- Italia (Roman Empire)
Italia, under the
Roman Republicand later Empire, was the name of the Italian peninsula.
Under the Republic and Augustan organization
During the Republic, Italia (which extended at the time from
Rubiconto Calabria) was not a province, but rather the territory of the city of Rome, thus having a special status: for example, military commanders were not allowed to bring their armies within Italia, and Julius Caesarpassing the Rubicon with his legions marked the start of the civil war.
The name "Italia" covered a portion of Italy that changed through time. According to
Strabo("Geographia", [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Strabo/5A*.html#1.1 v 1] ), at the beginning the name indicated the land between the strait of Messinaand the line connecting the gulf of Salernoand gulf of Taranto; later Italia was extended to include the whole Italian peninsula, as well as the Istrian town of Colonia Pietas Iulia (Pola); finally, Julius Caesar gave Roman citizenship to the people of the "Gallia Transpadana"— that part of Cisalpine Gaulthat lay "beyond the Po"—, thus extending Italia up to the Alps.
With the end of the Social war (
2nd century BC), Rome allowed the Italian allies to enter with full rights in the Roman society, giving the Roman citizenship to all the Italic peoples.
At the beginning of the Empire, Italia was a collection of territories with different statuses. Some cities, called "municipii", had some independence from Rome, others, the colonies, were founded by the Romans themselves. Around
7 BC, Augustus Caesardivided Italia into eleven "regiones", as reported by Pliny the Elderin his "Naturalis Historia" ( [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Pliny_the_Elder/3*.html#46 iii 46] ):
* Regio I "Latium et Campania"
* Regio II "Apulia et Calabria"
* Regio III "Lucania et Brutii"
* Regio IV "Samnium"
* Regio V "Picenum"
* Regio VI "Umbria et Ager Gallicus"
* Regio VII "Etruria"
* Regio VIII "Aemilia"
* Regio IX "Liguria"
* Regio X "Venetia et Histria"
* Regio XI "Transpadana"
The Italian "province" was privileged by Augustus and his heirs, with the construction, among other public structures, of a dense mesh of roads.The Italian economy flourished: agriculture, handicraft and industry had a sensible growth, allowing the export of goods to the otherprovinces. The Italian population grew as well: Three census were ordered by Augustus, to record the presence of male citizens in Italia. They were 4,063,000 in
28 BC, 4,233,000 in 8 BC, and 4,937,000 in AD 14. Including the women and the children, the total population of Italia at the beginning of the 1st centurywas around 10 million.
Italia in 2nd and 3rd centuries
When Roman citizenship was given to all the Empire, the Italian province started its decline, in favour of richer provinces. Furthermore, Italia suffered from the attacks of barbarian tribes, which happened at the end of the
3rd century(see Crisis of the third centuryand Barracks emperors). Diocletiandivided the Empire into four parts ("dioceses"). The "diocesis Italiae", ruled by the " Augustus" of the West, was divided into two zones, each divided into smaller territories held by " correctores":
* "Italia suburbicaria" ("under the government of Rome")
** "Tuscia et Umbria"
** "Campania et Samnium"
** "Apulia et Calabria"
** "Sardinia et Corsica"
* "Italia annonaria", with capital "
Mediolanum" ( Milan)
** "Venetia et Histria"
** "Aemilia et Liguria"
** "Flaminia et Picenum"
Alpes Cottiae"The former Italian regions of Alpes Poenninaeand Alpes Maritimaebecome part of the "Diocesis Galliarum".
Italia in 4th and 5th centuries
When the barbarians became the most important problem, the Emperors were obliged to move out of Rome, and even in other provinces, thus increasing even more the decline of Italia. In
330, Constantine Imoved the capital of the empire to Constantinople, with the imperial court, economical administration, as well as the military structures (as the fleets of Misenumand Ravenna).
After the death of emperor Theodosius (
395), Italia became part of the Western Roman Empire. Then came the years of the barbarian invasions, and the capital was moved from Mediolanumto Ravenna ( 402). Alaric, king of Visigoths, sacked Rome itself in 403; something that hadn't happened for seven centuries. Northern Italia was attacked by Attila's Huns, and Rome was sacked again by the Visigothsunder the command of Alaric Iin 410.
According to "
Notitia Dignitatum", a compilation of public civil and military officers that is considered updated to 420sfor the western part of the Roman Empire, Italia was governed by a prefectus, "Prefectus praetorio Italiae" (who governed Italia, Illyricumand Africa), one "vicarius", and one "comes rei militaris". The regions were governed by eight "consulares" ("Venetiae et Histriae", "Aemiliae", "Liguriae", "Flaminiae et Piceni annonarii", "Tusciae et Umbriae", "Piceni suburbicarii", "Campaniae", and "Siciliae"), two "correctores" ("Apuliae et Calabriae" and "Lucaniae et Bruttiorum") and four "praesides" ("Alpium Cottiarum", "Samnii", "Sardiniae", and "Corsicae").
With the Emperors controlled by their barbarian generals, the imperial government weakly controlled Italia, whose coasts were continuously under attack. In
476, with the death of Romulus Augustusand the return of the imperial ensigns to Constantinoples, the Western Roman Empire ends; for few decades Italia stayed united first under Odoacerrule, then under the Ostrogothsand the Byzantines, but after the Lombard invasion it was divided between several kingdoms, and would not be re-united for another thirteen centuries.
History of Italy during Roman times
* [http://www.telemaco.unibo.it/rom/italia/oggetto.htm Geographical spaces in Roman history] (Italian)
* [http://members.ozemail.com.au/~igmaier/map.htm Map of the Roman state c. 400] (Compilation 'notitia dignitatum')
* [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/rutilius.html "De Reditu"] , poem by
Rutilius Claudius Namatianus, at The Latin Library, describing the decadence of Italia and Rome around 410.
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