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March 14, 2015, 14:18, views: 600
Rome is a city and special comune (named “Roma Capitale”) in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and region of Lazio. With 2.9 million residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country’s largest and most populated comune and fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. The Metropolitan City of Rome has a population of 4.3 million residents. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of Tiber river. Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. Although Roman tradition states the founding of Rome around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited much earlier, being one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. The city’s early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization. It is referred to as “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World), two central notions in ancient Roman culture.
After the Fall of the Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Papacy, which had settled in the city since the 1st century AD, until in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870.
Beginning with the Renaissance, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1422–55) pursued coherently along four hundred years an architectonic and urbanistic program aimed to make of the city the world’s artistic and cultural center. Due to that, Rome became first one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, and then the birthplace of the Baroque style. Famous artists and architects of the Renaissance and Baroque period made Rome the center of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.
Rome has the status of a global city. In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is the seat of United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from approximately 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC (the date of the tradition), the date is subject to controversy. However, the power of the well known tale of Rome’s legendary foundation tends to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.
Traditional stories handed down by the ancient Romans themselves explain the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf. They decided to build a city, but after an argument, Romulus killed his brother. According to the Roman annalists, this happened on 21 April 753 BC. This legend had to be reconciled with a dual tradition, set earlier in time, that had the Trojan refugee Aeneas escape to Italy and found the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This was accomplished by the Roman poet Virgil in the first century BC.
After the legendary foundation by Romulus, Rome was ruled for a period of 244 years by a monarchical system, initially with sovereigns of Latin and Sabine origin, later by Etruscan kings. The tradition handed down seven kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquin the Proud.
In 509 BC the Romans expelled from the city the last king and established an oligarchic republic: since then, for Rome began a period characterized by internal struggles between patricians (aristocrats) and plebeians (small landowners), and by constant warfare against the populations of central Italy: Etruscans, Latins, Volsci, Aequi. After becoming master of Latium, Rome led several wars (against the Gauls, Osci-Samnites and the Greek colony of Taranto, allied with Pyrrhus, king of Epirus) whose result was the conquest of the Italian peninsula, from the central area up to Magna Graecia.
The third and second century BC saw the establishment of the Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean and the East, through the three Punic Wars (264-146 BC) fought against the city of Carthage and the three Macedonian Wars (212-168 BC) against Macedonia. Then were established the first Roman provinces: Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, Spain, Macedonia, Greece (Achaia), Africa.
From the beginning of the 2nd century BC, the power was contended between two groups of aristocrats: the optimates, representing the conservative part of the Senate, and the populares, which relied on the help of the urban populace to gain the power. In the same period, the bankruptcy of the small farmers and the establishment of large slave estates provoked the migration to the city of a large number of people. The continuous warfare made necessary a professional army, which was more loyal to its chiefs than to the republic. Due to that, in the second half of the second century and during the first century BC saw fights abroad and at home: after the failed attempt of social reform of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, and the war against Jugurtha, there was a first civil war between Gaius Marius and Sulla. To this followed the slave revolt under Spartacus, and the establishment of a first Triumvirate with Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.
The conquest of Gaul let rise the star of Caesar, who fought a second civil war against the Senate and Pompey and, after his victory, established a lifelong dictatorship. His assassination led to a second Triumvirate among Octavian (Caesar’s nephew and heir), Mark Antony and Lepidus, and to another civil war between the Octavian and Antony. The former in 27 BC became princeps civitatis and got the title of Augustus, founding the principate, a diarchy between the princeps and the senate. Established de facto the empire, which reached its greatest expansion in the second century under the Emperor Trajan, Rome was confirmed as caput Mundi, i.e. the capital of the world, an expression which had already been given in the Republican period. During its first two centuries the empire saw as rulers, after Octavian Augustus, the emperors of the Julio-Claudian, Flavian (who also built eponymous amphitheater, known as the Colosseum) and Antonine dynasties. This time was also characterized by the spread of the Christian religion, preached by Jesus Christ in Judea in the first half of the century (under Tiberius) and popularized by his apostles through the empire. The Antonine age is considered the apogee of the Empire, whose territory ranged from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates, from the central-northern part of Britain to Egypt.
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent controlled approximately 6.5 million square kilometres of land surface.
In the third century, at the end of the Antonine dynasty, with the Severan dynasty the principatus was substituted by a military government, which was soon followed by a period of military anarchy, while the economy deteriorated, the inflation rose and the historical enemies of Rome, the Germanic tribes in the West and the Persian Empire in the East, bore a continue pressure on the frontiers.
Emperor Diocletian (284) fought the economic and military problems introducing the dominate, an absolute monarchy where the emperor was deified, imposing the price control and decentralising the administration: the emperor divided the empire into twelve dioceses, ruling under the title of Augustus the eastern half (with residence in Nicomedia) and naming Maximian Augustus of the western half, whose capital was moved to Mediolanum. The succession was regulated with the creation of the Tetrarchy: each Augustus, in fact, had to appoint a junior emperor, named Caesar, which would rule part of the roman territory on behalf of his Augustus and which would become, at the end, the new emperor.
After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian in 305 and many dynastic fights, this system collapsed, and the new ruler, Constantine, centralized power again and, with the Edict of Milan in 313, gave freedom of worship for Christians, pledging himself to give stability to the new religion. He built several churches, gave the civil power of Rome to Pope Sylvester I and founded in the eastern part the new capital, Constantinople.
Christianity became the official religion of the empire, thanks to an edict issued in 380 by Theodosius, who was the last emperor of a unified empire: after his death, in fact, his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, divided the empire in a western and an eastern part. The capital of the western Roman Empire became Ravenna.
Rome, which had lost its central role in the administration of the empire, was sacked in 410 by the Visigoths led by Alaric I, but also embellished by the construction of sacred buildings by the popes (with the collaboration of the emperors). The city, impoverished and depopulated, suffered a new looting in 455, by Genseric, king of the Vandals. The weak emperors of the fifth century could not stop the decay, until the deposition of Romulus Augustus on 22 August 476 marked the end of the Western Roman Empire and, for many historians, the beginning of the Middle Ages.
The Bishop of Rome, called the Pope, was important since the early days of Christianity because of the martyrdom of both the apostles Peter and Paul there. The Bishops of Rome were also seen (and still are seen by the Catholics) as the successors of Peter, he being the first Bishop of Rome. The city thus became of increasing importance in the Catholic Church. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Rome was first under the control of Odoacer and then became part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom before returning to East Roman control after the Gothic War, which devastated the city. Its population declined from more than a million in 210 AD to 500,000 in 273 to 35,000 after the Gothic War, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins, vegetation, vineyards and market gardens.
After the Lombard invasion of Italy, the city remained nominally Byzantine, but in reality the popes pursued a policy of equilibrium between the Byzantines, the Franks and the Lombards. In 729, the Lombard king Liutprand donated to the church the north Latium town of Sutri, starting the temporal power of the church. In 756, Pepin the Short, after having defeated the Lombards, gave to the Pope temporal jurisdiction over the Roman Duchy and the Exarchate of Ravenna, thus creating the Papal States. Since this period three powers tried to rule the city: the pope, the nobility, together with the chefs of militias, the judges, the Senate and the populace; and the Frankish king, as king of the Lombards, patricius and Emperor. These three parties (theocratic, republican and imperial) were a characteristic of the roman life during the whole Middle Ages. On the Christmas night of 800, Charlemagne was crowned in Rome first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III: in that occasion the city hosted for the first time the two powers whose struggle for the universal power had to be a constant of the Middle Ages.
In 846, Muslim Arabs unsuccessfully stormed the city’s walls, but managed to loot St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s basilica, both outside the city wall. After the decay of Carolingian power, Rome fell prey of the feudal anarchy: several noble families keep fighting against the pope, the emperor and each other. These were the fishy times of Theodora and her daughter Marozia, concubines and mothers of several popes, and of Crescentius, a powerful feudal lord, who fought against the emperors Otto II and III. The scandals of this period pushed the papacy to reform itself: the election of the pope was reserved to the cardinals, and a reform of the clergy was attempted: but the driving force behind this renewal, monk Ildebrando da Soana, once elected pope under the name of Gregory VII, got involved into the Investiture Controversy against Emperor Henry IV. In that occasion Rome was sacked and burned by the Normans of Robert Guiscard, rushed to the Pope`s aid, who was besieged in Castel S. Angelo.
During this period, the city was autonomously ruled by a senatore or patrizio: in the 12th century, this administration, as often in the Italian cities, evolved into the commune, a new form of social organisation, expression of the new wealthy classes. Pope Lucius II had already to fight against the roman commune, and the struggle was continued by his successor pope Eugenius III: then the commune, allied with the nobility, was supported by Arnaldo da Brescia, a monk who was a religious and social reformer. After the pope’s death, Arnaldo was taken prisoned by Adrianus IV, and this marked the end of the comune’s autonomy. Under pope Innocent III, whose reign marked the apogee of the papacy, the commune liquidated the senate, and replaced it with a Senatore, who was subject to the pope.
In this period the papacy played a role of secular importance in Western Europe, often acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs and exercising additional political powers.
In 1266, Senator was appointed Charles of Anjou, who was heading south to fight the Hohenstaufen on behalf of the pope. Charles founded the Sapienza, the university of Rome. In that period the pope died, and the cardinals, summoned in Viterbo, could not agree about his successor: the people of the city, got angry about that, unroofed the building where they had met, imprisoning them until they had nominated the new pope: this happening marked the birth of the conclave. In this period the city was also shattered by continuous fights among the noble families: Annibaldi, Caetani, Colonna, Orsini, Conti, nested in their fortresses built above ancient Roman edifices, fought each other trying to hold hands on the papacy.
Pope Boniface VIII, born Caetani, was the last pope to fight for the church’s universal domain: he proclaimed a crusade against the Colonna, and in 1300 he called for the first Jubilee of Christianity, which brought to Rome millions of pilgrims. However his hopes were crushed against the French king Philip the Fair, who let him taken prisoner and slashed in Anagni, causing his death. Afterwards, a new pope faithful to the French was elected, and the papacy was briefly relocated to Avignon (1309–1377). During this period the city was neglected, until the power fell in the hand of a plebeian man, Cola di Rienzo. An idealist and a lover of ancient Rome, Cola dreamed about a ribirth of the Roman Empire: after assuming the power with the title of Tribuno, his reforms were rejected by the populace. Forced to flee, Cola could come back among the suite of cardinal Albornoz, in charge of restoring the church power in Italy. Back in power for a short time, he was lynched by the populace, and Albornoz could take possession of the city, that in 1377 under Gregory XI became again the seat of the papacy. The return of the pope to Rome in that year unleashed the western Schism (1377-1418), and during the next forty years, the city was prey of the fights which shattered the church.
In 1418, the Council of Constance settled the western schism, and a Roman pope, Martin V, was elected. This brought to Rome a century of internal peace, which marked the beginning of the Renaissance. The ruling popes until the first half of the 16th century, from Nicholas V, founder of the Vatican Library, to Pius II, humanist and literate, from Sixtus IV, a warrior pope, to Alexander VI, immoral and nepotist, from Julius II, soldier and patron, to Leo X, who gave his name to this period (“the century of Leo X”), all devoted their energy to the greatness and the beauty of the eternal city, to the power of their stock, and to the patronage of the arts. During those years the center of the Italian Renaissance moved to Rome from Florence. Majestic works, as the new Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Ponte Sisto (the first bridge to be built across the Tiber since antiquity, although on Roman foundation) were created. To accomplish that the Popes engaged the best artists of the time, including Michelangelo, Perugino, Raphael, Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, Botticelli, and Cosimo Rosselli. The period was also infamous for papal corruption, with many Popes fathering children, and engaging in nepotism and simony. The corruption of the Popes and the huge expenses for their building projects led, in part, to the Reformation and, in turn, the Counter-Reformation. Popes, such as Alexander VI, were well known for their decadence, wild parties, extravagance and immoral lives. However, under these extravagant and rich popes, Rome was transformed into a centre of art, poetry, music, literature, education and culture. Rome became able to compete with other major European cities of the time in terms of wealth, grandeur, the arts, learning and architecture. The Renaissance period changed Rome’s face dramatically, with works like the Pietà by Michelangelo and the frescoes of the Borgia Apartment, all made during Innocent’s reign. Rome reached the highest point of splendour under Pope Julius II (1503–1513) and his successors Leo X and Clement VII, both members of the Medici family.
In this twenty-year period, Rome became one of the greatest centres of art in the world. The old St. Peter’s Basilica built by Emperor Constantine the Great (which by then was in a dilapidated state) was demolished and a new one begun. The city hosted artists like Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Botticelli and Bramante, who built the temple of San Pietro in Montorio and planned a great project to renovate the Vatican. Raphael, who in Rome became one of the most famous painters of Italy, created frescoes in the Villa Farnesina, the Raphael’s Rooms, plus many other famous paintings. Michelangelo started the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and executed the famous statue of the Moses for the tomb of Julius II. Rome lost in part its religious character, becoming increasingly a true Renaissance city, with a great number of popular feasts, horse races, parties, intrigues and licentious episodes.
Its economy was rich, with the presence of several Tuscan bankers, including Agostino Chigi, who was a friend of Raphael and a patron of arts. Before his early death, Raphael also promoted for the first time the preservation of the ancient ruins. The fight between France and Spain in Europe caused the first plunder of the city in more than one thousand years. In 1527, the Landsknechts of Emperor Charles V sacked the city, putting to an abrupt end the golden age of the Renaissance in Rome.
Beginning with the Council of Trent in 1545, the Church began the Counter-Reformation as an answer to the Reformation, a large-scale questioning of the Church’s authority on spiritual matters and governmental affairs. (This loss of confidence then led to major shifts of power away from the Church.) Under the popes from Pius IV to Sixtus V, Rome became the centre of the reformed Catholicism and saw the installment of new monuments which celebrated the papacy’s restored greatness. The popes and cardinals of the 17th and early 18th centuries continued the movement by having city’s landscape enriched with baroque buildings.
This was another nepotistic age: the new noble families (Barberini, Pamphili, Chigi, Rospigliosi, Altieri, Odescalchi) were protected by their respective popes, who built for their relatives huge baroque buildings. During the Age of Enlightenment, new ideas reached also the Eternal City, where the papacy supported archaeological studies and improved the people’s welfare. But not everything went well for the Church during the Counter-Reformation. There were setbacks in the attempts to restrain the anti-Church policies of European powers of the time, the most notable setback perhaps being in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV was forced by secular powers to have the Jesuit order suppressed.
The rule of the Popes was interrupted by the short-lived Roman Republic (1798–1800), which was built under the influence of the French Revolution. The Papal States were restored in June 1800, but during Napoleon’s reign Rome was annexed as a Département of the French Empire: first as Département du Tibre (1808–10) and then as Département Rome (1810–14). After the fall of Napoleon, the Church State under the pope was reinstated through the Congress of Vienna of 1814.
In 1849 another Roman Republic arose within the framework of the revolutions of 1848. Two of the most influential figures of the Italian unification, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, fought for the short-lived republic.
Rome then became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification, as the rest of Italy was reunited as the Kingdom of Italy, with a temporary capital at Florence. In 1861 Rome was declared capital of Italy even though it was still under the control of the Pope. During the 1860s, the last vestiges of the Papal States were under French protection, thanks to the foreign policy of Napoleon III. And it was only when this was lifted in 1870, owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, that Italian troops were able to capture Rome entering the city through a breach near Porta Pia. Afterwards, Pope Pius IX declared himself as prisoner in the Vatican, and in 1871 the capital of Italy was finally moved from Florence to Rome.
Soon after World War I, Rome witnessed the rise to power of Italian Fascism, led by Benito Mussolini, who marched on the city in 1922, eventually declaring a new Italian Empire and allying Italy with Nazi Germany. Mussolini let pull down large parts of the city center in order to build wide avenues and squares which were supposed to celebrate the fascist regime and the resurgence of classical Rome. The interwar period saw a rapid growth in the city’s population, which surpassed one million inhabitants. In World War II, due to its art treasuries and the presence of Vatican, Rome largely escaped the tragic destiny of other European cities. However, on 19 July 1943 the San Lorenzo district was bombed by Anglo-American forces, resulting in about 3,000 deaths and 11,000 wounded. After the fall of Mussolini and the Italian Armistice on 8 September 1943, the city was occupied by the Germans and declared an open city until its liberation on 4 June 1944.
Rome developed momentously after the war, as one of the driving forces behind the “Italian economic miracle” of post-war reconstruction and modernisation in the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, the years of la dolce vita (“the sweet life”), Rome became a fashionable city, with popular classic films such as Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita filmed in the city’s iconic Cinecittà film studios. The rising trend in population growth continued until the mid-1980s, when the comune had more than 2.8 million residents; after that, population started to decline slowly as inhabitants began to move to nearby suburbs of Rome.
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