Tag Archives: Italy
The situation facing the forces of liberalism and nationalism in Italy in 1830 was apparently more hopeless than that facing the same forces in Germany. The German Confederation, however inadequate as a form of national expression, did at least provide a common meeting place for the delegates of the princes; in Italy there was no such confederation, but all the states were totally independent of each other.
Aristocratic factionalism, popular rebellions and the relationship between Italian and German culture all combined to ensure the long-term use of the terms ‘Guelph’ and ‘Ghibelline’. Welf, the family name of Bavaria’s dukes, and Waiblingen, the Staufer family’s castle in Swabia, may have been used as rallying cries during the Battle of Weinsberg (1140) fought during the German civil war that broke out when these two great dynasties competed for the imperial title.
The way in which armies and garrisons were recruited during the Hundred Years War ensured that when peace broke out in 1360 there were large numbers of soldiers, unemployed and without prospects, loose in the realm of France. These banded together, forming independent companies who made war on their own account, seeking to keep themselves fed and paid.
Five Norman brothers, sons of Tancred of Hauteville, carved out a principality in the Byzantine Empire’s territory in Southern Italy in the eleventh century. Normans first arrived there as mercenaries, found rich pickings and started to take the country for themselves. In 1042 they chose the oldest of the Hauteville brothers, William ‘Iron Arm’, as their Count of Apulia with his base at Melfi, on the lower slopes of the Apennines.
The Legacy of the Italian Resistance
Between 1943 and 1945 thousands of Italian men and women took part in what became known as ‘The Resistance’. Many were extremely young and most of those who died at the hands of the Italian Fascists and the Nazis were in their teens or early twenties.