied the result of the referendum to his own political future, the Prime Minister only had to stand by his word and resign.
The populist party Five Star Movement and its leading comedian Beppe Grillo led the down side in the referendum and now called for new elections along with the country’s smaller parties on the right. However, Italy’s highly regarded head of state, 75-year-old President Sergio Mattarella, strongly distanced himself from the current elections and commissioned the outgoing Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni to form a new government.
Another reason for the head of state to quickly put an end to the political uncertainty is the country’s crisis banking system, where the world’s oldest and Italy’s third-largest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, distinguished itself among the many banks that have been stuck with unsecured loans and need to find a financing. The Italian banking crisis, which is a problem for the whole EU, will be the first thing the new government under Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has to deal with. It was therefore noted with relief in Brussels that the internationally acclaimed economist Pier Paolo Padoan remained in his post of finance minister.
In the year 330, Emperor Constantine relocated the capital of the empire to Byzans – called New Rome – converted to Christianity, banned crucifixions and defended the borders against Franks, Germans and Goths. At the death of Emperor Jovian in 364, the empire was divided into a western and eastern part.
The end of the 5th century was marked by invasions of Mongols and other tribes from the north as well as Byzans’ efforts to reclaim the lost territories. In the middle of the 6th century, according to thereligionfaqs, Italy again became a province, but the Lombards conquered the northern peninsula under the leadership of their military chiefs, called duces leaders. From the time the capital of the empire was moved to the Byzans, the Roman bishops advanced as an alternative power in the city. As the Lombard kings with weapons began to defend Christianity against the city’s enemies, the bishops – now called popes – broke the alliance to retain their temporary power.
In the year 754, Pope Stefan II asked for help from Pipino the Brave, and in turn crowned him king over the Franks. After defeating the Lombards, Pipino transferred the central part of the peninsula to the Pope. Pipino’s son, Karl the Great, was crowned king and emperor of Rome in 800, but mid-century Muslim invasions left the area without government.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Church established the Papal States in the central part of the area – including Rome. However, the absence of a central power in the 12th century enabled a number of the area’s cities to govern themselves largely. With the high development of trade, manufacture and crafts of this time, this was a challenge for the authorities of the empire, which was only a formality.
As the battles between supporters of the papacy and the defenders of the empire in the 14th century began, Pope Inocencio VI decided to seek refuge in Avignon. Two centuries later, the prosperity and stability of cities such as Venice, Genoa, Florence and Milan provided the basis for the intellectual and artistic movement of the Renaissance.
In the early 16th century, the peninsula was attacked by French, Spaniards and Austrians, who already claimed dominion over Italy. In 1794 it was invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte, who threw the Austrians at the gate. Four years later he occupied Rome and formed the Roman Republic and in Naples the Parthenopic Republic. Only two Italian states escaped Napoleonic domination: Sicily and Sardinia, where Víctor Manuel I ruled. The French Emperor temporarily abolished the Pope’s power and deported Pío VII to Savona.
Power struggle between city states, pope and emperor, 1000-1250
At the beginning of the 1000s, a new momentum came into Italy’s political life. Norman pilgrims who had taken part in the fighting against the Arabs in southern Italy founded a kingdom that included Calabria, Apulia and Sicily. In 1080, Robert Guiscard was granted these lands in the Pope’s palace when the Arabs were displaced, and in 1130 Roger 2 (1127–1154) was crowned King of Sicily, which became the term for the entire kingdom.
The Pope used the new Norman kingdom to support his policies. He was in great need of support during the fierce conflicts with the German emperors, which developed in the second half of the 1000s (the investiture struggle). The conflict concerned the pope’s or emperor’s supremacy in general, and in particular the issue of bishopric appointments.
The bishops had acquired a strong political position, and therefore it was important for the emperor to have dominion over the appointments. The conflict reached its peak under Henry 4 and Pope Gregory 7 (1073-1085). It ended in a compromise in 1122. Apparently, the compromise was in favor of the church’s power, since it was the chaplains who chose the bishops, but in fact, the bishops did not at length manage to plead with the city’s citizenship without the emperor’s support.
In a number of cities in northern Italy, self-government was organized in which the leading classes were represented: capitani, wealthy merchants and craftsmen and nobles. Even Rome became a republic for a time with the religious agitator Arnold of Brescia as the driving force in 1142–1155. Northern Italy and Southern Italy developed in very different directions. Southern Italy was organized and administered according to strictly feudal principles under Norman princes, while Northern Italy was characterized by independent urban municipalities and growing trade.
It turned out that the northern Italian cities represented great power, when the German Emperor Fredrik Barbarossa (1152–1190) tried to force old imperial rights against the will of the cities. Milan was at the forefront of the opposition. In 1167, the Lombardy Township was formed. It eventually encompassed 16 urban republics in Northern Italy and won a major victory over Fredrik Barbarossa at Legnano in 1176.
Fredrik Barbarossa did not give up his Italian expansionist policy, and it seemed that he had the prospect of securing his family, the Hohenstauferne, the dominion of all Italy when in 1186 he got his son Henry 6 married to the heir to the Norman kingdom in southern Italy, Constantia, daughter of Roger 2. With Germany and all of Italy on the German emperor’s hand, it would be impossible for the pope to assert himself. Henrik was defeated in the kingdom of Sicily, but was eventually crowned king in 1194. Henrik had ambitious plans and thought of conquering the Byzantine Empire, but died as early as 1197.
Pope Innocens 3 gained dominion over the part of the Church State lost under his predecessor, and exploited the disagreement that arose in the election of a new emperor after Henry 6. In a short time, the pope became the most powerful lord in most of the Italian peninsula. Even Queen Constantia had to resort to Innocens 3 to secure the son’s choice of emperor. Innocens became guardian of the child and recognized as the lord of Sicily. However, Innocens did not launch Fredrik’s right until it fit into his political game. The Hohenstaufer Party had bypassed Fredrik at the Emperor’s election and taken Philip of Schwab instead. This lot was also called the ghibellins. The Counterpart, the Guelphs (the Welfare), had chosen Otto by Braunschweig. Filip had taken over, and the Pope therefore supported Otto to keep the balance of power, but had to strike when Filip became overpowered.
Philip was murdered, and the pope initially sought an alliance with Otto, but then played Fredrik against him. The settlement took on large dimensions, and both sides sought allies. The Hohenstaufer and Pope allied with Philip August 2 of France, and Otto 4 with Johan without land in England. In the Battle of Bouvines in France in 1215, Philip conquered August 2. That also meant victory for Fredrik 2, but primarily for Pope Innocens 3.
The great church meeting in 1215 in the Lateran (the pope’s castle) was a testament to the international power the pope had during this period. Another visible expression of the Pope’s power was the Crusades to Palestine, which the Pope succeeded in achieving between 1100 and 1300. Yet there were still fierce conflicts between the German emperor and the papacy when Fredrik 2 came to power. He organized a strong authoritarian government in Sicily and wanted to extend his power and regime to other parts of Italy as well.
Frederick 2 was at odds with the Lombardy towns, which were supported by the Pope. He overcame the cities of Cortenuova in 1237, but the pope cursed him and kept the resistance up. The pope, Innocens 4 (1243–1254), fled to Lyon, but the battle continued in Italy between the emperor and his ghibellines and the wolves who held the pope. In 1250, Fredrik II died, and with him in effect the German power in Italy ceased, but the party struggles did not cease.